What: End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
Where: 1726 Washington Street, Oregon City
When: Daily 9:30 am to 5:00 pm (no tickets sold after 4:00 pm)
Why: It’s must-see-history for Oregonians
Cost: Children 3 and under FREE, Ages 4-12 $7, Adults $13, Seniors $9
Once upon a sunny day, my kids and I headed to Oregon City for the first time. This city marks the end of the Oregon Trail. Boom. The End. Fin. It’s busting with early Oregon and pioneer history, including the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Going here is just part of the Oregon experience.
The grounds of the center are quite large. The first thing you notice are the massive covered wagon frames lining a great lawn, outdoor stage, and pavilion. We started with a picnic (lunch was a necessity) and a walk around the outdoor displays.
When you’re ready to go in, start with the smaller building. It houses the gift shop and a welcome counter where you can buy tickets. The staff will direct you back outside to the larger building. And here your life as a pioneer begins.
I loved how they set up the center. It’s completely self-led, but the displays and signs are really informative. All along the way there are interactive learning tools and kid-friendly activities–we made candles, did a scavenger hunt, made dolls, dressed up, and more. You start in Missouri, loading a wagon and learning about the beginning of the Oregon Trail and the people that made the journey. Then you continue through the center and onto the trail, discovering how they survived and the challenges they encountered. There’s a theater with a 20-30 minute movie that was pretty darn good (but not popular with my due-for-a-nap toddler… ay caramba). As you leave the theater, the next room welcomes you to the final section: Oregon City! There you learn about the lives of those remarkable people.
It should be said that I’m a sucker for history, so I question if this is for everyone. But my kids legitimately enjoyed themselves, and we all learned a great deal. So get to know your roots, and bring your little Oregonians here!