A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village (Salem)
A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village, located on Salem’s riverfront, is one of the best children’s museums around. My kids and I have played here several times, and each time it was a unique experience.
The museum consists of a couple of old, beautiful historic houses converted into rooms for children (and their parents) to explore. Each room is themed differently and allows you to never get bored. The hardest part is keeping up with your kids who are always anxious to check out what’s next.
One minute you will find yourself in China, the next in a boat out to sea.
Move to a room nearby and you will become a grocery store employee and a minute later you will be in a jungle themed theater complete with costumes and a stage.
The bubble room is where you will find my boys spending most of their time.
The newest addition is an animal hospital complete with all of the supplies and equipment to let your imagination pretend that you are a veterinarian.
Please do know that exhibits can and will change, so those you see in these pictures may not be exactly what is available when you are reading this post.
If the weather is cooperating, the gigantic playground in their “backyard” is inspired by A.C. Gilbert’s invention of the erector set. Kids love it but as a parent, it can be scary. There are so many hidden areas that create barriers for visibility. No matter how firm I am in telling my boys to stick together, their excitement to wander through the mazes eventually separates them from each other. I now only let them go up with me by their side, and thankfully the structure is friendly for adults too.
Often in the afternoons, the place is really empty. It can feel like you have a giant house full of the best toys to yourself. I recommend calling ahead to see if any daycare groups are scheduled to visit that day.
I love how this place appeals to a variety of ages. All three of my boys ages 4, 6, and 8 enjoy it equally and when we bring our younger friends along they have a blast as well.
Adults and children (ages 1-59): $8
Children under 1: FREE
Seniors (60+) and military: $7
If you have an OMSI membership, you can get in for free with their reciprocal program.
You are welcome to pack a lunch and use the nice picnic spaces they have out back. Another option is getting your hand stamped and enjoying lunch along the riverfront.
Time flies when you are at A.C. Gilbert House. An afternoon will go by and you will realize you have just spent several hours watching your kids learn and grow. There is so much I left out that you will have to go check out for yourself!
Christi Kurtz lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband and three sons.
Ready to discover (or re-discover) Portland? From the coast to the Gorge, from Clark County to Salem, The Ultimate Guide to Portland Family Fun will allow you to experience the awesomeness this area has to offer!
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