Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Salina, KS

  • Published 2022/11/07

Nestled on the banks of the Smoky Hill River, Salina is a city rich in art, culture, history, and natural beauty.

It has numerous scenic parks, remarkable galleries, outstanding theaters, fascinating museums, diverse wildlife, vibrant festivals, and so much more.

This city offers something for everyone and is an ideal destination to plan your next vacation.

The enchanting river, sprawling greenery, serene ponds, rolling hills, and picturesque parks provide opportunities for a vast array of nature-based outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, fishing, sledding, rock climbing, and more.

Have a fantastic time exploring the historic downtown district that features excellent restaurants, boutiques, antique stores, theatres, galleries, sculptures, and plenty more. In Salina, you can enjoy nature while living in a city.

Book your holiday here and create unforgettable memories to cherish.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Salina, Kansas:

Encounter Exotic Animals at the Rolling Hills Zoo

The Rolling Hills Zoo is one of Salina’s prime tourist attractions.

It features a zoo and a museum.

The zoo is home to numerous exotic animals, including flamingos, giraffes, camels, giant anteaters, ring-tailed lemurs, cotton-top tamarin, grand Cayman iguana, golden eagles, green and black poison dart frogs, snakes, giant African millipedes, chimpanzees, tigers, wolves, bears, Sumatran orangutan, rhinoceros, leopards, African lions, and many more.

It is a modern zoo where animals are kept in more naturalistic environments.

The museum features exhibits relating to flora and fauna belonging to various world regions.

The Helen L. Graves Hideaway Hollow is an education center in the museum that features various hands-on exhibits on diverse wildlife.

This place also features a visual arts gallery with rotating exhibits.

The unique feature of the museum is that its exhibits include many human robots, which makes the experience of touring the place more fascinating.

Spend a fun-filled and exciting day at this zoo, get close to the exotic animals, check out the museum’s fascinating exhibits, and end your day with a delicious meal at the on-site restaurant.

Beat the Heat at Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park

Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park

RachelH7, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This popular aquatic park features multiple pools, enormous water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, a water playground, cabanas, and so much more.

It is a great place to take a break from your daily routine and have a fun-filled time with your family.

Soak up the sun and enjoy splashing in the pool.

Have an exhilarating experience sliding in the tornado slide and have fun in the wave pool.

You can also take swimming lessons here.

Go Picnicking at Jerry Ivey Park

This scenic park features an enchanting pond, lush foliage, and lovely walking paths.

There are also basketball courts, picnic areas with grills, a playground, a volleyball sandpit, soccer fields, tennis courts, a splash park, and so much more.

Hike on the verdant trails that traverse this beautiful park, indulge in a fun game of tennis or soccer, cool off in the splash park, and end your day with a lovely picnic by the pond.

Admire Jerry Ivey Park’s picturesque views, and feed the ducks and geese at the pond.

It is a perfect place to get away from mundane life and enjoy a relaxing day.

Take Part in the People’s Choice Awards at Sculpture Tour Salina

Sculpture Tour Salina is an annual competition where talented sculptors from all over the country compete to win a prize of $15,000.

Here, 15 to 25 artistic creations are selected and displayed for a whole year for visitors to admire.

The sculptures are available for sale as well.

Visitors are encouraged to participate in Sculpture Tour Salina’s People’s Choice Award Program and vote for their favorite sculptures.

Explore downtown Salina and check out these remarkable pieces of art.

Take an Evening Stroll in Oakdale Park

Oakdale Park

Smuckola, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This picturesque park features a beautifully manicured garden with gorgeous flowers, playgrounds, tennis courts, picnic areas with grills, a stage for entertainment, a pond, lush foliage, and so much more.

It is host to many popular events, including the Smoky Hill River Festival and vintage car shows.

The park is also popular among anglers.

Take a refreshing evening stroll in the park and enjoy the views of the elegant garden and enchanting landscapes.

It is also an ideal place to relax and have a picnic.

Travel Back in Time at the Smoky Hill Museum

Smoky Hill Museum

Jrryjude, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This renowned museum focuses on the local history of Salina.

It features numerous interactive exhibits and historical artifacts dating as far back as the 19th century.

Learn about the regional history through the various exciting hands-on experiences.

The museum’s collection consists of over 30,000 artifacts and local memorabilia.

Visit this museum and learn about the fascinating history of this city.

Watch a Show at the Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts

Stiefel Theatre

Art davis, Watson-Stiefel-theater, CC BY-SA 4.0

Established in 1931, this historic theater is located in downtown Salina.

Formerly known as the Fox-Watson Theatre, it presents numerous live performances throughout the year, including dance, comedies, concerts, plays, orchestra, and more.

Its stage has been graced by some big names in the industry, including the Goo Goo Dolls, B.B. King, Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, Daughtry, and several others.

A person performing at Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts

Daniel Bethe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It also features a visual arts gallery with rotating exhibits that showcase remarkable works of art.

This is an excellent place for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

Get tickets to a show and enjoy a fantastic performance here.

Night view of the Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts

RachelH7, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Regional History at the Yesteryear Museum

This museum emphasizes the history of agriculture and rural life in Kansas.

