Science and Nature Outings
Check your local library for their "Cultural Pass to Adventure" which provides free or discounted entrance to many museums and cultural locations.
The Audobon Society of Portland promotes the understanding, enjoyment, and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats. Enjoy miles of forested trails in our wildlife sanctuary open from dawn to dusk everyday. Also visit their interpretive center with exhibits and wildlife center to meet birds of prey up close. A nature store provides books, kits, and supplies. (NW Portland)
Bonneville Lock and Dam complex provides power to a major portion of the Northwest as well as a fish hatchery and popular recreational area. Visitor information centers are located on both the Oregon and Washington sides. The fish hatchery provides interpretive displays and relaxing viewing ponds and a seasonal visitor store. The dam facility periodically provides outreach days for students, often in the spring time, and geocaching activities. See their teacher guide for more ideas of how to turn a dam visit into a science unit study..
Camp Tilikum is a ministry of George Fox University which provides summer camps, retreats, and year-round facility grounds for your group's activities. Summer Camp entails engaging stories and outdoor adventure supervised by carefully trained staff who share the message of God’s love. Tilikum's Home School program caters to families interested in having their child(ren) attend a summer camp program that is focused primarily on home school and private school children/youth. (Newberg)
Children's Museum is an interactive museum for children. Exhibits foster an understanding of nature and the world through experimentation and fun. Kids can toy with light and shadow, manipulate water-powered machinery, play dress-up, and work on art projects. A grocery store and cafe provide the opportunity to experience the world of adults and expand their boundaries even further. (SW Portland) Sadly the Children's Museum will permanently close June 2021.
The Columbia Slough Watershed Council is a diverse group of people and organizations "who work to restore and enhance the 60 miles of waterways, wetlands, and slow moving channels known as the Columbia Slough." The Council encourages environmental and economic support for the waterways through volunteer work, recreational activities, field events, and free workshops to help the general public and educators learn more about and enjoy the waterways and wetlands in the Columbia River area. (NE Portland/Columbia River)
Creation Encounters purpose is to provide quality creation field study tours, road guides, and other information glorifying God as Creator. We offer "tailor-made" creation programs for various organizations. Our mission is to help believers defend the reliability of the Bible and to support the church in fulfilling its Great Commission. (Various locations in Northwest)
Design Science Association is a local association for Creation Science. They sponsor monthly meetings with a guest speaker, a newsletter, science materials for sale, creation science conferences, nature field trips and rafting trips that glorify the Creator. (SW Portland and various locations)
Evergreen Aviation Museum This museum houses Howard Hughes' famous "Spruce Goose." It also is home to a variety of planes and aircraft on display as well as interactive educational displays and an IMAX theater. The museum also offers a variety of educational programs, retreats and resources supporting the field of aviation and aeronautic engineering. (McMinnville).
Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport (2 1/2 hour drive from Portland) is an Oregon State University marine biology research lab. Its visitor center includes numerous interactive displays for the public of all ages. Children can interact with tide pools, waves and coast erosion. The website also includes educational materials including a reservable kit to aid your studies at the center. Homeschool materials and workshops are provided. See their website under Education for Students and Teachers.
Hoyt Arboretum offers parents a 185-acre "living classroom" in which to teach their children about trees, plants and the natural world. A Visitor Center in the heart of the Arboretum offers visitor services, a research library, educational brochures, trail maps, a children's activity map and a small gift shop. Portland Parks and Recreation offers (secular) Nature Day Camps, Ladybug Walks, tours for school groups and other programs for children throughout the year. (NW Portland)
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is a 725-acre wildlife preserve within the city limits of Hillsboro. Quiet open waters, rolling meadows and upland ash and fir woods are home to thousands of ducks and geese, deer, otters, beavers, herons and eagles. The trails are open from dawn to dusk. (No dogs or bicycles, please.) The Wetlands Education Center provides unique hands-on exhibits, a nature store, classroom and meeting space, and a beautiful deck with fantastic views overlooking the Preserve. (Hillsboro area)
Kiyokawa Family Orchards is a family-owned and operated farm located in Parkdale, Oregon, in the Hood River Valley. "At last count, we grow over 80 different varieties of apples and pears, including 12 varieties of Asian Pears." Open daily from late August through early November, they provide group tours, self-guided tours, fruit fundraisers for organizations, as well as family-friendly harvest festivals during the fruit harvest season. See their website for details, times, and planned events. (Parkdale, OR)
Lewis and Clark Historical Park includes Fort Clatsop Discovery Center which provides hands exhibits, demonstrations, re-enactments, and educational materials about the last stops for the famous expedition on the Oregon Coast. (Astoria)
Magnus Memorial Tree Farm is an internationally recognized demonstration forest and outdoor education site enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year. This beautiful 80 acre property has a large natural area, small stream, nine comparative forest management zones, 2.5 miles of hiking trails, the historic "Clatskanie" fire tower, recreation field, small picnic shelter, and rustic log cabins for youth group overnight camping, outdoor schools, and retreats. Magness is free and open to the public daily. (Sherwood-Wilsonville area)
Mount St. Helens Creation Center is a small but developing information center providing displays, some hands on activities for the kids, and a presentation relating how the rapidly formed features following the Mt. St. Helens 1980 eruption give evidence of a young earth creation. They also provide extensive excursions throughout the Mt. St. Helens area to investigate the incredible 1980 eruption. (Silverlake, WA)
Noble Woods A great place to go hiking or bird watching. 38 acres of wooded terrain which has over a mile of paved trails and several foot bridges.(Hillsboro)
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is a treasure for wildlife enthusiasts. This 725-acre park has a little bit of everything: lakes, trails, meadows and is home to more than 200 North American animals. See bighorn sheep, deer, Roosevelt elk, woodland caribou, mountain goats, bison and more up close from comfortable trams while touring the free-roaming area. Walk pathways to view grizzlies, black bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars, owls, eagles and wetland animals in beautiful natural exhibits. Located in Eatonville, Washington, about 137 miles north of Portland. (Eatonville, WA)
Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport (2 1/2 hour drive from Portland) is an internationally acclaimed marine zoo with many exhibits including a now famous, mesmerizing jelly fish display. Interactive displays and workshops for the smaller crowd, workshops and camps for students, educational materials for teachers and parents. Homeschool days seasonally. Get on their mailing list for dates and resources.
