Eugene is an edgy college city, emblematic of alternative and ecological ideas and ideals. It's known for its arts and an outdoorsy, athletic approach to life -- Nike got its start here. Countercultural author Ken Kesey lived in Lane County for much of his life, and his influence is still felt.
The University of Oregon is the economic and cultural center of the city. Lumber is the biggest industry, although Eugene's populace tends toward environmentalism: local entrepreneurs can prosper by catering to the college and alternative-lifestyle crowd. The pace here is faster than in nearby Corvallis, with less of a small-town feel, and jobs are more plentiful. -Elizabeth Bland