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Oregon Maritime Museum (Downtown Portland)
The third Saturday of every month is Museum Family Saturday at the Oregon Maritime Museum. On these days, the museum is free to families with children under 18. The museum is in the U.S. Portland, a steam-powered sternwheel tug on the Willamette and presents a great opportunity for your little ones to climb aboard a big ship (although you may want to manage expectations a bit and warn them that the boat will not be moving).
The museum houses lots of ship pictures, artifacts and models. The exhibit is very accessible height wise to little ones with many of the models low to, if not on, the ground. They are housed in cases, so you don’t have to worry about your child damaging the models.
Some of the models are more dynamic. One features a series of switches that activate different features on the ship. Another demonstrates how a steam engine works (complete with a Woody doll to demonstrate scale).
Not everything is encased though. The steering wheel at the front of the ship is up on a platform and children can pretend to steer the vessel. There are also lots of opportunities to make noise with various bells, whistles, foghorns and other ship instruments.
On the family days, the museum features an activity geared towards children. On the day we went, it was a scavenger hunt. While my children were a bit too young to fully engage in this activity they were very into the last part of the scavenger hunt, which asked the children to draw their favorite ship at a station with markers. The staff was very welcoming and helped the children with the scavenger hunt.
There is a ramp onto the ship and the museum is on the main deck, so it is stroller accessible. The closest parking is metered street parking or paid public lots. A MAX stop is also nearby at Oak and SW 1st Ave.
You do not need to set aside and entire afternoon for a visit (we spent ~40 minutes at the museum) but it is a fun activity to couple with a walk on the waterfront or visit to the Saturday Market (find more Family Fun activities in Downtown Portland here).
Sionainn is a single momma to 3 year-old boy/girl twins and lives in SE Portland.
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