Eight in 10 Americans in the sample surveyed last year by market research firm Destination Analysts think vacations are important for their overall health and well-being, but only a quarter of Americans have used all their free time in 2021.
Health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 and increased workloads have prevented some from using their free time, but another factor, according to the US Travel Association, is a simple lack of planning. Thus, the group organizes the annual national plan for the holiday day and this year it is Tuesday, January 25.
To inspire you, we’ve compiled a list of 12 regional ideas you could use to plan a day trip or a longer getaway.
Because none of us can guess how 2022 will unfold and how the pandemic will affect travel throughout the year, try to keep your plans flexible. Keep an eye out for recommendations from the CDC and local health authorities for your departure and arrival destinations.
KCK Heritage Trail — Visit Kansas City Kansas is launching a new trail this spring to promote historic sites and share the stories of immigrants who call Kansas City home. And while you’re at it, be sure to visit the Taco Trail, which we highlighted last year. The course featuring nearly 50 local taquerias has had a successful first year, so the awards have been extended for a further year, until October 2022.
Cosmosphere celebrates its 60th anniversary — In 1962, Cosmosphere founder Patty Carey set up a second-hand projector and rented folding chairs in the Poultry Building at the Kansas State Fair Grounds in Hutchinson, about 80 miles northwest of Wichita, and created the one of the first public planetariums in the central United States. Today, the Cosmosphere is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and has its own facilities with a planetarium, a three-level exhibit gallery, classrooms and an IMAX® Dome theater. Watch https://cosmo.org/ for special events throughout the year
Rolling Hills Zoo Opens New Lion Experience — The Rolling Hills Zoo, one of seven AZA-accredited zoos in Kansas, plans to open its new Pride of the Prairie exhibit this spring. It will be the zoo’s new lion home and will provide the lions with a cliff-like vantage point, similar to what they might experience on the grasslands of the African savannah. Rolling Hills is 6 miles west of Salina and has over 100 species and a 64,000 square foot museum on 65 acres.
Celebrating Dodge City’s 150th Anniversary All Year Round – The “wickedest little town in the west” turns 150 this year and Dodge City is planning a series of events to celebrate the historical and cultural role it has played in shaping the west. A launch event is scheduled for January 28 at the Boot Hill Museum. Founder’s Weekend will run June 17-19 and will celebrate George Hoover and the founding of the first company, as well as the town’s rough and rowdy early years. As new events solidify for the year-long celebration, details will be available on the anniversary social media pages (DodgeCity150) and at www.visitdodgecity.org.
Walnut Valley Festival Golden Anniversary — If you haven’t experienced the Walnut Valley Festival yet, this might be the year. Organizers are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the five-day music event scheduled for Sept. 14-18 in Winfield, 40 miles southeast of Wichita.
The Walnut Valley Association was formed in 1972 to produce the Walnut Valley National Guitar Flat-Picking Championships Festival. There are still championships – including the flagship flat pick guitar competition – but there’s a diverse cast of more than 30 acts across four stages at Winfield Fairgrounds. Expect Americana, Roots, Bluegrass, Folk, Western, Rock and more.
KC Airshow with the USAF Thunderbirds — The 2021 air show drew more than 48,000 ticketed attendees to Johnson County and the 2022 event promises to be just as exciting. Featured performers will be the USAF Thunderbirds, in honor of the USAF’s 75th anniversary. The event will take place Sept. 3-4 at the New Century AirCenter, about 170 miles northeast of Wichita. Watch https://kcairshow.org/ for early bird ticket offers.
Mardi Gras in Arkansas — Want to celebrate Mardi Gras a little closer to home? The “Krewe of Krazo” (Ozark spelled backwards) invites you to Eureka Springs, about 270 miles southeast of Wichita. The city has a 16-year-old Mardi Gras tradition with a full two-month calendar of events. Originally called “A Ball and a Crawl”, the celebration includes a variety of activities hosted by several Eureka Springs Krewes. Visit https://eurekaspringsmardigras.org for a full list of events, culminating in a closing party on March 1 (Fat Tuesday).
