By Sophia McDonald Bennett

Friday evening may be the best time to visit downtown Springfield. People come out in droves to celebrate the end of the workweek. But really, there’s not a bad time to explore Springfield’s town center. Local citizens and business groups have made a serious push to revitalize downtown in recent years, and they’ve done a great job. Shops and restaurants line the streets. There are several options for entertainment, and many opportunities to learn about the region’s history. Murals decorate many buildings, so there’s plenty to see even if you don’t stop into an art gallery or antique store.

Getting to and from Springfield is easy: drive down the main drag and find free parking, or take the bus or the EmX to the downtown transfer station. The best places to explore stretch between Mill Street and 8th Street to the west and east, and South A and A Streets to the south and north, with Main Street running in between. This 16-block area makes for an easy walk, especially when the weather is nice. If you have some time, it’s worth venturing farther north to the historic Washburne neighborhood, or east for some outstanding shopping options.


Where to eat

[Editor’s Note — Sprout! is now Publichouse, with five restaurants, beer hall, whiskey bar, and more.]

Sprout! Regional Food Hub has three small restaurants, a pub, a bakery, and a year-round farmers market––all are worth visiting. The Abbey serves Claim 52’s excellent European-style ales. Sit in the cozy pub and enjoy a brew, or bring your beer onto the patio or into the café area.  418 A St. •

Chow is downtown’s other must-visit eatery. They’re famous for over-the-top burgers, such as the Bacon Cheeseburger On Crack (served with barbecue sauce, pimento cheese, and chips) and the Big Mamma (topped with brown sugar bacon, Coca-Cola-boiled ham, and a fried egg). 471 S A St. • 541/653-9193 •

Washburne Café, in the historic Armory building, offers breakfast, lunch, coffee, baked goods, and beer and wine. Start your morning off right with a mimosa and a Washburne Bowl. They also have a small gift shop and display art from local artists. 326 Main St. • 541/746-7999

Plank Town Brewing has a varied menu that offers starters, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and entrées. We suggest trying the smoked lamb. Get your beer in a bottle or from the tap. 346 Main St. • 541/746-1890 •

Since opening in 2014, Mezza Luna Pizzeria has become a big part of the downtown culture. Students from the A3 School and City of Springfield employees flock to the pizzeria during lunch hours for New York-style, thin-crust pizza. 115 S 5th St. • 541/485-2090 •


Where to go

The Richard E. Wildish Community Theater presents music, dance, and other performances throughout the year. Once a month (typically the first Thursday), the theater hosts a movie screening and discussion. 630 Main St. • 541/868-0689

The Emerald Art Center has a small gallery, gift shop, and art classes. 500 Main St. • 541/726-8595 •

Vino and Vango offers painting classes and space for private painting parties. Whether you’re enjoying a girls night or “me” night, you can drink wine while you wield your brush. 236 Main St. • 541/505-9943 While you’re in the area, head next door to the recently opened Malerische Galerie, which features fine art, bronze sculptures, prints, and high-end jewelry by talented Oregon artists.

The Springfield Museum shares bits of town and regional history. Its permanent exhibit tells the story of early Springfield, including interactive elements like a schoolhouse with costumes and fun toys. Entry is free, although donations are accepted. 590 Main St. • 541/726-2300

 What to do

Downtown Springfield is replete with murals. The two newest are the tribute to author Ken Kesey (by artist Patrick Kane McGregor) on the side of Plank Town Brewing (346 Main St.), and a smaller mural inspired by The Simpsons (the mural was created by artist Julius Preite and painted by Old City Artists) on the Emerald Art Center (500 Main St.).

History buffs can see more than 200 structures built between 1890 and 1940 in the Washburne District. Walk the streets just north of downtown to view many excellent examples of Victorian, pioneer, mill, and colonial homes.

Fans of local art can check out the Art Walk hosted by downtown businesses on the second Friday of every month. The self-guided tour begins at the Emerald Arts Center.

Where to shop

Downtown Springfield has two antique stores: Trash-n-Treasure Antiques & Collectibles (440 Main St.) and Antique Peddlers (612 Main St.). If that isn’t enough to satisfy your quest for vintage goods, venture farther east. The Vintage Industry (143 21st St.) and Time Traveler of Oregon Antique Mall & Estate Sales Services (2020 Main St.) are worth visiting. Time Traveler has more than 12,000 square feet of floor space and is the largest antique mall in Lane County.

Haven sells beautiful home, garden, and gift items. Some are vintage, but most are quality reproductions. Owner Karen Hageman also carries several items from local artists and artisans. 349 Main St. • 541/746-996

The Blue Buffalo Mercantile has an eclectic selection of locally made goods including leather belts and wallets, jewelry, and pens made of hand-turned wood. 331 Main St. • 541/521-4722

ChaCha’s Boutique carries high-quality lingerie, sleepwear, and accessories for women of all sizes. 325 Main St. •

Every Day is August is a new addition to downtown. Owners Erol Chandler and Taylor Redwine opened the boutique to sell things they love, including their hand-made lamps (A-Lamp Design), home goods, clothing, and more. “I grew up right down the street from where we’re opening the boutique,” Redwine says. “I’ve watched how much downtown Springfield has changed. Being a part of that change personally has been really exciting for me.” 335 Main St. • 541/