Back to Attractions

A full day of adventure

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum is just a day trip away

The Spruce Goose is so massive it dominates the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum’s aviation building. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

The sprawling Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum packs quite a bit on its large campus that dominates the landscape. The two museum buildings are architectural gems with walls of soaring glass. In addition, there is a movie theater and the Wings and Waves Waterpark with a real Boeing 747 aircraft on the roof. You can visit on a long day trip from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) or stay for a weekend and enjoy all the McMinnville, Oregon, area has to offer.

It has long been on my bucket list to see "The Spruce Goose," which is one of the largest aircraft in the world. It truly lives up to the hype. The Hughes (as in Howard Hughes) Flying Boat H-4 Spruce Goose is massive and dominates the museum. It literally takes up almost the whole aviation building. The airplane is built entirely of wood because there was a World War II restriction on the use of metals. Climbing a large staircase, you can view the interior of the cargo hold. Insider Tip: Pay the extra fee for a tour of the cockpit. It is so interesting, and you can actually see the instruments up close as well as sit where Howard Hughes did when he piloted the plane on its one and only flight. I found it remarkable that the airplane seats for the press had ashtrays in the armrests for a plane built of wood.

The aviation museum includes so many unique exhibits. One of my favorites was a flying contraption built from the design of Leonardo Da Vinci. I had seen the drawing many times so it was fascinating seeing a model of it. There is also a variety of planes from the history of aviation. The museum has a café and a well-stocked gift shop. The museum has its own wine label with the Spruce Goose 2016 Dundee Hills Chardonnay, and Spruce Goose 2015 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir produced and bottled exclusively for the museum by Stoller Family Estate in Dundee, Oregon, and on my visit, they offered tastings. Something I found particularly charming in the museum is instead of benches to sit on they have airline seats throughout the museum.

Looming over the space building is a Titan II Missile, which was the largest of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). The display is intense with the missile rising up from the floor. You have to go down a staircase to see the full length of it. There are quite a few exhibits dealing with the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

The movie theater is in a building between the space and aviation buildings, and it is an easy walk to all three. The large-screen theater shows 3D movies on space and aviation. Also on campus is the Wings and Waves Waterpark, which is currently opened on weekends. It is an indoor, all-season waterpark and it is known for its slides that flow down from the Boeing 747 on the roof.

This was a fun activity for our whole family; everyone found something of interest. To learn more about "The Spruce Goose" and Howard Hughes, watch the movie, The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily, 500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville, Oregon, 503.434.4180,

comments powered by Disqus