Portland, Oregon, has a reputation for being hip, progressive, laid back and just a little weird. We can’t dispute that reputation. But Portland is much more than a TV parody (Portlandia, anyone?). The city has excellent museums, beautiful outdoor spaces (over 10,000 acres of public parks) and a thriving cultural life (and counterculture life for those who like to keep it weird).
Founded in 1892, the Portland Art Museum is the oldest museum in the Pacific Northwest. Over the last 120 years, its collection has grown to more than 42,000 objects. Among the extensive range of holdings, the museum is especially well known for its art of the native peoples of North America, English silver and graphic arts. The massive collection is shown across 112,000-square-feet of gallery space. The museum also houses the Northwest Film Center.
The museum is wheelchair accessible. Restrooms are located in the Belluschi building on the LL, 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors and are all accessible.
For entrance to the museum galleries, the Hoffman entrance, adjacent to the Sculpture Mall on the north side of the museum, is fully accessible via a ramp. For access to the museum’s event spaces, the Mark Building’s entrance is accessible via a ramp located just south of the main steps.
Wheelchairs are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis at the box office just inside the Hoffman entrance.
The museum offers docent-guided tours with extended visual descriptions for visitors who are blind or have low vision on the third Thursday of each month. The tours feature extended verbal descriptions of works in the museum’s collection and offer tactile examples when possible.
Large-print copies of select gallery labels and interpretive panels are available on the museum’s exhibition web pages.
T-coil compatible FM assistive listening devices and neck loops for tours and public program are available upon request. Sign language interpreters are also available free of charge if requested two to three weeks in advance. Email or call the on-site services manager, Stacie Webb, at 503-276-4271 to reserve hearing devices or to set up an interpreter.
Parking: There is metered street parking. There is also a parking lot adjacent to the museum (0.1 miles away from the Hoffman entrance and on a slight hill) at the corner of SW Park Avenue and Main Street. Anyone with a Disabled Person Parking Placard may park at one- or two-hour meters for up to three hours and in three-hour spaces for up to 11 hours.
Public Transportation: Portland Streetcar A and NS lines to the Art Museum stop (1-minute walk), Portland Streetcar B and NS lines to South West 11th and Jefferson (3-minute walk) and bus #6, #38, #45, #55, #58, #68, #92 and #96 to 10th and Jefferson (2-minute walk).
The Portland Children’s Museum offers a super-fun day out for kids up to age of 12 (older siblings welcome). The museum’s approach, inspired by the early childhood schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, is built on “inquiry-based learning strategies.” What this means is that your kids are going to go wild for the chance to learn through play, and you’ll be hard pressed to drag them away at the end of the day!
The museum, including the Outdoor Adventure area has been designed to be accessible.
The Clay Studio and Maker Studio have low tables for children using a wheelchair.
The Water Works exhibit offers low tubs and water tables, giving everyone an equal opportunity to get very, very wet!
Parking: Pay to park in Washington Park parking lot.
Public Transportation: MAX Blue Line or Red Line to Washington Park MAX Station (4-minute walk) or bus #63 to Washington Park Max Station (4-minute walk).
You won’t know where to start at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSIS). The mission of the museum is to inspire curiosity and with hundreds of interactive exhibits and eight laboratories, the only risk is being overstimulated. The museum covers a little bit of everything, from the Life & Earth Halls, where visitors learn about the complex systems within their own bodies, the Turbine Hall, which teaches about physical science and technology and the 7,000-square-foot Science Playground, aimed at getting the little ones off to a gentle scientific start, there’s plenty to do here. Don’t forget to check out the Planetarium or to catch a show at the Empirical Theater.
The barrier-free entrance to OMSI is located at the right-hand side of the main entrance. This door is fully accessible with push button entry. All exhibit and lab areas are wheelchair/scooter accessible with the exception of the USS Blueback submarine.
Wheelchairs are available at the Concierge Window. Motorized scooters can be picked up at the featured entrance gate desk. Both are available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis. ID is required as a deposit.
