15 Best Things to Do in Salina, KS

15 Best Things to Do in Salina, KS

Nestled on the banks of the Smoky Hill River, Salina is a beautiful city rich in art, culture, history, and natural beauty. It has numerous scenic parks, remarkable galleries, outstanding theatres, 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 an amazing time exploring the historic downtown district that features great 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:

Encounter exotic animals at Rolling Hills Zoo

This is one of the prime tourist attractions of Salina. 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, chimpanzee, tiger, 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 here features exhibits relating to the flora and fauna belonging to various regions of the world.

The Helen L. Graves Hideaway Hollow is an education centre in the museum which 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 make the experience of touring the place more fascinating and exciting. The museum is open every day of the week and admission fee is USD 13.95 for adults, USD 12.95 for seniors, and USD 7 for kids between the age 3-12. Children under the age of 3 can enter for free. Spend a fun-filled and exciting day at this zoo, get close to the exotic animals, check out the fascinating exhibits of the museum, and end your day with a scrumptious 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 a 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 the monotonous daily routine and spend a fun-filled day 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. Swimming lessons are also provided here. The park is open from Monday through Saturday between 12.30pm and 7pm and on Sundays from 12.30pm to 6pm.

Picnicking at Jerry Ivey Park

This is a scenic park featuring an enchanting pond, lush foliage, basketball courts, walking paths, picnic areas with grills, a playground, volleyball sand pit, 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 the picturesque views of the park and feed the ducks and geese at the pond. It is a perfect place to get away from the mundane life and enjoy a relaxing day.

Enjoy Sculpture Tour Salina

The Sculpture Tour is an annual competition where talented sculptors from all over the country compete to win a prize of $15,000. Close to 20 or 30 artistic creations are selected and are kept for display for a year in downtown Salina for visitors to watch and for sale. Explore downtown and check out these remarkable pieces of art.

Evening stroll in Oakdale Park

Oakdale Park
Smuckola, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is a picturesque park featuring a beautiful 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 a multitude of popular events such as, the Smoky Hill River Festival, vintage car shows, and several others. 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 relish a picnic and relax in the tranquil atmosphere.

Travel back in time at Smoky Hill Museum

Smoky Hill Museum
Jrryjude, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This renowned museum emphasises on the local history of Salina and features numerous interactive exhibits and historical artifacts dating back to the 19th century and beyond. 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. Admission to the museum is absolutely free and it is open to the public from Tuesday through Friday between 11am-4pm and on Saturdays from 10am-4pm. Visit this museum and learn about the fascinating history of this city.

Watch a show at Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts

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

Established in 1931, this is a historic theatre located in downtown Salina. Formerly known as 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 of the big names in the industry including Goo Goo Dolls, B.B. King, Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, Daughtry, and several others. It also features a visual arts gallery with rotating exhibits showcasing remarkable works of art. This is a great place for a wonderful evening’s entertainment. Get tickets to a show and enjoy an amazing performance here.

Explore regional history at Yesteryear Museum

This museum emphasises on the history of agriculture and rural life in Kansas. It showcases various historical artifacts and local memorabilia that majorly include agricultural tools, appliances, and equipment dating back to the previous centuries. The museum also features two historical buildings including an early 20th century church and a schoolhouse. The museum is host to a multitude of events, such as tractor and car shows, fourth of July party, Christmas celebrations, and more. Tour the museum and check out the fascinating displays. It is open to public from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 9am and 5pm and by appointment.

Outdoor recreation at Lakewood Park

This scenic park features dense foliage, prairie, a nature centre, enchanting gardens, a serene pond, diverse wildlife, hiking trails, playground, picnic areas with grills, 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 racoons. 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 scrumptious meal against the stunning backdrops. The nature centre features various fascinating flora and fauna exhibits that inspire curiosity.

Spend a fun evening watching Friday Night Live

Every Friday various arts related entertaining events are organised at clubs, bars, restaurants, or other venues in Downtown Salina. These events include musical performances, stand-up comedy, and poetry events by regional artists. The aim of these events is to promote and encourage regional art and support local artists and businesses. Additionally, an art walk is organised on the first Fridays of every month where outstanding artistic creations by regional talent are showcased. Spend a wonderful evening enjoying these cool events.

Explore Salina Downtown

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 theatres, shop for antiques, try out mouth-watering food, browse art, and enjoy the nightlife while exploring this district.

Check out vintage cars at KKOA Leadsled Spectacular Car Show

This is an annual 4 day event in July that features a vintage car show,  car races, vintage market place, car auctions, dances, and concerts. This event dates back to 1980 and attracts myriads of classic car aficionados. Attend this event, check out the cool displays, and enjoy watching the race. This is one of the biggest and most popular events of this city.

Appreciate nature’s beauty at Indian Rock Park

This picturesque park features a serene river, two enchanting waterfalls, scenic overlooks, dense foliage, nature trails, beautiful sledding hills, picnic areas,  and so much more. The Smoky Hill River meanders through the heavenly landscapes of this park. 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 very popular for rock climbing, fishing, and mountain biking. In winters, it attracts myriads of visitors to enjoy sledding. Visit this park in the early mornings for your workout, breath in the fresh air, and watch the beautiful sunrise.

Explore art at Salina Art Center & Cinema

Salina Art Center consists of the Art Centre, the Art Center Cinema, and the Warehouse. The Art Center is a contemporary visual arts gallery showcasing outstanding artistic works by regional, national, and international artists. It is open to public from Wednesdays to Sundays from 11am to 5pm and by appointment. Admission to the galleries is absolutely 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 popular theatre that presents various indie films, documentaries, and more. Get tickets to a show and have a great time here.  It is open on all days except Christmas eve.

Experience local culture at Smoky Hill River Festival

This vibrant festival takes place in June every year and forms a significant part of the local culture of Salina. 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 plenty 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. The festival dates back to 1977 and is a four day event. Be a part of the festivities and experience the incredible local culture of this city.

Enjoy a play at Salina Community Theatre

Founded in 1961, this is an award-winning theatre in Salina that features local and regional artists. It aims to provide opportunities to people of all ages and from all backgrounds to take part in theatre 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.