A Weekend Road Trip to Salina, Kan.

This post is sponsored by Kansas Tourism. Opinions belong to the writer.

Do you need a new destination for a fun family road trip? Head out about three hours west of Kansas City to Salina, Kansas. My family and I recently visited Salina and were very surprised that there were so many fun places to visit. Be sure to bring your sunscreen and possibly a neck fan though because the Flint Hills of Kansas are hotter than KC!

Where to Eat in Salina, Kan.

Since we arrived in Salina around lunch time, our first stop was to head downtown to the infamous Cozy Inn. This local hot spot is home to delicious mini slider style burgers. Just burgers, chips, and cans of soda – the perfect lunch! The Cozy Inn celebrated 100 years of service this year and as we watched the constant stream of patrons lining up to their walk up window, it was easy to see that they are definitely loved. Their catch phrase is “Buy ‘Em by the Sack” and we definitely did. My husband has always been a huge fan of White Castle’s hamburgers, a nostalgic favorite from his childhood, and he said these were way better – a ringing endorsement! I can see this being a pit stop when making future road trips.

Mom Tip: Sit at their convenient picnic style tables or bring a blanket to camp out. The hamburgers are delicious but they definitely pack a pungent scent from the onions. No one wants to have that smell linger in their car on a hot summer day!

After a yummy lunch, we decided to make a quick stop for a cold treat from another local stop – Dagney’s Ice Cream. They had quite a large selection from the classic chocolate, vanilla, cookie dough to more interesting flavors like lavender honey and pina colada. My three year old daughter loved the Fruity Pebbles ice cream and I had the Oreo, which was amazing and very creamy considering it was non-dairy.

After a full day of activities we later stopped to have pizza at The Scheme. A beautiful restaurant with an impressive 40 foot oak bar and its walls adorned with generational photos from the owner’s Italian family. The service was incredibly welcoming to new visitors and recommended the most delicious pizza – The Dream, an elevated version of a supreme pizza with all the toppings. Our daughter devoured her entire mini pepperoni pizza and as a parent of a picky toddler, that was a win!

Best Salina Attractions

If you have a car aficionado in your family, you have to make it to The Garage – automotive museum. From young to old car lovers alike, this is truly an interactive place for the whole family. Currently, the museum is housing a large selection of classic hot rods and muscle cars but changes quarterly. Want to test your driving ability? You can try your skills at the racing simulator like my husband and see if you can handle a car at over 120mph. Interested in researching information about your favorite car? Take a seat in their extensive library.

This museum is extremely kid friendly and includes; a table full of different hot wheels tracks with a large selection of hot wheels cars, a large intersecting track on the wall and a carpet track, a table with legos for pieces to build your own cars or towers, and a multi-car derby track. It was so nice to have my daughter be completely entertained for several hours while my husband and I got to speak with the knowledgeable staff about the cars. There are also several fun photo ops to use while you are there including getting to climb inside one of the muscle cars!

Mom Tip: If you get thirsty or forget a snack for your kids, they have a selection of snacks, soft drinks, water, and even beer/wine to partake in while you enjoy the museum!

Our next stop was to Oakdale Park to check out the annual Smoky Hill River Festival. This four day arts festival has been an annual event since 1976 and has welcomed thousands of artists and performers from all over the country. They even had a large kids area called Artypolis that had various yard games, a craft tent, balloon artist, face painter, and their own musical performers tent. My daughter really enjoyed that tent and was able to join other kids playing instruments for the performer. There are multiple playgrounds also in the park and one is located very close to the big headliner area so we were able to catch a few performances while she played. Of course you can’t go to a festival without the yummy fair food! Due to the insane high temps that weekend, we opted for the snow cones and frozen lemonade. 

Our final stop before heading back home to KC was the Rolling Hills Zoo and museum. Our little family was able to walk the entire zoo in about an hour and a half but don’t let the size fool you. We were able to get up close and personal with their giraffes, rhinos, and lemurs. We must have chosen the right time to visit (around 10 a.m.) because we were able to see the zoologists feed quite a few animals and get an informal chat. Once we finished with the outside tour of all the animals, we went into the museum to view their extensive selection of taxidermied animals broken up into their global regions – complete with a large running waterfall in the Africa exhibit. The museum also has a large kids area with a reading nook, animal exploration tiles, different climbing structures, and various toys for smaller children. It was a great place to take a break and play. 

Mom Tip: The loft inside the kids area has lots of comfortable recliners that would be perfect to nurse in and still be able to watch other children play.

My family really enjoyed our weekend trip to Salina, and I know we will definitely be visiting again!

Shadai King
Hi, I'm Shadai. I was raised in Shawnee/Overland Park but have pretty much lived all over the KC metro area. I now live in Lees Summit with my high school sweetheart Nick, our very sassy and energetic 2.5 year old Olivia, and little old grumpy yorkie Milo. I'm a Clinical Trial Specialist turned SAHM who drinks way too much coffee and is obsessed with crafting/DIY projects. I am also a pop culture aficionado who got sucked into the world of TIK TOK during quarantine and may or may not need a self help group to stop watching/cracking up at them before bedtime. My other interests include but not limited to: true crime series/podcasts (shout out to my fellow murderinos!), reading, binging Netflix/Hulu, good local KC restaurants/coffee shops, pretending like I know what is going on with KC sports since my husband is a HUGE FAN (yay sports - do the thing, win the points), IG scrolling for craft ideas/outfit inspos and shopping for good deals. Although my days are filled with trips to the park and crafts with Olivia, I can't wait to meet all of you KC Mamas!