You may have never thought about taking a trip to Wichita, Kansas, but we recently visited the Exploration Place there and were quite pleasantly surprised. We were wanting to take a quick day trip somewhere within a couple-hour drive (because our littlest one isn’t the best car rider) and wanted to find something kid-friendly.
Since we have a science museum membership at Science Museum Oklahoma, we like to try and visit participating museums of the ASTC Travel Passport Program for free. We have loved this benefit and have taken advantage of it several times when traveling.
With our membership pass in tow and lunches packed, we headed up I-35 to the land of plains and toll roads apparently. Be prepared for stops at the toll booths when you’re traveling through Kansas. From the Oklahoma City area, the tolls will cost you about $2.50 one way. You’ll also want to pack lunches if you’re going to the Exploration Place around lunchtime because the food options are slim to depressing (envision hot dogs on rollers). However, the views from the eating area are quite enjoyable.
The Exploration Place is housed in a beautiful piece of architecture pretty much on top of the Arkansas River. With large floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, you can enjoy several different views of the river and the nearby Keeper of the Plains statue. Our baby also really liked watching the ducks swimming in the water.
Although this museum is not very large compared to others we’ve visited, it has many interactive features and has several engaging exhibits that my daughter loved so much she didn’t want to leave. Her favorite was probably the three-story castle with activities centered around medieval life. There were horses to ride, a play kitchen to cook in, a blacksmith room, dress up clothes and lots of little nooks and crannies with interesting hands-on elements.
From now until January 1, 2018, there is a special traveling exhibit on display called the Hall of Heroes. If you have a superhero or comic book fan in your family, it would be a great place to take him. There is a Batmobile replica, movie memorabilia, several superhero statues and different science-based activities. One thing that I did notice was that it was really loud in that area, so it was kind of difficult to listen to some of the displays with video or sound.
Also included in the admission is mini golf, which I thought was a pretty good deal. The 18-hole course is set right along the river, so you can enjoy the views outside as well (but don’t putt with too much enthusiasm because your ball will roll into the bushes and possibly into the river – not that I would know or anything *cough, cough*). There is also apparently an Exploration Park portion of the museum outside, but we ran out of time and never got to it or saw it.
We spent about five hours at the museum and probably could have stayed a little longer, since our daughter seriously wanted to play there all day long. But we all got “hangry” (especially Dad) and hot from playing miniature golf outside and the museum closes at 5 p.m., so we headed to a Braum’s down the street for ice cream (no trip is complete without ice cream) and dinner and called it a day.
If you are looking for a quick day trip or just something fun for your family, I would definitely recommend the Exploration Place. Check out their website to see what special exhibits may be going on when you plan to visit.
Exploration Place Fast Facts
Address > 300 N. McLean Blvd. | Wichita, KS 67203
Phone > 316.660.0600
Hours > Monday – Saturday > 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Sunday > Noon – 5 p.m.
Website > http://exploration.org/
|General Museum Admission|
|Exhibits*||Dome||Do it All|
|Adult (12 – 64)||$9.50||$5.00||$12.50|
|Youth (3 – 11)||$6.00||$3.00||$7.00|
|2 and Under||Free||Free||Free|