July 10, 2017

7 Favorite Trails Near Omaha

Stumped on where to go for your next family hike? Here are seven of my family’s favorite trails near Omaha to inspire your next outdoor adventure:

Heron Haven

A limestone crushed trail at Heron Haven, located in the center of Omaha.

Where: Omaha city limits

Why: Head here if you want a taste of nature but you’re short on time. This pretty wetland sanctuary in the heart of the city feels like an escape once you’re in the thick of it, but it’s not very large (so it’s great for little legs). Definitely venture to the little boardwalk over the pond. Read more about Heron Haven here.

Tip: Heron Haven has monthly kids on the second Saturday of the month.

 

Hummel Park

One of the new slides at Hummel Park in Omaha.

Where: Omaha city limits

Why: This city park has easy to somewhat difficult trails, plus a nice visitor center. There are some interesting features on trails, like the stairs that no one seems to agree on the number of them, plus two cool new slides. 

Trail map

Tip: Omaha City Parks & Recreation holds quite a few FREE activities each year, that you should check out! My family has done a firefly night event and the Halloween themed one.

 

Fontenelle Forest

The entrance to Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Woodland Refuge in Bellevue, Neb.

Where: Bellevue, Neb. (about a 10-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: Fontenelle Forest has 26 miles of trails, including the area’s best accessible boardwalk that makes it easy for wheelchairs and strollers to go deep into the woods. They also have Acorn Acres, a great children’s outdoor playscape, and the new Raptor Woodland Refuge space that my kids insist we see each time we’re there.

Tip: While these trails have more signs posted than others, grab a map before heading out on your hike.

 

Hitchcock Nature Center

An easy trail at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa.

Where: Honey Creek, Iowa (about a 20-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This park tucked in the Loess Hills is beautiful in any season. You’ll find 10 miles of trails with a good mix of easy ridge lines and difficult, rugged trails, plus an accessible boardwalk. The visitor center is top-notch, and there’s a lookout tower that kids enjoy. Time a visit well and participate in the Hawk Watch. Read more about fall at Hitchcock here.

Trail map

Tip: Check out a backpack at the visitor center. They’re free to borrow, and include kid-friendly items to enhance your hike.

 

Arbor Day Farms Tree Adventure

One of the bridges found along the trail at the Tree Adventure.

Where: Nebraska City, Neb. (about a 50-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: The South Table Creek Trail at the Tree Adventure is a favorite of my family. It has a couple bridges, some fun kids structures, and a bird sculpture-spotting game. In addition to the trail, we love the outdoor education center and tree house there. Read more about the Tree Adventure here. There is a paved trail and a dirt trail here.

Tip: There are frequent special events held at the Tree Adventure, so check the calendar to time a fun visit. We visited one time when there was a gnome scavenger hunt!

 

Platte River State Park

This waterfall at Platte River State Park is my favorite destination of any Omaha metro trail.

Where: Louisville, Neb. (about 30-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This is one of my family’s favorite Nebraska State Park, with a good variety of easy to difficult trails. A favorite is the very short, flat trail to a waterfall. It’s a tough call which park, Platte River or Hitchcock, have the best terrain for hikes out of this list. Read more about Platte River State Park here.

Interactive trail map for NE state parks

Tip: Bring a map with you when exploring these trails. There aren’t a whole lot of signs out there, and you can end up taking a much longer hike than anticipated.

 

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Exploring the easy-to-hike trails near the lookout tower. If you time it right, you can catch a nice view of passing trains.

Where: Ashland, Neb. (about 30-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This state park is full of things to do. It’s not a particular great place for hiking, but there are some trails and they are pretty easy. There’s a paved path around the park, too, though it’s not very shade. One highlight for kids is the trail near the lookout tower, which leads you to an overlook where you might catch a train passing by.

Interactive trail map for NE state parks

Tip: Bring a swimsuit and cool off at the park’s amazing aquatic center after your hike. Or, keep the trail theme going and go on a horseback ride at Mahoney.

