Whether you’re on vacation, passing through, or lived here all your life, Wichita is a Midwestern gem. With tons of fun things to do, places to eat, and warm, friendly people to meet, the memory-making possibilities are endless. If you’ve never been to Wichita, make sure to stay awhile and treat yourself to a Kansas sunset.
Located in the heart of America’s heartland, Wichita is the largest city in Kansas. Founded in 1864 as a trading post, Wichita soon became a premier cattle town. Today, the cowboy spirit is alive and well. For those who love a good burger or brisket sandwich, you’ll be happy you made it to Wichita.
The city grew rapidly throughout the 20th century due to a prosperous meatpacking industry as well being as a center for aircraft manufacturing. Wichita or the “air capital of the world” has produced over a quarter million aircraft since 1919.
Now, this town provides an exciting mix of cowboy pastimes and contemporary pleasures, offering everything from rodeos to art museums. Whether you’ve just flown in or have been a local for years, there’s always something to learn and do in Wichita.
Restaurants, art galleries, museums, and recreational opportunities all abound in this vibrant, growing city, but where do you start? Right here — these are the top ten fun things to do in Wichita.
1. Old Town District
Old Town is the place to be for shopping, dining, and arts and culture. Located in the heart of the heart, you’ll find an array of art galleries, unique gift shops, tantalizing eateries, museums, and live entertainment. Plus it’s all situated among brick warehouses from the 1800s celebrating an industrious past. However, there’s always something new going on in Old Town.
You can spend a day browsing antique treasures at Bondie’s Old Town Antique Mall and then refuel at the Pumphouse, a 1931 gas station. Now a bar and grill, you might catch a live band at the Pumphouse or walk in on trivia night.
If you like your drinks with a view, you can enjoy a cocktail atop a rooftop at Industry Old Town bar and cocktail lounge. If you prefer a sweet treat to end a day of shopping, browsing, and sunshine, make sure to stop at the family-run Old Mill Tasty Shop. Operating since 1932, this favorite of both locals and tourists is a trip back in time for an old-fashioned ice cream cone or milkshake.
2. The Keeper of the Plains
The Keeper of the Plains is a Wichita icon. This 44-foot tall steel sculpture with arms outstretched to the vast, open sky captures the courageous spirit of the land and the hopes and dreams of its inhabitants. Donated by Native American artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974, this sculpture sits atop a 30-foot-high rock guarding the city of Wichita.
You can visit the Keeper of the Plains for free at any hour of the day. In fact, you can make a whole day out of a trip to this famous Wichita statue. Borrow a bike at Bike Share ICT or take a stroll along the Arkansas River Path to explore many of Wichita’s attractions and make your way to the statue. If you wait until evening, you may catch an awe-inspiring light display.
Every evening, depending on the weather, firepots surrounding the statue are set ablaze for the nightly, and ceremonious, Ring of Fire display — where the firepots burn and illuminate the Keeper of the Plains for fifteen minutes. Not too many Americans can say their city is protected by a sacred statue — just one of the characteristics that make Wichita unforgettable.
3. Old Cowtown Museum
Have you ever wanted to travel back to the late 19th century to explore a town and its way of life? Well, if you visit Wichita, your time-traveling dreams will come true, and there’s no expensive high-tech time traveling equipment needed.
The Old Cowtown Museum invites you to explore their 54 recreated buildings, from an old-time general store to a cowboy-style saloon. Although fun, this place is no joke — twenty-seven of the buildings are original and have been relocated from Wichita and other areas in Kansas. Everything in Cowtown appears to have been frozen in time for you to enjoy.
You’ll forget the year and all your troubles as you wander the dirt roads of Cowtown and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a long-gone era. For a complete educational experience, the Old Cowtown Museum offers 10,000 Wichita artifacts to absorb at your leisure.
This museum is a great way to start a Wichita vacation because you’ll learn all about Wichita’s fascinating past, from the frontier days to its manufacturing glory. This interactive museum is fun for families, couples, or the solo traveler.
What does every American town have? You might say a jail, a post office, stores, taverns, and a doctor are a few of the necessities. Cowtown has you covered. There aren’t any rooms for rent, though, unfortunately.
4. Great Plains Nature Center
The Great Plains cover parts of ten of states, including Kansas. This stretch of semiarid grassland runs about 3,000 miles long and 300 to 700 miles wide. For some, it’s the picture of heartland America. For others, it’s home.You can learn allabout the Great Plains and experience its magic first-hand at the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita. Explore 3,500 square feet of exhibits in the Koch Habitat Hall and learn how the prairie, its streams, wetlands, and rivers looked before European settlers changed the land. You’ll also have the chance to check out the 2,200-gallon aquarium and gorgeous wildlife murals. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to look out over Chisholm Creek Park from the Bob Gress Wildlife Observatory.
After you’ve learned about Wichita wildlife, experience the plains and apply the knowledge you’ve acquired in Chisholm Creek Park. With 282 acres and over two miles of paved trails, you’ll get to take in the peaceful beauty of restored prairies, wetlands, and woodlands. If the timing is right, you might catch a glimpse of one of the many mammal, bird, reptile, or amphibian species inhabiting the park. If you are really lucky, you might even have a close encounter.
5. Museum of World Treasures
Did you know you can examine ancient Egyptian mummies, World War II relics, and shrunken heads all at the same place? The Museum of World Treasures is a goldmine for the mind, where you can travel back in time and also around the globe.
