Wichita is most known as the “Air Capital of the World” and the birthplace of Pizza Hut. The city, which is the largest in Kansas, has a huge rural community. In fact, the city started as a trading post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860s but soon became the destination for cattle drives. And this is how Wichita became known as “Cowtown”.
Wichita lies on the margins of the Arkansas River near the Flint Hills and the Great Plains. And because of its location in the Midwestern United States, the region is popularly referred to as “brown, flat and farmy”.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Wichita (KS)
1. Sedgwick County Zoo
Home to 3,000 animals of nearly 400 species, Sedgwick County Zoo is organized by continent and features educational programs for various age groups. The exhibits of the Zoo are very well done! They transport you to the animals’ habitats. The buildings are done up that way also. Just to give you that sense of being in the middle of the jungle!
The paths are nice with a decent amount of shade through the park. And you can even feed the giraffes or take the kids to explore the playground. Besides, the many animal exhibits, the zoo also offers boat and train rides.
2. Botanica, The Wichita Gardens
Botanica, The Wichita Gardens is an imaginative and verdant botanical garden with children’s areas, a butterfly house, a carousel, events, and more. The gardens house a wide variety of flora divided into different sections. It also features beautiful fountains, gorgeous floral arrangements, memorial statues, quiet alcoves, lily ponds, and a koi pond.
In the warmer weather, music, flowers, and special events such as Tuesdays on the terrace or the Bloody Mary mixer are great to partake. During the winter, check out the Halloween special and the wonderful light show called Illuminations, which is a 40-minute walk through the lit-up gardens.
3. Exploration Place
With exhibits, films, live shows, and hands-on science, Exploration Place offers discovery programs for kids and adults. Some of the exhibits include the extensive Aerospace Exhibit filled with all aspects of flights and airplanes. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not section is super interesting, and everyone will be impressed with the robotic tallest man. There is even an adorable play area specifically for kids under 5, with a further enclosed section for babies.
Also, the traveling exhibits change occasionally, and is always fun to see what new things they have. Located by the Arkansas River, the building itself has quite a unique organization and architecture. The museum also features a nice little café and eating area.
4. The Keeper of the Plains
The Blackbear Bosin’s 44-ft Indian chief statue, The Keeper of the Plains, stands at a confluence reachable by 2 footbridges. The statue itself might seem underwhelming up close, but given a good distance, you can make out a striking silhouette of a native American raising his hands to the Great Spirit. The view from the monument is also nice and you can see the city of Wichita at a distance.
There are also many signs and information about different aspects of beliefs and ways of life the natives to the Great Plains had.
5. Sedgwick County Park
With fishing available on 4 lakes and shelter rentals, Sedgwick County Park is a center for outdoor sports, recreation, and fitness. The big dirt mound in the center of the park is a wonderful place to jog and exercise. Several walking/biking paths circle the perimeter and a hidden mulch trail that is small but nice.
The fishing ponds are great for family gatherings with playgrounds nearby. There are even smaller playgrounds for when the main campus has too many people. Located next to the Zoo, Sedgwick Park is constantly adding different attractions.
6. Old Cowtown Museum
Including farm animals, photos, and document archives, Old Cowtown Museum recreates 1880s life in Wichita. The museum brings the Old West to Life, giving you an authentic mixture of period homes, buildings, structures, and lively characters in costumes to create an authentic feeling of stepping back in time.
Every building in this open-air museum is such old-timing and the outfits used by the staff are fantastic. To make the experience even more special they organize unique performances like a gunfight and a ghost tour. You can even watch as the carpenter builds new artifacts for the gift shop. If you take your time and read everything it could take about 3 or so hours to explore the museum.
7. Tanganyika Wildlife Park
Tanganyika Wildlife Park is a family-friendly destination where parkgoers have up-close, hands-on interaction with the animals. The park offers a more intimate than a traditional zoo, especially with the variety of up-close encounters they offer. And with the Unlimited Encounter Pass, you can touch and feed many animals, over and over again. For example, you can pet kangaroos and feed lemurs, penguins, and sloths.
Besides the interactive storytime/activity hours for little ones, the park counts with a new splash pad area. Also, it is always nice to visit a facility that continues to grow and add more attractions.
8. Museum of World Treasures
As the name says, the Museum of World Treasures tells the history-of-the-world with an educational focus and hands-on children’s activity center. The museum has a little bit of everything, and the displays have plenty of explanatory signs.
