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SUNDAY, MAY 11, 2014

Vacation & Travel Guide


t Approach to Getting Away

each is near a town with many dining choices. “Weekends at the lodges fill quickly,” Clark says. “If you want to make last-minute plans, weekdays are great: Sunday through Wednesday or Thursday. It’s just the best time to come.”

Sunflower State Escape

If you’re still feeling too close to home, then try heading north to the Sunflower State. One of the more interesting ways to explore Kansas is to travel back in time and experience firsthand the life of a cattle herder and cowboy. Several Kansas ranches offer city dwellers the chance to participate in real cattle drives and other ranching activities. These have been designed as vacation packages where you can ride horses, fish, take a scenic hike or just kick back in your ranch house far from the pace of life back home. Richard Smalley, marketing manager for Kansas Tourism, says the guest ranch experiences range from the relaxed family atmosphere of the Flying W Ranch in the Flint Hills to the more rustic opportunity to be a real horse-riding cowhand at the Moore Ranch in Buckland. If you’re looking for more of a luxurious bed-and-breakfast experience, Travel Kansas photo try the Circle S Ranch near Lawrence. be a cowboy but ended up a city dweller? Kansas is home to several ranches that offer guests the chance to parWant to learn more about the Old West in a fun s and other ranch chores. It’s one of many activities around the Sunflower State that allow you to relive the Old way? Plan a trip to Dodge City, where gunslingers, e City and its famous Boothill Museum. saloons and sheriffs all come to life. Smalley recommends Boothill Museum. “It’s a really well done t member Oklahoma’s state museum on the history of the Old West,” he says. rary to rumparks offer a lot more been collected. If museums interest you, visit the Museum at than camping outdoors Prairiefire in Overland Park, west of Kansas City. s just a really and roughing it. The terically funny.“ The museum just opened and is associated with state has five lodges de known. The the American Museum of Natural History in New with plenty of amenito draw water York City. “There’s nothing like it in the Midwest,” ties to make your stay a private hot Smalley says. as relaxing as possible, st climb back While you’re that close to Kansas City, Smalley from marinas and golf me. recommends visiting one of America’s greatest courses to swimming new thrill rides. “Verrucht” is the world’s tallest pools and nature cenwater slide. It will open this summer at the Schlitters. Picture yourself han you can terbahn waterpark. waking up to sunrises as. Four people at a time are strapped into a raft like this one, left, over al State is The that plunges 17 stories then crests over another Broken Bow Lake. hill before dropping 50 feet into a pool below. It is nd served as not for the faint of heart. Travel Oklahoma photo Bottling Co., Another attraction for real adventurers is k Spring. (The Strataca, an underground salt museum in natural water Hutchinson. Less than two years ago, the museum h various feabegan offering a three-hour hike underground extensive reno- ica.” That includes visual and performing arts. called the Salt Safari. est to Tulsa is outside Wagoner and was formerly urchased it. “You can experience what the miners experiknown as Western Hills Guest Ranch. It has been The city hosts a year-round lineup of special Edwards says. events, including the Eureka Springs Blues Weekenced,” Smalley says. “You board an elevator and renovated as Sequoyah State Park Lodge. ot taken a lot go 650 feet down into the mines.” You also can book a room at Beavers Bend (in end, June 12 to 15. More than 25 artists or bands It’s a unique experience that requires wearing a Broken Bow), Lake Murray (near Ardmore), Robwill perform at venues across the city. d in a shaded lighted hard hat through the dark passageways. bers Cave (near McAlester) or Roman Nose (west on. It’s on the Smalley says the list of things to do in Kansas Oklahoma State Parks of Oklahoma City). o shops while goes on and on, but one of his other favorites is If you’re looking for something different from The lodges offer rest and relaxation amid a traffic. the annual Symphony in the Flint Hills concert the out-of-town hotel room, why not spend a tranquil natural landscape, away from the hustle and have performed by the Kansas City Symphony. weekend or more at one of five lodges located and bustle of your home, office or job. Most offer e have a phe“The symphony starts at twilight as the sun is inside several of Oklahoma’s 35 state parks? pools, golf courses and nature centers. Three of u can sit and setting,” Smalley explains. “It’s out in the country “It’s a totally fun family getaway,” says Keli Clark, the five have marinas where you can rent boats away from any traffic and any power lines.” marketing coordinator for Oklahoma State Parks. and all the fishing gear you need. Four of the Springs, it has “There’s something there for everybody.” The June concert sells out every year, so Smallodges have stables where you can ride horses. towns in Amerley recommends getting tickets early. The largest of the five lodges and the one closAll but one lodge has a restaurant on site, and