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22 Staycation Ideas in Wichita

Category: Local Area | Posted: February 25, 2020

Seeking a city with a burgeoning food scene, eclectic events, vibrant family-friendly activities, historically seeped sites, and a bustling night scene?

Look no further than out your window at the heart of America’s Heartland — Wichita, Kansas. 

Tourism in this cattle-town turned Midwest cityscape is trending. Locals are beginning to hop on the hometown bandwagon and plan a staycation in Wichita, where entertaining to-dos fitting every personality and preference are right here in your own backyard. 

Overnight Staycation Ideas in Wichita

Whether you’re seeking Wichita staycation ideas for couples, a gal’s trip, or the entire family, we’ve got a perfect set of ideas to build your overnight itinerary. 

1. Wine and Dine for the Weekend

Foodies, rejoice. Wichita’s dining scene is experiencing a renaissance, thanks in part to the city’s historical roots as both national cattle hub and agrarian epicenter.

Tantalize your taste buds with a full, overnight staycation dedicated to the Wichita food and beverage scene. Organize your weekend to feast in specific Wichita neighborhoods like Old Town, College Hill, the Douglas Design District, or Historic Delano.

Alternatively, you can build a weekend itinerary around must-do dishes, cuisines, or beverage experiences. Some local favorites include:

  • Food truck-hopping around downtown during the warmer months. 
  • Multi-stop brewery tours aboard Brew Wagon Tours or Aero Plains Brewing.
  • Chocolate-making and dessert wine sipping at Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates.
  • Bourbon-tasting at Monarch, which is home to Kansas’ largest selection of this whiskey classic.
  • And many more cooking classes, tutorials, and foodie experiences throughout Wichita.

2. Catch a Show

Take the date-night staple of dinner and the theater to the next level with tickets to any of Wichita’s vibrant comedy clubs, theaters, or performance venues. 

Some serve food and drink, but all serve laughter, drama, and entertainment via plays, concerts, improv, stand-up, and more. Full dinner theaters like Mosley Street Melodrama are great ways to cap off an overnight staycation, featuring a rotating set of musical comedies. Or you can go the classical route with tickets to the Wichita Grand Opera or Wichita Symphony Orchestra. 

Other theater and entertainment venues in Wichita great for your staycation itinerary include:

  • Roxy’s Downtown
  • Music Theatre Wichita
  • The American Theatre Guild
  • Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center

3. Immerse Yourself in Indigenous History

Wichita is home to the Mid-America All-Indian Center, one of the nation’s premier museums and cultural exhibitions dedicated to the Plains Indians and beyond.

Take the afternoon to explore indigenous art, texts, cultural artifacts, tribal flag displays, and more in this renowned museum. The Center also puts on seasonal activities great for couples and families alike, including interactive exhibits with hands-on takeaway goods. 

Plus, the Mid-America All-Indian Center is Kansas’ premier educational resource dedicated to Native American cultural documentation and representation. It’s the place to learn about the indigenous tribes in and around the Great Plains and the tribes across the United States and Canada. 

4. Become a Local Historian

Even lifelong Wichitonians will learn something from a day at the Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum. 

Located in the beautifully restored Old City Hall, the Sedgwick County Historical Museum draws thousands of visitors a year looking to travel back in time and experience the history of Wichita. Plus, the museum is located in the midst of downtown area’s Old Town district, making it an easy stop during an overnight retreat right in the heart of the city. 

5. Visit the Drive-In

Starlite Drive-In provides the perfect evening getaway for couples on a Wichita staycation.

Book a stay at a local bed and breakfast, such as the acclaimed Inn at Glenstrae or Delano Bed & Breakfast. Then grab your popcorn and head over to Starlite for a back-to-back feature presentation that’ll have you feeling like you’ve time traveled to the 1950s. 

6. Road Trip

Does anything scream staycation more than an impromptu road trip? The Wichita metro area and greater Sedgwick County provides plenty of regional attractions for couples, families, and solo-travelers to hit the open road. Escape the city with mini-weekend excursions to:

  • Chickasaw Country
  • Cheney
  • El Dorado
  • Newton
  • Kechi
  • Plus more area towns and hidden gems 

Outdoor Staycation Ideas in Wichita

Wichita’s prairie roots mean a plethora of outdoor and ecotourism opportunities for the intrepid staycationer. Consider any of these outdoor staycation ideas in and around Wichita:

7. Birdwatch in an Observatory

The Great Plains Nature Center (GPNC) provides numerous ways to connect with nature without having to, you know, stray far into nature.

