Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Wichita, KS

  • Published 2023/04/17

Wichita is the largest city in the state of Kansas.

As the “Air Capital of the World,” this city is where the aviation industry first took flight.

This stunning city on the Great Plains marked its rich aviation heritage after becoming a lead producer of commercial planes in the United States.

Wichita became an aviation powerhouse only 25 years after the Wright Brothers’ historic first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

You can credit Wichita’s prominence in aviation to its flat terrain, central location and sunny, breezy climate, perfect for flying year round.

The city further boomed thanks to the discovery of oil in the area.

Considerable investments in Wichita aviation followed and eventually gave birth to the Big 3 aviation pioneers: Beechcraft, Cessna, and Stearman Aircraft.

Nevertheless, its success in aviation is only a short glimpse into what Wichita has to offer.

Do you want to know what makes this windy wonder a special place to visit?

Here are the best things to do in Wichita, KS:

See the Icon of Wichita at the Keeper of the Plains Plaza

Gorgeous sunset over Keeper of the Plains Plaza

KSwinicki /

The most beloved icon of Wichita sits where the sacred rivers of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas meet.

In 1974, the Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin sculpted the Keeper of the Plains, a 44-four feet steel sculpture.

He donated it to the City of Wichita to commemorate the United States Bicentennial and symbolize the brotherhood of all Native Americans.

This five-ton sculpture features a Keeper raising its hands to the sky as a form of supplication to the Great Spirit, whom the Native Americans worship.

Bronze sculpture of Keeper of the Plains Plaza

Allen Graham – PDImages /

More than three decades after its initial installation, the sculpture sits on a 30-foot rock peninsula at the eastern tip of the plaza.

Today, ceremonial fire pits referred to as “Rings of Fire” light the base of the statute at a 15-minute interval at a specific time, depending on the weather and river level.

The Keeper of the Plains Plaza is free to the public year-round.

The site also has a footbridge across the rivers.

Have a Fun Weekend Picnic at Central Riverside Park

Another treasured attraction in Downtown Wichita City is the Riverside Park.

This 50-acre park has enough room for open spaces, beautiful trees and 12 historical markers retelling the park’s history.

It is also home to the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit, a zoological garden that has been around since the early 1900s, focusing on native Kansas animals.

There are over 25 species in the exhibit, such as porcupines, bobcats, minks, beavers, and many more.

The park also has benches, gazebos and tables perfect for picnics.

Spend a Day in the 1870s Life at Old Cowtown Museum

Munger house at Old Cowtown Museum

Danita Delimont /

Dubbed a living history museum, the Old Cowtown Museum gives you a glimpse of life in the Old West through its collection of historic buildings and artifacts from the 1870s.

Established in 1952, Old Cowtown Museum now stands as one of the oldest open-air history museums in the central United States.

This 23-acre land just next to the Arkansas River in central Wichita is home to 54 historic, restored or recreated buildings.

These structures interpret Wichita’s cultural setting during the end of the 19th century.

Historic buildings at Old Cowtown Museum

Barbara Kalbfleisch /

It mainly reflects the city’s transformation from a frontier town to a cattle town and a manufacturing hub.

Today, you can enjoy diverse activities in the museum throughout the year, such as a reenactment of a typical 1870s day, according to early Wichita newspapers.

They also have gunfight shows and live music while you enjoy tasty meals from featured restaurants.

Admission is free for Cowtown members and honorary guests like military men and teachers.

Everyone else must pay a fee, depending on the guests’ age.

Enjoy a Wildlife Weekend at Sedgwick County Zoo

Parrots on a tree at Sedgwick County Zoo

mojoeks /

Whether young or young at heart, a day at the zoo will always be therapeutic.

At Sedgwick County Zoo, exciting attractions and wild encounters with 3,000 individual animals across 400 species await you and the family.

