10 Awesome Things To Do Outdoors In The Kansas City Area

Want a quick getaway? The Kansas City area is a great Midwest destination for families, especially outdoorsy families. 

COVID-19 Update: The counties surrounding Kansas City have mask laws enforcing masks indoors and masks outdoors if social distancing isn’t possible. Everyone is falling these instructions, but it does make for long waits for activities. Bring a mask and patience.

Disclosure: I partnered with KC Destinations. I received complimentary admission and travel compensation in order to write about my experience. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

Explore outside places in the Kansas City area from parks and farms to historical sites and amusement parks. Have a fun and safe afternoon in the outdoors.

Tip: Keep reading to the end of this post to find out how visiting a few of these places could get your kiddo a prize!

Kansas City, Kansas vs. Kansas City, Missouri

I’m not trying to start a debate. I just want to clarify that the Kansas City community spans two states.

During our travels, we’ve stayed in Kansas City, North Kansas City, Overland Park and, most recently, Olathe. It’s taken me a few years to conquer the interstate system, but now that I understand it, we get around a lot easier.

On our recent outdoorsy getaway, we spent our time exploring Olathe, Shawnee, Overland Park, Merriam, Gardner, and Lenexa. 

Of course, we didn’t go to every place on this list in a weekend. We’ve been to KC many times, so I’ll include some of the gems we’ve been to in previous visits. If you want to add some indoor activities to your trip, check out my list of 35 Fun Things To Do With Kids In KC.

Outdoor Things To Do In The Kansas City Area

Mahaffie Stage Coach Stop & Farm 

Where: 1200 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe, Kan.

This wonderful historic stop is mostly outdoors, though there is a small museum display indoors, as well as the option of touring the actual Mahaffie house where they fed travelers passing through the area along the Santa Fe Trail. 

Stagecoach ride at Mahaffie Stage Coach Stop & Farm in Olathe, Kansas, in the Kansas City area.

My kids enjoyed the 1860s farm immensely, playing old school games, petting animals, and taking a stagecoach ride. My son even helped stoke the fire for the blacksmith demonstration.

Employees at Mahaffie are dressed in period costumes and are full of insight about the era.

Tip: The road you turn into the parking lot was once the Santa Fe Trail.

There is an admission price. Stagecoach rides are on a schedule, so pay attention when you arrive so you can be sure to catch one of them.

Dodge Town at Antioch Park 

Where: 6501 Antioch Road, Merriam, Kan.

Antioch Park is a 44-acre, tree-filled park that made me envious of the families in the KC area. It’s beautiful, with two lakes, including one lake that has fun stepping stones.

Stepping stones in Antioch Park in Merriam, Kansas

Dodge Town is a playground located in the park, but it’s not a typical playground. Its theme is an old Kansas Town, with buildings, a train station, and, of course, a train to climb on. My youngest enjoyed this area, pretending to teach math to a few 3 year-olds in the one-room school house.

Being a park, this is a FREE activity. 

Tip: Looking for sweet treats while exploring Kansas City? Read about my favorite desserts and sweet shops in KC!

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Where: 8909 W. 179th St., Overland Park, Kan.

Strolling around a shaded path or exploring gorgeous gardens, this Overland Park gem was a hit with my family. My son enjoyed the Railroad Garden while my daughter had fun posing with every statue she encountered.

Boy being silly in front of a sculpture of the painter Monet at Overland Park Arboretum.

There’s a picturesque spot inspired by Monet’s paintings of waterlilies on ponds. Don’t miss it. It’s also near a larger lake, where my family marveled at the giant koi fish and cute turtles swimming around. 

There is an admission fee, but it’s pretty inexpensive.

Gieringer’s Family Orchard & Berry Farm

Where: 39345 W. 183rd St., Edgerton, Kan.

Depending on the time of year you visit, what you pick will vary. When we visited, we picked a few blueberries and blackberries in the hot July sun. Visit earlier in spring, and you could pick strawberries; visit this fall, and you can pick pumpkins.