The exhibits include Ivan, one of the most complete and largest T. Rex, other dinosaurs, fabulous sea creatures of the plains, Egyptian artifacts including mummies, as well as Buddhist and Hindu statues. There is also an interesting presidential section with a replica of the desk made famous by JFK kids. The WWI and WWII displays are also very interesting.
9. All Star Sports
All Star Sports is an all-ages amusement park offering mini-golf, go-karts, and a climbing wall. There is a variety of entertaining rides and the grounds are clean and well maintained. Some of the other attractions include Laser tag, rock climbing, batting cages, arcade games, bowling, and a driving range. And the water spraying bumper boats are always a big hit.
The establishment also counts with a snack bar offering a wide variety of candies, burgers, and fountain drinks.
10. Wichita Art Museum
Showcasing contemporary and historical works from a 7,000-piece permanent collection, Wichita Art Museum offers a hands-on area for kids. The museum is well-curated with interactive exhibits drawing the viewer. The collections include many local artists with lots to see and experience. Besides, the displays are set-up with a storytelling point of view.
A few notable artists hang among the galleries which are nice to encourage the viewer to proceed further into the museum. Their rotating exhibitions are always really cool and immersive. Sometimes there are lectures about the exhibits. There is also a quaint little café and a gift shop.
11. All Star Adventures
With kiddie rides, coasters, bumper cars, and go-karts for both kids and adults, All Star Adventures has it all at a reasonable price. It is just like going to a little Carnival except for not crazy high prices or crowds and there is even a snack bar. They also have games inside available for tokens and a mini-golf course.
The arcade is fairly modern and gets updated fairly often. And at the driving range, you can choose to play with a baseball or softball machine.
12. Orpheum Theater
Orpheum Theater is a venerable showcase for world-class and local musicians, plus film festivals, comedy shows, and dance performances. Concessions are somewhat limited, but they do have alcohol. With an intimate setting, the area around the auditorium is like stepping back in time. Any way you look at it, it is a fun place to take in a show.
The historic establishment is actually a wonderful piece of Wichita history and an old-school theater. The building itself is a beautiful and stunning theatre with original artwork and architecture!
13. Carousel Skate Center
The family-owned roller-skating rink of Carousel Skate Center is a shop that is available for parties. They have regular skates and plastic beginner skates with adjustable sizing for kids. There are rollers for the kids to hold on to while they learn how to skate.
Even if you are not the best skater, you can still have so much fun just listening to music and playing arcade games. Also, the play set in the back is awesome and the kids have a ton of fun playing in there when they are not skating. The staff and guests are all very kind and it is a fun and positive environment.
14. Rock River Rapids Aquatic Park
Rock River Rapids Aquatic Park is an outdoor water park with a pool, lazy river, slides, and concessions. Even though it is a very small park, it offers a wide range of entertainment for all ages. With wonderful instructors, the park also offers swimming lessons and Aqua Zumba & Water Run.
They have an area just for kids with two big water slides and a small one. Not to mention the four big water slides for everyone 48′ and taller. You can even choose to go down the water slides alone, with a buddy, or on a tube.
15. Veterans Memorial Park
Bordering the Arkansas River, Veterans Memorial Park is a green space featuring 7 memorials honoring US veterans and Gold Star mothers. The very well-kept and beautiful park is a true tribute to the veterans everywhere and if you are in the Wichita, this is an absolute must-see. In fact, there are lots of memorials for all kinds of different wars and miscellaneous topics.
The grounds are beautifully groomed and it is a great way of teaching kids about the men and women who died protecting them. Overall, it is an easy walk and has wide sidewalks for wheelchair accessibility to each memorial.
16. Kansas Aviation Museum
Formerly a municipal airport, Kansas Aviation Museum is an art deco terminal housing a tribute to aviation history. The museum is a 100% self-guided tour, but you can make reservations to have a tour guide. They also do dinners and rent the place out as a wedding venue, for example.
When you walk outside and stand under the B-52 that they have sitting there on a hard stand you can completely understand why they were nicknamed the aluminum overcast. There is also an awesome kids’ area with flight simulators where they can sit in an actual airplane cockpit.
17. Field Station: Dinosaurs
Field Station: Dinosaurs is a park with life-size models of dinosaurs and a few other prehistoric beasts that are not technically dinosaurs. Most of the displays have at least some animatronics and sound. Not to mention that they are designed for younger kids, with good but short information signs.