 

Want MORE ideas for hikes? Read 3 Places To Hike In The Loess Hills!

 

Get More Lists Like This Sent To Your Inbox

Stay in the know – subscribe to the FREE bi-weekly e-newsletter sharing giveaways, new posts and inspiration for road trips! Subscribe here.

June 16, 2017

My St. Louis Bucket List

We’re planning a trip to St. Louis during a great time of year: Summer. There’s so much to see there with the kids, I’ve decided to make a bucket list of it all. The last time we were there, it was winter and we couldn’t do a lot of great things.

Here’s what we’d see and do in St. Louis if time and money didn’t matter. Our upcoming visit is hosted by Explore St. Louis and Four Seasons St. Louis

Play outdoors

Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis is continually ranked among the best (and biggest) botanical gardens in the U.S. Photo by Burt Remis, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

I’d love to further explore Forest Park, home to the St. Louis Zoo and called the No. 1 city park by USA Today. It’s a huge space, with a lake and somewhere in there, the 75-foot Flegel Falls. While we’re in the area, I hope we can time a stop to Missouri Botanical Gardens. The Travel Channel called it one of the best botanical gardens in the U.S. Ever since St. Louis local, Adam from Fly Over Country, included it in on a St. Louis Insider’s Guide on my blog, I’ve wanted to see it.

Since we’ll spend a lot of time downtown, I’d also like to stroll through Citygarden. It’s a cool-looking sculpture park and fountain garden.

See a show at The Muny

The Muny in St. Louis is the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor theatre. Photo by Debbie Franke, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

Located in Forest Park, The Muny is the country’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre. Broadway revivals are presented in the summer, and I peeked at the season – so good! There are even ones that my kids would love.

Go up the Gateway Arch

This is for my kids, since I’ve already done this tour. They’re dying to get to the 630-foot ride to the top and see the view.

Stay somewhere with a view

A view of the Gateway Arch from a room at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. Photo courtesy Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

Being such an iconic part of the city, how cool would it be to have your first view and final view of the day be out a window facing The Arch? Four Seasons in St. Louis has that view, and I’m hoping we get a room with this sort of view! There’s a reason it’s the No. 15 hotel in the entire country, according to the New York Post.

Eat all the food

Dining at the Fountain on Locust, home of the Ice Cream Martini, is on my St. Louis Bucket List, for sure. Photo by Katherine Bish, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

It wouldn’t be an Oh My! Omaha bucket list if there wasn’t a list of restaurants on it. I’ve got to try some St. Louis barbecue, and two names that keep getting mentioned are Bogart’s and Pappy’s. Pappy’s has been on Food Network and Travel Channel shows, including one “Man Vs. Food” episode about its “Big Ben” meal – a full slab of ribs, 2 sandwiches, a quarter-chicken, and 4 side dishes. Bogart’s was on The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods America,” for what doesn’t seem like too strange of a menu (I suppose apricot-bruleed ribs is a little different).

I also want to take the kids to somewhere fun, like Blueberry Hill in The Loop (Chuck Berry used to play there).

For dessert, where else should we go in St. Louis than Ted Drewes for a concrete? I also have my eye on The Fountain. Every sundae (and they have some adult ones) sounds amazing, and the place just looks cool to be in. Or, we might head to Gooey Louie’s. I read the gooey butter cake is a speciality in St. Louis and Gooey Louie’s is the place to go for it.

See more St. Louis museums

The City Museum is a playground and museum for children and adults. The rooftop is an area I have yet to explore. Photo by McElroy Fine Art Photography, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

I love St. Louis museums (many are free). We want to go back to City Museum, even though we’ve been to this fantastic place before. Why is it on my bucket list? This time, with nice weather, we’ll be able to explore the amazing rooftop area. 

We also still need to visit The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, and my son, particularly is loving art museums, so a trip to St. Louis Art Museum is in order. There are family guides to for areas like the armor and mummies.

