Family Entertainment Tour (Self Guided), Portland

For many years Portland has been famous for the development of its parks, forest areas and green spaces for the benefit of people who love and understand the value of nature. Take this self-guided tour to meet the inhabitants of award-winning Oregon Zoo, see the smile on your child's face at the Portland Children's Museum, learn about the importance of trees and the forest at the World Forestry Center, and discover new pine trails in the huge Hoyt Arboretum!
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Family Entertainment Tour Map

Guide Name: Family Entertainment Tour
Guide Location: USA » Portland (See other walking tours in Portland)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 4
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Author: Xena
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Oregon Zoo
  • Portland Children's Museum
  • World Forestry Center / Discovery Museum
  • Hoyt Arboretum
1
Oregon Zoo

1) Oregon Zoo (must see)

The state's most popular tourist attraction, this zoo, opened in 1888, is foremost known for its elephants – the most successful breeding herd in captivity. Africa-themed exhibits feature some of the best habitats with a man-made (yet very lifelike) rainforest and a savanna populated by rhinos, zebras, giraffes, and hippos. Among other highlights are the two otter tanks – one in Steller Cove with sea otters, the other in the Cascade Stream exhibit with river otters frolicking alongside beavers, ringtails and many birds. In the summer, they have an exceptional outdoor concert series with lawn sitting, "rain or shine". There are also places to grab drinks, and a much-loved miniature train pulled by a real steam engine puffs around the zoo and on a four-mile loop to the International Rose Test Garden and Portland Japanese Garden. Kids will love it!

Why You Should Visit:
Most exhibits feature multiple viewing locations so it feels like there is room for everyone to get a good look.
Also, most viewing areas are under cover and it's not too far a dash from one place to the next in case of rain.
And again, most exhibits allow for the animals to move around more based on their preference.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am–4pm (Sep 3–Mar 20); 9:30am–5pm (Mar 21–29 / May 25–Sep 2);
Mon-Fri: 9:30am–4pm; Sat, Sun: 9:30am–5pm (Mar 30–May 24);
2
Portland Children's Museum

2) Portland Children's Museum

Part museum, part exploratorium, part science lab, part library, part playground, and part theater, the Portland Children's Museum is an engaging, educational and thoroughly enjoyable experience, with opportunities for creativity, teamwork, solo learning, etc. Kids can spend hours entertaining themselves in a safe environment and, on a summer day, they are also able to enjoy the outdoor area, which features a wonderful tree for climbing and some very creative spaces.

There are different themed areas such as the grocery store, theaters, water play, pet hospital, construction zone, or bridge-building, and an outside area including the stream (water play), the dig pit (sand pit with shovels and buckets), the grove, amphitheater (with buckets of soapy water to make giant bubbles). Each area is well thought out and uses realistic material (especially the construction zone that features rocks and bricks made of rubber but looking just like the real thing).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am–5pm
3
World Forestry Center / Discovery Museum

3) World Forestry Center / Discovery Museum

Located near the Oregon Zoo in Washington Park, the World Forestry Center has its roots in the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair for which an enormous log cabin was built of huge native trees and advertised as the world's largest. Public interest in the Forestry Building, which was turned over to the State of Oregon, lasted long after the exposition ended, right up until it was destroyed by fire on August 17, 1964. The day after the fire, a group of civic and industry leaders conceived The Western Forestry Center ("World Forestry Center" since 1986), housed in a new, more fire-resistant building which opened to the public in 1971.

The timber industry's major role in the development of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest is the focus of the current interactive museum geared mostly toward kids. Learn about how forests actually work and how complex they are (including the creatures living under their floor), and ride into the (simulated) canopy of the Amazon rainforest. Out front sits "Peggy" – a 33½-ton locomotive built in 1909, that hauled a billion feet of logs, more or less, in a 41-year career.

After a visit here, be ready to dive into the real forests of Washington Park right outside.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am–5pm
4
Hoyt Arboretum

4) Hoyt Arboretum

Located atop a ridge in the west hills of the city, this 187-acre (0.76 km2) reserve is much more than a woodsy park – it's a living museum of plants, with just under ten thousand shrubs and trees representing over 1,100 species from around the world, including dozens of species that are endangered in the wild. Most of these have labels identifying common and scientific names as well as region of origin; moreover, the trees – many of which are very large and clearly planted many years ago – are organized and grouped according to genus.

There are always seasonal highlights, from the magnificent magnolias in the spring to fiery-colored maples in the fall and witch hazels in mid-winter. Of special note are the giant Dawn Redwoods – rare deciduous conifers dating from the Jurassic period and thought to be extinct until specimens were discovered in a remote Chinese valley in the 1940s. These amazing trees bear soft, short needles and have a distinctive look in that the branches seem to push out from folds in the trunk.

Twelve miles (19 km) of hiking trails wind through the arboretum, including the Wildwood Trail that continues into Forest Park. If possible, plan your visit to coincide with a volunteer-led guided tour ($3/person donation suggested); check the Arboretum's events calendar for exact days/times. Although key trees and plants are labeled and free maps to well-marked walks ranging from ½ mile to 1.25 miles in length can be picked up at the Visitor Center or downloaded from the Arboretum’s website, the guided tour adds immeasurably to the experience.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 5am–10pm

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