Sightseeing in Great Bend

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The site of the present-day town of Ellis was first settled in 1867, when the Kansas Pacific Railway built a water station there and then bought the land. Within the next few years, a post office, hotel, and shops sprang up?again thanks to the railway?creating growth and contributing to the town that exists today. The railroad has been a part of Ellis since its inception, and the Ellis Railway Museum celebrates that history. The museum features artifacts and photographs of the railroad and trains from as far back as its earliest cow-shipping days. A meticulous, 5,000-square-foot model-train exhibit recreates that magic of the rails, and a miniature train outside the museum runs along a 2.5-mile track?known as the BK&E Railroad?that brings passengers to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and back.

911 Washington St
Ellis,
KS
US

There's a lot of history within Strataca at the Kansas Underground Salt Museum?about 275 million years' worth. It was way back then when the once mighty Permian Sea dried up, and its receding waters revealed something that would forever change the Hutchinson area: salt. Salt as far as a terrified slug's eyes could see. The mineral covered some 27,000 square miles, and it waited there for eons, until Ben Blanchard?an oil man?accidentally discovered it in 1887. Then salt companies began mining the area, eventually clearing out enough room for a museum, 650 feet deep within the Earth's crust.

To reach that depth, visitors travel down a mine shaft on Strataca's double-decker transport. And that ride is only the first of many. Surrounded by walls of exposed salt, the Dark Ride sends guests on a tram through the mine's exhibits on air flow, hazards, and history. The Salt Mine Express then journeys to an area of the mine virtually unchanged from the way it was 50 years ago. Aside from these permanent attractions, the museum also hosts special events, including its Salt Safari, which sends groups wandering through miles of dark tunnel with only a lighted hard hat.

3504 E Ave
Hutchinson,
KS
US

The 105,000-square-foot, Smithsonian-affiliated museum, which was voted one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas in 2008, boasts the second-largest collection of space artifacts in the United States (behind only the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.). An all-day mission pass gets you access to all the museum’s treasures: the Carey IMAX Dome Theater, Justice Planetarium, Dr. Goddard’s Lab, and the Hall of Space Museum. Start by strolling through the Hall of Space, where notable space souvenirs such as the command module from Apollo 13 and the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury capsule chronicle mankind's courtship with the cosmos. Then explore Dr. Goddard’s Lab, a replica of the 1930s laboratory where Dr. Robert Goddard pioneered modern rocketry. Explosive reenactments of the doctor's attempts to find the right rocket fuel, figure out how to circumvent gravity, and lick his elbows are performed daily to delight children and their copilots. Click here to download a basic museum itinerary.

1100 N Plum St
Hutchinson,
KS
US

The Courtyard is a fine art gallery featuring Kansas Artists. Mediums such as wood carving, paintings, jewelry, glass, weaving, and prints are on display by many artists. It is located in a small town known for the arts. In the center of our building is the Courtyard Bakery featuring Swedish baked goods made daily.

125 N Main St
Lindsborg,
KS
US

It's widely accepted that the founding of the Children's Aid Society was the beginning of documented foster care in America. But what many don't know is that specialized trains played a huge role in relocating roughly 250,000 children to their new homes. Luckily, The National Orphan Train Complex preserves this significant part of history with a museum full of artifacts, stories, and exhibitions documenting the Orphan Train Movement, which lasted from 1854?1929.

300 Washington St.
Concordia,
KS
US

At Kansas Learning Center for Health, kids don't learn about human anatomy from any regular skeleton. Instead, they learn from a more accurate model: Valeda. Shaped like the average woman, who is 5'7" and 145 pounds, Valeda has plastic bones and organs, wiring to represent her lymphatic and circulatory systems, and transparent skin. She even has a voice, which she uses to explain the benefits of a healthy lifestyle; her organs light up whenever she mentions them.

Valeda is just one of the engaging, interactive exhibits at the Kansas Learning Center for Health that helps kids understand their bodies. Others include huge model eyes, ears, and mouths, which kids can explore on visits with their families and schools.

505 Main St.
Halstead,
KS
US