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19 Fun & Best Things to Do in Wichita, Kansas

19 Fun & Best Things to Do in Wichita, Kansas

Wichita is a vibrant city in the south-central part of Kansas, about 139 miles south of Topeka. It sits at the crossroads of Interstate 35 and State Highway 400, making it easy to access.

First settled by the Wichita Indian Nation, the city of Wichita was founded in 1864 as a trading post. The Texas Cattle trade fueled the city’s rapid growth, and Wichita eventually became a part of the Chisholm Trail. Wichita was also a stop on the westward bound Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, which ferried settlers from the east into the rapidly expanding western United States.

There are dozens of fun things to do in Wichita and many small museums celebrating the city’s accomplishments. The Pizza Hut Museum chronicles the birth of Pizza Hut restaurants. And the Wichita Toy Train Museum and Great Plains Transportation Museum herald the importance of railways to the region. 

This mid-western city is peppered with urban green space. There are 144 parks and over 5000 acres of parkland throughout the city. The parks range from community-focused to the Arthur B Sims Golf Course. The city has many accommodations, from simple and family-friendly suites to upscale old western style.

Wichitans have a word for the feeling of their city; “Doo-Dah.” It is meant to express feelings of a happy home, good friends, and good food, making Wichita one of the best places to visit. So without further ado, here are some of the best Wichita attractions to hit up.

Hotel at Old Town
1. Hotel at Old Town Top Recommendation

Looking for a hotel that's right in the heart of all the action in Old Town Wichita? Look no further than Hotel at Old Town! This hotel offers turn-of-the-century style furnishings with all the modern amenities you need for a comfortable stay, like free Wi-Fi and 37-inch flat-screen TVs. Plus, each room comes with a fully equipped kitchen - perfect for when you want to eat in! And when you're ready to explore Wichita, you'll be centrally located to all the best attractionsOld Town has to offer.

Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview Wichita
2. Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview Wichita

If you're looking for a luxurious and convenient stay in Wichita, look no further than the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview! Located in the heart of downtown, this hotel is just a short 11.3 km drive from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. You'll love the on-site restaurant and indoor-outdoor pool, perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring or conducting business in the city. And each guest room comes with free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen cable TV for your enjoyment.

Hyatt Regency Wichita
3. Hyatt Regency Wichita

The Hyatt Regency Wichita is a modern hotel that offers its guests detailed accommodations and a central location to many Wichita attractions. The hotel features an on-site restaurant, HARVEST Kitchen/Bar, which serves local, seasonal cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel also has an indoor heated pool and a Perks Coffee and More on site, offering Starbucks coffee and breakfast items. The rooms at the Hyatt Regency Wichita are spacious and feature a 65-inch flat-screen TV, free toiletries, and a separate work area.

TLDR

  • Most significant landmark – Wichita City Hall
  • Best park –  O.J. Watson Park
  • Best free activity – Keeper of the Plains
  • Best activity for kids – Museum of World Treasures
  • Best activity for adults – Old Town
  • Best food – Scotch & Sirloin
  • Best nightlife – Old Town Theater Grill
  • Best all-around accommodation – Hotel at Oldtown

Best & Fun Things to do in Wichita, Kansas

1. Wichita City Hall

Wichita City Hall

Address: 455 N Main St, Wichita, KS 67202

The history of Wichita comes alive at the Wichita City Hall building thanks to the  Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum. This unique four-floor museum explores the history of the city and Sedgwick County. Many exhibits focus on the people and industries that drove Wichita’s growth, from the Wichita Indians to the expansion of aviation.

But it is not just what is inside the museum. The City Hall building itself is a stunning example of Richardsonian Romanesque style architecture by Proudfoot and Bird Architects. This unique building, completed in 1892, was nicknamed the “Palace of the Plains” for its detailed architectural splendor. They frequently have kid-friendly presentations and events. 

The Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum is easily one of the best places to visit in Wichita. And nearby is the trendy but fun Courtyard by Marriott Wichita at Oldtown, where you can rest and refresh.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

2. The Museum of World Treasures

Museum of World Treasures Exhibit
Wildcat313, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 835 E 1st St N, Wichita, KS 67202

What could be better than exhibits about shrunken heads, mummies, and dinosaurs? Nothing, making The Museum of World Treasures one of the top things to do in Wichita, Kansas. 