The Oregon Garden is one of Oregon's most popular destinations where thousands of plants are displayed in more than 20 specialty gardens. Explore amazing water features, the Conifer garden, garden art, wetlands, the Rediscovery Forest, a playful garden just for kids, the 400-year-old Signature Oak, and the Gordon House, the only house in Oregon designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. About an 1 1/2 south of Portland (Silverton, OR)
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) offers hundreds of exhibits, many interactive, related to computers, space, and earth sciences. There's also an Omnimax theater, a planetarium, laser show, motion simulator and an outdoor river walk that teaches youngsters about the Willamette River. OMSI provides science camps and classes (secular). Attached to OMSI is a the Blueback submarine, a WW2 style diesel submarine in permanent dock. Watch for the 1/2 price day offered each month during the school year. (Eastside Portland)
The Oregon Zoo is Oregon's premier zoo. Check their website for events and special hands-on classes or features. Entrance is a bit spendy for a family, if you pay the normal admission price at the gate, but the zoo usually offers a 1/2 price Tuesday once a month, or you may consider purchasing the family year pass which would pay for itself after a 2 or 3 visits. (West Portland)
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge provides wintering and nesting habitat for a diversity of species of waterfowl and other birds and wildlife. It oversees a number of refuges in the (Columbia Gorge and Ridgefield, Washington areas).
Rosse Posse Acres Elk Farm is a 52-acre working elk ranch with more than 75 elk. The farm tour includes an educational lecture in the barn describing elk antler, ivory teeth, hooves, elk behavior, and interesting stories of our farming experience. Paved walking trails provide access to elk up close. The tour concludes with a visit to a petting zoo where students enjoy interacting with pygmy goats and miniature donkeys. A Gift Shop provides snacks, soda, antler jewelry, and more. Tours are tailored to group needs. By appointment only. (Mollala)
Seaside Aquarium is a small but delightful aquarium on the Oregon coast that has been a fixture for over 50 years. Specializing in eye level and hands on exhibits for children, it allows investigation into tide pools and sea life. The seal exhibit alone is worth the small price of admission (shall we say they "mug" for public attention?). (Seaside, Oregon).
Tillamook Forestry Center Located on OR highway 6 at milepost 22, on the way to Tillamook. The center itself is a great place to learn about the growth and management of forests - really excellent, interactive, free exhibits. They have regularly schedules talks, nature walks, etc. on various topics. They also show educational program kits and scheduled field trip opportunites on their website. Check out their program links! (Tillamook area)
Tryon State Park provides over 650 acres of day use areas, hiking trails, horse trails, bike trails, an interpretive Nature Center with store, and hands on nature workshops for children of all ages. Located near Lake Oswego.
Tualatin Hills Nature Park is composed of 222 acres of woodlands, wetlands, meadows, 5 miles of park trails (1.5 miles paved), and an interpretive center which has a library, nature store, exhibit hall, and classrooms where periodic nature classes are held. (Beaverton)
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge This is a large wildlife refuge/nature park in the Sherwood area along the Tualatin River flood plain with several easy walking trails.The Refuge provides a variety of recreational and educational activities all specially focused on local wildlife and their habitats.See their website for educational materials and guides. (Sherwood/Tualatin)
Twin Rocks Friends Camp provides a Christian retreat center and family friendly camps including a seasonal k-12 homeschool outdoor school. Located in Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast.
World Forestry Center and Discovery Museum is a nonprofit (secular) educational institution. "Our mission is to educate and inform people about the world's forests and trees, and their importance to all life, in order to promote a balanced and sustainable future." The Center includes 3 programs: The Discovery Museum, two tree farms, and the World Forestry Institute. Events, tours, and field trips are also available in addition to the regular museum exhibits. (West Portland)
WyEastExpeditions provide field trips to students including their Talapas, a 42-passenger replica of a Native American dugout canoe. Their trips "move your students' education outdoors where they can connect activities in math, natural history, data gathering, and history of the development of Oregon in a real life setting." Trips include the Talapas indian war canoe trip, a Lewis and Clark dugout canoe expedition, as well as white-water rafting. (Willamette River, John Day River, Deschutes River areas)