Girl picking blackberries at Gieringer's Family Orchard & Berry Farm

During regular times, the orchard would have tractor-pulled rides and the kid’s area would be open for a ton of fun activities. If you visit in the summer of 2020 (and maybe even fall of 2020), these activities aren’t happening.

Tip: You need to reserve a time to go berry picking. Sign-up on the farm’s Facebook page!

After you’re done picking, be sure to reward yourself with a strawberry lemonade slushee. 

There is a small admission fee per person to help keep this family-run farm in operation, plus whatever you end up picking.

Bike the Gary L. Haller Trail

Where: Trail endpoints are at Nelson Island on the Kansas River and Mill Creek Streamway Park in Olathe, Kan.

My husband and I biked this pretty trail during a quick summer trip to Bonner Springs for a concert. The paved trail is 17 miles long, but we didn’t bike that whole length.

While we biked the Haller Trail, there were plenty of walkers and runners enjoying it, as well.

I’d feel confident both kids on this trail soon. They’ve only just started being able to bike longer distances.

Shoal Creek Living History Museum

Where: 7000 NE Barry Road, Kansas City, Mo.

Shoal Creek located in Hodge Park was a hidden gem we encountered on our first trip to KC with the kids. This pretty, outdoor park explores Missouri’s history by showcasing old buildings and farms. 

Plenty of open space to run at Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Kansas City.

It is a living history museum, and I’ve heard they do reenactments occasionally. There weren’t any volunteers or costumed reenactors there during our visit. We were free to roam, but also didn’t get any insight into any of the buildings’ significance.

The highlight for my kids was seeing the bison at the park.

It’s FREE to go to Shoal Creek.

Dine at food trucks

Where: Historic West Bottoms neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo.

The West Bottoms is a charming warehouse district with antique stores, boutiques, and quirky shops. I highly recommend Fetch Gifts, though, oops, it’s not outdoors.

Food trucks in the Historic West Bottoms neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri.

The Festival of the Full Moon Weekends is held each month over the first weekend. And while the stores are open their doors, food trucks roll in.

It was tough deciding what to eat. Being in KC, my husband and I settled on barbecue. We found a table that was half in shade and enjoyed the lunch.

Attending the Festival of the Full Moon Weekend is FREE, but of course, anything you from a food truck or store will cost you money.

Penguin Park

Where: 4124 NE Vivion Road, Kansas City, Mo.

Penguin Park‘s playground equipment is shaped like giant animals, making it quite a sight for little ones when they see it. When we visited, the animals had seen better days as far as peeling paint goes. But looking back through my photos, maybe my memory was a bit harsh.

Penguin Park is an animal-themed playground in Kansas City, Missouri.

It doesn’t matter, though. My kids didn’t care about old paint. They had fun, and that’s all that mattered.

The park is FREE.

Thompson Park

Where: 8045 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, Kan.

I more or less stumbled upon this small but perfect playground. We were going to have lunch at The Snack Shack on Santa Fe. As we parked, we couldn’t help but notice the outdoor seating area of the Snack Shack butts up to a park.

Colorful xylophone at Thompson Park in Overland Park, Kan.

So, while we waited for our burgers to cook, the kids climbed on a novel playground and got soaked in the little splash ground.

I’d recommend combining a meal (or just shakes) at The Snack Shack with playtime at the park.

Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun

Where: 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

Chances are good you’ve heard of these two. The massive amusement park and waterpark are a full day (or two) of outdoor fun. 

Oceans of Fun is definitely a place to keep cool if you’re visiting in the summer. I’m partial to Worlds of Fun in the fall. The lines are shorter and the sun is less harsh.

Paradise Falls at Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri.

I have not visited since pre-COVID normal times, so I can’t vouch for how summer is there. Do keep in mind that popular rides will always have a line (hopefully with social distancing in place), and there’s likely a delay to boarding a ride if staff has to clean each car before people can board the ride.

How to win a prize visiting family-friendly KC places

There’s a new tour on the Otocast app (Apple and Google) that rewards families for visiting kid-friendly places in the Kansas City area. Most of these stops are on the Kansas side of the region. Once you download the app, search for KC Region, and you’ll find KC Kid-Friendly Trip.

