Museums to Visit within 3 Hours of Manhattan


Our family loves museums, and we are lucky to have such a variety of museums within a short drive from the Manhattan area. Whether you’re looking for science, history, interactive or even a little movie trivia, there is a museum for you. Check out this list and try something new!

Museums within 3 Hours from Manhattan

The Oz Museum (Wamego)

The OZ Museum is dedicated to all things OZ, offering an experience that attracts visitors from around the globe. The OZ Museum is home to exclusive exhibits featuring the unimaginable, from the earliest Baum books and OZ Parker Brothers board games to today’s collectibles, which can be purchased from the Official OZ Museum Store. It is an enchanting experience appropriate for all ages.

Kansas Museum of History (Topeka)

Visit award-winning exhibits on colorful characters and everyday folks from Kansas’ past. You’ll see a full-sized Cheyenne tipi, a fully stocked covered wagon ready for a trip on the Oregon Trail, a 1950s diner, and a locomotive made in 1880 for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. Children through the age of nine find an exciting play area with a wide variety of things to do. The intriguing stations include Laura’s Cabin, County Fair Carnival, and a Plains Indian tipi. Challenge your child’s knowledge with the symbols display. The museum has been under renovation but is expected to reopen this spring.

C.W. Parker Carousel Museum (Leavenworth)

The C.W. Parker Carousel Museum, also known as the Leavenworth Carousel Museum, is located in Leavenworth, Kansas. Opened in 2005, the building houses carousels that are historically registered, as well as a C.W. Parker cylinder piano, an Artizan A-X-1 band organ, and a Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ. It also has several reproduced or repaired carousel horses. You can ride a 106-year-old carousel! Open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Kansas Cosmosphere (Hutchinson)

The Kansas Cosmosphere is a space enthusiasts dream! Learn how to build a rocket in CosmoKids,or watch a giant ball of cotton explode in Dr. Goddard’s Lab or stand beside the Apollo 13 Command Module Odyssey. Don’t miss the dome theater and the planetarium.

Field Station Dinosaurs (Newton)

Spend the day with dinosaurs! This outdoor exhibit boasts over 40 life-sized dinos – walk the paths to learn all about them. Admission also includes Jurassic Golf, live shows, Raptor Maze, Paleo Playground, and Fossil Dig.

Strataca (Hutchinson)

Travel 650 feet underground into an active salt mine! Experience a cool and soothing subterranean world formed by salt deposits in the Permian Sea long ago. Multiple narrated tours are available, reserve online prior to your visit.

Smoky Hill Museum (Salina)

The Smoky Hill Museum is Kansas’s oldest, nationally accredited, hands-on history museum. Each time you visit, you find interactive fun around every corner.

Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum (Atchison)

Journey through Amelia Earhart’s adventurous life as a trailblazing aviator who defied the odds to pursue her dreams! The centerpiece of the museum is Muriel — the world’s last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E aircraft — identical to the plane Amelia piloted on her fateful round-the-world flight. Surrounding Muriel are 14 interactive STEM and history storytelling exhibit areas that take visitors through Earhart’s extraordinary life — from growing up in Atchison, Kansas, to the height of her worldwide fame as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Exporation Place (Wichita)

Exploration Place is Kansas’ premier science center, inspiring a deeper interest in science and technology through creative and fun experiences for all. The preschool area boasts a fun Kansas theme. You can also explore the three-story castle where kids can practicing ruling somewhere else beyond their own house.

Haskell Cultural Center (Lawrence)

The vision of the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum is to respectfully serve as a steward of living tribal materials, traditions and cultural arts. Using these tools as a vehicle of transmission to truthfully convey the story of Haskell’s remarkable evolution from a government boarding school to its present day fully accredited University status. The Haskell Cultural Center and Museum celebrates the living heritage and culture of all tribal peoples and strives to continue the legacy of education through culturally-based exhibitions, educational programs, and internships for students of Haskell Indian Nations

Museum of American Speed (Lincoln, Neb.)

Founded in 1992 by “Speedy” Bill and Joyce Smith, the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed is dedicated to preserving, interpreting and displaying physical items significant in racing and automotive history. The vast collection resulted from the Smiths’ personal involvement in racing and hot rodding for more than six decades, and their lifelong passion for collecting and preserving historic automotive artifacts.

Science City (Kansas City)

Science City is the perfect place to head for a day of hands-on learning and discovering. Spend a few hours or make a day of it, either way, kids of all ages will be entertained with more than 300 interactive exhibits and attractions.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (Kansas City)

The Negro Leagues were born out of segregation — Black people weren’t welcome in Major League Baseball in the 1920s and beyond. But going to museum shouldn’t make you feel sad or any kind of guilt. Visiting the museum should — and will amaze you — seeing the perseverance, the talent, the joy, the showmanship these players had is nothing short of amazing.

Sternberg Museum of Natural History (Hays)

Sternberg Museum of Natural History displays live animals, fossils of 80 million year old sea-monsters, & interactive exhibits. Sternberg has a number of rooms suitable for a variety of events including business meetings, conferences, seminars, workshops, birthday parties, family reunions, as well as retreats. Enjoy Discovery Under the Dome!

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Sarah McGinnity
Sarah is owner of Manhattan Moms and is passionate about encouraging and connecting moms - we weren't meant to do this alone! She grew up in Manhattan graduated from Manhattan High and K-State, worked for newspapers and for several marketing departments, and eventually got her master's in public administration. Sarah and her husband, Shea, have four kids - Henry (12), Clark (9), Lucy (7) and Caroline (1). She enjoys reading historical fiction, beating her kids at board games and traveling as often as possible.


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