Dreaming of a family-friendly afternoon filled with hands-on learning? You can’t do much better than the Portland Children’s Museum. This fun-filled museum is located steps away from the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center and Hoyt Arboretum in Portland’s Washington Park.
Portland Children’s Museum History
Portland’s first director of parks and recreation, Dorothea Lensch, founded the Junior Museum and Adventure House in 1946. Original exhibits included arts and crafts classes, natural history displays and even a pet lending library! In 2001, the museum, now known as the Portland Children’s Museum, moved into the expansive former home of the Oregon Museum of Science and Technology in Southwest Portland’s Washington Park.
Portland Children’s Museum Exhibits
With more than a dozen permanent exhibits, there’s always plenty for little ones to explore at this experience-based learning center. Here are a few of our favorites:
Using toddler-sized tools and hard hats, budding builders tear down walls and play with plumbing to hone their motor skills.
Visitors delight in digging into piles of child-safe rubber mulch with a slew of shovels, chutes, buckets and movers.
Little animal lovers perform check-ups on stuffed pups, examine real cat and dog X-rays, and learn how creatures’ bodies work.
Boat races, water cannons and a 12-foot-high (3.6 meter) waterfall give this room all-ages appeal. Smocks and dryers are provided to avoid any damp clothing disasters.
This outdoor labyrinth is made of hedges tall enough for children to feel hidden, but short enough for adults to peer over and keep an eye on the kids.
Opened in 2014, the outdoor adventure area transforms 1.3 acres (4.85 hectares) of land into an interactive outside play space. Children can build forts, dig in the dirt, hike ADA-accessible trails and explore a grove of evergreens and oak trees. On sunny days, they can cool off in the creek, complete with waterspouts and a working dam. When the little adventurers need a rest, the entire family can picnic in the verdant meadow or shady pavilion, or catch a show at the outdoor amphitheater.
And that’s not all! The museum also houses a clay studio, treehouse, theater and grocery shop stocked with plastic snacks, among other attractions.
Visit the Portland Children’s Museum
Situated amidst a host of other family-friendly attractions in Washington Park, the Children’s Museum is easily accessible by MAX light rail (Red and Blue lines) and is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. Tickets and more information are available at the Portland Children’s Museum website.
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