Screenshot of the KC Trips on Otocast app.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you don’t have an itinerary already in mind, look at the map available for the KC Kid-Friendly Trip and see what’s nearby. 
  • Once you are at that location, the app will send you a notification that you’re near a tour stop. Tap that notification and you’ll get a virtual stamp.
Map of the stops on the KC kid-friendly trip app

Here are the stops:

  • C.W. Parker Carousel Museum in Leavenworth, Kan.
  • Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty, Mo.
  • Jerry’s Shave Ice in Lansing, Kan.
  • Legends Outlets Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan.
  • RoKC in North Kansas City, Mo.
  • Moon Marble Co. in Bonner Springs, Kan.
  • Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park, Kan.
  • Incredible Pizza Co. in Shawnee, Kan.
  • Silas and Maddy’s Homemade Ice Cream in Olathe, Kan.
  • Dodge Town at Antioch Park in Merriam, Kan.
  • Gieringer’s Family Orchard & Berry Farm

You don’t have to go to all of the stops. Visit five and you’ll get the prize! 

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Trips to the Kansas City area should include some outdoors stops! Here are 10 awesome places in KC that have outdoor activities for the whole family.

20+ Awesome Road Trips From Omaha

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? You don’t have to go too far from Omaha to have a fun getaway. I’ve collected some of my favorite Midwest destinations for this post to give you a variety of options near and far. All road trips from Omaha on this list are within a day’s drive, and most are much closer than that. Happy travels!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking the link, I receive a small referral stipend.

COVID-19 update: Please check current CDC guidelines prior to travel. Double-check your destination to make sure 1) you’re not traveling to a hot spot; 2) it’s even open and what the new hours may be; and 3) what the local mandates are.

Road Trips From Omaha

These getaways are just a car ride away. Read on for destinations to consider for your next overnight or weekend trip.

Find more inspiration for road trips

Sky’s the limit on these bucket list for Midwest destinations:

Nebraska Bucket List

Iowa Bucket List

Missouri Bucket List

South Dakota Bucket List

Kansas Bucket List

I pin a lot of road trip ideas so if you don’t already, please follow me on Pinterest! I have boards for each Midwestern state, plus a special board just for family trip tips.

Inspiration for day trip and weekend getaways in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota and Kansas! All  trips are less than a day's drive from Omaha. Summer vacation is just a car ride away. #Midwest #FamilyTravel #RoadTrip

My Kansas Bucket List

A while back, my family visited Wichita and had a great weekend. It surpassed expectations. Along the way, we stopped in Lindsborg for lunch and to see, well, a castle. And again, that quick stop exceeded expectations. So, given this trend, I figure, there’s quite a bit in Kansas that’s waiting to be discovered. I’ve begun a Kansas Bucket List in order to collect my thoughts and start making plans to get to know the state better.

If this list inspires you to travel, let me know!

Road trip through Kansas! Here's the ultimate list of things to do in Kansas, from must-see parks and trails, to festivals and cultural attractions. #Kansas #Midwest #roadtrip

Hike in the Flint Hills

The Flint Hills in eastern Kansas is an expansive, hilly region with rocky soil. It’s a unique region because it contains the densest coverage of intact tallgrass prairie in North America.

You won’t find a lot of farms due to the soil. There are several places to hike in the Flint Hills, including Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge, and Konza Prairie Biological Station.

Bucket list of things to do in Kansas -Hike the Flint Hills at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve trail in Kansas
Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

Make it to Svensk Hyllningsfest

The biennial festival Svensk Hyllningsfest in Lindsborg celebrates the town’s Swedish heritage. My dad’s side of the family is proud of their Swedish ancestry so that’s right up my alley. There’s folk dancing, ethnic music, smorgasbord, and entertainment.

I took the kids to a Tulip Festival in Iowa one spring, and they enjoyed it, so I could see this festival also being good for them.

Add To Your Bucket List: While you’re in Lindsborg, there’s a nearby “castle” that should be on your bucket list! We stopped at the Coronado Heights Park, and my young kids were amazed at the picnic structure there that looks like a small, medieval castle.