Dubbed the seventh-largest zoo in the United States, this 250-acre zoo is strategically sectioned according to geographical settings, mimicking the natural habitat of each species.

Experiential learning is at the heart of Sedgwick’s exhibits.

The zoo designs animal encounters to allow visitors to stroll freely among flora and fauna without compromising safety.

People touring the Sedgwick County Zoo

Patrick Pelletier, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Their Rhino encounter, for example, lets you feed rhinos while learning how the zoo cares for them and how you can help protect them in the wild.

Other hands-on experience includes encounters with penguins, equine, exotherms, elephants, and Aldabra tortoises.

In each encounter, you can join them in their habitat, feed them, and even have a chance to touch a few with the proper supervision of their respective keepers.

A digital map is readily available, so you can easily navigate the different attractions and learn more about each area.

An adorable owl on a tree at Sedgwick County Zoo

mojoeks /

Tour an Art Garden at Wichita Art Museum

Exterior of the Wichita Art Museum

FUBAR007, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before it became Kansas’ largest art museum, the Wichita Art Museum began as a humble collection in memory of publisher Marshall M. Murdock in 1935.

The interior designer and architect Louise Caldwell Murdock funded the collection, laying the groundwork for the museum.

She was also Murdock’s wife.

For more than two decades, Mrs. Murdock selected works of American art to kick-start its collection.

Today, Wichita Art Museum houses 10,000 paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and works on paper by Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, and Charles M. Russell, etc.

Aside from the main galleries, there are four areas you can enjoy at the museum, namely, the Museum Store, Muse Café, the Art Garden and the Living Room.

Find the perfect gift among a wide array of curated pieces at the Museum Store.

If you need to refuel after the tour, drop by the Muse Café for a delectable meal while enjoying a view of the Art Garden and the Little Arkansas River.

Meanwhile, the Art Garden, which opened in 2015, offers a breathtaking landscape environment covering the eight-acre perimeter surrounding the museum.

Thirteen outdoor sculptures occupy this little paradise which you can enjoy 24/7.

Are you an art explorer?

You can also spend time with friends and family in the Living Room, the museum’s most active space, which offers hands-on activities.

The Wichita Art Museum is located at the heart of Museums on the River, just five minutes from downtown in the Riverside neighborhood.

Enjoy a Self-Guided Tour around the Wichita Murals

Personnages Oiseaux mural at Wichita State University

Brent Danley from Saco, ME, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wichita indeed has art in the city.

This city’s love for art comes in all shapes and sizes, including urban art murals.

A mural at Dunbar Theatre

Gjtreat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Over 100 larger-than-life attractions are scattered throughout the city and were added mainly during art festivals.

These vibrant murals speak of positive messages and civic pride that you wouldn’t want to miss.

An online interactive map is easily accessible for a self-guided tour.

Bask in the Natural World at Botanica Wichita Gardens

Lilac bush at Botanica Wichita Gardens

Jordan Fitzpatrick /

Established in 1987, Botanica Wichita is a botanical garden and regional horticultural center nestled in the riverside neighborhood of Downtown Wichita.

This 18-acre manicured sanctuary is home to over 4,000 species of plants that are both imported and native to the area.

You can find almost 30 intricately themed gardens that sprawl across Botanica.

The Chinese Garden of Friendship, for example, reflects traditional Chinese gardening showcased in majestic architecture that features a thousand-foot bridge, pavilion, a pond and a waterfall.

Water lily at Botanica Wichita Gardens

Danita Delimont /

Other themed gardens like the Woodland Bird Garden and Butterfly Garden offer a serene spot to feed and observe various birds and native and migratory butterflies.

If you wish to do a guided tour, they have curated ones such as a general or seasonal garden tour, carousel experience, a sense of nature tour, and a washed tour ashore.

Are you a honey enthusiast?

Join their Tour & Honesty Tasting activity at Alexander Bee House and enjoy a delicious taste of select honey paired with floral or herbal teas.

