Are you a Portland parent who’s heard of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry but never been? Maybe your kiddo has come home from a field trip raving about it and wants to go again. Or, perhaps you’re looking for a great afternoon activity for the little ones. OMSI, as it’s known, is way more fun than its name suggests – this museum is filled with exhibits, workshops and experiences that will keep your kids (and you!) engaged and entertained. We’ve got ten insider tips for making your trip to OMSI fun and easy without missing a beat.

Where: 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
Call: 503-797-4000
Online: www.omsi.edu

Tip #1:
Keep an eye on the OMSI website and Facebook page for up to date information about smaller exhibits and demonstrations that happen on a daily or weekly basis. The Private Labs are especially cool – submarine building or worm digging, anyone?

Tip #2: If you have kiddos on the younger side (ages six and younger), your favorite place at OMSI is sure to be the Science Playground, located on the second level – it’s as close to that dream playroom you wish you had at home as you’ll ever find!

Tip #3: Packing a lunch isn’t necessary – believe it or not, the OMSI Market Café is far better than you’ll find at most attractions. It’s not cheap, but you’ll get a good-sized portion that actually tastes good! The hamburgers (made with free-range beef) and smoothies are particularly popular. Outside food is also welcome at OMSI, so feel free to pack a lunch, snacks and drinks for your visit as well.

Tip #4: Plan your time well. We suggest either doing just the museum in a morning or afternoon or spending the entire day to experience all of the exhibits. In other words, don’t expect to do the museum, planetarium, submarine and OMNIMAX all in one trip, unless you’re planning on hanging out all day. If you are planning an all-day, all-inclusive visit, check out the Museum Combo tickets – it will save you a few bucks on admission.

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Tip #5: Don’t miss the OMSI Band that plays on the 1stand 3rd Tuesday of every month at 10:30 am – they’re a favorite for Portland toddlers and preschoolers and cover all the hits.

Tip #6: Skip visiting on days when public schools have breaks or holidays – it will be completely packed and honestly, pretty crazy with older kids! Same goes for three-day weekends and discounted admission days.

Tip #7: If you’re planning a trip or coming from out of town, give the museum a call before you head out in the morning to make sure all the exhibits are up and running that day. There’s nothing more disappointing to a kiddo than getting to the museum and having their favorite OMSI spots shut down for maintenance or upgrades.

Tip #8: Buying a membership is worth it – for a family of four, a membership will pay for itself in just a couple of visits. Plus, you get to park for free (saves $3.00 each visit!), get discounts at other family-friendly Portland spots and even free admission at other science museums, such as The Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

Tip #9: Unless your child is super passionate about the special exhibit being featured at OMSI, skip it. They are typically very crowded and not worth the extra cost if you’re going to breeze through. If you have little ones (under age six), they’ll end up frustrated with having to stand in line to see everything or get their hands on the exhibits.

Tip #10: You don’t have to bring the kids to enjoy OMSI – the OMSI After Dark is a favorite for Portland area parents, as well as just Portland grown-ups who love geeking out on some science while enjoying an adult beverage. Keep it in mind for your next date night!

Portland families – Tell us your favorite part about visiting OMSI and your tips for making the trip easy and fun!

— Katie Kavulla