Interactive exhibits explore the region’s history, the world at war, and unique art from Greece, Egypt, and Africa. The Museum of World Treasures is also home to an extensive fossil, geologic, rock, and mineral collection. And there are even exhibits that discuss what life was like during the last ice age.

This unique display of items and artifacts spans the globe. But is located in the heart of Old Town Wichita. Once you are done wandering the exhibits, there are plenty of restaurants to grab a bite. A few blocks west, Nortons Brewing Company, offers craft brews and Amerian Fare.

Looking for simple accommodations that are close to the museum? The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Wichita Downtown has family suites and all the standard amenities of a good hotel.

3. Old Cowtown Museum

House in Old Cowtown Museum
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Address:  1865 Museum Blvd, Wichita, KS 67203

The Old Cowtown Museum sits on 23 acres off the Chisholm Trail. This living museum authentically reenacts late 19th Century Wichita life. Period clothing and furnishings, tools, and farm equipment are used to recreate daily chores, including cooking, gardening, and tending livestock.

There are over 54 historical buildings, many along the banks of the Arkansas River. And an impressive collection of western frontier photography, letters, and documents are also on exhibit.

One of the most historical exhibits is The Munger House was constructed in 1868. And is the oldest registered historical building in Wichita. Darius S. Munger established Wichita in 1869. His hand-crafted home and a log barn served as the town post office, boarding house, meeting place, and Justice of the Peace.

The Old Cowtown Museum reflects Wichita’s significant history and is one of the best family-friendly Wichita, Kansas, tourist attractions.  

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

4. Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Fountain in Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Address:  701 Amidon St, Wichita, KS 67203

Botanica, Wichita Gardens are the city’s botanical garden which opened in 1987 with only four unique themed gardens, including a Chinese garden and a butterfly garden. The grounds now cover 18 acres with over 30 themed gardens and exhibits.

The Gardens are decorated with 50 elegant sculptures, while fountains and waterfalls complement over 4,000 species of plants. More than 50,000 tulip bulbs are planted in spring, and 5,500 chrysanthemums add to fall color.

Visitors have the opportunity to attend lunchtime lectures on horticultural diversity. And in the fall, the Gardens partner with the Wichita Symphony to present family-friendly concerts.

The botanical gardens are a short drive from the Arthur B. Simms Golf Course and the Museum District. Part of the Wichita Parks system, this unique 71-par course is tucked into the bends of the Arkansas River. For golfers of all skill levels, Arthur B. Simms Golf Course is one of the best Wichita, Kansas activities.

5. O.J. Watson Park

Sunset O.J. Watson Parkat
 image by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 3022 S McLean Blvd, Wichita, KS 67217

O.J. Watson Park (or just Watson park) is one of Wichita’s largest parks. It sits on 119 acres of sprawling beauty. This popular urban green space is one of the fun things to do in Wichita with kids. 

The park offers basic amenities such as charcoal grills and picnic tables. There are playgrounds, a full-sized miniature golf course, 20 sand volleyball courts, and pony rides. A rideable train circles the lake, and food vendors are available during spring, summer, and fall for snacks and refreshments.

O.J. Watson Park also features a 40-acre fishable lake, with paddle boats and kayaks for rent. However, the lake is not for swimming.

The Arkansas River Bicycle Path makes a stop at O.J. Watson Park. This paved bicycle path is part of a more extensive 100-mile network of bicycle paths, lanes, and bicycle facilities in the city. 

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

6. Exploration Place

Exploration Place Architecture
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Address: 300 N McLean Blvd, Wichita, KS 67203

Exploration Place, the Sedgwick County Science and Discovery Center, is an interactive science museum with a mission to inspire an interest in science. Situated on the Arkansas River’s northern bank, the Exploration Place is housed in an undulating contemporary concrete and glass building.

In addition to on-site exhibits, Exploration Place has developed projects for homeschool classes and camps that expand the understanding of the world through science. Permanent exhibits emphasize learning through play. 

Exploration Place also houses the largest dome theater in Kansas, a 60-foot screen with a 360-degree view. Serving as a theater and a planetarium, this is one of the top attractions in Wichita, Kansas.

7. Sedgwick County Zoo

Sedgwick County Zoo
image by Patrick Pelletier is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Address: 5555 W Zoo Blvd, Wichita, KS 67212

The Sedgwick County Zoo houses over 3,000 animals spanning 400 species. And is a sprawling 247-acre park divided into continent-styled habitats. North American otters and grizzly bear both cool off in private pools, while African rhinos and lions have their habitat.  

