Portland, Ore., is home to a massive science museum: the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The locals refer to it as "OMSI," and here you will find five unique exhibit halls, eight hands-on science labs, the USS Blueback submarine, Kendall Planetarium and the Empirical Theater - not to mention the many traveling exhibits OMSI hosts throughout the year.
Families could easily spend an entire day at OMSI, learning with each other at hands-on exhibits and live science experiments in the lab. Here you can experience an earthquake, program a robot, build an aqueduct or design your own flying machine.
Hands-on science experiments at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry — Photo courtesy of Meagan Shamy
One of the labs everyone seems to love is the Chemistry Lab, which offers a variety of hands-on experiments and activities and gives visitors the opportunity to safely mix, measure and pour chemicals. If you want even more in-depth science experiments, then sign up for one of their classes.
For children ages six and under, there is a science playground. In this area, kids can dig through sand, enjoy water play and grocery shop. There is a lab just for the younger kids here, too. In the lab, they can make their own flubber and play dough. On the first and third Thursdays of the month, a band plays at 10:30 a.m.
Baby play area at OMSI — Photo courtesy of Meagan Shamy
They even have an area just for babies, with soft toys, mirrors and things to climb over. The babies especially enjoy watching the fish in the aquarium.
The Empirical Theater offers a mix of educational movies and current Hollywood movies, while the planetarium offers three programs on space. The submarine here is the U.S. Navy's last non-nuclear, fast-attack submarine: the USS Blueback (SS-581). The submarine is seen by guided tour only. On the 45-minute tour, you will get to peer through a periscope, touch a torpedo and climb in a bunk in the crew's quarters.
OMSI even offers special times just for those who are ages 21 and up at OMSI After Dark. During this time, there's food, drinks and science fun. OMSI After Dark is the last Wednesday of every month from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., with happy hour starting at 5 p.m. in Theory Eatery. It's recommended that you buy tickets in advance. You should bring cash if you want something from the bar.
Ticket prices for OMSI start at $9.50 and go up from there, depending on age. The submarine, planetarium and theater are each an extra fee. Hours vary on the season, so be sure to check OMSI's website for current times.