Portland is home to a unique, wonderful blend of exciting destinations and useful resources; it seems that education is lurking around every corner in the City of Roses. Northwest Portland parents certainly enjoy the atmosphere of learning, and there are some particular destinations in town that focus specifically on making learning fun for the whole family.
The Portland Children’s Museum is a well-known destination for its interactive exhibits, child-savvy staff and wide range of featured topics that children will enjoy learning more about each time they visit. It makes for a wonderful group destination—class outings are a common sight on the museum grounds—or for individual and family visits.
The Portland Children’s Museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., though the hours vary with the season; check their website for updated hours as the rain and sun come and go. Admission is $8 with discounts for military service members and seniors, and children under 1 year old are admitted for free. There are membership packages and group rates available, and information can be gathered by calling 503.223.6500.
There are the year-round featured areas that include a clay studio, a water works feature, a foam dig pit and a pet hospital. Featured exhibits rotate throughout the year, with some focused on animal and wildlife from around the world and others focused on building skills, such as a Tinkertoys exhibit to sharpen the skills of a budding engineer or architect. Birthday parties may be hosted on the museum grounds as well, and there is a regular host of classes and camps that take place at the museum.
The Portland Children’s Museum opened in 1946 under the guidance of Dorothea Lensch, and it is among the nation’s longest-standing children’s museums. It is operated by a nonprofit organization that is funded by donations and memberships, and it has hosted more than 1.6 million in its time of being located adjacent to the Oregon Zoo in Washington Park.
The Center for Children’s Learning is housed at the Portland Children’s Museum, and it is a well-respected educational resource for Portland kids. The Opal School is designed both for children to learn and expand their minds from the instructors and exhibits, but also for professional research in child development and education that is used by leaders in those fields to gather live data and implement new methods and practicum the nation over.
There is an online store available for browsing, with toys from the museum that may be purchased for the Portland family home or as gifts for friends, relatives and colleagues with children of their own. Most of the toys are meant to be fun—most are toys that include building or arranging blocks in some fashion—and they also assist in developing counting, color recognition and spatial skills. They’re all fairly affordable as well, and additional materials and gifts may be purchased on the museum grounds.
It’s definitely worth visiting the Portland Children’s Museum at least once, and planning to visit when hosting guests that have kids will make for a Portland trip they’re sure to remember. Child caregivers and teachers, be sure to contact the museum about group rates and schedule a visit in the near future!
The Portland Children’s Museum is located at 4015 SW Canyon Road, across from the Oregon Zoo. There is ample parking that costs $2 per non-member vehicle, though public transit to the museum is a great option; proof of bus or MAX fare shaves $1 off individual admission. The MAX Red Line and Blue Line both make a stop underneath Washington Park, with an elevator running for free to the elevated surface of the zoo, museum and surrounding attractions in the park. TriMet Bus Line 63 serves most of the park area and includes a stop just outside of the museum, and there is some bike parking for cyclists who enjoy a ride through hilly terrain.