While all exhibits and labs are visual, many have additional auditory or tactile components that invite visitor participation. Staff are available to assist visitors in all exhibit and lab areas.
The Empirical Theater has an upper level wheelchair accessible entrance and theater restrooms.
The planetarium can accommodate four visitors with wheelchairs. Scripts for presentations are available upon request.
Parking: Eight accessible (paid) parking spaces, include two van-accessible spaces. Visitors may be dropped off and picked up at the loading area in front of the main entrance.
Public Transportation: Portland Streetcar A or B to SE Water/OMSI (5-minute walk), MAX Orange line to OMSI/SE Water Max Station (6-minute walk) or bus #9 and #17 to OMSI/SE Water (5-minute walk).
Come and make friends with the 1,800 animals (representing 232 species or subspecies) at the 64-acre Oregon Zoo. The zoo’s residents include 19 endangered species and nine threatened species. The site is divided into five major exhibit areas: Great Northwest, Fragile Forests, Asia, Pacific Shores, and Africa. While people tend to come for the animals, take time to examine the plant life, which is made up of native plants from the Pacific Northwest’s temperate rainforests. In all, more than 1,000 species of plants can be seen in the zoo’s botanical gardens.
Pathways, exhibits, restaurants, restrooms and drinking fountains are all accessible. There is about 150 feet of elevation change from the zoo’s highest points near the main entrance to its lowest points near the Predators of the Serengeti exhibit.
Guests can load and unload in a TriMet lift zone, located to the left of the zoo gates near the Zoo Store. If the primary loading/unloading zone is not available, guests with passengers using a wheelchair may temporarily use the TriMet cutout for buses.
Wheelchairs and electric scooters can be rented on a first-come, first-served basis at the front entrance next to the Oregon Zoo Gift Shop.
If you visit the zoo accompanied by a service animal, check in at the reception office. There is a service dog map showing which locations are off-limits for service dogs.
Parking: Accessible spaces are in the first two aisles near the zoo's front entrance with more marked spaces throughout the lot. A valid DMV Disabled Parking Permit parking permit is required.
Public Transportation: Max Blue Line or Red Line to Washington Park Max Station (1-minute walk) or bus #63 to Washington Park Station (1-minute walk).
Lan Su Chinese Garden Chinese New Year Celebration
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Let’s face it, Portland isn’t exactly known as being a high-pressure kind of city. Still, even laid-back Portlanders need somewhere to truly relax and there’s no better place than the Lan Su Chinese Garden. The garden is one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China and is the result of a collaboration with Portland’s sister city Suzhou, which is famed for its Ming Dynasty gardens. The 40,000-square-foot garden offers a window into Chinese culture and history.
The Grotto: Christmas Lights This 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden is formally known as The National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother and popularly known as The Grotto.
Portland has plenty of places offering spots for contemplation and relaxation. One of the most popular is The Grotto, a national Catholic shrine dedicated to Mary. While the site is Catholic, it is open to all with many visitors coming not for religious reasons, but to see the site’s renowned botanical garden. At the heart of the shrine is “Our Lady’s Grotto, a rock cave carved into the base of a 110-foot cliff featuring a life-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà at its center.
All areas of The Grotto are accessible. The pathways are paved; however, there are some gentle slopes and uneven surfaces in places.
Complimentary wheelchairs are available to borrow on a first-come, first-served basis from The Grotto Gift Shop.
Parking: Free on-site parking.
Top Tip: The lower garden, Grotto, chapel and Visitor Center are free to visit. Paid admission is necessary to see the Upper Level Garden, which includes the Peace Garden, the Rose Garden and Labyrinth.
Named for original owners and Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock, the mansion is open for touring year-round and offers panoramic views of the city.
