Our Rainy Day Destination: The Gilbert House Children’s Museum

A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village Children’s Museum.

My kids go absolutely crazy for it. They love it!!

Located downtown in Salem’s Riverfront Park, this museum is easily one of the city’s most popular kid friendly destinations. If you’re a parent living in the Salem area it’s almost certain that you’ve checked this place out already. If by some chance you haven’t…you must! And if you have small children and don’t already have a membership, you really should consider looking into it! Seriously. As a mom to two and a half year old twins it’s been invaluable to me to be able to go there on a whim on those rainy days when the kids are feeling cooped up and bored. Also on those beautiful sunny days when the kids just need to get out and run, play, dig, climb and explore!




The Gilbert House is made up of three huge historical houses and a very unique outdoor playground. The playground consists of (but is certainly not limited to) a large climbing maze structure, a dinosaur bones sandbox, a giant animal cell structure, music makers, slides and tunnels, an over sized game board for your little ones to jump around in, picnic tables, a garden and so much more!

Inside the houses you will find many different themed rooms that open up endless possibility for discovery and play!




On the first floor of the Rockenfield House you will find a market place, tools workshop and florist and fruit stand area. My kids spend quite a long time warming up here…putting together beautiful bouquets, making sure the cash register is balanced, gathering donuts and croissants to put into the oven before adding a dash of dish soap to serve to momma, you know- that kind of thing!







Upstairs there’s a great puzzles and patterns area and a very cool music and motion projection room. Our favorite is the China themed room! Where else can you build on to the Great Wall or serve up fine cuisine to your panda friends?



Then there is the Gilbert House itself. There are so many amazing things to discover within it’s walls!

There’s an aviation room where kids can experiment with wind tubes, climb around on real airplane seats and become pilots in the cockpit- pushing buttons, turning dials and flying to far off lands!




There’s a farm room fully equipped with produce, a chicken coop, a cow to milk, tractors and even a dinner table where the kids can sit down and enjoy their meals by the fireplace after a hard day of work.




There’s even a great baby/small toddler playroom for those under the age of two. In it you’ll find an over-sized rocking chair just perfect for nursing mothers and those who just need to sit and take a break!

There’s also a great multicultural art studio, my kids are still too young to take full advantage but they love to sit down and get some coloring done before moving on to the veterinary clinic, fort room and theater! Oh…and we can’t forget the quick stop at the submarine control room.




Then there’s the Parrish House, otherwise known as the train room. Among other things it features a working American Flyer train model and an attached imagination playground room full of giant foam blocks.

And there is so much more!




Long story short…it’s an amazing place to take your kids to stimulate those developing brains and to let them move those little bodies!

I always feel like a day at the Gilbert House is a day very well spent. I’m sure that my kids would agree!


The Gilbert House also hosts a variety of activities and events. Please see our events calendar for dates and times.

To find out more



116 Marion St NE Salem, OR 97301

Phone: 503-371-3631


Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Members: Free
General (ages 3-59): $8
Seniors (60+): $6
Toddlers (ages 1 & 2): $4
Children under 1: Free


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