A buddha statue at Botanica Wichita Gardens

Jordan Fitzpatrick /

Dine, Watch & Play at Dave and Buster’s

Craving for an ultimate entertainment experience?

Look no further because at Dave & Buster’s, you can dine, watch and play all under one roof.

They have the ultimate arcade and VR experience featuring six mind-blowing games like Rampage, Jurassic Park Arcade, Fireteam Raven, Injustice Arcade, the Walking Dead and Quick Drop.

Did you arrive on Game Day?

Save the squad a spot at Dave & Buster’s to watch your favorite UFC matches or baseball championships on their 40-foot WOW Wall.

If you need to refuel between games, they also have a great lineup of beer options and mouthwatering dishes like their best-selling Wings & Tenders.

You can also earn reward chips when you dine and play when you download their application.

Find Dave & Buster’s near Greenwich Place Shopping Center.

Celebrate the Heritage of Flight at Kansas Aviation Museum

Exterior of the Kansas Aviation Museum

David G. Keith, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the “Air Capital of the World,” Wichita preserves and celebrates its rich aviation heritage.

Established in 1991, the Kansas Aviation Museum was formerly the Wichita Municipal Airport on George Washington Boulevard.

From the brick inset to the railings, the museum’s architecture screams art deco—a style with fine craftsmanship and bold geometric forms.

A stratojet displayed on the grounds of Kansas Aviation Museum

Balon Greyjoy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Among the indoor exhibits, you can find the Beechcraft Exhibit, the Aviation Hall of Fame, the Engine Room and the Atrium, which used to be the old terminal area of the historic airport.

You can also get a 360-degree view of the highest points in Wichita inside their Control Tower.

Do you want to be a pilot for a day?

The museum also has some of the most notable indoor aircraft dating back to the early 1920s.

Annually, you can get the chance to enter these exhibition aircraft during the museum’s “Play on a Plane Day.”

Interior of a cargo plane at Kansas Aviation Museum

Barbara Kalbfleisch /

Embark on a Rock-Climbing Adventure at Bliss Climbing and Fitness

Are you an adrenaline junkie?

It’s time to challenge your mental and physical strength at Bliss Climbing and Fitness.

This place is a full-service indoor rock climbing, bouldering and training facility in Wichita.

They offer two major climbing activities: a 15-ft bouldering wall for power and gymnastics and 40-ft top-rope walls for the thrill of climbing up a rope.

Their routines are slated per week and categorized according to the difficulty level.

Aside from rock climbing, they also offer youth and adult programs.

Youth climbing, for example, is a three-month program that runs once a week and is open to children of all ages and experience levels.

Are you planning to go on a group climb?

Bliss also caters to team-building activities and other youth events like birthday parties.

Revisit History at Great Plains Transportation Museum

While Wichita is known for its rich aviation history, its railroad industry also dates back as early as the 1880s.

Back then, four Wichita businessmen organized an independent company to build a railway.

Today, you can also celebrate the unique history of railroading in the Great Plains when you visit the Great Plains Transportation Museum.

Established in 1983, the museum offers a wide assortment of restored and preserved railroad equipment, including its two largest displays—the Santa Fe steam locomotive #3768 and Santa Fe FP45 Diesel #93.

This equipment represents the final class of passenger locomotives for Santa Fe, which dates back to 1938 and was later donated to the City of Wichita in 1958.

Group tours for schools and other organizations are available at the museum.

Admission is free for children three and below, while fees vary for youths and adults.

Breathe Your Stress Out at Plumlee Trails

Before its renaming in 1986, Plumlee Trails was called Pawnee Prairie Horse & Nature Park.

It was renamed in honor of Marsh & Irene Plumlee, who helped the City of Wichita acquire and develop the trails.

Dubbed Wichita’s largest park, the area spans approximately nine miles of natural trails and 4.75 miles of the marked trail.

