Part of the Biodiversity Institute, whose collection includes 8 million plant and animal specimens and 1.2 million archeological artifacts, the KU Natural History Museum inflates the brains of fact-seeking visitors with the help of diverse exhibits and regular programming. Permanent installations include a bird’s-eye view of scientific evolutionary research in Explore Evolution, as well as a glimpse at insect behavior in Bugtown, in which live specimens go about their six-legged business safe from their most dangerous natural predators, flyswatters. Considered one of the museum's strengths, the North America exhibit doles out multiple floors of dioramic re-creations of American wildlife from wolves to mountain goats, sure to please taxidermists of all ages. Featured through spring of 2012, Evolve! Adapt to Survive displays regional artists' depictions of a famed Charles Darwin quote in the Stairwell Gallery.
A mural that stretches over the alleyways at Royal Crest Lanes beckons dizzy balls with images of urban skyline. Darkness descends upon its 2-D vista on Fridays and Saturdays during cosmic bowl sessions that enliven games with festive lighting. Serious competitors can also find a place at Royal Crest, as its onsite pro shop stocks balls, bags, and shoes. For those looking for a more recreational experience, the facility’s special event space, called the Second City Room, can support all manner of revelry with its spacious spread of tables and chairs, as well as a bar that radiates blue light like a pregnant cookie monster. Party packages are also available, and can include soft drinks, pizza, and balloons.
Founded by the mother of four bounce-happy bairns, Leaping Lizards rockets socked striplings high above an inflatable party village of kid-friendly bounce-pads. Spring-ready squires can gallantly back flip behind miniature princesses before gracefully crowning them in a castle colonized by an assembly of Disney nobility. Meanwhile, an afternoon spent bounding across Batman's fortress will inspire heroic offspring to unleash excess energy before clumsily storming a skull-and-crossbone-emblazoned pirate ship. Toddlers under the age of two are unable to bounce with bigger brothers and sisters, so Leaping Lizards has a special area set aside to keep tiny tots preoccupied.
Bocce Basement brings competitive lawn bowling indoors with a comfortably outfitted gaming arena. The space sports six full-size bocce-ball courts, allowing patrons to jockey for pallino-hugging position without fear of environmental interruptions or ball-snatching bald eagles. Teams of up to eight sphere-slingers compare lobbing tactics in a battle for command of the court, adjourning only to whet whistles with enlivening libations from the fully-stocked bar.