Summer Fun - A Weekend in Wichita; The Sedgwick County Zoo

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

On our last day in Wichita, we visited the Sedgwick County Zoo. One of the top ten zoo's in the country, it is home to over 3,000 individual animal and roughly 400 different species! It sits on 250 acres and consists of indoor and outdoor exhibits. We spent four hours inside this quiet, family friendly space, and I'm pretty sure we could have spent more. Here are some highlights!

We were met by the always stunning flamingos! I loved how on display these beautiful birds were. So graceful. So elegant. So pink! At our own Kansas City Zoo, the flamingos are tucked back and hard to get to. These were right there for everyone to see. You can't miss them!

Up next were the penguins. This is an outdoor exhibit, which we were kind of shocked by, because you think of penguins as cold natured. However, these are Humboldt Penguins from South America, and they are used to warmer climates, where temperatures reach the triple digits! That's hot! To keep cool, they expel body heat through bare pink patches around their eyes and beaks, which are featherless spots on their bodies. I guess this is one reason they can remain in an outdoor exhibit. I love how zoo's expand our knowledge!

McKinley has become a fan of all things snakes! Remember his tenth birthday cake? It was snake themed and not a fun project this go around. So when we visited the indoor reptile and amphibian exhibit, let's just say he was in heaven. I was fine with the frogs and turtles, until I peaked around the corner of a glass window just in time to see a frog leap through the air. An enclosed exhibit is not a great place to shriek! However, it happened. I'm only human. You don't expect things to jump at you when looking to see what resides there. You won't find many snake photos below. You will find darling turtles, slimy frogs, and some lizards. Snakes, so not my thing!

Birds! Did anyone see the movie? I did and I hate birds to this day! I tell everyone I love them on chic fabric, but in real life, they scare me. You don't know where they are going, when they might swoop down, and when they might poop! Birds are fowl....see what I did there? But when you head to the Tropic Exhibit, these birds are anything but. They are beautiful birds of flight all around you and I wasn't scared once. We found they pretty much stayed within their little habit located along this beautiful tree lined walkway. There are 60 different species, but you have to look for them! They are tucked away, and sometimes zooming by, and they are hard to grab on film. Bat caves, waterfalls, and a so much more. This is a special place.

You continue your walking tour through North America, seeing creatures we all know and love, before making your way to Africa. I love a good gorilla sighting. These massive animals looks so calm, but you know in the wild that's not the case when provoked. This central Africa inspired space is vast. So many species of monkey's can be found as you explore the eight acres. From gorillas to Amur tigers to African elephants, and a pride of lions, take it all in.

One of the coolest things we experienced was feeding a giraffe! To be so close to these incredible animals was amazing! This attraction is $4 for non-members, $3 for members, and a memory that will last forever! 

The last exhibit we visited with the orangutan and chimpanzee habitat. We love monkeys! The baby orangutan was in full play mode and we loved watching it explore. This is an indoor exhibit and the last stop on the zoo tour.  

We had the best day and we would definitely visit this zoo again. I loved how quiet and clean the entire zoo was, directions to the habitats were clearly marked along the sidewalks, and there were various types of eateries throughout. And, for this beer loving mama, I made sure to try The Pride of Wichita Pale Ale. Wichita Brewing Company created this beer specifically for the zoo stating that with the zoo being so dedicated to protecting wildlife and preserving the natural habitat of these animals, WBC believes in their mission. When you purchase a can, part of the proceeds go back to the zoo. A drink with a cause, love it! We also picked up a souvenir cup for discounted refills when needed. And it's super cute! 

If you are a looking for a fun, family friendly outing that provides learning experiences, extensive species of animals, reptiles, and more, you must head to the Sedgwick County Zoo! It was a great end to our amazing weekend in Wichita! Thanks for hosting us!



PS: Our weekend was sponsored by the City of Wichita, but all photos and thoughts are my own.

Dragons Love Tacos - The Coterie Theater

Thursday, July 15, 2021

 Cultural arts is a large part of our family dynamic. I grew up in a world of all things ballet. My parents were both members of their respective high school marching bands. Community theater became a big part of my mom’s life as an adult and I graduated from college with a theater performance major. I had huge dreams of becoming a television star, moving to LA, and living the actors dream. Instead, I worked retail, auditioned around town for Kansas City theaters, moved on to a corporate America job, and found my home in local community theater.

We’ve been taking McKinley to see live shows for years. Disney and Sesame Street when he was really young, touring performances of The Lion King and School of Rock several years ago, and Kids Bop Live in 2019. Local children’s theater has been a staple as well. Theatre for Young America has quirky performances of children’s classics and books turned shows like Junie B. Jones. The Coterie offers more sophisticated performances for young audiences. We’ve seen a smattering of shows, but our favorites have always been during the holidays. There was something so special about seeing A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer to kick off our holiday traditions.