Have some thrills

Six Flags St. Louis is home to the thrilling Batman the Ride. Photo courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

My kids are starting to become little theme park junkies. We should totally check out Six Flags St. Louis. I wonder if my oldest is tall enough for Batman the Ride yet.

See the Budweiser Clydesdales

You can see the world famous Clydales in St. Louis. Photo courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission.

There’s a free tour of the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery, visit the Budweiser Clydesdales and sample some brew (me, not the kids). On a related note, we should visit Grant’s Farm, the 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family.

* * * * *

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Kim, it’s St. Louis, go to the zoo and a Cardinals’ game. I know. I’ve done them both and checked them off my list. We’ve also been to the Science Center (it’s FREE, you should go). I wrote about our first visit to St. Louis years ago (OMG, look how young Mooch and Farley are!).

What else am I missing? Please leave a comment with what should be added to this list!

* * * * *

 

I got a lot of ideas from an Insider’s Family Guide to St. Louis. You ought to check it out!

Want even more ideas? Check out the site Explore St. Louis or view all the stuff pinned to St. Louis Fun With Kids:

 

Liked this post?

Get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox twice a month. Subscribe to the FREE e-newsletter sharing giveaways, new posts and updates to popular posts like this one! Subscribe here.

June 12, 2017

7 Reasons To Visit Platte River State Park

Platte River State Park is one of the closest state parks to the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas. There is an abundance of fun things to do with kids, especially during the summer.

Yet, I think it gets overlooked for flashier, newer parks. Time to fix that.

Here’s are seven reasons why you should plan a visit the park. Bringing kids along? Don’t miss this guide to taking kids to Platte River State Park.

Great Hiking Trails

This waterfall at Platte River State Park is my favorite destination of any Omaha metro trail.

I’m guilty of thinking of another state park near Platte River for day trips first (ahem, Mahoney), but when I want to immerse myself and kids in nature, few places nearby can top Platte River State Park.

The trails at Mahoney have nothing on Platte River. First off, there’s a waterfall that’s incredibly quick and easy to get to at Platte River State Park.

For those looking for more of a challenge, Platte River State Park’s terrain will satisfy you.

It’s still the Midwest, so you know, it’s not mountainous, but it’ll do.

Horseback Trail Rides

My son right before we began our trail ride at Platte River State Park.

Your family can ride horses at Platte River State Park. The cutoff age is one year younger than Mahoney’s (age 6). They do a great job matching your ability to the right horse.

The route takes you past a creek, over a bridge and through some inclines in the forest. In all, you’re on your horse for about an hour.

Naturalist Programs

The kids spent more time than I could have imagined trying to catch tadpoles during the naturalist program held at Crawdad Creek at Platte River State Park. The creek is a new feature at the park in 2017.

This is the first summer we’ve really taken advantage of the programming offered at a state park, perhaps because all of our stays in the past have been off-season. At least through June 30, there are daily activities for kids.

Some teach fishing; others might instruct them on creek ecology. There’s a small nature center with aquariums of native Nebraska species. One naturalist program let kids get up close to some of them to learn more about their characteristics.

Tip: If you stay over Memorial Day Weekend, you may even find a special event on that Friday night. When we were there, the kids got to learn some archery, try out an air rifle, and learn about Dutch oven cooking.

Movie Screenings

Saturday nights through the summer, you can go to the park’s little amphitheater to watch a family-friendly movie for free. We brought snacks and drinks, and since it was early summer still, a blanket.

There is bench seating, so you don’t have to bring a chair.

Fun Lake

Paddle boats and fishing are the popular activities at this lake at Platte River State Park.

The lake at Platte River State Park is a lovely one surrounded by tall trees. There’s a marina where you can get a variety of food and cold treats, as well as rent a paddle boat for a half-hour.

Tip: You can check out fishing poles for your kids for free (bait is extra).

