If you’re like 99.9% of Kansas residents, when you think of Hutchinson, you think of the Kansas State Fair. I have to let you in on a little secret: Hutch has SO much more to offer! Don’t get me wrong, I love fair time and will forever make a trip home each year to indulge in my all-time weakness: a delicious, deep fried corn dog from the Pronto Pup stand. But you can visit the place I called home for 15 years the other 50 weeks of the year, too! To prove it, I’ve put together a couple of sample day trip itineraries. Most of these spots are locally-owned businesses – even better! All you have to do is hop in the car and make the 40 minute drive!
Itinerary #1: Family Road Trip!
This day trip is packed with fun things to do with the kiddos! Start your day with a visit to the Hutchinson Zoo. The city has done an incredible job of updating the zoo, and offers free admission to visitors. FREE! Kids can try their hand at milking cows, climbing the spider web or digging for dinosaur bones. If that wears you out, hop aboard the Prairie Thunder Railroad and explore the zoo by train. You’ll find over 150 animals on display and takes about an hour to complete a tour by foot.
After all that walking, you’ll need to fill your belly. You could pack a picnic and enjoy Carey Park while watching the kids play at one of several playgrounds, or head up Plum Street to Bogey’s. Your kids will LOVE getting to pick from their 101 shake flavors.
After lunch, let the food settle while stopping in at Bluebird Books downtown. For the past several years, Downtown Hutchinson has been revitalizing, and local boutiques and shops are finding homes in the heart of Hutchinson on Main Street. Filled with character, heart and unique items, Bluebird Books is no exception! Kids can wander through the store, reading their favorite books while parents can take in the beautiful, local artwork.
If you’re visiting in the summertime, you’ve got two great options for water fun in Hutchinson: Salt City Splash Aquatic Center offers tons of fun with water slides, splash pools and three different pools to suit kids of all ages. Admission ranges from free for kids 2 and under to $5.25 for adults 18 and older. Don’t want to pack the swimming suits but still want to have some water fun? No problem. The Spray Park at Avenue A and Main Street is right up your alley. If water isn’t your thing, try a family hike at the Dillon Nature Center. There are also some great indoor attractions for your family. Blast out of this world at the Kansas Cosmosphere or head 650 feet underground at the Kansas Salt Museum.
After a full day of fun, you’ll need some dinner before hitting the road. Here are some of the best family-friendly places to grab a bite:
- Pizza Ranch – We LOVE to eat here! Kids can special order any kind of pizza they want, and on Tuesday nights, kids always eat FREE! Pssst…try the chicken! It’s AH-MAZING!
- Roy’s BBQ – The 15 minute drive is absolutely worth it! The BBQ here is some of the best I’ve ever had! (only open for lunch)
- Taco Hut and Ken’s Pizza – Two of my favorite hang outs in high school! Taco Hut is homemade Mexican style fast food and Ken’s offers a great lunch buffet.
Itinerary #2: Girls’ Day Out
Road trippin’ isn’t just for the family; grab your girlfriends, your wallet and head to Hutch for a Girls’ Day Out!
On your way to Hutch, make a pit stop in Buhler (Go Crusaders!) for some excellent shopping! One of my favorite stores is Adrian’s. You can find anything and everything here! Cute clothes, unique gifts, delicious food, and one-of-a-kind knick-knacks. It will be hard, but don’t spend all your money here! This is the first of many adorable boutiques you’ll see today. Be sure to stop in Mane Street Style and the Mustard Seed (for a coffee) before you make your way to Hutch.
Once you arrive, your first stop should be Downtown Hutchinson. You’ll find some of the best shopping in the area! If you’re looking for unique clothing, you must check out Brick House Boutique. They offer two floors of beautiful fun pieces that you won’t find anywhere else. Other great shops include Tesori Boutique, Apron Strings, Bluebird Books and Cottonwood Quilts. Next, head over to Amelia Beadelias. This place is so neat! Not only can you buy jewelry, but you can make your own by putting pieces together that fit your style!
Soon you’ll be all shopped out and hungry. Whether you like your dessert before or after your meal, you have to hit Serendipity Cupcakes. There are no words for these little cups of heaven! If you require more than just dessert for lunch, I suggest stopping by Carl’s Bar for an ice-cold beverage and one of the best sandwiches EVER (the Reuben is my favorite!) or the Anchor Inn for incredible authentic Mexican food.
Ok, ladies, let’s talk about activities. If you’re up for something a little different, consider one of these:
- Hatch Studios – Take a break from shopping and get artistic. Bring a bottle of wine and paint a masterpiece to remember your fun day.
- Darcy Miller Photography – Impromptu photo sessions aren’t just for celebrities anymore. Grab your girlfriends, a bottle of wine (see a theme here?) and your glam squad…or your makeup bag and get ready for some fun!
The perfect ending to a Girls’ Day Out is a fabulous dinner, and Jillian’s is just the place to go. Whether you’re looking for pasta, wood-fire pizza or just a good glass of wine, Jillian’s is the perfect spot to celebrate the end of a successful getaway!
Before you head home, there are a couple more stops to make! On Main Street, there is a cute little market called Smith’s Market. Be sure to pop in and grab some fresh fruits and vegetables or old-fashioned candy for the kids! And, finally, as you head out of town and hit the highway, you’ll want to swing into Carriage Crossing in Yoder. Whether you choose to eat dinner here or just grab some pie, you won’t be sorry! Did I mention the pie? GET SOME PIE.
There you have it folks! Two day trips – two very different itineraries. We’d love to see pictures of you day tripping with the family or the girls to Hutchinson!