We know that the picture doesn’t necessarily exemplify non-stop action, but it was one of my favorite captures. There is a good chance that the gorilla is wondering just how much fun he would have checking out some Wichita attractions. Now we didn’t have time to do everything available in Wichita, but we certainly tried to get a good taste of the flavor and vibe of the largest city in Kansas.
Let’s Get Our Brains Humming
When seeking good family-friendly attractions in a city we’ve not explored, we find it a good approach to check out the local museums. In Wichita there are over a dozen museums, but our stay limited the number we would have time to see. A good first stop in the exploration of any city is the local historical museum. Our stop in the Sedgwick County Historical Museum allowed us to get a better understanding of the city we were about to explore. (read more about this attraction here>) This must-see attraction is housed in the four-story building that was the original old City Hall.
Head a little East of downtown, and you will find yourself in Old Town, which is home to the Museum of World Treasures. This old paper warehouse has been completely transformed to hold an amazing variety of artifacts. Kids of all ages will immerse themselves in the wonders that are found in the three story building. (read more about this attraction here>)
Located on a point of land overlooking the Arkansas River, travelers to Wichita will discover the Mid-America All-Indian Center. Here guests can learn about the history and cultures of the original inhabitants of the lands. The center has some interactive exhibits that help make history come to life. I can say from experience that these are fun for all ages, even us almost grown-ups. (read more about this attraction here>)
Let’s Take This Outside
Not all Wichita attractions are indoors. In fact, there is an abundance of outdoor activities, so it’s easy to find something that will entertain everyone in your group. Our first outdoor visit was to the Sedgwick County Zoo. The big draw is their new elephant exhibit, which we found to be completely engrossing. Don’t just stop there, as there are tons of other areas to explore. (read more about this attraction here>)
At Old Cowtown, travelers will be transported through time to the days of the western frontier. The time is the 1860’s, and Wichita is just getting its start as a stopping point on the Chisholm Trail. Character actors help bring the past to life, as they interact with visitors. Be sure to stop in the saloon and mosey up to the bar for a refreshing drink. (read more about this attraction here>)
Just west of the city we found the suburb of Goddard, Kansas. This town is host to Tanganyika Wildlife Park, which is different than a standard zoo. Here guests can interact on a closer level with many species of animals from around the globe. We fed giraffes, lorikeets, lemurs, and even the rarely seen Okapi. This uniquely Wichita attraction is a place to make memories that last a lifetime. (read more about this attraction here>)
Taking Art To The Streets
While we did drive our car to Wichita, many times we found areas that were quite walker friendly. Our trip was hosted by Visit Wichita, who was quite engaged with us throughout our visit. While we started with a solid itinerary, our host was able to suggest a few “hidden gems” that we had not uncovered. One of these is the ICT Pop-Up Park located on Douglas Avenue, which is one of the main east-west thoroughfares. We dropped by after breakfast one morning, and found that the park is frequented by local food trucks. We grabbed a couple cups of coffee, (There is always room for another cup.) and talked with some of the other visitors to the site. They pointed out the sculptures that are strategically placed nearby, so I took a stroll to get a better vantage point.
Many of the sculptures create an interactive desire in those around. A restaurant counter frozen in time beckons travelers to hop on a stool for a photo opportunity. Smaller scale replicas of the Keeper of the Plains line the street-side sidewalk of the Pop-Up Park. The use of moving water helps bring an added layer of realism to the art. All of these elements work together to help create a bond between those who created the art, and those who merely wish to enjoy it.
After Hours Wichita Attractions
So far everything we have highlighted has been daytime activities, but don’t worry that the nighttime will be uneventful. Each evening the river lights up from the five fire drums located below the Keeper of the Plains sculpture. Be sure to arrive early to take a look around the plaza area behind the statue. The fire show runs for 15 minutes, and looks especially amazing from one of the two pedestrian bridges that lead to the statue.
A trip to Old Town isn’t complete without dropping by Mort’s Martini Bar. On Monday evenings they cut the price in half on their 160 varieties of martinis. Of course, they have specials just about every night, so don’t worry if your schedule has you there on a different day. By the way, Mort’s has live music seven nights a week, so you can always find some great local tunes.
Speaking of entertainment, while you are in Old Town be sure to schedule a visit to Mosley Street Melodrama. This local live theater hosts interactive comedy shows, as well as musicals. be sure to come early for the barbecue dinner. You certainly won’t leave hungry. Be aware that some of their shows will be topical to the region in and around Wichita. Fortunately, if you visited the history museum you will be able to keep up with the references.
Some Well Deserved Rest
There are tons of places to stay in Wichita, and lodging choices abound throughout the city limits. During our visit we actually had the opportunity to stay at two hotels. The first was the Hotel at Old Town, which allowed us to be in close proximity to tons of dining and entertainment venues. Like so many of the businesses in this area, the hotel started it’s life as a warehouse in 1906. These days it has been transformed into an elegant Victorian-era decorated boutique hotel. This place certainly went above and beyond in making us feel welcome.
Our second stay was at the Hyatt Regency Wichita, which is located beside the Arkansas River. This urban hotel is right beside the river walk, and offers dramatic views of the area. The decor is contemporary, and the location is within walking distance to many downtown attractions.
As you can see, our list of Wichita attractions is diverse, but no where at all close to complete. We hope some of these will fit into your itinerary, as you plan your own adventures in Wichita.
*While we did receive support from some of the businesses listed above, all of the writing and opinions are our own.