Located in the middle of Kansas, Salina is the Central/North Central Kansas hub for shopping, dining, entertainment, education, and professional services. Very much an arts community, Salina boasts event venues that feature cultural events and attractions. Salina's museum menu includes the changing exhibitions at the Salina Art Center; an historic glimpse of the Smoky Hills Region at the Smoky Hill Museum; the Yesteryear Museum, focusing on the history of agriculture; and Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure, a combination of a zoo with more than 100 species of animals and a 64,000-square-foot museum.
At the crossroads of I-70 and I-135, Salina is about 90 miles north of Wichita and 180 miles west of Kansas City. Salina Regional Airport provides daily service to Kansas City International Airport, and Manhattan Regional Airport, 60 miles away, offers jet service to Dallas and Chicago.
Meeting venues in Salina continue to grow. At the Bicentennial Center, the city's primary convention center, a $2-million renovation has been completed on the meeting space and additional work is under way on the arena/exhibition area. With a 6,000-seat arena, Salina's Bicentennial Center offers a combination of exhibit and meeting space. The facility’s Heritage Hall has 18,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space that is divisible by four, can accommodate 2,000 people for a general session, or host a banquet for 1,000 people. Eight meeting rooms can each handle up to 50 people or combine to form two rooms large enough for 150 people each.
Elsewhere, a new three-story, 85,000-square-foot multi-purpose building opened in November 2012 at Webster Conference Center, a 225-acre, retreat-style facility. The Webster Conference Center features a 500-seat Chapel with sound and video projection equipment, 19 meeting rooms, sleeping capacity for 450 in various buildings and recreational facilities that include a 10-acre lake and five-acre lake, along with both low and high challenge ropes courses.
Of hotel venues in Salina, the largest is the 192-room Salina Ambassador Hotel and Conference Center, which has 10,000 square feet of meeting space. In addition, the 100-room Quality Inn and Suites has 4,000 square feet of meeting space and the 76-room Courtyard by Marriott has 2,500 square feet of meeting space. In addition, renovations were completed in the past few years at the Courtyard by Marriott, the Country Inn & Suites, Candlewood Suites, and AmericInn.
With a mix of traditional and unexpected venues, Salina provides some interesting options for special events. The Stiefel Theatre offers both the 1,200-seat theater and The Watson room, which can host an event for 25 people. At Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure, 200 people can dine with a view of the zoo on the patio at Overlook Restaurant and 300 people can stage an event in the conference center immediately adjacent to the zoo. Delving into the agricultural identity of the area, take a tour and learn about the healing properties of plants at Prairie Lavender Farm, while a group of up to 200 people can have barn party at C&W Ranch, a working family ranch.
Salina has a number of restaurants that add spice and a fun aspect to a meeting. Martinelli's Little Italy, known for serving ample portions of classic Italian dishes, can host a group of up to 150 people for a private event. The Cozy Inn has been serving the same palm-size slider burgers heaped with onions since it opened in 1922. Gutierrez Mexican Restaurant, a local favorite since it opened in the 1970s, emphasizes fresh local ingredients in both its traditional Mexican entrees and vegetarian fare. Another local fixture since the 1970s, The Scheme Pizza Restaurant is an eclectic joint famous for its outstanding pizza.
SculptureTour Salina, an eclectic changing exhibition of public art, is part of downtown's Lee District. The area, home to the city's live theaters, an art cinema, two museums, and local eateries, including Blue Skye Brewery and Eats, a microbrewery with casual pub food and pizza. A signature event is the Smoky Hill River Festival, a celebration each June featuring music, visual fine arts, crafts, children's activities, and food. There are also year-round musical, opera, dance, theater, and comedy performances at the Salina Community Theatre and the Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts, which is home to the Salina Symphony.