Cabin fever runs rampant through Central Oregon at the end of a long winter. High Desert Museum’s Family Free Day was the cure for parents and children on Feb. 23.
Indoor nature and historic exhibits provide an escape from blustery winter conditions and encourage learning along the way. Family Free Day, sponsored by Mid Oregon Credit Union, saves a family of four $48 at the door.
Though crowds on free day contribute to congestion and long lines, the 138-acre property south of Bend offers something for everyone.
In the main indoor exhibit, guests walk through the “Desertarium” to check out lizards, snakes and tortoises that thrive in the High Desert. History buffs can explore the “Spirit of the West” while little tykes burn off energy in the “Whose Home?” play area.
After a short “Nature Walk,” bird-lovers find themselves surrounded by several species of owls, hawks and eagles at the Donald M. Kerr Birds of Prey Center.
Food and drink is available for purchase in the museum’s cafe, as well as souvenirs from the gift shop. However, frugal guests can take advantage of the outing at no cost by bringing a bag lunch that is welcomed in specific dining areas. Guests can save even further by riding the free shuttle service from the Morning Star Church that runs on free days.
The only downside to free day is that the museum closed off the Butterfly and Hummingbird exhibit and the otters remained hidden in their den, which may have been a result of the large crowds that day. The children, however, seemed to prefer the busy atmosphere and commotion.
“Living History” is on display throughout the museum with character actors engaging guests and taking them back in time for an interactive history lesson.
Experiences and characters change daily, so each trip back to the museum is a new and exciting adventure.