The Kid-Friendly Guide to Portland-Area Museums

We are continually amazed at how much Portland has to offer kids and their grownups. We have to say, though, we were astounded when we started putting this guide together as to how many museums there are in Portland! From the quirky (vacuums and hats, anyone?) to the nationally recognized, we are surrounded by new and exciting ways to educate and entertain our kids. Here’s our list. As always, share your knowledge! Let us know your thoughts about these museums and which ones we’ve missed. And it’s always a good idea to call ahead to make sure the information below is still accurate.

End of the Oregon Trail
Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum
Evergreen Wings and Waves Waterpark
Fort Vancouver
Ground Kontrol Arcade
The Hat Museum
The Historic Belmont Firehouse
Kidd’s Toy Museum
Museum of Contemporary Craft
Museum of the Oregon Territory
Oregon Historical Society
Oregon Jewish Museum
Oregon Maritime Museum
Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center
Oregon Zoo
Ping Pong’s Pint-Sized Puppet Museum
Pittock Mansion
Portland Art Museum
Portland Children’s Museum
Portland Police Museum
Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals
Stark’s Vacuum Museum
Stevens Crawford Heritage House
Washington County Museum
Wells Fargo History Museum
World Forestry Center

 Updated Fall 2013

What: End of the Oregon Trail Visitor Center. The Visitor Center at the End of the Oregon Trail offers changing displays on the Oregon Trail and Clackamas County history.
Where: 1726 Washington St., Oregon City
Hours: Open daily 11am-4pm. Check the website for admission and schedule changes.
Admission: $9 adults, $7 seniors and $5 kids 5 – 17

What: Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. With displays ranging from the elegant aeronautic designs of two unknown bike mechanics – Orville and Wilbur Wright – to an actual Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird that can fly at speeds of over 2,000 miles per hour. We’ve been! Here’s our review.
Where: 500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville
Hours: Daily, 9 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Adults – $25; Seniors – $24; Youth $23

What: Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark. Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark is an educational waterpark that includes ten waterslides, a wave pool and a children’s museum dedicated to teaching students about the power of water. Consisting of classic Evergreen Museum building design, the space features nearly 70,000 square feet of educational fun.
Where: 500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville
Hours: , Thursday: 3 PM – 8 PM Friday: 12 PM – 8 PM; Saturday: 10 AM – 8 PM, Sunday: 10 AM – 7 PM (Check site for holiday hours.)
Admission: Children under 3 are free. $12 -$32, depending on where you go and whether it’s for a full or half day

What: Fort Vancouver. Bring the family and be part of Oregon Country as early civilization began along the Columbia River. Explore all that this National Historic Site has to offer inside the four towering walls of Fort Vancouver.
Where: 1501 E Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver
Hours: Varies by season
Admission: $3 ages 16 and up; $5 per family

What: Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade. Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade celebrates and preserves arcade gaming’s “golden age” by operating over 90 of the best video games and pinball machines from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s in a remodeled two-story cantina in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown district.
Where: 511 NW Couch
Hours: All ages welcome Noon -5 PM daily
Admission: Free to enter, but pay to play

What: The Hat Museum. Visit America’s largest hat museum, with over 1000 hats!
Where: The Ladd-Reingold House, 1928 SE Ladd Ave
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM. NOTE: Reservations are required – 503-232-0433.
Admission: $75 per tour group (1-6 people)

What: The Historic Belmont Firehouse. Slide down a fire pole, explore historic firehouse features. Then step into a modern day fire engine and respond to an emergency aboard the Fire Engine Experience.
Where: 900 SE 35th
Hours: Second Saturdays of the month from 9 AM to 3 PM, every Wednesday from 9 AM to 3 PM, or by appointment
Admission: Free on Second Saturdays and Open House Wednesdays.

What: Kidd’s Toy Museum. A large focus on vehicular toys, but also banks, character toys, police badges, and early Oregon memorabilia. Most toys are from 1869-1939.
Where: 1300 SE Grand (Careful not to miss it – it’s not well marked)
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 12 PM -6 PM; Friday 1 PM -6 PM.
Admission: Free!