They also have other activities like miniature golf and a climbing structure which are included in the ticket price. The park has an activity area available for private parties and an open-air amphitheater for shows throughout the day.
18. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House
Offering guided tours through a 1918 Prairie-style home, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House is yet another magnificent home designed by America’s most famous architect. The tour goes through almost the entire home and what you are not able to see is well explained.
The house features a stunning collection of original furnishings saved, preserved, and donated by the family. All of the original art glass windows are reportedly still in place. The garden and koi pond are a calming passive respite within the Kansas landscape. The living room is reminiscent of the Robie House living room.
19. Great Plains Nature Center
With both indoor and outdoor facilities, Great Plains Nature Center was designed to educate its visitors about the flora and fauna of the Great Plains. Inside the Nature Center building, the staff does a great job at promoting wildlife preservation and providing nature education.
Meanwhile, outside you will find a series of interconnected loops ranging from 0.5 to 2 miles and everywhere in between. The trails are peaceful and often teeming with wildlife including deer, turkeys, turtles, owls, herons, rabbits, muskrats, mushrooms, wildflowers, and more. It is definitely worth the time to visit and learn about the wildlife and other things!
20. O J Watson Park
The popular lakefront O J Watson Park offers fishing, boating, 3 playgrounds, mini-golf, kids’ rides, and more. This park has very affordable entertainment. The train ride is very scenic and fun, along with a heat mini-golf course and a variety of paddle boats/kayaks. Overall, it has a lot of activities for the whole family and seasonal Wicked/Haunted Island every Halloween.
It also has several different playgrounds and a concession stand in case you want something to eat or drink. You can also bring your own food/drinks and enjoy one of the many covered picnic areas.
21. Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center
The vast complex of Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center comprises exhibition space, concert/theater venues, and convention/meeting rooms. Century II is a large complex that has various rooms available for events. There is plenty of room for stadium seating and floor seating. They hold different fun events like the Wichita Women’s Fair, Air Capital Comic Com, dog shows, car shows, Art & Book Fair, and music theater.
Century II does a lot of community events, including job fairs, school fairs, and bridal shows. It really should be on your list of historic places because where else in the country will you find a 50+-year-old, uber-cool building that looks like an alien spaceship?
22. Music Theatre Wichita
Located inside Century II, Music Theatre Wichita is an established musical theater company presenting Broadway shows and Disney productions each summer. Also, the youth choir is always fun, and a great way to encourage the next generation into the arts. Each season includes a wide variety of selections to suit a range of tastes if that is of importance or interest to patrons.
It is also great to see shows from the backside of the stage and see, even more, the kind of work and dedication that goes into these shows. All the cast and crew are amazing and work so hard to bring the best to the patrons.
23. Intrust Bank Arena
Hosting sports, concerts, ice shows, and conventions, Intrust Bank Arena is a state-of-the-art entertainment complex. The building is very echo-y, so the volume of the music is very loud. It is also a cool place that is not too big, so you have a great view regardless of your seat.
This is a great place for sporting events like a Wichita Thunder hockey game or a concert like Paul McCartney, Def Leppard, or Journey. There are ample restrooms and concession options. Check out some of the local beers on tap. Besides, the arena is also a short walk from great restaurants, bars, and breweries, including the popular Old Town entertainment district.
24. Nifty Nut House
Nifty Nut House has the best selection of nuts, any and every kind of nut you could want. The macadamias are especially wonderful. But the pecans and walnuts are just as amazing. They have a great variety of different flavored kinds of nuts, snacks, mixes, and a lot of nostalgic candy from back in the day. You can buy any flavor of jellybeans and they have a ton of shapes of gummy candy. You can also buy a whole package of your favorite flavor of gummy.
In addition, you can taste the best pumpkin caramel balls in the fall. Nifty is your go-to store for nuts and candy in Wichita!
25. Texas Roadhouse (West Kellogg)
The lively chain steakhouse Texas Roadhouse serves American fare with a Southwestern spin amid Texas-themed decor. Besides, the restaurant has quite a unique ambiance, and as soon as you walk in you will see everyone line dancing country music in front of the display case.
In addition to incredible service, they always serve high-quality food. The rolls and butter are dangerously good. But the highlight meals include the chicken fried steak and the Portobello mushroom chicken. Just make sure to call ahead as the wait times can be very long, especially during the Holidays or peak times.