You can also find a wide range of flora and fauna like deer, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, and even various birds.

Go Fishing at Sedgwick County Park

The Sedgwick County Park is located between 13th and 21st Street, featuring four lakes for fishing.

You can buy a state fishing license in the park’s office where tackle and bait plus snacks are also available.

The Sedgwick County Park provides plenty of recreational facilities for other fun activities.

These amenities include tennis courts, softball diamonds, a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, and bocce court, all of which are available first come first serve.

The park also offers a four-mile loop trail across open and wooded areas for hiking and biking.

Visitors can likewise enjoy photo shoots at the Memories Park here featuring a larger-than-life Adirondack chair, a tandem bicycle, Chevy truck, and hay wagon.

Tour the Museum of World Treasures

Exterior of the Museum of World Treasures

Museumworldtreasures, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Prepare for a long tour if you want to fully appreciate the exhibits of the Museum of World Treasures on East 1st Street.

Its displays revolve around several themes including natural history, military, ancient civilizations, and American history.

You will also explore sub-themes in each of these exhibits in the Museum of World Treasures.

Exhibit in the Museum of World Treasures

Wildcat313, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The natural history displays, for instance, has a fossil gallery where you’ll see the skeleton of a real T-Rex.

In the world civilization exhibits, mummified remains come as one of the attractions of the gallery on ancient Egypt.

An extensive military history collection, a Hall of American Presidents, and a piece of the Berlin Wall are also among the various displays at the Museum of World Treasures.

Discover Something New at Exploration Place

Exterior of Exploration Place

Nagel Photography /

Surprise your family with the unique discoveries everyone can enjoy at Exploration Place on North Mc Lean Boulevard.

This science museum offers interactive and one-of-a-kind learning experiences from its displays.

Exploration Place offers permanent exhibits where you can learn first-hand how to rivet an airplane wing, then send your designed aircraft on a flight test.

Facade of Exploration Place

Bryan_Smith /

Other displays will let you experience chucking buffalo chips or ruling of a medieval castle.

At Exploration Place, there’s also an exhibit on Kansas’ history which includes a miniature model of the state during the 1950s.

After enjoying these displays, you can drop by the Science Store of the Exploration Place for science-themed educational toys, gifts and souvenirs.

Focus on the Environment at the Great Plains Nature Center

A turtle at Great Plains Nature Center

Richard345 /

The Great Plains Nature Center offers free admission to its facility located on East 29th Street North.

Here, the whole family can enjoy and appreciate the natural environment via interactive educational displays.

The Great Plains Nature Center presents these exhibits on plants and wildlife at its Koch Habitat Hall.

Besides these displays, the nature center also holds regular events celebrating nature.

These include naturalist-led lectures and storytelling programs wherein guests also have the chance to meet one of the center’s animal ambassadors.

Explore Chisholm Creek Park

Wooden bridge trail at Chisholm Creek Park

Jordan Fitzpatrick /

Chisholm Creek Park spreads over 282 acres of pristine natural environment off east of North Oliver Street.

You can explore this park via a 2.5-mile trail system meandering across restored and natural prairies, ponds, wetlands, and woodlands.

Chisolm Creek Park is a botanist’s wonder, with its 125 species of wildflowers and 38 kinds of shrubs and trees.

The park is also a habitat for 160 bird species. 20 species of mammals, 21 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 13 fish species.

A trek of the Chisolm Creek Park opens the opportunity for sightings of charming wildlife like white-tailed deer, mink, muskrat, turtles, turkey, egrets, wild ducks, herons, kites, and hawks.

Final Thoughts

The “Air Capital of the World” is a piece of heaven on earth.

Its breathtaking natural wonders are something you don’t want to miss.

Do you want to head out for some adventure with friends and family?

Wichita got some of the best escape rooms and arcade houses.

Don’t forget to add Wichita to your bucket list for whatever level of fun you’re looking for.

Start planning your trip today!

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