Head Out to Newly Reopened Midwest Attractions
Many zoos, arboretums, parks and other outdoor attractions across the Midwest have reopened as coronavirus-related travel restrictions ease. Even some indoor sites, such as a few museums and aquariums, are opening as well.
If you’re planning a trip, be sure to check the website of any attractions you’d like to see; most have new guidelines covering maximum number of visitors, face coverings, social distancing and more. Some require advance, timed ticket purchases.
Trails are open at most Midwest national parks and state parks; visitors centers and other buildings may be closed, so plan accordingly. Campground policy varies by state; check websites to be sure.
Many zoos and other outdoor animal attractions are welcoming guests again. Among them:
• The Kansas City Zoo reopened earlier in May with limited tickets available by reservation.
• Des Moines' Blank Park Zoo reopened Friday, May 22 for members and Sunday, May 24 for the general public, with advance timed tickets or reservations required. In the first phase of reopening, visitors are asked to follow a one-way Safari trail through the zoo, and some exhibits or experiences remain closed.
• The Topeka Zoo reopened May 14 for members and May 18 for the public, with a limit of 500 guests at one time. All buildings are closed.
• Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, Kansas, reopened May 22; some experiences are not available, such as animal feeding stations, animal presentations and tram rides.
• Field Station: Dinosaurs in Derby (11 miles south of Wichita, Kansas) opened June 1. Show audience sizes are limited and the Kansas Climb will be closed for 2020.
• Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium opened June 1 with a one-way "walking safari" through outdoor attractions.
• Red River Zoo in Fargo, North Dakota, opened May 2. Many zoo buildings, including the carousel pavilion, are closed.
• The Cincinnato Zoo opens to members June 10 and to the public June 17; reservations required.
• The Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium opens June 12 to members and June 15 to all guests with dated, timed tickets.
Arboretums and public gardens that are opening include:
• Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, opened May 20 with new self-guided activities and new food options featuring ingredients from the Heartland Harvest Garden. Instead of a planned summer concert series, the gardens worked with musicians, artists, dancers and others to create a digital exhibition, Press Play; using QR codes throughout the gardens, visitors can hear a poem, take prompts from a dancer, or listen to music.
• Iowa's all-volunteer Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is open, with free admission.
• The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum started the second phase of its reopening on May 22, expanding access to designated one-way walking areas. All visitors must pre-register online.
• The Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio, reopened to members May 12 and to the general public on May 28.
Get out on the water with boat rentals, widely available at parks and lakes throughout the Midwest, as well as boat tours. Along the Mississippi River, the Riverboat Twilight started her 2020 cruise season Memorial Day weekend, with 1.5-hour picnic cruises leaving from LeClaire, Iowa. In the Wisconsin Dells, boat tours began May 16.
Amusement parks are also starting to announce reopening dates.
• Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, will start a phased reopening of the park July 9. Check the website for details.
• Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, will open to season pass holders July 2-11 and to the general public July 12. All visitors are required to have a reservation.
• Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana, is also doing a phased opening beginning June 14.
• Adventureland Park outside Des Moines opened June 5 with capacity restrictions.
• Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, opens June 13 to season pass holders and June 15 to all guests.
• Six Flags St. Louis opens June 22 for members and June 26 to the public.
• Worlds of Fun in Kansas City opens June 22.
• Arnolds Park in Okoboji, Iowa, opened June 3 with capacity restrictions.
Museums and indoor attractions have been slower to reopen than outdoor attractions but many are making plans to greet guests again. Among those open:
• The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque opened May 23 with a timed-ticket system.
• The National World War 1 Museum in Kansas City reopened June 1.
• Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, opened May 23 with limited capacity for each day; reservations required.
• The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri, reopened May 18.
• The Missouri State Penitentiary reopened for tours June 1.
• In North Dakota, interpretive centers and buildings at most state historic sites opened May 23, except for the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site, which opens June 15. Also in North Dakota, the Fargo Air Museum reopened May 5.
More family-friendly attractions:
• Indiana Caverns Family Adventure Park in southern Indiana reopened May 15, with cave tours underground and rides aboveground on a single-rail zip coaster.
• The long-running Medora Musical in Medora, North Dakota, opens June 19 with reduced capacity for each show.
• Living History Farms in Des Moines opened on June 1, with admission limited to 70 visitors an hour.
• Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open but the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center is closed. Fifteen miles away in South Dakota's Black Hills, Crazy Horse Memorial is open. Also in the Black Hills, The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs reopened May 22 with visitors using a self-guided tour app.
• Near Branson, Missouri, most attractions at Top of the Rock are open, including the Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail, the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum, swimming pools, the marina and golf courses. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is also open.
• Trolley tours in Door County, Wisconsin, have resumed, as other Door County attractions have opened as well.
Across the Midwest, expect shops and restaurants to be opening as local and state guidelines permit.
Michigan's Mackinac Island, which has discouraged non-residents from visiting this spring, began welcoming tourists on May 29, with ferries beginning service that day. Visitor attractions such as carriage tours, horseback riding, and historic sites will reopen in stages throughout the first half of the summer.
Art museums may be among the last attractions to open, not just in the Midwest but also nationwide. The Cleveland Museum of Art is planning to reopen June 30. The initial strategy is require visitors to wear masks and limit admission to no more than 500 people a day. The Wichita Art Museum plans to open June 16 to members and June 23 to the general public, with facial coverings required and occupancy limitations.
Be sure to double-check accessibility of any site just before you go in case travel restrictions have changed.