What: Museum of Contemporary Craft. The Museum currently stewards a growing collection of over 1,000 objects of modern and contemporary craft from 1937 to the present. Largely made up of mid-century ceramics, the collection also includes works in clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Where: 724 NW Davis
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 AM -6 PM. First Thursdays admission is free and open 11 AM to 8 PM.
Admission: $4 adults, $3 seniors and students ages 13+, children 12 and under free.

What: Museum of the Oregon Territory. Native American artifacts, objects from 19th & 20th century life in the Oregon Territory, special exhibits and the Kaegi Pharmacy – a fully stocked early 20th century pharmacy.
Where: 211 Tumwater Dr., Oregon City
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Admission: Free

What: OMSI –Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Special exhibits, Omnimax theater, a “science playground” perfect for little ones (sand box, water area, arts & crafts), a turbine room with a room full of balls that get sucked through chutes and an earthquake simulator. TONS to do on a rainy day!
Where: 1945 SE Water Ave
Hours: Tuesday – Friday and Sunday , 9:30 AM -5:30 PM; Saturdays, 9:30 AM -9 PM; Mondays closed
Admission: $13 – adults; $9. 50 – age 3-13 and 63+

What: Oregon Historical Society/Oregon History Museum. Learn more about the Oregonians of today and yesterday, plus see the museum’s travelling exhibits. A great way to get some culture and learn a bit on a rainy day. OHS also hosts a family day once a month with special activities for kids and special museum admission offers for non-Multnomah County residents.
Where: 1200 SW Park
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM, Sunday 12 PM – 5 PM
Admission: Multnomah County residents are free; all others: adults – $11; adult students & 60+ – $9; youth ages 6-18 – $5; children 5 years and under FREE.

What: Oregon Jewish Museum. The only museum in the Pacific Northwest dedicated to preserving and exhibiting Jewish art, history, and culture.
Where: 1953 NW Kearney
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 10:30 AM – 4 PM, Friday 10:30 AM – 3 PM, Saturday and Sunday 12 PM – 4 PM
Admission: $6 adults, $4 students/seniors, free under 12

What: Oregon Maritime Museum. Step aboard a real, docked boat right on the Willamette. Experience the adventure of a lifetime on our rivers when you explore the last operating sternwheel steam tug in the United States. Plus every third Saturday, the museum hosts a Family Saturday, where families are invited to discover Portland’s maritime history with a craft project to take home.
Where: On the Willamette River, near Waterfront Park at SW Naito and Pine
Hours: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 11 AM – 4 PM
Admission: $7 adults, $5 seniors, $4 Students ages 13 – 18 w/ID, $3 ages 6-12, under 6 free

What: Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. Located in the heart of what was once Portland’s Japantown, Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center is a Japanese American history museum charged with the preservation and sharing of the history and culture of the Japanese American community.
Where: 121 NW 2nd Ave
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM -3 PM ; Sunday 12 PM -3 PM
Admission: $5 Adults, $3 seniors and students, free for ages 12 and under

What: Oregon Zoo. A wonderful zoo right in our backyards. Animals include lions, bears, otters, snakes, and of course – ducks and beavers.
Where: 4001 SW Canyon Rd.
Hours: Fall 2013 (Sept 3 – Dec 31st) 9 AM – 4 PM; Winter (Jan 1 – Feb 28) 10 AM – 4 PM; Spring (Mar 1 – May 24) 9 AM – 4 PM
Admission: Adults (12 – 64) $11. 50, Seniors (65+) $10, Children (3 – 11) $ 8. 50, Free 2 years and under.

What: Ping Pong’s Pint-Sized Puppet Museum. Ping Pong’s Pint Size Puppet Museum is your place to learn about all things Puppet and to let loose your inner child. Fun for all ages!!!
Where: 906 SE Umatilla
Hours: Thursday-Sunday 2 PM – 8 PM
Admission: Free!

What: Pittock Mansion. This museum is the house of former Oregonian-owner Henry Pittock and his wife Georgiana. The architecture is gorgeous and the house is decorated in late 1800s/early 1900s style. You gotta check out the bathrooms. And although you won’t be able to see much in the rain, the views from here are stunning.
Where: 3229 NW Pittock Dr.
Hours: Vary by season
Admission: $8.50 adults, $7.50 ages 65+, $5.50 ages 6-18, Free for children under 6.

