At Isle of Screams, strobe lights, lasers, and shrieks pierce the dark in foggy, monster-infested woods. Huddles of six to eight thrill seekers trek across the isle, steeling their courage against live monsters and disquieting special effects. Ghoul hunters who make it through the first leg of the journey may continue on to the Monster Quest game, in which they fend off encroaching fiends with laser-tag guns as they emerge from the fog-shrouded forest. So as not to scare visitors on an empty stomach, a nearby concession stand offers eats, with all revenue going to the bone-chilling Wichita Park and Recreation Department, who recently replaced all park rangers with frankensteins.
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.
Botanica's 9.5-acre plant paradise is divided into more than 20 meticulously designed gardens, including a rose garden for contemplating romance and a wildflower meadow for carefree frolicking. More than 3,600 species of plants are artfully arranged around calming streams, flowing waterfalls, and sculptures. Stop by the sensory garden to touch, smell, and telepathically understand plants' thoughts about hot dogs. Or, head to Botanica's 2,900-square-foot enclosed butterfly house, where the winged beauties flutter freely among a vibrant collection of pansies (through September).
At the Museum of World Treasures, a team of curators and historians gather artifacts from around the world to nourish the knowledge-hungry brains of families and students. Since opening in 2001, the diverse collection has grown to encompass three floors of the museum’s renovated warehouse location. Skeletons of dinosaurs loom over visitors in the fossil gallery, and an authentic Civil War cannon stands vigilant among the museum’s military exhibits, which span from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War. A plethora of interactive and historical displays also allow visitors to witness original footage from the discovery of the Titanic and feel humbled in the presence of signatures from every American president, including those not yet born.The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday–Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Museum members can capitalize on myriad benefits, including discounts on educational programs and invitations to special events.
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.
Since 1980, Village Tours and Travel's experienced staff of tour-bus whisperers has whisked Wichitans away to sight-seeing destinations across the country. Roll around in a field of four-leaf clovers and horseshoes before boarding a coach bus and embarking on a 10-hour visit of the racecourse and casino at Remington Park Racing Casino, which is just outside Oklahoma City. Pick-up is at 9:30 a.m. on May 15 at the Wichita office of Village Tours, and drop-off is at the same location at 7:30 p.m. that night. With $10 of casino play, even the risk averse can have a cordial conversation with Lady Luck at the tables, slots, or bottomless well. Touring folk also receive reserved seats at the track for watching live horse races at their leisure anytime throughout their stay. Meals are not included with this Groupon, but Remington Park offers a variety of options, including a buffet, snack bar, and a gourmet meal at the Silk Dining Room.
The approximately 247-acre wilderness zoo houses more than 2,500 animals from nearly 400 different species, including gorillas, penguins, bears, tigers, and elephants. Stop by the orangutan and chimp habitat, or walk down a seashell-strewn path to the penguin cove, which includes a 52-foot-long underwater viewing area for watching Humboldt penguins glide gracefully through the water in search of sealed Tootsie Rolls. Sedgwick County Zoo's continually evolving exhibits showcase cuddlesome creatures from diverse regions including Asia, Africa, and South America.