The zoo boasts the third largest elephant habitat in the United States. Eight African elephants meander five acres, an indoor facility, and a 550,000-gallon pool. A unique feature of the Sedgwick County Zoo is the penguin and elephant cams, where visitors can follow their favorite animals online.

Sedgwick County Zoo Park is part of an urban green space complex. This park includes playgrounds and fishing on any of the four lakes. And not to ignore the family pup, as a reward for waiting patiently, the Meridian Dog Park sits a few blocks away on the easterly fork of the Arkansas River.

See Related: Best Places to Travel For Your Birthday

8. Kansas Aviation Museum

Kansas Aviation Museum Building
image by Neuwieser is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address:  3350 George Washington Blvd, Wichita, KS 67210

The Kansas Aviation Museum is the perfect attraction for the Air Capital of the World. The museum occupies Wichita’s old airport and terminal in the city’s southeast corner. Over 40 restored aircraft are on display inside and on the tarmac. And historical information is scattered throughout the museum.

Several exhibits chronicle the history of aviation in Wichita. The Cessna and Beechcraft exhibits, the history of Ryan International Airlines, and the city’s military history, including World War II. And the Aviation Hall of Fame celebrates excellence in flying.

The Kansas Aviation Museum also has interactive learning exhibits where STEAM-based activities teach the science of aviation at the Boeing Science, Math, and History Learning Center and in the Lattner Hanger.

One of the best things to do at the Kansas Aviation Museum is to tour the Control Tower at the airport terminal. Rain or shine, Kansas Aviation Museum is a top attraction in Wichita.

9.  Great Plains Transportation Museum

Great Plains Transportation Museum Building
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address:  700 E Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS 67202

The iron horse played a significant part in the founding and expansion of Wichita. And the Great Plains Transportation Museum houses a collection of working cars and historical artifacts celebrating that past. The museum works to preserve the unique history of railroading in the Great Plains. 

Part of its iconic collection is two industrial locomotives, a tank car, a Santa Fe diesel-electric locomotive, and a few cabooses. The museum is located south of downtown Wichita and is open seven days a week. 

See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US

10.  Wichita Toy Train Museum

Wichita Toy Train Museum Exhibit
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address:  130 S Laura Ave, Wichita, KS 67211

Another celebration of the railway in Wichita is the Wichita Toy Train Museum. It is located in a large warehouse near the southern edge of Old Town, about a block from The Anchor Grill and Pub.

This family-friendly attraction features several O-gauge and S-gauge detailed layouts of historical life in Wichita, from the old west to modern neighborhoods. Kids of all ages are welcome. There is a hands-on toy train for toddlers and a lower-level train for older children. Only open on Saturdays, the Museum and Club frequently post updates on their Facebook.

11. Wichita Art Museum

Wichita Art Museum Building
Larry Schwarm, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address:  1400 Museum Blvd, Wichita, KS 67203

At the bequest of Louise Caldwell Murdock, the Roland P. Murdock Collection was formed as the basis for the museum. The Wichita Art Museum houses an exceptional classic and modern American Art collection. The museum is located near the fork of the Little Arkansas River.

The exhibits include over 10,000 pieces of American art from famed painters J. Floyd Yewell, Charles M. Russell, Diego Rivera, and Edward Hopper. And there are displays of pre-Columbian pottery, glassworks, and Henry Moore sculptures.

As part of the ongoing virtual learning, the Wichita Art Museum has made its collection available online via a Collection Explorer. The 115,000-square-foot museum combines exhibition space, a gift shop, research library. There is also an intimate on-site cafe for time to reflex and refresh. 

12. Keeper of the Plains

Keeper of the Plains

Address:  339 Veterans Pkwy, Wichita, KS 67203

The 44 feet tall statue of the Keeper of the Plains stands at the fork of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers where Arkansas Rivers meet. Erected in 1974, it honors the names of local tribes of Native Americans.

Native American artist Blackbear Bosin designed the 5-ton statue of an Indian Chief surrounded by a Ring of Fire. Each night at sunset, the ring is lit as a symbol of Wichita and a tribute to the area’s Native American tribes.

Fire drums at the foot of the Keeper light the statue. A garden of sage, bottlebrush, medicinal herbs, and prairie grasses surrounds the base.

