The entire Earth spins inside of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It's as if visitors have launched into outer space, where they can see everything—clouds forming over North America, hurricanes churning in the tropics, and millions of animals in migration. Night falls, and the major cities light up Earth's continents like misshapen Christmas trees. Just then, the planet disappears, and in its place rises a spinning orb of fire and violent solar storms: the sun. The display, appropriately titled Science On a Sphere, is actually a 6-foot animated globe powered by a series of video projectors. It serves as the perfect centerpiece for OMSI's Earth Hall, which explores geology, tectonics, and everything else that makes Earth a living planet. The hall's exhibits let visitors control wind turbines and launch satellites into space.
Earth Hall is only one section of the museum, however. More hands-on activities wait within Turbine Hall, where kids design bridges and boats. Visitors can tour the USS Blueback, a U.S. Navy attack submarine that guarded the Pacific for 31 years, or gaze towards the heavens inside of Kendall Planetarium, which uses real-time 3D graphics to transport audiences into the very heart of black holes. Even Theory, the onsite eatery, has an educational focus. The restaurant's displays explore food sciences while Chef Ryan Morgan and his team use local ingredients to cook meals in full view.
Although every corner of OMSI sparks scientific curiosity, the museum's educational programs take things one step further. The faculty hosts astronomy camps and teaches 50-minute interactive labs in which kids might make soap or dissect a squid—a requisite skill for any future biologist or sushi chef.
Every year, revelers gather in the forest of the Pacific Northwest to "experience the magic of the realm." Faerieworlds brings together music acts from around the globe, including celtic rock bands, folks trios, didgeridoo prodigies, ghost cellists, and more ethereal artists. Under bright lights and twinkling stars, audiences shed their inhibitions to dance, commune, eat, drink, and find new friends during the three-day celebration.
Faerieworlds, a soft footprint event, reduces its impact on the physical world by using environmentally-sound practices and encouraging audiences to do the same. Organic and vegetarian food vendors fill the bellies of hungry guests. Afterwards, they can employ the onsite glass, paper, and plastic recycling programs. A rideshare program helps save gas, and 100% green electrical power reduces the footprint more effectively than building a massive megaphone in front of every stage.
Plumes of steam puff from the locomotive as it travels along the Pacific coast. A mountainside blanketed in evergreens towers above the vessel as waves pound against the boulder-strewn shore below. The nonprofit Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad serves as both a living history museum and excursion operator for the state's forested coastline. Antique locomotives that hearken back to the region's logging origins take guests on waterside excursions as a crew feeds the engines recycled motor oil and coal-flavored candies. Seasonal events bring about the railroad?s dinner trains, which treat guests to four-course meals as they gaze at the sparkling water of Tillamook and Nehalem Bays.
As a kid, marine biologist and gray whale researcher Carrie Newell dreamed of working on Jacques Cousteau's team. In 2004, that dream approached reality when Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jacques's son, asked Carrie to contribute her groundbreaking research to The Gray Whale Obstacle Course, an episode in the first season of his PBS series. Carrie continues to share her passion and knowledge for gray whales on daily, year-round trips through Whale Research EcoExcursions. After an educational talk, Carrie invites up to six guests to board a six-person ex-coast guard Zodiac and venture into waters where gray whales swim during summer feasts and winter migrations. Carrie also teaches patrons about marine life through her Whale, Sea Life & Shark Museum, which she stocks with her extensive collection of shark, seabird, sea lion, seal, and gray whale artifacts.
Inspired by The Amazing Race, CityScape Adventures—held across the United States—entangle race participants in webs of 12 puzzles and challenges in citywide races to the finish line. Participants compete in teams of two, using their wits, teamwork, and underground network of mutant-turtle spies to complete the tasks given at the start of the race. The 12 challenges take the form of puzzles, riddles, and clues that guide treasure hunters to a specific location within the city, where each team must complete a special task using only their cleverness and muscles. Players can also use the Internet, and the winning team is usually the one that best leverages its resources. The first team to successfully complete all tasks and vault over the finish line will receive a prize and assembly line of high-fives.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Pro Tip: Bring a pair of binoculars to get good views of birds, wildlife, and distant landscape features.
Handicap Accessible: No
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Nature tour of the Columbia River Gorge
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
What is the one feature of your business that you're most proud of?
On our tours, we leave no stone unturned, so to speak. As biologists and naturalists, we're passionate about the whole natural world, from the tiniest insect or plant, to the biggest rivers and mountains. We make sure to bring the full spectrum of nature to the attention of our guests. On a hike to a popular waterfall, for example, we might stop to muck around near a small stream to see what creatures are hidden there. We feel that we can show our guests things that they won't see on tours offered by other businesses.