10 Kansas Day Trips for Children

Seth Hays House
Seth Hays House
Seth Hays House on the Council Grove Self-Guided Tour

Looking for somewhere to visit with the whole family? Good news—there are plenty of options close at hand!

While there are some destinations in Kansas that appeal directly to children, many others can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. Children do not necessarily need to be entertained, but they do need to be engaged. Opportunities to learn, move, explore, and discover are key.

So don’t hesitate to bring the whole family to a destination that may not be designed specifically for children. There is plenty out there to see and do for everyone!

With this in mind, here are a few of our favorites for the whole family across the state (listed in alphabetical order).

1. Cosmosphere

Feed your child’s inner astronaut here! The Cosmosphere in Hutchinson fascinates visitors of all ages with its impressive collection of artifacts, while special events and exhibits from time to time provide plenty of reasons to keep coming back. Older children will have an easier time understanding the historical element, with its Cold War backdrop, but the will enjoy getting close to the various spacecraft, as well.

Cosmosphere
Learn more and plan your visit.

2. Council Grove Self-Guided Tour

Combine the need to stretch your legs with an educational opportunity. This self-guided tour with 25 stops is suited for a combination of walking and driving. Along the way, you will learn about the history of Council Grove, Native Americans, and the Santa Fe Trail. Children will particularly enjoy Hermit’s Cave and the Neosho Riverwalk. The Guardian of the Grove, a stately Kaw warrior, tends to attract attention, as well.

The Council Grove Self-Guided Tour was also one of our Top 10 Sights to See in the Flint Hills.

25 Historic Sites
See photos of the stops along the tour, then download a brochure to guide you.

3. Dillon Nature Center

This peaceful and beautiful nature center is conveniently located in Hutchinson. There are several walking trails to choose from, including an interpretive loop. The one-acre pond attracts both wildlife and anglers of all ages. Picnic and play areas are also provided. A favorite with both young and old.

Dillon Nature Center
Get directions and learn more.

4. Kansas Oil Museum

If a museum devoted to oil sounds boring to you, do not underestimate the power of derricks, pumps, and trucks to fascinate. Learn how drilling works and witness a model boom town. For added interest, this El Dorado attraction is also home to the Butler County Historical Society and therefore showcases some of the area’s rich farming and ranching heritage, as well.

Kansas Oil Museum
Plenty of photos and history, plus info for planning your visit.

5. Little House on the Prairie

For those who have duly acquainted themselves with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, complete your family foray into pioneer times with a visit to the replica of the Ingalls’ Kansas cabin and the original hand-dug well that so nearly proved disastrous! Additional buildings to showcase frontier life include a post office and a one-room schoolhouse. This museum is located near Independence, Kansas.

Little House on the Prairie Museum
Detailed driving directions, along with photos and a history of the site.

6. Oregon Trail Nature Park

This scenic little park near Wamego is a great place for a family picnic. Take a stroll along the network of paths and enjoy some panoramic vistas. The brilliantly painted silo near the parking lot connects the area’s past and present.

Oregon Trail
Find the address here, along with information about the nearby Louis Vieux Cemetery, also of historic importance.

7. Pawnee Indian Museum

This museum protects the excavated site of a real Pawnee earth lodge near the small town of Republic. Witness authentic artifacts and hear audio recordings spoken in the Pawnee language. Children will also enjoy the nature trail, which guides visitors around the site of the original village.

The Pawnee Indian Museum was one of our Top 10 Sights to See in the Smoky Hills.

Pawnee Indian Museum
Plan your visit, and discover the history of the museum.

8. Rock City

For children who are tired of arriving at an attraction and being requested not to climb, here is the perfect outlet—a small park packed with about 200 boulders. And, yes, they can climb on the rocks. The adults in the family will find it hard not to smile when they witness the whimsical shapes. This destination in Minneapolis, Kansas, is something every child should have the privilege of visiting.

Rock City is one of our Top 10 Sights to See in the Smoky Hills.

Rock City
Learn what to expect when you arrive at the park.

9. Rolling Hills Zoo

What child doesn’t look forward to a visit to the zoo? Rolling Hills near Salina is one of the best options in the state thanks to its diverse mix of wildlife. The big cats are always impressive, but children who prefer primates or reptiles will also be pleased.

Rolling Hills Zoo
Directions, hours, and facts about the animals.

10. Sternberg Museum of Natural History

For children who prefer animals that cannot be seen in a zoo, try the Sternberg in Hays. Spend the day walking among the dinosaurs, including a suitably large Tyrannosaurus rex. The famous fish-within-a-fish fossil also also sure to please.

The fish-within-a-fish is one of our Top 10 Strangest Sights to See in Kansas.

Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Plan your trip, learn what you’ll see, and meet the Sternberg family along the way.