Planning your next trip? There are plenty of destinations in each state where family fun and learning meet! Please be sure to follow all state and local public health guidance while visiting. We also suggest researching Covid related restrictions and closings at all locations before you travel.
Want to step back in time? Living History Farms in Urbandale is an interactive outdoor history museum that educates, entertains, and connects people to Midwestern rural life experiences. Touch, play, and engage at our working farm sites: 1700 Ioway Indian Farm; 1850 Pioneer Farm; and 1900 Horse-Powered Farm — and in our 1875 Town of Walnut Hill.
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque is home to museum exhibits on the culture and history of America’s rivers. The campus also includes over a dozen aquariums featuring wildlife representative found in the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico and other river systems and deltas, including giant catfish, sturgeon, ducks, frogs, turtles, rays, octopus, river otters, and more. There are also outdoor exhibits featuring river otters, a marsh, and large artifacts, such as boats, a blacksmith shop, a stream, and raptor aviaries, including the bald eagle.
Ernie Miller Nature Center and Park in Olathe has something for everyone to enjoy. Enjoy this 116-acre nature park consisting of a diverse range of habitats, including tallgrass prairies, upland meadows, bottomland forest, a beautiful stream, with three miles of nature trails to explore, and a picnic shelter. Then, discover more about the park’s plants, animals, and history by visiting the center’s new exhibit gallery featuring live animal displays and interactive exhibits, visit the 500-gallon aquarium showcasing native stream fish, stop by the wildlife viewing room that overlooks a water feature with birdfeeders, and visit the gift shop for nature enthusiasts.
The whole family will enjoy the state’s premier science center – Exploration Place! Parked along the picturesque Arkansas River, Exploration Place inspires the next generation of Wichita scientists and engineers. The interactive museum emphasizes aviation, Kansas geography and hosts traveling exhibits that showcase the importance of math and science in the world around us.
Full of all kinds of slides and rides, kids and adults alike will delight in a trip to the St. Louis City Museum. Housed in the 10-story, 600,000 square-foot former warehouse of the International Shoe Company, City Museum is a mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, and architectural marvel made out of founding and repurposed objects. While in town, make sure to visit the legendary Gateway Arch. At 630 feet tall, the Gateway Arch rises high, a bold monument to the pioneering spirit. If you are feeling adventurous, take the trip to the top to enjoy stunning views stretching up to 30 miles to the east and west.
In the Springfield area, there are two great museums for you to explore. The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium Spanning 350,000 square feet with over 1.5 miles of trails, Wonders of Wildlife takes you on a journey through immersive habitats that entertain and educate while sharing the story of America’s most significant conservationists throughout history and today. Guests have a chance to get up close and personal with an alligator or even touch a stingray. For the history buffs, the History Museum on the Square has three floors and six permanent galleries highlighting the history of the region, as well as Route 66.
What’s your family’s speed? If it’s missiles and rockets, zoom over to the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland. This collection of restored military aircraft and spacecraft, including more than 25 planes and aerospace mockups, also features exhibits honoring World War II bombers, astronauts and more.
Dominating a wide, empty landscape in Harrison, Nebraska, are craggy cliffs. Inside those cliffs are bones—one of the most complete Miocene mammal sites in the world, in fact. Welcome to the Agate Fossil Beds. Inside the visitor center, gape at life-size dioramas of some of the animals roamed this land up to 21 million years ago. Then grab a brochure to help you explore onsite trails. The trails lead to the Niobrara River Valley, relatively short in length (the longest is just under three miles).
Admire the 26th president’s contribution to conservation at Theodore Roosevelt National Park- South Unit. The North Dakota Badlands provide a scenic backdrop, and you may spot buffalo, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, wild horses, mule deer, and prairie dogs on the loop drive. Want to explore more? Options include hiking trails through the Badlands, trail rides on horseback, and canoeing the Little Missouri River.
Frontier Village in Jamestown brings the world of the prairie pioneers to life! Original buildings from the frontier villages of North Dakota were brought to this site and filled with antiques and artifacts, creating informative historical displays. Next to the National Buffalo Museum and live buffalo herd, snap a family photo next to the World’s Largest Buffalo, a 60-ton concrete buffalo statue.
See more than 600 animals — and more than 125 species — at the Dakota Zoo. Located in Bismark, it is home to mountain lions, moose, grizzly bears, river otters, and more. Be sure to check out opportunities to feed animals in the barnyard area, prairie dog town, and whitetail deer.
Notch Trail in Badlands National Park is perfect for adventure-seeking families. The 1.5-mile trail snakes around the base of the otherworldly landscape then come to a log and metal rope ladder that crawls up to the top of the formations. Even adults may find the ladder a little intimidating at first, but the rest of the hike is well worth the adventure. The trail then follows ledges built into the formations, like balconies, to the ground below. Eventually, you come into a wide canyon and then to the trail’s namesake, The Notch, where hundred-mile views of the White River Valley below splay out toward the horizon.
No trip to South Dakota would be complete without experiencing the majesty of Mount Rushmore. America’s Shrine of Democracy, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, features the 60-foot faces of four great American presidents who represent the birth, growth, development, and preservation of this country. Be sure to stop by the sculptor’s studio to learn more about the design’s vision. Kids can become junior rangers by completing six Mount Rushmore-related activities, which allow you to see and interact with the park at your own pace and within the limits of your own time.