Location: 1345 Jayhawk Blvd. Lawrence KS
Ages: Appropriate for all ages.
Cost: Free--but parking is $1 an hour
The museum is located on the actual campus of KU so get your rock chalk jayhawk thing ready and come on down. Although I wouldn't even think about hitting on the coeds my brothers because you are now an old, old man with baggage. The baggage being the kiddos that you drag along to this thing. Coeds don't like that kind of baggage. However, you can buy beer so maybe you have that going for you.
The Museum is a little difficult to find so make sure you visit the website first to get directions. Parking is also a bit of a pain and it costs a buck an hour so bring some quarters and some dollar bills.
But once you find it, it's a great place to go. The museum itself is actually free and we always love free. Free is greatness to all of us single income people. And as is the nature in these parts, free doesn't mean crap. This place is great.
There are 4 levels to the museum. The bottom floor is dedicated to the creepy and the crawly. Giant roaches? They have them. Things that fly and land on your neck ready to suck you like a vampire? They got those two. The whole space down there though is really well thought out and kid friendly. It's a touch and learn type of place. It's a smallish room but it's set up well and seems to encourage the kids learning on their own. And although the giant Godzilla like cockroaches freaked us all out, the bottom floor is really well done.
The rest of the floors are dedicated to other things, the highlight being the dinosaur bones. I didn't think we would find that much when we first arrived and I am happy to say that we were surprised. They the head of a triceratops and without a doubt the biggest damn turtle shell I have ever seen. Seriously, it's like a dinner table. Most things are also set behind glass so your kids won't destroy them. The exhibits are set up on either side of the hallways so there is plenty to look at. It was fun seeing the kids reactions to everything that we had seen.
The top to floors I found a little spooky but still well done. They were filled with stuffed animals of every size and shape. The highlight here is the giant stuffed bear. The signs say "do not touch" but I don't think the kids could help themselves although I'm proud to say that no permanent damage was done.
If you see one thing though in this museum though, see the beehive. It is freaking cool. On the top floor is a hollowed out tree trunk covered in plexiglass. This is where the bee's live. They get to the outside through a glass tube. You and the kids get to see everything, inside and out. It is one of the most original exhibits I have ever seen.
The museum is worth the drive out there and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a cheap adventure.
As for lunch, you have a couple of options. You can go into the town of Lawrence and find you something as there is plenty there. It's a nice town with helpful people so I would expect no problems.
Or you can head to the student union and try to relive your own glory days of eating Roman Noodles and sipping on very cheap beer. We did the student union and I was pleased with the space, the prices and the coeds.