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.
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.
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!
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.
Portland Aquarium, a December 2012 addition to Milwaukie, introduces visitors to thousands of waterborne species. Guests can slide their hands along the smooth flesh of a stingray or the knobby arms of a starfish or engage in staring contests with a leopard shark. Other planned exhibits include a jellyfish exhibit, a cold-water tank filled with fish native to Oregon's coast, and a rainforest-themed jungle gym for children. The tropical touch-tank woos visitors with its displays of vibrant-color aquatic life while amphibious wonders, including poison dart frogs, thrill visitors. Those seeking bigger thrills may hoist various pythons species?including a15-foot reticulated or 9-foot albino burmese snake?upon their shoulders or get their picture taken with a lorikeet. Landing-loving iguanas and panther chameleons also lurch around in the mix.
For more than 50 years, the geologists of Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals have invited the world to peruse their collections within a historic, ranch-style home in Hillsboro. But the specimens on display have been around for eons longer than that house has stood. There are cross sections of petrified wood, for instance, with a "Talking Log" exhibit to explain how wood transforms into stone over millions of years. Semi-transparent agate stones tell the tale of the planet's volcanic past with their intricately formed layers, and meteorites bear the pockmarks of their plummets to earth. A room of fluorescent stones glow neon in the dark?a remnant from the prehistoric days before cavemen discovered lava lamps.
Most of these collections are on display indoors, but the museum's outdoor grounds are also a draw. Visitors can wander along a sandstone-tiled path, exploring lush gardens filled with ferns, wildflowers, and rhododendrons. If you walk this path?whether during a spontaneous visit or during an organized event such as the summer festival?you may spot some natural wildlife, such as deer, rabbits, or hummingbirds frenetically sipping from a feeder.