Outdoor Adventure at Portland Children’s Museum

A 1.3-acre play zone makes the kid-friendly attraction a huge success.

PCM_outdoor_adventureLittle explorers enjoy Outdoor Adventure on opening day.
Photo by Garrett Downen, courtesy of Portland Children's Museum

Children’s museums have long been a bit of a contradiction. They’re lauded as places where kids can explore, push their limits and learn — but isn’t that what the outdoors are all about, too? (At least that’s what our parents told us.) In 2014, the Outdoor Adventure at Portland Children’s Museum, learning broke outside with a 1.3-acre space designed to encourage exploration.

Adding an exciting outdoor element to its popular indoor exhibits, the $2.6 million expansion more than doubled the area of the Portland Children’s Museum. The push outdoors began in 2012 with the opening of the Zany Maze, an ever-changing garden space with hedges tall enough for hiding but short enough for seeking, secret passages and accessible trails.

But this beloved addition is more than just a place to play tag. The area takes previously unused land next to the museum and transforms it into a playground bubbling with natural wonder, rain or shine. Sculptures, landscaping, creeks and trails carve the area into distinct zones. The toddler area is full of sand, water features and other hands-on attractions for curious fingers. At the campsite, kids can build their own forts out of natural materials like logs and rocks. The meadow gives youngsters the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of plants. And the Zoom Tree — a red cedar — is great for climbing and getting a view of all the action.

Outdoor Adventure opened on Earth Day 2014 and has been creating opportunities for educational fun in the sun (or rain) ever since—so lace up those sneakers (or pull on your galoshes) and explore the great outdoors at Portland Children’s Museum.

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