Among the many fun Portland attractions you can visit with kids, the Portland Children’s Museum easily ranks among the top destinations across the city. Local families love the many exciting exhibits and hands-on nature of the activities.
If you’re planning a visit to the Portland Children’s Museum, you’ll love knowing more information about its history, how to get there, what to do, and how much it costs.
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History of Portland Children’s Museum
Founded by Portland-native Dorothea Lensch in 1946, the museum was originally known by the name “Junior Museum and Adventure House”. Lensch long stood as a symbol of hope for underprivileged children and their families as she filled the role of recreation director in Portland between the years 1937 and 1972.
In this time, she created many unique programs that catered to kids who had special care needs as well as children whose families struggled financially. Many of those same initiatives are still a part of the museum’s curriculum today.
After nearly 60 years at a location closer to downtown, the destination relocated to its current place and is now known as the Portland Children’s Museum. It has made annual adjustments to become increasingly more engaging with hands-on activities and multiple exhibits.
The Portland Children’s Museum is now considered one of the top places to visit in Portland with kids. It has entertained over 4 million visitors over the years with approximately 300,000 children now experiencing the location each year.
How to Get to Portland Children’s Museum
Located near the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the Hoyt Arboretum, accessing the Portland Children’s Museum will depend on the direction you’re coming from.
People heading to the museum from downtown Portland will follow Highway 405 and then take Highway 26 West heading towards Beaverton. Leave the highway at Exit 72, following signs to the Oregon Zoo until you can head right onto SW Zoo Rd. You’ll see signs for museum parking across from the main entrance to the zoo.
Anyone coming to the museum from Hillsboro or from Beaverton will follow Highway 26 to the east and take Exit 72, followed by an immediate left at the stop sign. Stay on the right side of the street as you turn on SW Zoo Rd and watch for museum parking across from the main zoo entrance.
Visitors can park their vehicles in Washington Park Parking Lot A, B, or C. The cost of parking is either $2 per hour or $8 for an all-day pass. You can either pay at one of the nearby pay stations or by using the ParkingKitty app and entering Zone 400.
Overflow parking can be found at the Sunset Transit Center, where you can then get a ride to the museum on either the MAX Light Rail Train or TriMet Line 63
Portland Children’s Museum Contact Info:
- 4015 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221
- (503) 223-6500
Best Things to Do at the Museum
With its 13 permanent exhibits and multiple rotating exhibits, you and your kids will always find plenty of ways to have fun at the Portland Children’s Museum. From hands-on activities and make-believe animal care to water fun and pretend grocery shopping, your children have a wide range of opportunities to expand their minds and have a good time.
1. Building Bridgetown
A future construction worker’s paradise, the Building Bridgetown area is a wonderful place to let your kids swing a hammer, hang a picture, or use other basic tools. Your kids will love this exhibit as they develop fine motor skills and learn basic handiwork techniques. The room comes complete with child-friendly toolsets, PVC pipe for building, a construction-themed floor mat and much more.
Have your kids put on a yellow construction hat and see what their minds can create. You may find they have an aptitude for architecture, engineering, or other unique skills.
Do you have a child who simply loves the spotlight? Let them be the center of attention at the Theater exhibit found in the Portland Children’s Museum. This area boasts a large stage where kids can put on their own plays, skits, or other performances.
With a wide variety of fun costumes to choose from, your children will love getting dressed up and hopping up on the theater space. The future tech kids can even control the lighting and sound that is used on the stage.
3. Maker Studio & Clay Studio
Perfect for the creative kids in your life, the Maker Studio and the Clay Studio are two of the most fun things to do at the Portland Children’s Museum. In the Maker Studio, kids will have the chance to use eco-friendly materials as they design their own projects and other creations. With access to glue, cardboard, paper, markers, styrofoams, and other recycled items, they can let their imagination run wild.
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The Clay Studio is the best place in the museum to get your hands dirty. Children will be able to create their own clay figures, bowls, handprints, and more. Staff members are always standing by to lend a helping hand as they guide children in their creativity.
4. Water Works
For kids who simply can’t get enough of water, they will be fascinated by the popular Water Works exhibit. Children will be able to put on a protective smock and splish splash in over give different activities. They’ll have the chance to learn about water currents, the power of gravity, as well as the cause and effect of their actions.
Water Works allows kids to play music with a water cannon, crank a water conveyor belt, and see how water moves. They’ll be in awe of the 12-foot indoor waterfall and the many other captivating experiences in this unique area.
5. Outdoor Adventure
One of the best things to do in Portland with kids is to spend time in the Outdoor Adventure area at the museum. Spanning over 1.3 acres of land, there is a massive amount of space for your kids to run, jump, play, and explore. The outdoor area includes a toddler play place, a sandy dig pit, a small creek, and walking trails.
Children can also wander through the Zany Maze, which has short barriers with various plants, vegetables, and small shrubs that are changed with the seasons.
6. Throw a Birthday Party at the Portland Children’s Museum
What better way to celebrate your child’s birthday than with a day of fun at the Portland Children’s Museum? Kids will have their own rented room or outdoor pavilion to spend time with their family and friends as they open presents and eat cake. Then, they get full access to the museum and all of its exhibits.
Indoor birthday party packages start at $260 and outdoor party packages start at $350. The final price will depend on the number of attendees. The packages include various activity supplies and additional benefits.
How Much Does the Portland Children’s Musem Cost?
Pricing for the Portland Children’s Museum varies for members and non-members. Your family can choose from any of the membership packages for year-round access or simply visit on a one-time basis. Memberships start at $85 and go up to $500 based on the number of people in your family and how many guests you’d like to bring. Call or visit the museum’s website for any discounts.
Portland Children’s Museum Pricing:
- Members: Free access
- Non-members (1+ years old): $11
- Under age 1: Free
- Ages 65+: $10
- Military discount price: $9
- Families in need may be able to qualify for discounted access with the Family Access Program
When to Visit
Since the majority of its exhibits are indoors, you can visit the Portland Children’s Museum at any time of the year. Even on a rainy day, you’ll be able to experience any of the exhibits inside so you’re kids can still enjoy their time.
The months of June, July, and August tend to be the warmest and most comfortable during the year, making them ideal times to visit the Portland Children’s Museum outdoor amenities. Museum workers are on-site 7 days a week with a few exceptions for holidays during the year.
Portland Children’s Museum Hours:
- Sunday through Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Make Sure You Check Out this Top-Rated Portland Attraction
Whether you’re looking for fun kids activities in Portland because you’re moving to the area or you’ve been here for years, the Portland Children’s Museum is easily one of the top things to do in the city.
If you need assistance with an upcoming transition to Portland, the team here at PDX Movers has top-rated movers who are ready to help! Call us today at (503) 746-8795 or complete the Request a Quote form for a free moving estimate!