Near the lake you’ll find Crawdad Creek. It’s a new addition to the park, and the kids loved it. It features three ponds with little waterfalls flowing from one to the next. There’s a naturalist program at the creek, during which a guide helps kids look for tadpoles and other critters and bugs.

Cheaper Cabins

The camper cabin at Platte River State Park offers beds with bedding, A/C, and a refrigerator like other modern cabins, but it lacks one biggie: Water. You’ll have to walk if you want to take a shower, use the restroom or wash your hands.

Having stayed about both Mahoney and Platte River state parks, I can affirm Platte River has cheaper options, including teepees if you’re so inclined. The options are cheaper because Platte River State Park has things like camper cabins, which has some amenities of a typical cabin (A/C, refrigerator, beds) but not all of them (no water or bathroom).

Having spent a few nights in a camper cabin, I’m cool with spending a few more bucks to have a bathroom next time.

Proximity to other fun stuff

The view from my lounger at the Mahoney State Park aquatic center. The pool has an annoying schedule, and is closed over dinner time; however, if you go when it’s open for those few hours after dinner, you’ll find a much less crowded pool.

The great thing about Platte River State Park is that it’s near places like Mahoney State Park, so you can stay (cheaply) at Platte River, and then take the 10-minute drive to the other park to enjoy what’s there as well.

I’d recommend heading to Mahoney to the aquatic center, which is much larger than Platte River’s little pool, plus it has water slides and a kids area. If it’s a rainy day, nothing beats letting the kids run wild in the indoor play area at Mahoney, too.

 

If you go

Platte River State Park

Where: 14421 346th St., Louisville, Neb.

Cabin & Camping Information

Visiting in the off-season? Read this post on what to do at Platte River State Park in the winter.

 

 

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.

June 10, 2017

Going To Oceans Of Fun With Small Kids

Our plan: See if Oceans of Fun was as kid-friendly as Worlds of Fun.

Our analysis: Most definitely.

 

I admit to being reluctant taking two beginner swimmers to a water park the size of Oceans of Fun. But when Cedar Fair invited my family to visit for the first time, I decided it was time to see for myself if they can handle it.  (Boy, could they handle it!)

Tip for other nervous parents: There are free life jackets near most major pool areas.

If you haven’t been to the Kansas City area, please check out some of my guides, including family-fun in North Kansas City (where this water park is), a hotel recommendation near Oceans of Fun, a hotel recommendation downtown, and one of my family’s favorite KC attractions, Science City.

Kid-friendly Oceans of Fun

If you are bringing school aged or older children to Oceans of Fun, the many water slides will be a bigger attraction to you than the kiddie stuff. Our trip was decidedly less thrill and more splash. Here’s what my 5- and 7-year-old loved:

The biggest hits were Coconut Cove and Aruba Tuba.

Oceans of Fun

We could’ve spent our entire time at Coconut Cove and my two kids would’ve been happy. The pool had slides, fountains, floating animals and a ropes course.

Coconut Cove is the pool of every kid’s dreams. Mini slides, rope walk, animals to climb on, and no waves to knock you over.

Aruba Tuba was, hands down, my kids’ favorite slide in the park. You need to be 42 inches to ride. It was quick enough to feel thrilling, but no scares. Both kids did well going down on their own and in a two-person tube.

For preschoolers and the younger crowd, the best place to explore in the park was Crocodile Isle.

The area for really little kids, Captain Kidd’s pirate ship and Crocodile Isle (as well as Splash Island), were fun and a friendly way to ease into the water park experience. After a little while, though, my bigger kids were ready to move on.

Paradise Falls looks like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? There’s so much to see, slide down, and splash through, that the commotion was too much for my youngsters.

Surprisingly, my kids didn’t like Paradise Falls as much as I expected them to. It’s an awe-inspiring play area. I think the 1,000-gallon bucket of water dumping out every so often was a too much for them. I walked through it myself; it was a lot for the senses to take in.

