Explore the “hidden gems” of Hillsboro, Oregon with an itinerary filled with must-see attractions that may not be well-known to visitors or locals alike. These finds definitely are worth a visit!
Start with a hearty lunch at McMenamins Rock Creek Tavern. The Rock Creek Tavern opened in the mid-1920s as a small country store, and in 1933 the then owners served the first post-Prohibition beers at the store. Rumor has it that Clint Eastwood and members of the bands Santana, The Eagles and Tower of Power once stopped here, and in 1989, scenes of the Tom Berenger film Love at Large were filmed here. This spot has a storied history; read more about it here. (Open daily for lunch and dinner; live music every evening)
Next, stop at the Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals, recognized as the finest mineral museum in the Pacific Northwest and one of the best in the U.S. The museum houses an impressive variety of fossils, meteorites, petrified woods, gems and rocks curated from around the world. Situated in former 1952 residence of Richard and Helen Rice, the structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006 for its distinctive architectural style and use of natural stone and native Oregon woods. (Open Wednesday-Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; admission is $8 for adults, $7 for adults 60+ and students ages 5-17)
Refuel with coffee from Longbottom Coffee & Tea, one of the region’s pioneering roasting companies. Founded in 1981, Longbottom specialized in hot-air roasting coffee beans for more than 25 years. In 2003, Longbottom was certified organic, and today the facility is used as a training location for organic inspectors. (Open Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
The tour’s next stop is the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum, located next to the Hillsboro Airport. This living history museum of aviation artifacts is actually a working hangar, with all aircraft still in flying condition, or being restored to flying condition. Military jets from all eras as well as passenger jets are on display, and the museum offers educational and hands-on experiences for all ages. (Open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; donations requested)
Final stop for the day is the Washington County Museum, which moved into its expanded space in November 2012 with its newest and largest exhibit, “Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe.” This interactive traveling exhibit, which was put together by NASA and is part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, has traveled to several cities and states throughout the country. Also on display is “Americans All: The Bracero Program in Washington County,” which takes a look at this unique temporary labor program that brought more than 215,000 workers to work at farms in Washington County during WWII. (Open Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday, 12-5 p.m. Admission: $6, adults; $4 children ages 4 and older)