It was so memorable, it’s on the 10 Beautiful Midwest Places To Inspire Wonder list!

Top things to do in Kansas - Celebrate Swedish heritage in Lindsborg
Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

Pretend to be an astronaut

Hutchinson is home to Cosmosphere, a museum with displays and interactive exhibits like the Liberty Bell 7, the Apollo 13 command module Odyssey, and a version of Mission Control desk kids (and I) can sit at.

So maybe I’m less astronaut than Mission Control, but who’s counting?

Bucket list of things to do in Kansas - Pretend to be an astronaut at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson
Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

Hang with cowpokes

Old Cowtown Museum has been on my wish list to visit ever since I was planning my Wichita vacation. I still haven’t made it, so my dream of having a chuckwagon dinner or watching the 1880s reenacted remains.

I’ll find some similar action at Boot Hill Museum and Front Street in Dodge City.

Experience a cattle drive

There are places in Kansas where you don’t just watch actors re-enact the cowboy experience – you can live it. Some ranches like the Flying W Ranch in Cedar Point let guests experience the cowboy lifestyle with horseback rides, cattle drives, wagon rides and more.

Add To Your Bucket List: Love all kinds of close encounters with animals. Tanganyika Wildlife Park isn’t on my list because I’ve been there, but it’s definitely a worthy bucket list addition for you!

Why? Wildlife encounters there include feeding an okapi, lemur or giraffe!

See the out-of-this-world rocks

Mushroom Rock State Park has some of the oddest rock formations I’ve seen in pictures. Guess what it looks like. I just want to see it in person now.

Two others I want to see, located in Gove County in Western Kansas, are the Monument Rocks and Castle Rock.

Bucket list of things to do in Kansas - See the unique rock formations at Mushroom Rock State Park
Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

Selfie in front of the book mural

Book lovers heads up. There’s a beautiful, huge mural on the side of a doctor’s office in Tonganoxie.

Explore Kansas’ Badlands

Yep, Kansas has a Badlands region. In the state’s northwestern corner, a scenic drive, called the Arikaree Breaks Wildlife Drive, takes you through landscape flecked with yuca and prickly pear cactus among the shortgrass prairie.

And a new state park, Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park, has even more picturesque views. Little Jerusalem is slated to open sometime in the summer of 2019. Neither place is what I imagine to be Kansas.

Bucket list of things to do in Kansas - see the new state park, Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park
Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

Try unique eats in Kansas

Kansas has plenty of unique food and unique places to eat, I’ve discovered. On my list includes the hidden gem in Beaver, called Mo’s. Pretty much, it’s a microbrewery with a lot of loyal fans (it has a hard-to-come-by 4.9 Google review rating). One newspaper headline called it a piece of “Cheers” on the prairie.

Then there’s Wheatfields in Lawrence, a bakery that gets a lot of attention. It’s made a USA Today list for 10 great US bakeries, and it has been featured on the Food Network and History Channel.

Bucket list of things to do in Kansas - Eat at one of the nation's best bakeries, Wheatfields, in Lawrence. The bakery that's been named among the Top 10 in the U.S.
Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

The Stearman Field Bar and Grill at the little Benton Airport made my Wichita Bucket List, but since I didn’t get to visit it when I was in the area last time, I’m including it on this list too so I don’t forget. Why? Where else can you dine that close to planes taking off and landing?

Go to the beer playground

In Overland Park, there’s this place called the Brew Lab, and it’s been nicknamed KC’s playground for craft beer lovers. Since this is a bucket list where time and money don’t matter, I’d go here to learn how to brew beer and then brew myself a big ‘ol batch of it.

If I’m short on time, I’ll just go and have a pint of someone else’s fabulous concoction and a bite to eat while I’m at it.

See pueblo ruins

The northernmost Indian pueblo in the U.S. is found in Kansas. El Cuartelejo Pueblo near Scott City dates back to 1650 to 1750 A.D., and the ruins of the site can still be seen today. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

Bucket list of things to do in Kansas - Visit the National Historic Landmark, El Cuartelejo Pueblo
El Cuartelejo Pueblo is the northernmost Indian pueblo in the U.S. It’s near Scott City, Kan. Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

See a sunflower field

It’s not the Sunflower State for nothing. Word is that peak viewing of sunflowers is in late summer, and a great place to find them is at Grinter’s Sunflower Farm near Lawrence.

