Day Trip to Salina, Kansas


Want to get out of town and spend the day somewhere new? Consider heading southwest on I-70 and spending a day in Salina, Kansas! There are lots of actives and attractions for the whole family to enjoy, making for a perfect family fun-filled day!

Rolling Hills Zoo and Museum

One of my family’s favorite places to visit is the Rolling Hills Zoo, located just west of city center and about 2 miles south of I-70. The zoo is open all year round, seven days a week! They’re only closed four days of the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day).Make sure to bring your Sunset Zoo membership card and receive half off admission! The reciprocity makes it a much easier day trip when on a tight budget.

Walking the entire zoo and exploring the museum (see below) can easily take up an entire morning. I would recommend getting an early start! Definitely plan to bring along a stroller or wagon for little feet (rentals are available if needed) and make sure to pack sunscreen! Although there are lots of shady areas, the last thing you need is a sunburnt kiddo.


Make sure to bring a few dollars in quarters so you can help feed the farm animals and fish!

There is a restaurant in the zoo with lots of great food options. From burgers to chicken nuggets, onion rings, and peanut butter jelly sandwiches, you’re sure to be able to feed even the pickiest of eaters (for me, that’s currently my Phillip)! If you need a sweet treat, the restaurant has dippin’ dots, which can do wonders on a hot day!

The zoo has several fun play areas for the kids to explore. Our favorite sight-seeing area is at the Coati enclosure. Have your camera ready for that big smile when your little pops up after crawling through an underground tunnel and popping up right in the middle of the enclosure! There’s also a nice sized playground with an oversized tunnel made out of large tires, slides, and a bridge. In addition, there is ANOTHER indoor play area in the museum.

Wildlife Museum

OK, now to the museum! The Wildlife Museum is included in zoo admission and features seven different regions around the world to explore. Dioramas and state-of-the-art Animatronic robots tell stories, and you can see/hear the animals in their natural environments of each region. It is an immersive experience that my kids love every single time. It never gets old!

The ambiance created in the museum makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the jungle or rainforest. The landscapes transition and flow from each region, making for an amazing adventure—one moment you’re in the middle of an Arctic tundra and the next, you’re in the middle of a frontier town, staring at a giant Black Bear featured in the center of beautifully designed wildlife diorama.

Don’t forget to swing by the gift shop to grab something special to take home to remind you of your visit!

Lunch at the Cozy Inn

Next stop! When traveling through Salina, you must try a burger (or pack of 6) at the Cozy Inn! Drawing influence from the original White Castle, which opened in Wichita the year before, the Cozy Inn has been serving the same menu of sliders since 1922. This six-stool diner is one of the only ones remaining in America!

District Eat and Play Salina

After a morning at the zoo, spend the afternoon and evening at The District! With activities like axe throwing, go-karts, bowling, bumper cars, skating, a full arcade and more, you are sure to have a good time. Gelly Ball, which is advertised as “paint ball without the sting!” might be another fun activity for your family, available for kids ages 4 and up! There’s also a Kid Zone with inflatable bounce houses for kids ages 1-8.


Have older kids in your crew? No problem! Book an escape room and see if you can solve clues to make your way out of a locked room in 60 minutes. Or explore the sports simulator which features more than 29 sports and 539 game challenges. Play solo or with the whole family.

Getting hungry? Relax and enjoy the variety of food options like nachos, burgers, pizza, salads, and more! Wanting to watch a sports game? The Sports Bar has your favorite game on the big screen, yummy food, and fun adult drink options.

The District is closed Mondays and Tuesdays but is open 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 2 p.m. – midnight on Friday, and 11 a.m. – midnight on Saturday! Kid Zone closes at 9 p.m. daily.

Dinner at Martinelli’s Little Italy

Last stop. If you’re looking for a delicious way to end your day in Salina, come on in for a fantastic Italian dinner at Martinelli’s! You’ll be quite satisfied with their big portions at affordable prices. I’d recommend trying the Alfredo! It is a big hit for the adults AND kids.

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Melissa Ferraro
Melissa and her husband (Tenured Professor at Kstate- Go Wildcats!!) moved to Manhattan Kansas from Florida about 7 years ago. They recently moved to St. George with their 3 boys (ages 6, 4, and 1) her mother in law, brother in law (age 15), 2 dogs, 2 fish, a tortoise, and a whole bunch of chickens! Melissa is a stay at home mama but has a background in child/adolescent social work and teaches night classes at Manhattan Christian College. If she’s not taking her kids to sports practice, after school activities, or play dates, you can catch her cooking, gardening, reading, and finding new fun recipes to try or home decor ideas on Pinterest.


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