Admirers of the Keeper of the Plains can also find several pieces of Blackbear Bosin’s work in the Ulrich Museum of Art on the Wichita State University campus.

One of the best free things to do in Wichita with kids, the behemoth can be accessed by the pedestrian suspension bridges on either side of the rivers.

Another way to explore the Arkansas River locations in Wichita is by a historical scavenger hunt. Staring at Veteran’s Parkway near Veteran’s Memorial Park, this scavenger hunt is fun for all ages. Answer trivia — solving challenges for points! A smartphone app-based game guides you through the city. 

See Related: Most Beautiful Valleys in the US

13. Great Plains Nature Center 

Great Plains Nature Center Trail
image by christinejwarner is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address:  6232 East 29th St N Unit 2200, Wichita, KS 67220

Located next to the Chisholm Creek Park Trail in northeast Wichita, the Great Plains Nature Center focuses on the flowers and wildlife of the Great Plains region. 

The North American Great Plains are flatlands located west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains, stretching from the Canadian to the Mexican border. 

These unique flatlands are home to 87 wildlife and more than 450 bird species. And 150,000 insect species make this area home.

This unique ecosystem is essential. Its health affects larger natural systems throughout the continent.

Within the Nature Center is Koch Habitat Hall, a 3,500 square feet of individual exhibits displaying the numerous habitats in the area. Prairies, Wetlands & Rivers, Woodlands exhibits complement a 2,200-gallon aquarium. 

And the museum murals are the work of artists John Lencicki and Kent Pendleton.

As you head back into Oldtown, the Hopping Gnome Brewing Company is a great place to stop for a cold craft brew and American pub fare. Just off of E Douglas Avenue and Interstate 35.

14. Arkansas River Trail

Arkansas River Trail Scenery
image by Julie G/TripAdvisor

Address:  Garvey Park, Wichita, KS 67216

The Arkansas River Trail is the longest outdoor multi-use path in the city. It covers over ten miles point-to-point and runs along the southwest bank of the Arkansas River. The trail takes three and a half hours to complete.

The beginning of the Arkansas River trail is off of Zoo Boulevard. After a short road route, the trail parallels the Arkansas River to Garvey Park. It runs along the Southwest bank and takes a little over three hours to complete

Arkansas River Trail is popular with cyclists, runners, and walkers and is a great path to bring your leashed pup.

Many find it easier to use the paved walking trails to navigate through the western part of the city. Bridging paths run from the main route into neighborhoods and across the river into Oldtown. It passes by several smaller community parks, Exploration Place, Riverfront Stadium, and the city zoo.

It is easy to see why Wichitans like spending time outdoors, as it is one of the top things to do in Wichita, Kansas. All in all, more than 18 trails cover 101 miles crisscrossing Wichita. These range from easy walking to challenging bike trails like Prairie Sunset Trail.

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in the World You Must Visit

15. Old Town

Downtown Wichita

Old Town covers a part of downtown Wichita. It is a walkable, trendy urban residential district but is also home to many historic buildings and repurposed mid-19th Century warehouses. 

Bordered by Central Avenue, Waterman Avenue, and South Emporia Avenue, this curated business district is home to over 100 businesses — shops, bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The Old Town Theater Grill, operated by Regal Cinemas, provides the perfect dinner and a movie with dinner and drinks service directly to your movie seat.

One of the unique hotels in the Wichita area is only a short walk through Old Town, Hotel at Old Town. This upscale hotel complements the ambiance of old Wichita.

There are numerous eateries throughout the area, but on the western edge of Old Town along the Arkansas River is the Harvest Kitchen Bar, a farm-to-table restaurant within the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

A mile northwest of Oldtown is Wichita’s only Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. This immense structure was built in 1872 and is the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. 

It is also the resting place of an extraordinary Korean war hero and Medal of Honor recipient, Captain Chaplain Emil Kapaun, who died in captivity as a POW. During his capture, he used his kindness, courage, and faith to help his fellow POWs survive their harsh imprisonment. The Cathedral is a living church but open to visitors.

16. Ulrich Museum of Art

Address:   Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount St, Wichita, KS 

One of the city’s hidden gems is the Ulrich Museum of Art. Located on the Wichita State University campus in the McKnight Art Center, the modern art museum is home to more than 6,000 photographs, sculptures, ceramics, and paintings. 

Over 1000 contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Cheryl Pope, and Salvador Dali are exhibited at the Ulrich Museum of Art.