Kansas is more than sunflower fields (though there are those!). Here's a bucket list of unique parks and trails, awesome Kansas restaurants, and unique experiences found only in Kansas. #Kansas #USA #Midwest

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Exploring Tanganyika Wildlife Park

The most memorable afternoon in Wichita for us was spent at Tanganyika Wildlife Park (which is technically not in Wichita, but close enough). Tanganyika is more than a zoo; it specializes encounters that create lasting connections for people to the animals they see.

Disclosure: Our fun adventure at Tanganyika was part of our Great Wichita Weekend. Our trip was hosted by Visit Wichita. I received complimentary admission to Tanganyika Wildlife Park so that I could tell you about it. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

Feeding a giraffe at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
An animal keeper told us about the giraffe herd of 12 giraffes at Tanganyika Wildlife Park as we fed lettuce to one.

There are traditional zoo-like exhibits of animals like otter and penguins, as well as 10 encounters on the map to seek out. Encounters meant interaction of some sort with an animal. On the day we visited, there were also pop-up opportunities to meet and learn about animals as varied as a Burmese python, ferret, and rat.

Burmese python on the grass at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
The kids loved touching the Burmese python.

Tanganyika Wildlife Park is not a zoo; it’s a privately-run business. It helps knowing this so you’re not expecting an experience like a zoo (especially if you’re used to the Omaha zoo). No doubt the owners love animals and care deeply about educating people about them. The idea is that if people connect with these rare animals, they will make the effort to help ensure their survival.

What to expect at Tanganyika Wildlife Park - Check out all the close encounters with animals in this Kansas wildlife park! #familytravel #Wichita

Fun fact: Tanganyika was once an African country. The nation of Tanganyika joined with Zanzibar to form Tanzania in 1964.

Animal encounters at Tanganyika

When you purchase your admission pass, you can opt for one of three levels of animal encounters. The general admission pass gets you one animal encounter of your choice. The next level allows five encounters. Then there’s the all-access pass, which means 10 animal encounters.

Camel ride at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
One animal encounter can be a camel ride.

There’s also the option of purchasing coins to use for more encounters.

I tell you this so you can plan ahead to see if you want do all or some of the encounters. Honestly, getting the band with five encounters would have worked for my family, but that’s because we lingered with bunnies for ages. The single encounter would not have cut it, though. The all-access would be great if you had kids that aren’t nervous about huge creatures.

Feeding rabbits at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
My 5-year-old kept going back to feed the bunnies and guinea pigs. Never mind the chance to be close to exotic animals. This was more of her speed.

When we arrived, all my daughter wanted to do was ride a camel. It may have been what she was looking forward to, but it didn’t turn out to be her favorite experience. It wasn’t a bad one, but it just couldn’t compete with some other unique opportunities.

By far, the most memorable encounter for me was the behind-the-scenes tour of the okapi area. The wildlife park just started these tours, and we were among the first. It was so so cool. The okapi keeper, Alexi, told us about the species plight in the wild and how they are quite rare to find in captivity in the United States due to some of their habitat requirements.

The okapi encounter at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
I learned a lot about okapi while on a behind-the-scenes tour at Tanganyika Wildlife Park.

During our tour, we got to greet the friendly resident okapi, who didn’t mind nibbling on lettuce we fed him. He wasn’t so enthusiastic about us petting him, but he tolerated it for his reward of crispy lettuce. We got to ask questions, and learned a ton.

I enjoyed feeding other exotic wildlife, including a giraffe and some greedy little lemurs.

My kids felt the most comfortable feeding the less exotic rabbits and guinea pigs. There, they could crouch among the fuzzy creatures for as long as they wanted, petting them for as long as the animal tolerated.

The kangaroo encounter at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
My son gently petting a resting kangaroo at Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Wichita.