Pittock Mansion, a French Renaissance-style château, was built in 1914 for Henry Pittock and his wife Georgiana. Pittock, the owner of The Oregonian newspaper and his wife only lived in the house they had so lovely built for a short time (she died in 1918; he followed soon after in 1919), but it continued to be inhabited by family members until 1958. The home has been open to the public since 1965, after extensive repairs following devastating damage in the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. The Pittock Mansion, located on 46-acres of land within Pittock Acres Park, is one of Portland’s few publicly accessible homes.
The wheelchair entrance is located to the right (east) side of the home. Access to the upper floors is via the Mansion’s original 1914 Otis elevator! Staff and volunteers are available to operate the lift.
Due to the limited size of the Mansion elevator, motorized wheelchairs and scooters may not fit inside. There are wheelchairs available to borrow on a first-come, first-served basis.
South East 60th Avenue and Salmon Street, Portland, OR 97215
City View from Mt Tabor
Jamie Francis / TravelPortland.com
For Portland, parks are a way of life. There are plenty to choose from, but for one of the most accessible parks in the city, spend some time at Mt. Tabor Park. And this is not just any old park; the sprawling 190+-acre area is located on a dormant cinder cone. Take in the views of downtown, check out the outdoor reservoirs, see if you can find all 57 species of trees in the park or just relax; this is Portland after all.
The park has an accessible play area, with access provided by a ramp. The play equipment has a transfer station.
There is an accessible restroom and picnic table.
Parking: Parking lot and street parking. There is a designated van space. There is a paved 500-foot pathway to the play area from the parking area.
Top Tip: Take advantage of the information put together by the Friends of Mt. Tabor Park and get yourself up to speed on trees, plants and the reservoirs before you go to make your visit more than just a walk in the park.
1501 East Evergreen Boulevard, Vancouver, WA 98661
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ Photo Credit: Stephen Young
Head 15 minutes or so over the Columbia River to Fort Vancouver National Park (Vancouver Washington, not Canada!). The historical site is actually made up of four separate attractions – Fort Vancouver, Vancouver Barracks, Pearson Air Museum and The McLoughlin House – each telling a different side of the history of the Pacific Northwest. Learn about the workings of the Hudson Bay Company, explore one of the nation’s oldest operating airfields, discover the Northwest’s first U.S. Army post and examine one of the oldest houses in Oregon.
There are accessible restrooms located inside the reconstructed fort, the Visitor Center and Pearson Air Museum.
The introductory film at the Visitor Center, ‘One Place Across Time’, is available in open caption format. Assisted listening devices are available.
There are a number of accessible viewpoints, including the veranda of the Chief Factor's House inside the reconstructed fort (accessible via wheelchair lift) and on the Land Bridge and Columbia River Waterfront.
The park has large print brochures available for use inside the Contact Station at the reconstructed fort and at the Visitor Center.
Braille informational books about Fort Vancouver are available at the reconstructed fort, the Visitor Center and Pearson Air Museum. Braille translations of the Visitor Center exhibits are also available.
460 Northeast Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville, OR 97128
Boeing 747-132 N481EV mounted on Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark McMinnville, OR
By Clemens Vasters from Viersen, Germany [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Head an hour out of town to the Wings & Waves Waterpark in McMinnville. The indoor waterpark is open year-round and themed around flight. It includes 10 waterslides (not accessible) and a 91,000-gallon wave pool that forms the center of the park. The wave pool has six wave motions, depth chargers and bubblers, not to mention a 20-foot-wide high-resolution video screen to add some extra oomph to the waves.
The wave pool area is wheelchair accessible. The leisure pool is accessible via a mechanical hoist. The spa is accessible via a transfer platform.
The café and second floor are accessible via elevator.
All bathrooms and locker rooms are wheelchair accessible.
As well as water fun, the Waterpark offers interactive and educational activities and exhibits. The H2O Hands-On Science Center, “Life Needs Water,” provides 20 exhibits where guests can learn how to create water pressure, sail a ship or explore an interactive submarine. These activities are hands-on, for guests with vision loss.
There are also informative signs at the exhibits.
For questions about these or any additional accommodation issues, contact Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum staff at 503-434-4185.