You might have an impression of Kansas as being the land of endless prairies or cornfields. While it does have its share of agricultural wonders, Hutchinson, Kansas has an interesting history and many sights to go along with the events. It is the county seat of Reno County in Kansas, was founded as a railroad town, and is home to large salt mines. The salt mines earned it the nickname “Salt City”, but many locals simply call it “Hutch.”
Here are the top 10 things to do in Hutchinson, Kansas:
Visit the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center
If you or your family love science, this is the perfect place to review the history of spaceflight. It began in 1962 as a projection on-screen and several rows of folding chairs in the Poultry Building of the Kansas State Fair ground. Four years later, they were offered space at the Hutchinson Community College. By 1998, the facility expanded to 105,000 feet with an SR-71 Blackbird on display in the lobby. The Cosmosphere, which has more plans for expansion, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon flight with special exhibits and activities.
Go to the Carey Park ( Carey Park Golf Course, Salt City Splash)
Carey Park is one of several municipal parks in Hutchinson. It is notable for the Carey Park Golf Course, the Salt City Splash and two rentable facilities for group events. The Salt City Splash is a water recreation area, including pool, lifeguards and classes. The Pavilion is an outdoor, covered picnic area. The Homebuilders Shelter is rentable 365 days a year between the hours of 5:00 AM and midnight.
Visit the Strataca (Formerly the Underground Salt Museum)
Strataca, formerly named the Underground Salt Museum, is located 650 feet below ground. It begins with an elevator ride, plus opportunities to explore the older part of the mine, including artifacts left by miners during its 85 years of operation. Although there are 14 other salt mines in the United States, the one in Hutchinson is the only one that offers tours to visitors. Originally the Carey Salt Company, the Hutchinson Salt Company is still in operation. Visitors should read restrictions before entering, and be aware that general admission and the Dark Ride are handicap accessible, but the train ride is not. Children under four years of age are not admitted.
Learn More About the Wildlife at the Dillon Nature Center
This is one hundred acres of walking trails, “wild arboretum” where you can discover hundreds of local wildflowers, woody plants, and native grasses. It is home to more than 200 different kinds of birds, as well as other wildlife. The Nature Center also hosts a variety of educational programs and activities including Tai Chi, Yoga, Bird Walks, and STEM camp.
Spend Quality Family Time at the Sand Hills State Park
Perfect for family camping and vacationing, Sand Hills has winding trails through sand dunes, grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands. Some of the trails are set up for horseback riding, and fourteen of the camping sites include paddocks for horses. All of the campsites have water and sewer, fourteen of them have electricity. The trails are set up as interpretive, jogging, and horseback riding. Pets must be restrained in a kennel or on a leash, and are not allowed in restricted areas. If your primary goal is to enjoy outdoor activities, this is the place. It is part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
Visit the Reno County Museum
Contains and interprets the history of Reno County, Kansas, USA. Special collections include Reno County Museum on the Road, a set of exhibits which had been displayed in various locations but have now been returned to the museum; Hutch Heroes, firefighters collection; Transportation, including an Amish buggy and a vintage Model A; and a recently reinstated collection of African American oral history.
Watch a Show at the Stage9
Stage 9 is a community theater that includes dramatic, comedic and informative material as well as live music. The 2019 season, for example, includes mainstage productions of Guess Whose Coming to Dinner, the Cake, Sunday in the Park with George, Kitchen Witches, and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The Excite Series, which focuses on social awareness, includes a production of How I Learned to Drive, and the annual Talking Tombstones, which involves a stroll across the graveyard, listening to the stories of the dearly departed, performed at the foot of their graves. For those wishing to participate as performers, auditions are usually held in November for the following year’s season and are announced online and in the community.
Take a Look at Animals at the Hutchinson Zoo
The Hutchinson Zoo is a small, nine-acre park accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo exhibits include the prairie dog tunnel, which allows children to “burrow” alongside these shy animals in specially built tunnels. The zoo places a special emphasis on local creatures, especially those you might not ordinarily see. It also offers educational events and special activities, including the “Prairie Thunder” railroad ride.
Skate at the Skateland Family Fun Center
A traditional skate park that is open Friday night and Saturday, with a special class for toddlers on Tuesday. You can rent roller skates and enjoy skating in circles, enjoying the music and the games. Participating schools can receive Skate at School kits as part of their ongoing active lifestyle incentives for students. Individuals or groups can book parties at Skateland outside of normal hours. Parties range from Basic to Deluxe. Reservation requests are available online for your next big party.
Visit the Kansas State Fair
The Fair is a statewide event that is held yearly in Hutchinson. It begins the Friday following Labor Day and lasts for ten days. It includes a wide range of exhibits, focusing primarily on agricultural displays, but also includes competitive business displays as well as strolling entertainers and stage performances. In addition to the yearly event, the State Fair Grounds facilities are used for year-round events such as horse and livestock shows, trade shows and flea markets. They are also available to rent out for weddings, family reunions, class reunions, and similar events.