The chance to pet animals ended up being what my kids enjoyed most. They were able to pet resting kangaroos, for instance. Unexpected was the opportunity to help one kangaroo paint. I wasn’t really interested in paying extra for the artwork but I think the kids will get a lot of mileage sharing that story with their friends back home.

Feeding hungry tortoises at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
My kids did not move fast enough to get out of the way of a stampede of tortoises…or maybe my daughter is purposely trying to lead the animals to walk over her brother.

The least successful encounter, for us, was feeding the tortoises, who are faster and pushier than you’d expect. The lorikeet feeding ended in tears for one of my kids, who got nipped by one of the birds.

Photo opportunities at the park

You’ll want to bring your camera on your visit. There’s a lot to see and so many cute photo opportunities.

Feeding a giraffe at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
My son feeding a giraffe is one of an animal encounters at Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Wichita.

There were two times that you couldn’t take your own pictures: The okapi encounter and the ring-tailed lemur feeding. The staff member at the encounter took those pictures.

The lemur encounter at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas
Mr. Wonderful and the kids feeding craisins to lemurs. The rule was you couldn’t touch the lemurs but they may reach out to touch you.

If you had an all-access pass, one photo was included, so that was good. I definitely wanted photos to remember the experience. My quibbles about photo service though: I think the wildlife park could benefit from professional photographers on hand snapping the pictures and a better process in place when you go to pick up your pictures.

If you go

Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Where: 1000 S. Hawkins Lane, Goddard, Kan.

When: Park hours vary, but it’s open generally Mid-March to Mid-November. Check hours here.

Cost: For children (ages 3-11), expect to pay $14.99 for 1 encounter on up to the all-access pass (10 encounters) for $34.99. Children younger than 2 are admitted FREE. Adults pay between $19.99 and $39.99. This is also a senior discount.


Tanganyika Wildlife Park - What to expect at this wildlife park in Kansas, including close encounters with lemurs and kangaroos #familytravel #Wichita #Kansas

* * * * *

Want to start planning a Great Wichita Weekend?

Start with My Wichita Bucket List to get some inspiration, then dive into these for more fun ideas:

The Great Wichita Weekend recap

A Kid-Favorite Destination: Bonanica Wichita

Wichita’s Good Eats

Hampton Inn & Suites – A Wichita Hotel For Families

Visiting Exploration Place With Kids

For even more ideas for family fun in Wichita, check out my Pinterest Board.


Liked this post?

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Visiting Exploration Place In Wichita

Exploration Place is a fun science center on the river in Wichita, Kan. We had a whirlwind visit to Wichita this spring, and since we were traveling with two kids, it made sense to plan a stop there.

How could we skip a three-story castle, an aviation room and the only place I’ve ever visited that had a dedicated game for poop (more on that in a second)?

Disclosure: My family received complimentary passes to the science center so I can tell you about it. Our whole weekend was hosted by Visit Wichita. Visit the Visit Wichita website to get some great ideas for a trip (or keep reading to find out more about the cool things we did there!).

Headed to Wichita with your family? Don't skip Exploration Place! Here's an inside look at this science center. #familytravel #Wichita #Kansas

What’s at Exploration Place

Marble exhibit in the lobby of Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas
We couldn’t even get passed the lobby at Exploration Place without my kids getting drawn into something that intrigued them.

This science center is going to appeal more to grade schoolers and older kids (and adults), than really little ones, though there was plenty to do for my 5-year-old. There’s even a dedicated space for preschoolers.

There is a mix of permanent exhibits and traveling exhibits. We were there when the temporary exhibits involved dinosaurs in one space and Vietnam in another. One of the current traveling exhibits is called Hall of Heroes and a new one coming up in 2018 is called The Science of Saving.

The whole museum/science center is geared toward youth, but adults are not discouraged from trying things out too.

Model train and miniature town at Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas
The Kansas in Miniature exhibit at Exploration Place in Wichita.

There are 13 permanent exhibits at Exploration Place! Some of the ones we found particularly memorable include Creator Space and Exploring Flight & Design. I particularly liked playing with a plane propeller, making a shimmering design in on a wall of shiny discs in the flight exhibit. My son liked the flight Wright Brothers’ flight simulator. I didn’t get a good shot of it (it’s not what’s pictured below).

