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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The Museum of World Treasures lets adults ($9 value), seniors ($8 value), and kids 4–12 ($7 value) brush up on their history with three floors of exciting exhibits and artifacts. After striding into the museum’s brick-faced edifice, stay-at-home time travelers are whisked to the first floor, where they can Lindy-Hop through the Ancient Civilizations gallery, bring Egyptian mummies back to life both figuratively and literally, touch a 4.5-ton piece of the Berlin Wall, and take turns riding a 40-foot-long T. rex skeleton named Ivan. On the second floor, explore the President’s Gallery—which displays interesting items such as a lock of George Washington’s hair and the signatures of the first 43 American presidents—as well as jewelry, swords, beer koozies, and signatures from European royalty dating back to the 12th century. The third floor plays host to a swarm of sports artifacts and pop culture treasures such as the pearls Lucy wore to greet Ricky at the door in an episode of I Love Lucy, and the pitchfork used by the Scarecrow to kill Frankenstein in The Wizard of Oz. The American Frontier exhibit, meanwhile, includes a 34-star flag that was accidentally produced when the fledgling country was still composed of 63 states.