Museums in Portland

Your first paragraph ...Many of the museums in Portland are oriented to the whole family including babies and toddlers. OMSI and the Children's Museum have hands-on activities for children. There is plenty to keep the adults interested as well. The Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society are just a block from each other. The Children's Museum is located near the Oregon Zoo. Visiting one of the museums in Portland is a good rainy day activity.


Granger Meador

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a fascinating place for people of all ages including children from birth and I think it is the best museum in Portland. It is a place where you can explore all areas of the physical and biological sciences. Here you and your children can learn through hands-on exhibits how things work.

In the Harry C. Kendall Planetarium there are daily computer-aided astronomy and laser light shows such as Cosmic Collisions and Black Holes:  The Other Side of Infinity.  

The five-story OMNIMAX Dome Theater is the only IMAX theater in town. The theater is now showing Antarctica and Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure. In March, 2008 it will begin showing Grand Canyon Adventure.

Granger Meador

OMSI is located on the banks of the Willamette River. Moored on the bank is a real submarine. OMSI purchased the USS Blueback in 1994. This is the submarine that was used in the filming of The Hunt For Red October. Guided tours are given daily.

Hands-on exhibits include:

  • Innovation Station
  • Chemistry Laboratory
  • Physics Laboratory
  • Vernier Technology Laboratory
  • Laser/Holography Laboratory
  • Life Science Laboratory
  • Watershed Laboratory
  • Paleontology Laboratory

The Science Playground and Discovery Laboratory is for children aged from birth to six years old. In a safe environment where children have the freedom to explore. The staff is trained in Early Childhood Education and can help you guide your child to activities that will interest him. There is also a parent's resource center.

OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214-3354. Its doors open at 9:30 am. They close at 5:30 pm.

If you are traveling north on I-5 take Exit 300 as you come to the end of the Marquam Bridge. Turn right on SE Water Street. If you are traveling south on I-5 take Exit 300B to SE Belmont. Turn right on SE 7th and then right on SE Taylor. Turn left on SE Water Street.

[ Yahoo! Maps ]
Map of OMSI

Portland Art Museum

Cord Rodefeld

The Portland Art Museum has a collection of 40,000 works of art. The museum has special exhibitions and permanent collections. The collections are American Art, Asian Art, European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Native American Art, Northwest Art, Photography, Prints and Drawings, and Silver Art. There is also a large art research library. The cafe is a nice place for lunch with outside seating during warm weather.

The museum is closed on Monday. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. On Sunday it is open from 12 pm to 5 pm. It is located at 1219 SW Park Avenue next to the South Park Blocks. The Portland Trolley goes right by the museum and MAX has a stop just four blocks away.

[ Yahoo! Maps ]
Map of Portland Art Museum

Portland Children's Museum

Meg J

The Children's Museum is the perfect place to take children from birth to 10 for an afternoon or even a full day of fun. Fun activities include:

  • a child's size grocery store with fake food and shopping carts
  • clay studio for squishing and pounding
  • kids care room for playing doctor and nurse
  • hands on construction of a two-story house including plumbing
  • a water works exhibit with waterfalls and flow table
  • baby's garden for exploring the forest

The museum is located in Washington Park across the parking lot from the Portland Zoo. Another of the museums in portland that is accessible by public transportation--MAX .

Oregon Historical Society

Grangor Meador

The museum is the place to go for an indepth view of the history of Oregon. Artifacts include clothing, household items, farming tools, and Native American objects. There is a very large research library--a good place to go if you are researching your family history in Oregon. 

The museum is located at 1200 SW Park Avenue next to the South Park Blocks. It is easy to get to with the Portland Trolley or MAX. Opening hours are 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday.

World Forestry Center


Families enjoy visiting the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum with their interactive exhibits and educational displays emphasizing the importance of trees and forests in our lives. It is kind of a quiet respite from the busyness of the zoo. 

The museum shares a parking lot with the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Children's Museum and is easy to get to on MAX.

Hours: Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.  Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.


Adults - $9.00, Seniors - $8.00, Children - $6.00

The first Wednesday of the month admission is $3.00

Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Doug Kerr

Enjoy exhibits of a bygone era of railroads in Oregon. The museum has three restored locomotives with two that are in operating condition. Other exhibits include railcars and  equipment used to keep the trains rolling.

On Saturdays during the summer of 2014 you can ride the Oregon Pacific Railroad passenger train from the museum along the Willamette River and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. The trip lasts about 45 minutes and costs $5.  There is sometimes room to ride the engine itself for a fee of $10.  See the museum website for more information.

The museum is located next to OMSI at 2250 SE Water Avenue. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm.  There is no admission charge.

You may also be interested in the Evergreen Aviation Museum in nearby McMinnville, home to the famous Spruce Goose built by Howard Hughs.

If you are interested in riding a vintage train through some of Oregon's most beautiful countryside, see Mt. Hood Railroad.

Museums in Portland