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Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals
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What’s to Love:  While certainly an unusual location and facility, the Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals offers kids and families a unique opportunity to view an expansive geological collection. Yes, it’s in a house, but don’t let that deter you from taking a visit out to Hillsboro.

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The Rice family built their custom home and displayed their rock and mineral collection in the basement. In 1997, the home was turned into a museum and historical destination. In 2005, another building added to the property. There is a lot of history you can read up on before your visit.

Start your visit in the gift shop where you’ll purchase your admission tickets. One of the best features is a rock pile where kids can dig around for a sample to take home. This is a nice touch, and there are some good finds in the rock pile! Head over to the main house to check-out what has been described as one of the best collections of rocks and minerals in the entire USA. The Jade sculptures were amazing. My kids enjoyed seeing the “rocks from outer space.”

Caveats: Fairly pricey for the amount of time you’ll spend at the museum. Not too many amenities, so you might want to plan other destinations around Hillsboro.

Website: The Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals

Distance from Portland:  About 16 miles from downtown Portland.

Recommended Ages: This is a museum that’s great for all ages, even toddlers would enjoy seeing all the different rocks and/or playing in the rock pile.

Parental Stress Factor:  No stress! Easy destination in a pastoral/country setting. Most everything is behind glass, so you don’t have to worry about kids touching things and/or knocking things over.

Physical Difficulty:  Easy to get around in the house; however, the basement of the home would not be considered ADA accessible. Maneuvering a wheelchair in the main house would also be challenging. If you have concerns, I would give them a call before you visit.

Family Fun Factor: It’s looking at rocks. It’s not something you’ll be doing for hours and hours. Our family with two boys (ages 8 and 13) moved through the exhibits within an hour. While not a thrill ride, it did hold their attention while we were there, which says a lot! There are definitely some kids who are just hypnotized by rocks.

Pet Friendly: No pets. Service dogs are allowed.

Weather Considerations:  Perfect activity for a rainy day! In nice weather, you could also combine this with a trip to the coast.

Insider Info:  There is so much more to this museum including group visits, educational tours, classes and tours, valuation of collections, research, etc. Checkout their “how to visit the museum” page.

Family Tips:  If you have baby or early walker, I would bring a body carrier -vs- a stroller. It will be much easier to get around in the house. Make sure you keep a close eye on the kids, so they don’t touch the glass cases.

Technorati Tags: Gems, Hillsboro, Minerals, Rice Museum, Rocks

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