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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lazy T Ranch Adventures' owner Ron Wilson is, to say the least, prolific. Serving on several government agricultural committees, he has described himself as a 4-H member, radio broadcaster, Sunday-school teacher, and hay-bale stacker?and his poetry, in a wry nod to the lasso hanging from his saddle, has earned him the title of Kansas's Poet Lariat. His wife, Chris, is equally accomplished, currently serving as deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Together they invite visitors to their cattle ranch?owned by the family for three generations?to tour attractions such as Sugarloaf Hill, with views of the Kansas River Valley, and a collection of horses, cattle, goats, and chickens. The farm also hosts an annual autumn festival every October, during which guests can ride across the meadow on a haystack ride, pick pumpkins at the onsite patch, and sip on the tangy apple cider that dairy cows produce only in the fall.