Throughout the state, Kansas delivers a bounty of distinctive spots that showcase everything from outdoor team building and wildlife to race cars and living history.
Milford Lake Conference Center
Projected to open this November, Milford Lake Conference Center seamlessly combines nature and group functions. The center will overlook Milford Lake, which is the state’s largest body of water, and sits adjacent to Acorns Resort. Outdoor activities and “Amazing Race”-style team building are available on the lake and surrounding wilderness.
At 4,200 square feet, the conference center will accommodate up to 300 people for banquets, conferences, receptions and theater-style meetings. Three flexible meeting rooms, a boardroom for 20 and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment will be available. For receptions and breakout sessions, a large deck will overlook the lake and woods. The center works with five preferred caterers for buffet-style dining. On-property accommodations include 20 cabins that sleep from four to 14 and nine lodge rooms.
Below the center, a trail will access the lake for kayaking, swimming, fishing and evening boat cruises. Guided fishing for walleye, wiper and bass can be arranged. Milford Lake, referred to as the fishing capital of Kansas, has hosted some of the nation’s largest tournaments, including Cabela’s National Team Walleye Championship and ESPN bass events.
“The resort owner’s wife is a well-known adventure racer and has developed a team-building program around racing that includes kayaking, rappelling and land navigation for groups up to 200 people,” said Acorns Resort and Milford Lake Conference Center marketing director Rick Dykstra. “People really have to work as a team if they want to finish the course.”
There are few places to hold a meeting or event 650 feet below the earth’s surface. The StrataCenter at Strataca is one of those special places. Formerly called the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, Strataca is North America’s only tourist attraction located underground in a salt mine. The complex has been mined since 1923 and opened to the public in 2007.
“When most people go underground, their first reaction is amazement because it’s different than what they expect and so much bigger and more impressive,” said Linda Schmitt, executive director of the Reno County Historical Society.
Always a comfortable 68 degrees, the StrataCenter has capacity for 250 people. High ceilings, sparkling salt walls and more than 100,000 square feet of space provide room for exploration, rides and experiences. In the Mining Gallery, visitors learn about a salt miner’s life and mining processes, and see mining equipment from 1923 to the present. The Underground Vaults and Storage exhibit displays authentic movie props and costumes. Three rides go progressively deeper into the mine. The Dark Ride tram explores the geology of the mine. The Salt Mine Express train ride showcases items left behind by the miners. Newly opened, the Safari Shuttle takes 12 people at a time into the raw mine.
Guests wear hardhats while traveling underground, but protective gear is not required in the event or restroom areas. Amenities include a professional sound system with handheld and lavaliere microphones, a large pull-down screen and Wi-Fi. Strataca can work with any caterer but recommends those who are familiar with special parameters. For instance, caterers must understand how to keep food warm without using a flame.
“We offer all the amenities needed for any group function, but cellphones don’t work underground, which can be a plus,” said Schmitt.