Head Out to Newly Reopened Midwest Attractions
If you’re planning for a June trip, check out the attractions that are opening up for visitors around the Midwest.
Zoos, arboretums, parks and other outdoor attractions are beginning to reopen 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.
Some 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) opens June 1. Show audience sizes will be limited and the Kansas Climb will be closed for 2020.
• The International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, currently plans to reopen June 1.
• Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium plans to reopen June 1 and will announce more details in the coming week.
• Red River Zoo in Fargo, North Dakota, opened May 2. Many zoo buildings, including the carousel pavilion, are closed.
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 hopes to expand access to the public soon.
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.
While many museums and indoor attractions remain closed, you can make plans to visit some sites, such as:
• 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 reopens 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 will reopen 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 opens on June 1, with admission limited to 70 visitors an hour.
• Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open but the information center is closed, and educational and interpretive programs are on hold. 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, resume May 30, as other Door County attractions begin to open as well.
Across the Midwest, expect shops and restaurants to be opening as local and state guidelines permit. One big shopping reopening: Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, reopens June 1 with reduced hours. Nickelodeon Universe and other attractions remain closed for now.
Also on the horizon: Michigan's Mackinac Island, which has discouraged non-residents from visiting this spring, expects to reopen to tourism 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.