Portland museums offer locals and visitors alike prime places to learn more about the city and the world in general. Complementing the museums in Portland Oregon are some interesting historic sites, not to mention one of the best Japanese gardens found anywhere outside of Japan, so cultural enthusiasts won't want for options. When they're not spending time at museums and the Portland Japanese Garden, cultural enthusiasts who are spending some time in Oregon's largest city might venture over to Powell's Books, which is the largest independent new and used book store, or check out the world-famous International Rose Test Garden.
The best museums in Portland include the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Found on the banks of the Willamette River across from Waterfront Park, this excellent Portland museum offers exhibits for all ages, but is an absolutely awesome place to take the kids. You'll also find an Omnimax dome theater there, a real submarine to tour, as well as a planetarium. Many of the exhibits at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry are hands-on exhibits, so visitors can do more than just look at things. After you finish learning about such topics as chemistry, engineering, and space travel at OMSI, you might take a walk along the paved pathway that runs along it or enjoy one of the boat cruises up and down the river that depart from the museum. Plaques that provide information on the history of Portland and the Willamette River can be found along the paved promenade.
Two other museums that deserve a nod when discussing the best museums in Portland are the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society Museum. The former is the oldest museum on the West Coast and offers a dazzling collection for art enthusiasts to enjoy. The collection starts with European Impressionist works and runs up to present-day pieces. The main highlight is arguably the Native American collection, which offers various artworks and artifacts. You'll also find a Northwest art exhibit, an Asian art exhibit, a modern art center, and an outdoor sculpture garden at the Portland Museum of Art. More than 40,000 total objects are on display, helping to make this one of the best cultural institutions in the entire region. As for the Oregon Historical Society Museum, it is an ideal place to go if you want to learn all about the complete history of Portland and Oregon on the whole.
Should you be enjoying a family vacation, one of the museums in Portland Oregon that is not to be missed is the Portland Children's Museum. This excellent museum is found near the Oregon Zoo, so you can easily pair the two attractions together on the same day. The exhibits at the Portland Children's Museum mostly cater to kids between the ages of six months and thirteen years, and there are fun places to play, such as the kid-size grocery store. The most popular exhibit, or play place if you prefer, is known as Water Works. This exhibit allows kids to learn all about water while playing with it at the same time. Smocks and dryers are provided should your little one get soaked, which is a good possibility.
Rounding out the best museums in Portland are the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Craft. The former can be found near the zoo, and if you are interested in forests and the resources that they provide, it's an ideal place to spend some time. Various interactive exhibits can be found at the World Forestry Center, and some of them take a good look at the overall sustainability of the planet's forests. As for the Museum of Contemporary Craft, it was founded back in 1937 and is one of the best of its kind in the country. Highlights include the ceramics and jewelry displays.
The museums in Portland Oregon can make for more than just great rainy day attractions thanks to their overall quality. In addition to visiting the city's museums, those who are interested in cultural endeavors while in town might also take in historic sites such as the Pittock Mansion or the McLoughlin House. These historic homes are essentially museums and offer wonderful insight into the lives of some of the city's most famous past residents and are architecturally impressive.
If you still haven't gotten your cultural fill after visiting all these Portland museums and historic sites, there's also the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, which offers insight into one of North America's most famous overland migration routes. As is true of the McLoughlin House, the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center can be found in nearby Oregon City, which is also where you will find the excellent Museum of the Oregon Territory. Oregon City was the first city west of the Mississippi River to be incorporated, and it makes a fine Portland side trip destination if you enjoy cultural pursuits.