Wichita, KS Entertainment Includes Sedgwick County Zoo, Parks

From exploring the world of science to hanging out with penguins‚ there’s no shortage of activities in Wichita that will interest the whole family.

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From exploring the world of science to hanging out with penguins‚ there’s no shortage of activities in Wichita that will interest the whole family. And there’s plenty of education mixed in with the fun‚ so a day visiting one of the city’s many family attractions is a day well spent all around. Consider the Sedgwick County Zoo‚ for example. Since opening in 1971‚ the facility has been adding exhibits and exotic critters at a rapid pace‚ most recently opening the Cessna Penguin Cove‚ which features Humboldt penguins in a setting that resembles the wild Pacific coast of South America. The zoo also has the Koch Orangutan and Chimpanzee Habitat and the Downing Gorilla Forest. It recently revamped its restaurant to offer indoor‚ climate-controlled seating‚ and a tiger exhibit is in the works as well. “We opened the penguin exhibit Memorial Day [2007] weekend and have had a very good reaction‚” says Christan Baumer‚ marketing and public relations manager for the zoo. “We had 114‚640 guests in May‚ which set an attendance record.” With major new exhibits up and running‚ Baumer says the zoo requires more time to tour fully these days‚ but it is well worth it. “It’s not a two-hour trip any more‚ but more like a four-hour tour to see everything‚” she says. “But we do have our tram‚ which is free‚ and our boat tour‚ which gives visitors another per spective of the zoo. It goes right by a couple of islands where lemurs are living‚ so visitors can see them up close‚ much better than from land.” Wichita families also may learn about the wildlife and plant varieties native to the region at the Great Plains Nature Center‚ which is a partnership between the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks‚ the Wichita Depart ment of Park and Recreation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The center features the Koch Habitat Hall‚ which is a collection of displays that recreate environments such as the prairie‚ streams and wetlands‚ the wood­lands and lakes – the latter of which includes a 2‚000-gallon aquarium. For more educational entertainment‚ Exploration Place is a natural. The hands-on science center is located on a 20-acre site in downtown Wichita’s Museums on the River district. Accord ing to Christina Bluml‚ communications manager‚ the museum has five major areas‚ each with a specific focus: flight‚ Kansas‚ medieval life (in a three-story castle‚ no less)‚ a toddler area and traveling exhibitions. “We are a science center for all ages‚ not just a children’s museum‚” she says. Exploration Place features Kansas’ largest domed theater‚ the CyberDome‚ a picnic grove and adventure play yard‚ an 18-hole MiniGolf course and Water Way Café and Terrace. The facility also has a carousel produced by master carver Bruce White‚ whose carousel horses are featured in more than 1‚000 Applebee’s restaurants‚ as well as in museums and private collections around the world‚ Bluml says. Hands-on activities are the order of the day at the Wichita Center for the Arts‚ which has many activities for the entire family to explore creativity. “We break them up into age groups and disciplines‚” says Pam Bugler‚ director of education for the Mary R. Koch School of Visual Arts at the center. “If you’ve got a 3-year-old‚ we can offer the primary color class‚ where they learn every color in the rainbow and create their very own masterpiece. If you’ve got a 6-year-old who loves clay‚ then we have the basic clay class. When they’re 11 years old‚ they can get on the potter’s wheel.” Summer camps are hugely popular‚ as are programs where parents and children work on projects together. “We have a class where the parent makes the bowl‚ the child makes the lid‚ and everything has to come together at the end‚” Bugler says. There also are photography and even cooking classes‚ so that new pot can get some use right away. “I don’t think anyone will ever be bored coming out here‚” Bugler says.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for ... more

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Fri, 10/27/2017 - 19:55