We also had a fun time at the Surf City Wave Pool. Nab one of the free tubes to make playing in that pool extra fun. If your family is feeling brave, and everyone is tall enough (46 inches), Hurricane Falls is near the wave pool, and being a four-person tube ride, it’s a fun one to take the family on.

Caribbean Cooler may have been the most chill area in Oceans of Fun (if you don’t count the adults-onlly relaxing pool and swim-up bar…sigh).

Slides and other water attractions we skipped were many, partly because my kids had their favorite areas and simply wouldn’t leave…and if I’m honest, partly because I didn’t want to go down any really big slides. Hurricane Falls was enough for me.

Best slides for kids at Oceans of Fun

Aruba Tube, the two-person and single tube ride, was the biggest hit with my kids, who are 5 and 7. It had the perfect combo of just-enough speed and dips in the slide to please, but not scare, every thrill seeker in our group. 

Hurricane Falls was the lone thrill ride we did at Oceans of Fun. It’s a four-person tube flume, and you should expect a wait to get on it. My younger child enjoyed it, which surprised me. As for myself, it was a bit too much going backwards and fearing the worst. I’m a big baby, it turns out. 

My Oceans of Fun Tips

There are plenty of free life jackets to keep youngsters and weak swimmers feeling safe in the water.

– If the idea of your little ones in a big water park makes you nervous (it did for me), you can get a life jacket for them free-of-charge.

– Parents in the know arrive early, nab a spot in the shade before anything else, and leave a towel there before exploring.

– You can rent a locker all day, since they’re digital now. We felt comfortable leaving our bags nearby and going to play.

– My kids wore water shoes, but that wasn’t the norm. It made sense, to me at least, to wear them, since the cement does get hot and slides get slippery.

One Park. One Price.

My daughter reached a new height level this year that let her do some more thrilling rides and slides during our visit to Oceans of Fun and, later that day, Worlds of Fun.

Oceans of Fun and Worlds of Fun are one park now, which means you buy one ticket and can get into both. Super deal, if you ask me.

Can you do both in one day with small kids? The way I see it, you have two routes to go if you’re trying to fit it in all in one day. If your kids are past the nap time age, I recommend hitting Worlds of Fun first and then cooling off at the end of the day at Oceans of Fun.

My kids needed a break (OK, I needed one). Since we were staying at a cabin on site, we went to Oceans of Fun right when it opened, took a midday break in the cabin, and then in the evening, rode a few rides at Worlds of Fun. The water park was great early in the day: Short lines, plenty of room in the pools, loungers galore. After noon, it warmed up more and the crowds arrived. 

A pond at the Worlds of Fun Village. We stayed in one of these cabins and had a view of the rollercoaster called the Mamba. You can hear the screams from riders, FYI.

If you go

Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun

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

When: Open through Labor Day 2017; hours and days open vary so see calendar before going. You can time your visit to coincide with one of these fun events at Worlds of Fun.

Tickets: Buy online here

Cost: Buy online ahead of time for the best deal. You can get one-day passes for as low as $39.99. Two-day tickets are an even better deal: $59. Mom Saves Money shared more deals for 2017; check those out here.

Website

Oceans of Fun with small kids

Disclosure: This post is sponsored through a partnership with Blog Meets Brand and Cedar Fair, I was compensated for this post. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. 

 

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.

June 7, 2017

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.

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.

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.

Our fun adventure at Tanganyika was part of our Great Wichita Weekend. Our trip was hosted by Visit 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Website

 

Disclaimer: I received complimentary admission to Tanganyika Wildlife Park so that I could tell you about it. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

* * * * *

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?

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.

June 1, 2017

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)?

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!).

What’s at Exploration Place

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.

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).

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.

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

There are so many places to explore at Exploration Place, you need to allow a couple hours to see it all.  This water table is in the

– 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.

Website

 

* * * * *

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.