Missouri History — In February, the US Civil Rights Trail will announce a new location in Missouri. We’re told it’s an existing attraction on the west side of the state; check https://civilrightstrail.com for update.
The state currently has two locations on the trail: the Old St. Louis Courthouse, where Dred and Harriet Scott sued to be freed from slavery and Virginia Minor advocated for women’s suffrage. , and the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. in Independence, just east of Kansas City (President Truman issued an executive order to desegregate the military). The library and museum reopened in 2021 after an extensive facelift and modernization of exhibits about the country’s 33rd president.
Culture in Oklahoma — A wave of new museums and cultural centers in Oklahoma opened in 2021 with more planned for 2022. The highly anticipated First Americans Museum opened last September in Oklahoma City, sharing the collective stories of the 39 federally recognized tribes that were removed from their ancestral homelands to what is now Oklahoma. The historic Church Studio in Tulsa, known as the home of Leon Russell’s Shelter Records label in the 1970s, has already reopened for recording artists and this spring is beginning to welcome the general public for historic tours, exhibits and small gigs.
The Bob Dylan Center is set to open May 10 in Tulsa and promises “unprecedented access to the creative life of one of America’s most important and influential artists,” including more than 100,000 cultural treasures exclusives created and owned by Dylan for seven decades.
Summer 2022 is the scheduled opening date for the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine and Museum/Pilgrimage Center in Oklahoma City. The Spanish Colonial-style church will be the largest Catholic church in the state and serve as a shrine to America’s first Catholic martyr.
Art in Colorado — A few major exhibits that might be worth a visit to Colorado this year:
“Andy Warhol: Lifetimes” opened in December and is on display until March 27 at the Aspen Art Museum. Hailing from the Tate Modern in London, this is a museum-wide exhibit and Aspen is the only location it will be shown in the United States. You can also see a private collection of Warhol at the Powers Art Center near Carbondale. “Warhol in Colorado, The Artist’s Relationship with John and Kimiko Powers,” runs through April 30 and features the full portfolios of “Marilyn” and “Flowers.”
In Denver, “The Art of Banksy” is scheduled for April 12 through June 19 at Denver Sports Castle. This is a traveling exhibition of over 100 certified and authenticated works by Banksy from private collectors around the world, including iconic works such as ‘Girl and Balloon’ and ‘Flower Thrower’. The event’s website says of the British street artist whose identity is unknown: “Although the exhibition is not authorized by Banksy, it features works of art he has sold to private collectors.”
Nature in Nebraska — The Niobrara National Scenic River celebrates 30 years as a National Scenic River. The National Park Service designation honors the cliffs, canyons, waterfalls, and biological significance of a 76-mile stretch of the river east of Valentine in north-central Nebraska. The Niobrara flows 535 miles east of Wyoming to join the Missouri River in northeastern Nebraska.
Plans are still underway to commemorate the anniversary; watch www.nps.gov/niob for events and also discover ways to experience the river, from canoeing, tubing and kayaking to hiking, biking and viewing wildlife along the river.
John Wayne in Iowa — The John Wayne Birthplace & Museum opened in 2015 in Winterset, about 370 miles northeast of Wichita just off I-35, as the only museum dedicated to the legendary actor. A new extension that nearly doubles the size of the gallery space is set to reopen Memorial Day weekend as part of John Wayne’s annual birthday celebration. New exhibits include one about Wayne’s family and friends, another about his lifelong goal of producing and starring in a film about The Alamo, and an exhibit showcasing the five communities his family lived in during his early years in the city. ‘Iowa. Lesley-Anne Down, Barry Corbin and Aissa Wayne, board member and daughter of John Wayne, will be on hand to greet guests and fans on opening weekend. Winterset is best known as the setting for Robert James Waller’s 1992 novel “The Bridges of Madison County” which became a 1995 film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. There are still six covered bridges open to the public in the area.