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.
A wraparound porch winds along the perimeter of the Henderson House, its flowerpots framed by white columns and spindles that have stood for more than a century. Inside, guests lounge in double parlors and sleep in guestrooms adorned with stained- and beveled-glass windows, brass lighting fixtures, and antique bed frames. Part of a collection of homes built between 1903 and 1905—which includes the Spickard House, Littlefield House, and Weide House—the Henderson House maintains standing on the National Register of Historic Places through its turn-of-the-century architecture and decor. In addition to opening rooms for bed-and-breakfast-style lodging, the staff entertains guests with murder mysteries, such as the 1950s-themed Murder on the Grill where guests must figure out who killed Tom Dooley and what temperature steak is best cooked at. They also package stays with area attractions, such as guided birding with a nature photographer. Other nearby activities range from visits to the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge to making plum jelly.
The Highlands Golf Club's PGA-associated course sits atop sand dunes and perched along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Golfers can apply the 10 rounds individually or employ them in unifying a group of club wielders in the spirit of grass-traversing competition. Take a break from work or from gluing the head of a golf club to a pinewood-derby car to make it go faster to amble through the course's nine holes and thread drives down narrow fairways between clusters of coastal pines and thatches of native grasses. The walking-only course is playable by sportspeople of all ability levels and roadrunners willing to slow down, and the included pull cart unburdens golfers from the weight of their equipment. Although the course can be played in less than two hours, players may pause to observe the sudden appearance of local wildlife such as elk, pheasants, and eagles.
At each of its 12 locations in Kansas, the staff of Genesis Health Club strive to create a one-stop health-and-fitness center for the entire family. Supervised childcare programs entertain kids with arts and crafts, and Muay Thai classes help youngsters improve coordination and strength under the tutelage of a fifth-degree black belt. Adults can head over to yoga, Pilates, cycling, or MMA cardio classes, which are all led by nationally certified instructors. Guests can also take advantage of the rows of cardio and strength-training machines, or work one-on-one with an instructor to learn correct form and the best way to walk on your hands on a moving treadmill.
Over the span of more than a decade teaching yoga, founder and instructor Carmen Aguilar crafted her own signature style called cYoga, which caters to practitioners of all experience levels. While still drawing from more traditional forms of yoga, Aguilar spices things up by constantly rotating the sequence of poses to match the capabilities or moods of her students and to ensure that no two classes are ever alike. To give participants a boost of confidence as they pursue their goal of getting in shape or successfully imitating a rotini noodle during charades, she and her team of instructors strive to help every student to accomplish at least one difficult pose per class.
The airy studio cultivates a modern and industrial vibe with its exposed piping and gauzy white sheers that soften the row of windows. The studio's schedule also features a tango-dancing class, which is taught by an internationally acclaimed dancer, and capoeira classes, which teach a Brazilian art form fusing dance, gymnastics, and self-defense.
Nine acres of natural habitats make up the Hutchinson Zoo, a place that nearly 160 animals—most of which are native to Kansas—call home. The zoo’s many exhibits feature local reptiles, birds, and mammals, a fossil pit where kids can dig for dinosaur bones, and the Wild Habitats Building that houses animals from afar, such as cotton-top tamarins, gila monsters, and mexican red-knee tarantulas. In the barrier-free aviary, visitors watch native Kansas birds flying untethered overhead while in the wetlands below, North American beavers gnaw old furniture back into the shape of trees. To keep the area's wildlife populations strong, the zoo's Cargill WildCare Center rehabilitates approximately 500 injured or orphaned Kansas-native animals each year.