Destination Kansas: Relaxing & educational getaway at Rolling Hills Zoo near Salina

Destination Kansas

SALINA, Kan. (KSNW) – Whether it’s a destination for a few days or a couple of hours, Salina has a lot to offer. 

“Salina, we’re heading there now,” said mother Taylor Oller.

The first stop is Rolling Hills Zoo.

Rolling Hills Zoo entrance (KSN Photo)

“It’s an undiscovered gem sitting right in the middle of the county,” said Bob Jenkins, Rolling Hills Zoo executive director.

Just off I-70 is where you’ll find lions, tigers, and bears, oh my. With 65 acres there’s plenty to do, see and learn.

“We go back to what zoos originally were which are basically zoological gardens,” said Jenkins.

Those zoological gardens have been around for 21 years, and Jenkins says it’s a great way to conserve endangered species while also having an interactive way to teach people of all ages.

“It’s a chance for people to interact with the exhibits, look at the animals, learn while they’re doing that,” said Jenkins.

There are plenty of activities to fill the day. You can visit the wildlife museum, feed the fish, or visit the new dinosaur exhibit that is now open.

One thing that makes this zoo unique is the opportunity to feed the animals. 

While that won’t be an option this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials expect to offer it again in 2021.

If you have children, there are plenty of areas to play.

For the Oller family, that’s what they love the most about the zoo.

“When you get here, it’s just a nice open zoo, you’re able to let the kids run, not one of those where there’s tons of stuff that they can get into,” said Taylor Oller.

If you’re on a budget, admission pays for both the museum and the zoo – just under $14 for adults, kids are $7.

If you are looking for a getaway for both education and relaxation, officials say it is just the place.

“I mean we’re so relaxed here even the tigers sleep,” said Jenkins.

NEXT STOP: Grabbing a bite to eat

The Cozy Inn has been around for 98 years and hasn’t changed its menu. It’s been a hotspot to find a quick bite and the traditions have stayed alive.

Owner Steve Howard said he’s proud to see about 90% of his customers come from out of town.

“The customers, the excitement, there’s, it’s cool, people actually seek us out from everywhere and that’s the most exciting part about it,” said Howard.

These small burgers in a sack haven’t changed over the years. Howard warned those who may want cheese on their burger, to bring some with you, as no cheese is a tradition that they’ve passed on since 1922.

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