Mariner Square delights children and adults, tourists and locals alike with a seaside getaway to three different, otherworldly attractions. Nestled on a causeway on Newport's bayfront, visitors can marvel at marine life at the Oregon Undersea Gardens, wander through a forest of lifelike celebrity sculptures at The Wax Works, or learn little-known, bizarre facts at Ripley's Believe It or Not!
A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village is a hands-on children's museum spread across three historical houses that reside in Riverfront Park. It is named after A.C. Gilbert, a Salem native, toy magnate, and inventor of the Erector Set. True to a life spent creating educational and scientific toys, his namesake museum provides a place for kids to interact with exhibits that encourage play and provoke thought. From a giant model of an animal cell to a faux paleontological dig full of ancient bones to musical instruments like a South American rainwheel, the museum's stations encompass a number of scientific and cultural disciplines?though little ones might only interpret each activity as fun. Furthermore, youth can heal stuffed animals in the Village Vet Room or scale a 52-foot edifice that is one of the world's largest Erector Set towers, boasting three slides and a maze.
Through exhibits that explore everything from astronomy and physics to biology and paleontology, the Science Factory inspires a lifelong love of science in children as well as adults. Above all else, the nonprofit embraces a motto of "please touch," creating safe, engaging opportunities for children to act on their curiosity and gain insight into the principles underlying scientific and technological theories.
The Exploration Dome exemplifies the immersive nature of the Museum, surrounding audiences with a full-dome screen that displays digital and live-action films. These educational features can take guests to virtually any location in the world and beyond, including the heart of the Borneo rainforest, the depths of prehistoric oceans, the edge of our galaxy's super-massive black hole, and a universe where popcorn kernels never get stuck in your teeth. Permanent exhibits—including a feature on responsible recycling as well as a terrarium of lizards, frogs, and plants, complete with Renegade, the Museum's resident iguana—explore topics in more depth, complementing both the Exploration Dome’s videos and an ever-changing roster of special attractions.
Owned and operated by glass artists and collaborators Alejandro Hernandez and Ciara Cuddihy, Studio West houses a gallery of fine paintings and glasswork attached to a full glassblowing studio. The cream walls and bright lights of the gallery give way to the industrial metal and stony tile of the workshop, where artisans can be seen retrieving white-hot gobs of glass from the furnaces. These mounds of molten potential are regularly rolled and shaped into handmade trinkets and vases, which can be immediately smashed and melted, completing their life cycle. Visitors can experience the process for themselves during workshops, where they receive hands-on training from the glassworkers in how to bend the superheated silica to their will.
When it was founded in 1987, Frame Central was a social hub for artists, and was even curiously named for facial hair. However, Beard Outlet has since morphed into a seven-location franchise, dedicated to simplifying the framing process. The shops’ onsite stock of matboard, frame moulding, and other key supplies ensures speedy DIY framing projects—which visitors can complete in an hour—and single-day professional framing. An array of pre-framed mirrors and artwork allows shoppers to enhance their blank walls without taping a napping friend to them. Shoppers can also stock up on framing supplies such as case glass and hanging hardware.
At Live Laugh Love Glass, the hot shop and fusing studio are welcoming venues even when filled with molten glass. Open to students age 9 and over, classes in glassblowing invite tender-footed artists to cut their teeth by creating blown-glass pieces ranging from votives to colorful flowers. Those seeking something a little more low-key can head to the glass fusing studio, or partake in painting classes, which include all materials and easy-to-follow instructions to create a finished painting.