The museum features many permanent and
rotating exhibits covering local history both
before and after Oregon became a state in
1859. One of the most popular exhibits is
the award-winning “Oregon My Oregon,”
which tells the state’s story from the region’s
earliest inhabitants through the Oregon Trail
period and early settlements and industries.
Although there is plenty of Oregon-spe-cific content, other featured exhibits have
included national themes like “Windows on
America,” a world-class collection of presidential history and artifacts.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214
With a planetarium, an giant-screen theater,
a retired navy submarine (the USS Blueback
is docked in the river right outside), traveling
exhibits of all kinds and “After Dark” events
that pair science talk with beer and wine for
the 21-and-over set, the Oregon Museum of
Science and Industry has lures for all ages.
But its core fan base is still the half-pints,
who can feel an earthquake and learn about
physics in Turbine Hall, conduct their own
experiments in the interactive labs or watch
storms form on a giant globe. The hands-on
Science Playground is designed for kids 6
and under and, thankfully, the splash area
has adult-size waterproof aprons in case
Mom and Dad want to get in on the fun
without getting soaked.
The renovated Theory Café takes museum
fare to the next level, with goodies like oven-fired pizza, local beer sliders and quinoa
salad that can be enjoyed with Willamette
River views. There’s even a tap list for
adults. Just across the river from downtown,
OMSI keeps getting easier to get to. A wide
sidewalk and well-marked pedestrian/bike
lanes make the Hawthorne Bridge an easy
stroll and the Portland Streetcar’s Central
Loop drops passengers a short walk from the
museum’s front door.
Oregon Rail Heritage Center
2250 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214
Bordered by three modern rail lines —
the Portland Streetcar, Union Pacific and
Oregon Pacific — the Oregon Rail Heritage
Center celebrates trains of the past.
The free, volunteer-run museum’s modern
exhibit space showcases three vintage steam
locomotives (two of which still run), including
the streamlined Southern Pacific Daylight
Locomotive 4449, which traveled between
Los Angeles and San Francisco in the 1940s
and pulled the American Freedom Train that
toured the nation for the 1976 Bicentennial.
In addition to as a year-round slate of
exhibits and events, train lovers also have
the chance to book rides aboard ORHC’s
December “Holiday Express,” which boards
in Oaks Park and travels along the Willamette River.