It showcases various historical artifacts and local memorabilia, including agricultural tools, appliances, and equipment dating back to previous centuries.

The museum also features two historical buildings, including an early 20th-century church and a schoolhouse.

The museum is host to many events, such as tractor and car shows, fourth of July parties, Christmas celebrations, and more.

Tour the museum and check out the fascinating displays.

Enjoy Outdoor Recreation at Lakewood Park

This scenic park features dense foliage, prairie, a nature center, enchanting gardens, a serene pond, diverse wildlife, hiking trails, a playground, picnic areas with grills, a disc golf course, and so much more.

The pond is popular among anglers.

Hike on the verdant trails to explore the region’s vast wilderness and enjoy the sounds of nature.

You can spot deer, squirrels, beautiful birds, and raccoons.

Have fun watching insects at the butterfly garden and test your skills in the disc golf course.

Make some burgers on the grills and relish a delicious meal against the stunning backdrops.

The nature center also features fascinating flora and fauna exhibits that inspire curiosity.

Discover Salina’s Exciting Friday Night Events

Every Friday, various arts-related entertaining events are organized at clubs, bars, restaurants, or other venues in Downtown Salina.

These events include musical performances, stand-up comedy shows, and poetry events by regional artists.

These events aim to promote and encourage regional art and support local artists and businesses.

Additionally, an art walk is organized on the first Friday of every month, showcasing outstanding artistic creations by regional talents.

Spend a wonderful evening enjoying these remarkable events.

Explore Salina’s Historic Downtown Area

Downtown Salina features numerous historic buildings, restaurants, cafes, antique stores, boutiques, bars, art galleries, museums, theatres, hotels, and more.

The notable buildings in this district include the Smoky Hill Museum, the Stiefel Theatre, Salina Art Center, Salina Fieldhouse, and Salina Community Theatre.

Tour the museums, catch an entertaining show at the theaters, shop for antiques, try out mouth-watering food, admire art, and enjoy the nightlife while exploring this district.

Check Out Vintage Cars at the KKOA Leadsled Spectacular Car Show

Level up your Salina travel experience by experiencing one of the city’s biggest and most popular events.

This annual four-day event is held every July.

It features a vintage car show, car races, vintage marketplace, car auctions, dances, and concerts.

The KKOA Leadsled Spectacular Car Show dates back to 1980 and attracts myriads of classic car enthusiasts.

Attend the event, and you’re welcome to check out the fantastic displays and enjoy watching the race.

Appreciate Nature’s Beauty at Indian Rock Park

This park features a serene river, two enchanting waterfalls, scenic overlooks, dense foliage, nature trails, beautiful sledding hills, picnic areas, and much more.

The Smoky Hill River meanders through the park’s heavenly landscapes.

Hike on the verdant trails along the river, enjoy the sounds of nature and the captivating views, relish a delicious riverside picnic, and relax.

The site is top-rated for rock climbing, fishing, and mountain biking.

It attracts myriads of visitors who come to go sledding in the winter.

Visit this park in the early mornings for your workout, breathe in the fresh air, and watch the beautiful sunrise.

Explore Art at the Salina Art Center

The Salina Art Center consists of the Art Center, the Warehouse, and the Art Center Cinema.

The Art Center is a contemporary visual arts gallery that showcases outstanding artistic works by regional, national, and international artists.

Admission to the galleries is free for all.

The Warehouse features professional art studios and works in progress by artists.

You can tour this place by appointment.

Founded in 1997, the Art Center Cinema is a famous theater that presents various indie films, documentaries, and more.

Get tickets to a show and have a great time here.

Experience Local Culture at the Smoky Hill River Festival

This vibrant festival takes place every June and forms a significant part of Salina’s local culture.

The four-day event dates back to 1977.

It features fine arts shows, arts and crafts markets, numerous musical concerts, mouth-watering food stalls, awe-inspiring art installations, exciting games, parties, health runs, dances, treasure hunts, and more.

You can explore remarkable works of art by over 135 artists across the nation.

Visitors can interact with these artists while viewing the exhibits.

Enjoy the fun activities, such as face painting, henna tattoos, make-and-take projects, dance battles, and more.

Be a part of the festivities and experience the incredible local culture of this city.

Get Tickets to a Show at Salina Community Theatre

Founded in 1961, this award-winning theater in Salina features local and regional artists.

It aims to provide opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in theater activities.

It presents numerous plays, comedies, and musicals throughout the year.

Visit this place and enjoy an awe-inspiring performance by talented artists from Kansas.

It’s an ideal activity to enjoy with the family.

Enjoy Quality Time with Family and Friends at District Eat & Play

Everyone is invited to have fun at the world-class District Eat & Play, where every day is like a quirky adventure with enough surprises to keep everyone entertained throughout.

Every Wednesday, patrons can enjoy half-priced games and access to their industrial-scale Arcade machines.

One of their curious attractions is the escape room, which provides an opportunity to test one’s problem-solving skills.

At District Eat & Play, you can also enjoy go-kart racing with the kids.

They also offer delicious food, such as burgers, chicken sliders, and homemade nachos.