Wright Brothers model plane exhibit at Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas
There are a lot of interactive areas in each permanent exhibit at Exploration Place, making it a must-visit attraction in Wichita for families visiting with children.

The Explore Kansas room is newly renovated and such a neat space to visit. We liked playing with the fossil scanner.

Fossil exhibit at Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas
This fossil scanner was a neat machine to play with in the Kansas exhibit.

Nearby, you’ll find that poop game I mentioned. You have to guess which animal pooped what. It’s gross.

Kids love it.

I can’t think of a room kids won’t like there. My daughter spent more than half our time playing in the castle space called Where Kids Rule. It’s an impressive and immersive space, and I don’t blame her for wanting to stay there. It’s a permanent exhibit, so you will get to check it out if you plan on visiting!

My son enjoyed building in the KEVA wooden plank space and stepping into a tornado in the new Explore Kansas exhibit.

I also recommend checking out the miniature train room – it’s crazy huge.

Timing your visit

Kids playing at a water table at Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas
There are so many places to explore at Exploration Place, you need to allow a couple hours to see it all.  

– Check out the schedule of traveling exhibits to see what will be open when you visit.

– You can easily spend a couple hours here. I’d expect to spend about two hours here if you didn’t allow your child to linger in a spot for too long (good luck with that).

We were a little rushed trying to see it all before my kids got tired for a nap. We had to skip the mini golf area, which is included with admission.

If you go

Exploration Place

Where: 300 N. McLean Blvd., Wichita, Kan.

Cost: $9;50, adults; $8, seniors; $6, youth (3-11), and FREE for children younger than 2. You can pay a little bit more to “Do It All.”

Hours: Until Labor Day 2017: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays in the winter), and  Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Check the times if you plan on visiting after Labor Day. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.


* * * * *

Want to start planning a Great Wichita Weekend?

Start with My Wichita Bucket List to get some inspiration, then dive into these for more fun ideas:

The Great Wichita Weekend recap

A Kid-Favorite Destination: Bonanica Wichita

Wichita’s Good Eats

Hampton Inn & Suites – A Wichita Hotel For Families

Exploring Tangyika Wildlife Park

For even more ideas for family fun in Wichita, check out my Pinterest Board.


Liked this post?

We travel a lot & explore our  own backyard. Stay in the know – subscribe to the FREE bi-weekly e-newsletter sharing giveaways, new posts and updates to popular posts like this one! Subscribe here.

Hampton Inn & Suites – A Wichita Hotel For Families

Wichita Hotel

I’ve been sharing a lot of great stories about my family’s fun adventure in Wichita lately, including some kid-approved restaurants in Wichita and the coolest children’s garden ever. What needs to be shared is where to stay in Wichita when you want to do all this stuff. Which Wichita hotel worked for our needs?

We needed a place to stay that was between the Wichita attractions I had wanted to visit, especially Tanganyika Wildlife Park (which is actually outside of Wichita pretty much near nothing else) and all the great stuff in downtown Wichita. So, with the smart thinking of the folks at Visit Wichita (who hosted this trip), we were set up at one of the newest hotels in the city, Hampton Inn & Suites Wichita Airport.

Headed to Wichita with kids? Here's one place to stay that puts you between Tanganyika Wildlife Park and downtown Wichita. #FamilyTravel #HotelTips #Kansas

Where To Stay In Wichita

This Wichita Hampton Inn checks most things off my family travel checklist for hotels: Pool, free hot breakfast, comfy beds (plus, the obvious, unspoken requirements like safe, clean, up-to-date). All there.

Lobby decor at the Hampton Inn & Suites Airport in Wichita, Kansas
The seating area near the front desk at the Hampton Inn & Suites near the Wichita airport.

Let’s talk about the rooms.

The beds in this Hampton Inn are incredibly comfortable. Hampton Inns are under the Hilton brand, and I’ve never stayed at a Hilton brand hotel that had terrible beds. Their beds are like pillowy clouds. After full days of activities, these beds were a welcomed sight.