Museum exhibits focus on global themes — visualizing how artists affect the future. Creative and interactive series such as 

Admission to the museum is free. The Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art has also developed an online portal where individuals can view the entire collection.

Also part of the Ulrich Museum of Art is the Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection – 82 works spread across the 330-acre Wichita State University campus. The collection features the works of features works by Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, and Hank Willis Thomas.

Also on the Wichita State University campus, just east of the Ulrich Art Museum along Perimeter Drive is Fiske Hall.

This impressive building has been a men’s dormitory, 1918 Influenza Epidemic Infirmary, and various university offices and departments. It is the University’s oldest surviving structure. 

17. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House

Frank Lloyd Wright's Allen House Architecture

Address:  255 N Roosevelt St, Wichita, KS 67208

The Allen House, designed in 1915 by Frank Lloyd Wright, was a unique Prairie Style home in Wichita’s historic College Hill neighborhood. This expansive masterpiece was the home of former Kansas Governor Henry Allen and his wife, Elise. 

Considered the last of the Prairie Houses, Wright himself commented that it was one of his best. Prairie Houses are a distinct architecture school from the late 19th and early 29th centuries. 

Their characteristics include two stories, with one-story wings or porches extending the house’s length and supported by large square columns.

Curated by The Allen House Foundation, this living architectural monument also has 30 original Wright-designed furniture pieces on display.

Once you have toured this architectural icon, plan an evening of fine dining at the nearby Scotch & Sirloin. The restaurant is about two miles away and was voted one of America’s Top 20 Restaurants.

See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA

18. Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center

Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center Aerial View

Address: 225 W Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS 67202

At this point, you’re probably aware that Wichita is actually a pretty cultured place, maybe even surprisingly so – in flyover Kansas! Of all places! Well, it doesn’t stop there.

For all manner of interesting exposès, Broadway-level theatrical performances, and every kind of live music even under the sun, haul yourself over to the Century II Performing Arts Center. They have a stacked calendar of events including frequent performances from the exceptionally talented Wichita Symphony Orchestra, who are based at the center.

19. Kansas International Dragway

Address:   7800 W 61st St N, Maize, KS 67101

The Kansas International Dragway is not in Wichita proper. Located 15 miles northwest of downtown Wichita, this NHRA Drag Racing track offers all-day drag racing. However, the roar and the rumble of cars are a top attraction.

The RED, YELLOW, GREEN group of lights starts a race. As a drag racer approaches the starting line, engines rumble, breaking the first light beam on the Christmas Tree. Drag racing is an all-out, head-to-head competition to see who can first cross the finish line.

The long body design of dragsters keeps the car stable as it accelerates from 0 mph to 100 mph in 0.8 seconds — reaching speeds of over 300 mph. The cars usually use between 10 and 12 gallons of super high octane fuel per race or pass at these speeds.

Competitions of Pro ET and Super Pro Et include open to full-bodied cars with working doors, Funny Cars, Altereds, and Dragsters. Sportsman ET, with any configuration of an internal combustion motor, is also a category at the Dragway. Professional and street motorcycles also compete in high-stakes racing at the Dragway. 

What is Wichita, Kansas, known for?

Wichita is known by many as the Air Capital of the World. It first earned the moniker in 1928, when the city’s 16 aircraft companies, including Cessna, Boeing, Beechcraft, and Steerman, manufactured over120 airplanes weekly. By the early 1930s, one in four of all planes built in the US were built in Wichita!

What else is Wichita, Kansas, known for? Well, apart from being Kansas’s largest city, cold sufferers everywhere thank Wichita and A.A. Hyde for his discovery of Mentholatum in 1894. The Mentholatum Building still stands in recognition of this unique product, although the company is long gone.

FAQ

What are the best tourist attractions in Wichita?

The Kansas Aviation Museum has more than 40 display aircraft and numerous historical displays scattered throughout the museum. Visitors can also tour the historic airport terminal.

What is the best thing to do with kids in Wichita?

The 44 feet tall plains statue of the Keeper of the Plains stands at the fork of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers. Fire atop stone drums lights his feet, and a Ring of Fire is lit each night. This free attraction is the best thing to do with kids in Wichita.

What are some things to do in Wichita when it’s raining?

The Museum of World Treasures is one of the top things to do in Wichita when it’s raining. Interactive exhibits, a T. Rex fossil, and Egyptian mummies are all part of these treasures. 

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