Watch the Toughest Monster Truck Show at Tony’s Pizza Events Center

Formerly known as the Bicentennial Center, Tony’s Pizza Events Center is a 7,583-seat multifunctional hall located in Salina, Kansas.

It has meeting rooms and an 18,000 square foot convention center called Heritage Hall.

The Salina Liberty of the Champions Indoor Football league also uses this multipurpose venue, which earned the nickname “Mid-America’s Meeting Place” from being a popular location for conventions, meetings, and gatherings.

The center offers many different forms of entertainment throughout the year, showcasing sports teams, comedians, and famous bands.

Notable annual events held here include Salina Invitational Basketball Tournament, Basketball and Volleyball State Tournaments, and Salina Home & Leisure Show.

In Tony’s Pizza, you’ll find five franchises in four sports leagues, with the American Basketball Association’s Salina Saints being one of them.

This is also where the most famous Monster Truck Competition, the “Toughest Monster Truck Tour,” is also held.

Monster truck enthusiasts will enjoy watching them perform stunts like sky-high jumps, races that are full of twists and turns, and freestyle sessions like wheelies, donuts, and even crashes!

Soak Up Some Knowledge at Salina Public Library

Located along Elm Street, Salina Public Library has all manner of things.

The library’s facilities feature everything patrons could need to be comfortable while exploring their interests.

This bookworm’s haven offers some of the best workshops and classes you could imagine, and they also happen to be fun.

The library has an incredible kids’ section downstairs with books about dinosaurs and planets and dozens of large tables for art projects.

You’ll find several PlayStation 4s and PCs available here, too.

Catch a Match at The Salina Fieldhouse

One of the best things to do in Salina, Kansas, is to see a game at The Salina Fieldhouse.

It’s a 70,000-square-foot sports complex in the city’s center.

Numerous sports fields, including grass, synthetic, and hardwood, are available at this purpose-built facility.

This location provides a wide range of sporting activities, educational events, and fun recreational options, all of which encourage and support a healthy way of life.

You may play any team sport imaginable in the fieldhouse, including baseball, softball, volleyball, football, and soccer.

The Salina Fieldhouse welcomes both runners and walkers.

Its basketball courts may be reconfigured to either volleyball courts or an indoor soccer field to accommodate other sports.

Folding batting cages and pitching tunnels are also available in the fieldhouse.

The Salina Fieldhouse is home to various sports and activities, including but not limited to: dodgeball, kickball, dancing, and field hockey. Sports fans would adore this vacation spot.

Hit a Strike at The Alley of Salina

After a day of sightseeing, if you still want to exercise, head to The Alley Salina.

There are 28 bowling lanes available, including 8 in the exclusive Back Alley bowling lounge.

Besides bowling, it offers laser tag, VR, and arcade games.

It’s packed with things to do from the moment it opens until it closes.

Stop by the sports bar whenever you need a pick-me-up with some hot pizza and a cold beer.

Have a Group Retreat at Webster Conference Center

More than 220 acres comprise the extraordinary Webster Conference Center in Salina.

The peaceful creek here makes for the ideal place to unwind.

The mission of this vacation spot is to provide a tranquil environment where visitors may get some much-needed R&R for a day or more following a particularly trying time of year.

Tourists of all ages may unwind in the scenic outdoors while also taking advantage of the many available recreational opportunities.

Challenge courses, a swimming pool, canoes, natural walks, paddleboats, and vast fields for outdoor activities are just some of the amenities available.

These features make it an excellent destination for group excursions.

Watch Aircrafts Come and Go at Fossett Plaza

In 2018, the City of Salina opened a public space, Fossett Plaza, a fantastic destination for aviation fans.

The name is a tribute to Steve Fossett flew solo worldwide in the global flyer in 2005, covering 22,936 miles in 67 hours without stopping for fuel.

It also features a memorial, a stainless steel globe 8 feet in diameter towering above the 12,300-foot runway.

The gorgeous sculpture is a focal point of Fossett Plaza at Salina Airport.

According to the Salina Airport Authority, they commissioned a sculpture to motivate future generations of aviation enthusiasts.

Tim Rogers, A.A.E., the authority’s executive director, designed it.

To those interested in aviation, Fossett Plaza is a must-visit in Salina.

Cool down at Dagney’s Ice Cream

Salina is home to Dagney’s Ice Cream, a popular establishment run by locals.

Using only the finest ingredients, they churn out delicious ice cream that is both high in quality and served promptly.

Ice cream is only one of several available desserts, frozen yogurts, and sodas.

Dagney’s Ice Cream is well-known not just for its delicious sweets but also for its excellent service.

Additionally, takeouts are available.

Those with a sweet tooth will surely enjoy Dagney’s Ice Cream.

Final Thoughts

Salina, Kansas, is a beautiful, picture-perfect city packed full of art, culture, history, and natural beauty.

In this hotbed for recreation and adventure, you can find outstanding theaters, fascinating museums and galleries, gorgeous parks, and wildlife (especially Black-chinned hummingbirds).

If you’re a tourist looking for an ideal stomping ground, then you should kick up your heels and explore the sights of this lively city!

© All rights reserved.