Top Recommended Layover Activities:
1. American Advertising Museum
211 NW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97209 · 503-226-0000
As you might expect, this museum offers a fascinating collection of print ads from as far back as the early 18th century, along with radio and television advertising. Signs, artifacts, recordings and videos outline memorable moments in broadcast advertising. Changing special exhibits feature themes such as photography in advertising, and the history of women in print advertising. If you love pop culture and the sort of salesmanship that colors our world, you'll be thrilled by the exhibits.
2. Children's Museum
4015 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221 · 503-223-6500
This interactive museum seeks to stimulate children's interest in the natural world and in society. Exhibits foster an understanding of such concepts as sound, gravity, and medicine by promoting experimentation and fun. Kids can toy with light and shadow, manipulate water-powered machinery, play dress-up, and work on art projects too. A grocery store and cafe provide them the opportunity to experience the world of adults and expand their boundaries even further.
3. End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
1726 Washington St, Oregon City, OR 97045-1058 · 503-657-9336
Oregon City is an easy drive from Portland, and the Interpretive Center, with its covered-wagon-style buildings, is worth the journey. The Center is especially great for kids since it has costumed interpreters and plenty of things to see and touch. Theaters present videos of the journey west, and exhibits provide details of pioneers, black families in the West, and the coming of the railroad. A craft workshop offers visitors hands-on activities, and the summer months bring a slew of special events. If you need souvenirs or other gifts, the museum store will set you up right.
4. Oregon Maritime Center and Museum
113 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204 · 503-224-7724
For a real taste of maritime travel and commerce in years past, you'll want to visit this intriguing museum. Its exhibits feature navigation instruments, model ships, photographs, memorabilia, and artifacts from actual vessels. Visitors are also invited to tour a steam-powered tugboat that's moored in the river nearby. A tour includes the captain's quarters and the engine room.
5. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214-3354 · 503-797-6674
This outstanding technology museum offers hundreds of exhibits related to computers, space, and earth sciences. Kids especially love the interactive, make-believe village. If you have ever wanted to know what an earthquake is like, you'll find out at this museum, which has a special room that re-creates the experience. There's also an Omnimax theater, a planetarium, laser show, motion simulator and an outdoor river walk that teaches youngsters about the Willamette River.
6. Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205-2486 · 503-226-2811
This museum, founded in the 1890s, sits along a quiet stretch of green called the Park Blocks. It's the oldest arts institution in the area and houses permanent collections that include Northwest Coastal Indian art, Chinese artifacts, and European and Classical art. You'll also find contemporary American artwork, an outdoor sculpture garden, and space for presentations and seminars. In addition to its long-term collections, the museum also features a wealth of traveling exhibits.
7. World Forestry Center
4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221-2798 · 503-228-1367
This impressive museum, styled like a contemporary lodge, educates visitors on forests around the world. The role of woodlands in nature and in human life is detailed, and old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest and rainforests of the tropics serve as prominent examples. Ecology, wildlife, and conservation are all addressed, and a giant, artificial Douglas fir serves as a talking guide for visitors. Special exhibits are displayed regularly, and a gift shop sells relevant merchandise.
Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:
1. Musicfest Northwest
Various locales, Portland, OR · 503-243-2122
Held in September at venues all over the city, this three-day music fest is pure heaven for true music lovers. Here, you can catch tomorrow's radio heroes today. A wristband that runs about $25 will get you into all the shows. Call the Willamette Week for information at (503) 243-2122.
2. Oregon Brewers Festival
SW Naito Pkwy, Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, OR 97204 · 503-295-1862
In July, McCall Waterfront Park plays host to approximately 75 brewers who celebrate and share their blends. Purchase the official mug, and then buy all the samples you can handle! Food is available to help soak up the beer, and music will keep your feet tapping. Brews come from all over the area and throughout the world. If you're an aficionado, this is one you won't want to miss. There is, after all, a reason they call Portland "Munich on the Willamette" or "Beervana."
3. Portland Rose Festival
Various locales, Portland, OR 97209 · 503-227-2681
In June, Portland lives up to its "City of Roses" moniker. In tribute to the beautiful flowers the city is known for, events are held throughout the city, including three parades, a hot-air balloon race, and a waterfront carnival. Military ships also dock downtown and open to the public for tours. Residents are so eager to claim spaces for the parade that they frequently chain lawn chairs to parking meters to mark a spot. Others simply duct-tape or chalk their name and a border around the area they stake out. On the morning of the parade, folks arrive early, and you'll see people on the sidewalk making pancakes and coffee on camp stoves. A city tradition.
4. The Bite: A Taste of Portland
SW Naito Pkwy, Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, OR 97204 · 503-248-0600
In August, lots of great Portland restaurants set up booths in the park, tempting visitors with their house specialties. Over the course of the weekend, you can sample a multitude of international cuisines, including bites from Greece, Africa, Asia, Italy and Mexico. There's also plenty of vegetarian fare available, along with tasty American standards. Bands representing a variety of musical genres regale festival-goers with tunes, and there are games, giveaways, comic performances, and kids shows, as well. There's even a wine garden with selections from more than two dozen Oregon vintners. Even better, the entire event is for a good cause, the Oregon Special Olympics.
5. Waterfront Blues Festival
SW Naito Pkwy, Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, OR 97204 · 503-973-3378
Serving as a benefit for the Oregon Food Bank, this festival is held during the Fourth of July weekend. It brings to the city an array of big name blues performers (vocalists and bands) and gospel choirs. You'll also find blues films, arts and crafts for sale, jam sessions, and blues workshops. A beautiful setting along the river and fantastic weather bring out droves of spectators, who clamor for a chance to hear the best in blues entertainment and help the area's needy as they do. A great holiday event.