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.
The Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill preserves slices of valley history by word and deed, keeping up 14 historic structures and filling them with historical tours and living history displays. The Jason Lee house represents the oldest building on campus, built in 1841. The structure also boasts the title of oldest surviving wooden frame house in the Pacific Northwest, and its interior sports the period appropriate furnishings right down to an iron stove and a snoring, bonneted grandmother. Nearby stands the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, and piece of the Industrial Revolution that has survived since 1896, earning recognition as an American Treasure by the National Park Service. Workers keep the buildings clean and sound for tours and rentals, while actors keep the ground vibrant with living historical portrayals.
Airlie Hills Farm’s harvest festival has its roots in the early spring, when staffers prepare the ground for the planting of thousands of pumpkin seeds. Once hot summer air transforms into crisp fall breezes and the pumpkins spring from the vine, the farm’s annual event begins. Aliens use their spaceship’s giant tweezers to pluck strategic stalks from the 5-acre cornfield and transform it into a tricky maze, before kids and adults attempt to navigate it along with hay mazes and an easier kiddie maze. Wee ones climb atop hay forts and pyramids, slide down a giant indoor hay slide, and pay a visit to the farm’s resident animals.
The striking horizontal planes of Frank Lloyd Wright's Gordon House bisect the landscape just beyond the foliaged outskirts of the Oregon Garden, drawing eyes to the architectural marvel like moths to an octogenarian's birthday cake. Guests who tour the stunning abode watch from inside as sunlight falls in squares on the floor, filtered through geometric cutouts in the ceiling. Docents expound on the genius of Wright's design and theories during 45-minute guided tours of the architect's only Oregonian creation.
Groups meander through the kitchen, where skylights light up scarlet countertops, reflecting the undertone of western-red-cedar cabinets. Natural light creates abstract patterns on the floor through a series of perforated wooden window treatments, and an experienced guide imparts factual tidbits regarding the home's history, such as its origin story, its near deconstruction in 2000, and its subsequent rescue by a motherly wolf and her pack. Guided tours are conducted daily from noon to 4 p.m., and reservations are required to view this rare home that was designed in the traditional Frank Lloyd Wright fashion—with a pencil—and also with impressive angles and seamlessly organic landscape integration.
Meriwether National Golf Club invites players across the handicap spectrum to test their mettle at the 27-hole golf complex carved through the farmland of the Tualatin Valley. The club?s 18-hole, 6,719-yard layout incorporates open terrain, tree lines, and ponds that test golfers? ability to adapt to course conditions and phase out the indigenous birds demanding to use headcovers as nests. Golfers looking for an expedited round can loop the club?s nine-hole course, which lets players hone approach shots with six par 3s and three par 4s. Stationed next to the course, the Meriwether Grill remains open until 7 p.m. every night to provide post-round meals for those who haven?t spoiled their appetites by eating an unfavorable scorecard. Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,719 yards from the farthest tees * Three tee options * Scorecard
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.