When COVID hit, just like with everything else, live theater was closed down. However, The Coterie did some amazing things to keep audiences engaged. Creating and streaming performances with local Mesner Puppet Theater, they were able to bring A Snowy Day and How to Snag a Sea Monster to everyone in a safe way. And they are continuing to do so with live theater this summer!

McKinley and I attended Dragons Love Tacos earlier this week, a production that’s presented by the 306 Theater Troupe from the UMKC Theater Department. And, in keeping with the safety protocols they put in place with their streaming performances, I was so impressed with the measures they continue to take to keep everyone safe and comfortable in person. Things to know before you go; masks are required when checking in before the performance, anytime you are walking around the space, but may be removed once in your seats. Seats are assigned for all of those with advance ticket purchases and pod seating has been put in place for social distancing. And best of all, it’s outside in the Crown Center Entertainment Pavilion.

The show itself is so fun! Based on the children’s book written by Adam Rubin, this funny tale of dragons and their love of tacos is full of color, laughs, and audience participation. At first I wasn’t sure if the show might be too young for McKinley. Ten is an awkward age. But within the first five minutes, he was smiling, laughing, and leaning in to tell me his thoughts. By the end, he was on his feet and dancing in step with the dragons who had made their way into the audience. Children’s theater doesn’t have an end age. It’s for everyone!

If you haven’t seen the show, get your tickets now. 
Dragons Love Tacos runs through August 8th. Head to The Coterie’s website to get more information. And, if you haven’t signed up for your Crown Center Passport to Summer Fun, do that now too! When you see a performance of Dragons, you’ll receive a stamp! 

Support your local theaters! See a show today!



KC Fun - A Day at Science City

Thursday, July 1, 2021


Our summer is shaping up to look like summers of the past, but we’re still doing our best to stay safe when necessary. We finally made it back to Science City and I don’t think there was a single thing that McKinley didn’t touch! We spent over two hours playing, learning, and exploring and I guarantee we could have spent hours more.

First up, Mr. E Hotel, one of McKinley’s favorites. This “haunted hotel”, as he refers to it, creates optical illusions throughout this mysterious space. McKinley loves the disappearing body at the dinner table trick, the crooked staircase, and the dizzying room. It’s so cool to experience the trickery of the eye in this magical exhibit.

Step Right Up is a new space. This interactive carnival games inspired exhibit was created by students from Tonganoxie Middle School as part of the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition. It was unveiled in March of this year and it allows kids to play classic carnival games while learning gravity lessons without knowing it! Bottle Balance is tricky! Lay your bottle on the flat surface, slip a ring around the bottles neck, and then try to lift the bottle to a standing position without letting the ring slip off. IMPOSSIBLE!! Neither one of us were able to do it! I tried several different techniques. No dice. I was determined, but McKinley was ready to move on. I’ll get it next time. Maze Craze was another dizzying game. Place the ball at the top of the maze, turn the wheel to move the ball along the zig-zag design, and watch the ball fall through the finish line. SO HARD!! I love that it gets the brain moving. 

All Aboard is another new to us exhibit and hands down McKinley’s very favorite spot of the day. This is truly a one stop spot for all things imaginative and interactive play! It’s an entire train themed room allowing kids to chug along rails inside a steam locomotive, assist with transporting goods at the Load It Up exhibit, and build their own train line at the wooden train track table. McKinley, along with several other kids his age, worked for a good 20 minutes at Load It Up. They worked as a team to ensure the tractor was loaded with the “goods”, got them loaded in the grain car, and then to the merchants who ordered them. It was fun to watch kids, who didn’t know each other, work so hard at something so innocent. Man, what a world it would be if adults could act so civilized! 

We checked out sea life and reptiles, he took down the bad guys in a police helicopter, dug for dinosaur bones, created electricity using his own energy, and so much more. There were hands-on brain activities we didn’t get to, as others were using their knowledge to solve them, but they are on the list for our next visit. I want to get us tickets to a planetarium show next time as well. Honestly, Science City is not a one day visit. This is a space that can be on repeat for us all year round and I think we would find something new to do every time. 

And the rain stopped long enough for us to head outside so he could play on the zip line, send weighted wheels down the Acceleration Plane, try and lift a giant globe off the ground with all his muscle power, and shoot a tennis ball into the air on a pulley system. Some of the other climbing activities were too wet this time, but I could tell he was itching to slide and climb. I promise, next time we will do all the other things! 

If you haven’t been to Science City in a while, you owe yourself a trip! It’s not just for kids. Adults can learn something too! Get your tickets online, or at the box office located on the lower level of Union Station, and spend a day immersing yourself in the wonders of all things science!



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