What: Portland Art Museum. Explore the museum’s extensive permanent collection or see one of their many special exhibits. PAM also has some kid-friendly events, like family tours of the art museum every Sunday and a baby hour every first Tuesday.
Where: 1219 SW Park
Hours: Monday closed, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM, Thursday – Friday 10 AM – 8 PM, Sunday 12 PM – 5 PM, Fourth Friday of every month is free admission from 5 to 8.
Admission: $15 adults, $12 seniors, free for children 17 and under.

What: Portland Children’s Museum. A special room for the littlest ones with padded slides, mirrors, and other fun things; a large water feature; stage with costumes and music; trains and trucks to play with; special exhibits. The perfect place for kids and adults looking for something to do. We’ve been! Here’s our review.
Where: 4015 SW Canyon Rd
Hours: Vary by season
Admission: $10 for ages 1-54; $9 for ages 55+ and Military. First Friday from 4 to 8 is always free

What: Portland Police Museum. The museum has artifacts from as far back as 1820, including photographs and uniforms. Exhibits highlight patrols by horse, bicycle, motorcycle and cars. There are also interactive activities including a jail, a 1960s Harley, uniforms to try on and an electronic fingerprint reader.
Where: 1111 SW 2nd Ave
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 10 AM – 3 PM
Admission: Free!

What: Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. The Rice Museum contains over 20,000 geological specimens and has become nationally recognized as the finest rock and mineral museum in the Pacific Northwest and one of the best in the nation. Displays include the largest opal-filled thunder egg, a gold specimen bigger than your hand, dinosaur eggs and fossils, meteorites, minerals from the Pacific Northwest, petrified wood, lapidary works and thousands of other attractions.
Where: 26385 NW Groveland Dr., Hillsboro
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 1 PM – 5 PM
Admission: $8 adults, $7 ages 60+, $6 ages 5-17, Free children 4 and under.

What: Stark’s Vacuum Museum. Seriously! Part of Stark’s Vaccum, get “swept away” by the odd assortment of 300+ antique and odd vacuums.
Where: 107 NE Grand
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 AM to 7 PM, Saturday 9 AM to 4 PM.
Admission: Free!

What: Stevens Crawford Heritage House. A 1908 home with 15 furnished rooms including objects, furniture and personal belongings from over 100 years of a family’s life.
Where: 603 6th St., Oregon City
Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 12 PM – 4 PM
Admission: Free

What: Washington County Museum. The Washington County Museum ignites the imagination and brings to life the diverse cultures that so richly define this remarkable region. The Museum offers unparalleled opportunities to experience and understand the complexity and richness of our communities. Our exhibitions and programs are tools that cultivate learning and cultural appreciation.
Where: Hillsboro Civic Center Plaza Building
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM, Sunday 12 PM – 5 PM
Admission: $6 adults, $4 youth, seniors, and active military

What: Wells Fargo History Museum. Learn about how Wells Fargo connected Oregon’s communities. The museum features a stagecoach ride, a working telegraph and much more!
Where: 1300 SW Fifth
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Free!

What: World Forestry Center. Nestled between the Children’s Museum and the Oregon Zoo, the WFC invites you to explore Pacific NW’s forests, and the role they play in our ecosystem. There are also temporary exhibits that explore art, history, and culture from around the world.
Where: 4033 SW Canyon Rd
Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM Daily
Admission: $9 adults, $8 ages 62+, $6 children (3 – 18), free ages 2 and younger

Ali Wilkinson
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Ali Wilkinson

Read more from Ali at Run Knit Love
Ali Wilkinson is one of the founders of PDX Kids Calendar. She loves exploring Portland with her three small children, especially when the explorations end in apple pie and ice cream.
Ali Wilkinson
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  • Karen Martin

    Kidd’s Toy Museum. – We gave this a try over Christmas Break 2012, and the “owner” was not at all friendly. We will not be going back to this musuem.