March 4th, 2022

Tiny Travels: Top 5 Things to Do at Evergreen Over Spring Break

Tiny figurines sit on a map with a tiny Spruce Goose.
The Tiny Travelers take in the sights at Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum while they wait for lunch at the onsite café.
All photos by Emily Grosvenor.

The best Spring Break trips take you out of this world for an experience like no other. In McMinnville, the best place to find this level of fun, facts, and fabulosity reside at the Evergreen complex just outside of town, site of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and the Wings & Waves Waterpark

Tour guide, George in the Spruce Goose Cabin.

1. Tour the Spruce Goose
You can always gaze at the giant, 320 ft. wingspan of the largest wooden plane ever built as part of your visit to the aviation museum, one of three buildings at a museum complex home to 200 aircraft from throughout history. But 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of the Spruce Goose, so this should probably be the year you book a tour. Ask for George, whose uncle worked on the marvel of an aircraft, built as a prototype by billionaire eccentric Howard Hughes as a World War II-era transport vehicle. Like many of the docents at the museum, George knows just the right approach to telling the aircraft’s story in order to position it within the history of innovation. You’ll get to climb inside the belly of the beast, view into the engineering of its wings, walk around the cabin where 25 sat on its maiden (and only) flight, and even sit in the cockpit with your co-pilot. To buy tickets to the museum click here; to book a Spruce Goose tour, call the museum.

To kids sit in the captain and co-captain chairs looking out the front windows of the Spruce Goose.
The stuff that dreams are made of…

2. Race into Space
The Space Museum brings the history of space exploration down to the earth with inspiring exhibits that reignite the passion for space. Don’t miss the Titan II rocket SLV, the main vehicle for the Gemini capsule, an early NASA program that helped scientist test accuracy, launch time and reliability. You can think about the Titan as a stepping stone on the way to the moon landing. The museum’s Titan is real, and the only remaining example of the Titan II SLV. You can also view a recreation of the Titan’s original launch room.

Two kids with 3D glasses on sit in theater chairs.
Those long moments before the lights go dim can take forever for tiny travelers…

3. See the Past (in 3D)

The museum complex’s middle building is home to Oregon’s largest digital theater, where you can view hour-long movies, some of them in 3-D. The programming has an educational focus with thematic tie-ins to the rest of the museum, and are films best experienced in a large-scale format, like Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, or Walking with Dinosaurs.  Buy tickets right outside the theater. 

4. Get Wet

If warmth and water is what you’re craving, the 70,000 square-foot Wings & Waves Waterpark has a menu of solutions. The indoor park is set to a balmy 85 degrees, while the pools are set to 84 degrees (the spa is hotter at a comfortable 95 degrees). Be aware it’s a high-octane place where kids thrive on giant water slides, a vortex, a wave pool, a couple of interactive playgrounds, and a snack food café. Even if it’s not part of your itinerary today, it’s impossible to miss the view of the giant Boeing 747 airliner atop the building – that’s how high visitors will climb to get to the slides. In other words, prepare for some gloriously tired children after a day here. 

5. Walk the Path
With its alternating bursts of sunlight, rainbows, and light rain, March in McMinnville offers perfect Willamette Valley weather for strolling, so you’ll want to plan for some time outside while visiting. A 1.5-mile paved path starts on the north side of the Evergreen museum complex parking lot, near the Chapel, and continues through a wooded glen and around the Evergreen vineyard. If that hasn’t tired you out, there’s a great outdoor playground near the Space Museum, as well as ample tables for an on-site picnic. 

Illustration of writer, Emily Grosvenor

Emily Grosvenor is the Editor of Oregon Home magazine and sustainability coordinator for #mcminnvilledentist.