Great for families or solo travelers, the Museum of World Treasures is filled with fascinating cultural and historical gems. With three floors covering everything from ancient civilizations to sea creatures of the Great Plains, make sure you leave plenty of time to see it all. The Museum of World Treasures is filled with intrigue and is a worthwhile stop for tourists or locals.
6. Sedgwick County Zoo
Kansas is home to many great zoos, and the Sedgwick County Zoo is one of the best. With a mission to “inspire discovery, appreciation, and respect for animals and nature,” the Sedgwick County Zoo has received national and international recognition for its support of conservation programs and successful breeding of endangered species. This zoo cares about its animals as well as its visitors.
This family-fun attraction offers convenient free parking, a free tram tour of the zoo, and plenty of rest stops to recharge. It’s easy to spend an entire day at the Sedgwick County Zoo, and it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature and get close to animals from all over the world.
You can feed giraffes at the giraffe feeding station or take a boat tour for a view of the zoo you’ll never forget. Get acquainted with gorillas in the Downing Gorilla Forest or watch elephants chill out at the world’s largest elephant pool. You might wish to view colorful birds flutter their wings in a tropical jungle or observe tiger behavior from an observation tower. If you are fascinated by animals of all kinds, then you definitely don’t want to skip a trip to Sedgwick.
7. Prairie Sunset Trail
Have a few days to spend in Wichita? Get a healthy dose of physical exercise and soak in the natural beauty of Kansas from a bike or by foot. The Prairie Sunset Trail is the perfect spot for a leisurely bike ride, jog, or stroll. This 15-mile-long trail is located five miles from downtown Wichita and provides a scenic break from the city.
Enjoy a bicycle cruise over bridges and past farmland, streams, and wooded areas. You’ll have many opportunities to view wildlife along the way, and you’ll get to experience a view of native plants. The Prairie Sunset Trail makes for pleasant plain exploration, and when you’re all done with your journey, you can head back to town and relax with a cold drink and a hearty meal at one of the city’s many restaurants or bars.
8. Wichita Art Museum
Every great city needs an art museum to showcase the creative soul, diversity, and energy of its citizens. Founded in 1935, the Wichita Art Museum offers a variety of inspiring exhibits from the art of the American West to masterpieces from all over the globe, as well as thought-provoking contemporary pieces. Creative inspiration extends beyond the museum walls to the garden.
Surrounding the building is a 24-hour Art Garden which features eight acres of outdoor sculptures and lush vegetation. Enjoy a dreamy mood among plants and art under a moonlit Wichita sky. A stroll in the Art Garden can be romantic and fun — and it shows support for the arts.
With ever-changing exhibits, a trip to the Wichita Art Museum is a great way to enhance the overall Wichita experience. What could be better than to process the history and culture of this Midwest city than to view it through the eyes of its artists? As a bonus, you can stop in the gift shop for a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
9. Wichita’s Troll
Wichita is not only home to exotic animals, cowboy towns, and ancient artifacts, but also quirky monsters that live under the ground. We are speaking of the Wichita Troll. That’s right — Wichita has its very own troll. What more could you ask for?
Although you may want to keep a young child away from the troll to avoid nightmares, older children will likely get a kick out of this bizarre public sculpture.
Located under a grate close to the Keeper of the Plains, you will find the 5-foot-tall, 200-pound bronze troll sculpture looking up at you. This goblin-like statue was created by Wichita artist Connie Ernatt, and it surely adds an element of surprise and unconventional beauty to the area. It would be hard to walk past this whimsical icon without taking notice of its green skin, pointy ears, and snaggle-toothed grimace. Some may say he’s ugly, but he’s loved all the same.
This troll also has a story to tell, and he did not always have it easy. At one point, vandals stole his necklace and removed his arm. Fortunately, with a few repairs, the troll is like-new and safe and sound.
10. Club Rodeo
Ready to put on your best pair of cowboy or cowgirl boots and hit the town like a true Wichitan? Although our final fun thing to do on this list is not exactly family-friendly, it’s still worth mentioning. You might want to hire a babysitter for a night to get down and dirty at Club Rodeo. You’re sure to have an experience you’ll never forget.
Every Friday and Saturday night, you’ll have the chance to watch live bull riding at Club Rodeo’s indoor arena. Kick back with some cold ones and cheer on the cowboys who compete for a cash prize. If you happen to be in town on a Wednesday, Club Rodeo features Ladies Night for drink specials and contests.
Club Rodeo is currently only open three days a week, which may be a good thing. This isn’t the type of place you want to head to the night before an important work appointment. Club Rodeo is all about the music, dancing, bull riding, and having a blast with a lively crowd.
Join Us at Chisholm’s for Good Times and Unbeatable Beef
Are you looking for a relaxing place to eat near Wichita’s national airport? Are you hungry for bold flavors, a family-friendly atmosphere, and genuine hospitality? Visit us at Chisholm’s American Beef and Ale House, located only minutes from the airport for hearty, comforting, and downright delicious meals.
If you want the full Wichita experience, you can’t beat Chisolm’s. Our restaurant is not a steakhouse — it’s a beef house. And just like Wichita, we strive to preserve the pioneering spirit of the Great Plains with fearless flavors, inventive cocktails, select draft beers, and an atmosphere that makes you want to pull up a chair, gather with friends, and enjoy the moment. Whether you want breakfast, lunch, or dinner, round up friends and family and head over to Chisholm’s or make a reservation today!