Cabela’s is a retail store, so it has all of the usual obstacles you’d encounter in a retail environment: there are racks of goods that are close together, swarms of people checking out those goods, and the occasional mislaid item or abandoned cart. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially if they’re having a sale, so keep that in mind when planning your visit. In my experience (largely from looking at their parking lot as I fly by on I-435), they’re especially busy on weekends and during race events at the Kansas Speedway, so those would be times I’d try to avoid visiting with your blind or visually-impaired child.
If you’re willing to brave the creatures frozen in time and bargain hunters, there are some really neat things to be found at Cabela’s. Since they’re an outfitter for outdoorsy types, their decor tends towards the tactile: there are lots of stone facings and rough wood benches to touch. I don’t think anyone would notice if you spent some extra time feeling the rocks by the aquarium, especially if you looked at the fish while you’re there.
The aquarium, located logically by the fishing supplies (go right as you enter the store), is one of my favorite places to visit. It is an ENORMOUS fish tank with a variety of sport fish; I believe the fish are largely those that can be caught in the local area. They have several big white fish like those in the photo at the left, which “pop” really well against the river-brown background they swim through. Some of these fish are truly enormous–there are at least two catfish that I would say are easily larger than Peanut. Peanut was ecstatic in the aquarium, running from side to side to check out all of the fish and the occasional turtle. I’m not sure that he could see all of the fish, but the orange gar and the white catfish were definitely hits.
Cabela’s taxidermy is museum class: it’s done very well and the animals are in lifelike arrangements. There are animals on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, on top of merchandise racks or hanging out in counters. They also have a large diorama of African animals, including lions and elephants; a faux mountain covered with a variety of creatures; and an area dedicated to the manifold deer that hunters like to shoot at. The dioramas are easily as good as those at the Natural History Museum in Lawrence and far better maintained.
A waterfall tumbles down the faux mountain into twin ponds below; real trout swim around the base of the taxidermied moose. If you look next to the bridge over the ponds, there should be a gumball-style machine that sells fish food for a quarter. You get a decent amount of food for your money, and the fish are definitely eager eaters–they just about jump out of the water to get a fish nugget. Peanut really enjoyed feeding the fish, although I’m not entirely sure he could see them all that well–he liked seeing the water move and hearing the splashes as the fish tried to get to the food. Although Peanut is a kernel-by-kernel feeder, he did like it when I would throw in several pieces at once because he got to see the feeding frenzy.
Cabela’s does have an in-house cafeteria, so you don’t have to leave the building to eat if you so choose. There is a candy store of sorts right next to the cafeteria, however, so be careful if your kiddo has a sweet tooth (mine definitely does). There are two huge staircases on either side of the mountain that lead you to the second floor where the cafeteria is; I’m told there is an elevator available as well.