Room with two queen beds at  Hampton Inn & Suites Airport in Wichita, Kansas
Comfy queen beds at the Hampton Inn & Suites near the Wichita Airport.

The rest of the room is pretty hotel typical with a cool, modern look: Small fridge (very helpful for families), desk, large TV, and a nice bathroom with hotel toiletries included.

The view isn’t much, but I wasn’t expecting one being near an airport.

The hotel pool is a rectangle pool that isn’t too deep. While the kids played, I was able to watch comfortably from a pool chair. The seating in the pool area was surprisingly comfy.

The pool at Hampton Inn & Suites Airport in Wichita, Kansas
Not much makes the pool at the Hampton Inn & Suites standout, but kids don’t seem to care about the details.

The lobby is modern and stylish, and off to the side there is a small snack shop with drinks available for purchase. If you ask nicely, the front desk staff will give you a free bottle of water, so try that before purchasing one in the snack shop.

Local treats for purchase in the lobby of Hampton Inn & Suites Airport in Wichita, Kansas
The little shop in the lobby of the Hampton Inn & Suites has locally-made treats like chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, as well as inexpensive gifts made in Kansas like Chicken Poop chapstick (not made with real chicken poop).

In the dining area, you can find free hot water for tea and coffee. If you plan on running around as much as I did, that free caffeine boost is handy in the afternoon.

Free cookie at Hampton Inn & Suites Airport in Wichita, Kansas
Snacking on a free cookie from the front desk at the Hampton Inn.

The breakfast at the Hampton Inn is better than average when it comes to complimentary breakfasts. There are hot food options, fresh fruit, a waffle maker, and various pastries and breads to choose from.

The breakfast area at Hampton Inn & Suites Airport in Wichita, Kansas
The room where everyone eats breakfast looks great, doesn’t it?

Things To Do Near Hampton Inn 

To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot of must-see things super near this hotel. There is a complimentary shuttle that will drive you anywhere within 5 miles of the hotel, which includes places like:

Urban Air Trampoline Park (1 mile)

Sedgwick County Zoo (4.6 miles)

Dart Warz in Wichita is the love child of Nerf guns and paintball. Younger kids may not like the intensity of the games there, nor perhaps, older, slower grown-ups like myself. We’re just easy targets, guys.

The downtown area is about 6 miles away, and that’s where most of Wichita’s best things to see with kids are located. I’ve been told most everything in Wichita is within a 10-mile drive, and I’ve found that to be true. Some of the places in downtown Wichita that may interest families include: Botanica Wichita, Exploration Place, Old Cowtown Museum, The Keeper of the Plains, Museum of World Treasures, and INTRUST Bank Arena.

Further afield, you can drive to Tanganyika Wildlife Park (9 miles) or the Kansas Aviation Museum (11 miles).

Could you find a Wichita hotel closer to these attractions? Of course, especially downtown.

Restaurants Near This Wichita Hotel

Dining area in the lobby of the Hampton Inn & Suites near the Wichita airport.
My daughter checking out the dining area at the Hampton Inn & Suites near the Wichita airport.

To be honest, the kind of restaurants I was looking for — locally-owned restaurants — were not by our hotel. That meant, a lot of our dining was in downtown Wichita. I recommend making that 10-mile drive for tasty eats. The closest restaurant we dined at to this hotel was Delano Barbeque Co., which is about 5 miles away.

See all the Wichita restaurants we visited here.

But, if you’re looking for nearby good eats, there are plenty of chains to choose from. Within about a mile of the hotel, you’ll find an Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, Denny’s, and an abundance of fast food options.

* * * * *

Want to start planning your own Great Wichita Weekend?

Start with My Wichita Bucket List to get some inspiration, then dive into these for more fun ideas:

The Great Wichita Weekend recap

A Kid-Favorite Destination: Bonanica Wichita

Wichita’s Good Eats

Visiting Exploration Place With Kids

Exploring Tangyika Wildlife Park

For even more ideas for family fun in Wichita, check out my Pinterest Board. 


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