In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, the GPNC is the place to get up and close with Kansas wildlife. Hike the wildlife habitat’s paved trails, explore Habitat Hall, take a fungi, flora, and fauna identification course, and birdwatch with binoculars around the grounds, all in one convenient outdoor Wichita attraction. 

8. Walk the Arkansas River Trail

The renovated river trail abuts the Arkansas River and is filled with parkways, greenery and quiet spots to unwind on your staycation. Stroll its entirety while enjoying the sites and sounds of a slower Wichita, or cruise down its paved pathways on a bike or rollerblades for a fun afternoon outdoors. 

9. Hike Pawnee Prairie Park

Need even more respite from the city? Look no further than Pawnee Prairie Park. It has 620-plus acres tucked along Cowskin Creek, and is the perfect place for a day or weekend camping trip with friends and family. Walkable trails, deer sightings, and more make this a serene spot to get outdoors and enjoy nature when she calls. 

10. Rent a Boat on Lake El Dorado

Few things are as perfect for the local waterfront lover as time spent at Shady Creek Marina.

Rent pontoons, water skis, canoes, and fishing gear for half or full-days out on the water of Lake El Dorado. When hunger strikes, mosey over to the Marina’s main headquarters for a burger and cold beer. Then hit the water all over again.  

11. Mini-Golf (and More) at All Star Adventure

With over 26 attractions crammed into this outdoor theme park, you’ll find no shortage of entertainment at All Star Adventure. Try your luck at arcade games before moving onto a rousing round of mini-golf — then race around the go-cart track, battle it out in padded cages, and hit the Tilt-o-Whirl in the amusement ride section. 

Indoor Staycation Ideas in Wichita

From uncooperative weather to sheer personal preference, there are plenty of reasons to tuck away indoors but still experience a standout staycation. 

Plan your indoor staycation ideas with these must-see Wichita museums, pop-up shopping experiences, and galleries galore:

12. Go Treasure Hunting

The Museum of World Treasures houses it all — even treasure hunts. Prehistoric sea creature fossils from when the Great Plains sat under a great ocean? Check. Grafitti’d chunks of the Berlin Wall? Check. Baseballs signed by Joe DiMaggio? Got it. Amazonian shrunken heads? Yup, that too. 

Take your time exploring over a dozen themed exhibitions. New and seasoned visitors alike will likely always discover something new hidden across the museum’s halls and galleries. Afterward, you can check if the museum has any after-hours events for the cherry on top of this quirky Wichita staycation staple. 

13. Explore Famous Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House is an iconic representation of the 20th-century architect’s signature Prairie-style of design. 

Located on North Roosevelt Street, the home is well within walking range of Old Town, deepening your list of to-dos when staycating in this Wichita neighborhood. 

Sign up an official Allen House tour, then inquire about additional events — particularly the semi-regular “Moonlight” series showcasing the importance of natural and artificial light to the home’s entire, horizontal design. You’ll also learn about the revered architect’s life, as well as the core tenets of Prairie-style design and architecture, blending biography with culture for this can’t-miss Wichita indoor to-do.  

14. Get Lost in Literature

Is there anything more enjoyable on a rainy day than stumbling into a quaint, local bookstore, exploring the stacks before sipping on a house-made cafe au lait?  

That’s exactly what’s in store at Watermark Books and Cafe, a hidden gem delighting locals and out-of-towners alike. You’ll come for the romance of book browsing, but stay for the author readings, poetry slam nights, and pastries of the month.

15. Have a Super Game Night

After a long day traversing the city, stop into one of Wichita’s quaintest, friendliest spots that’s part cafe coffee shop, part board game haven. 

Sente: Games and Refreshments is a local business with a growing reputation for a good cup of coffee and a unique, board game-centric venue twist. With over 400 games available to play, you’ll have no shortage of options to kick back and relax with friends and family while soaking in the slower side of staycation. 

16. Gallery Hop

Wichita’s art scene runs the full spectrum, from well-established museums to pop-up local galleries catering to select art crowds. 

Make a day of both by gallery hopping. Mark Arts and Wichita State University’s Ulrich Museum are both free and open to the public, with their galleries showcasing a wide variety of artists and exhibition types. 

Level-up your artsy staycation scavenger hunt with a visit to the ICT Pop-Up Urban Park, a fusion space where art, food trucks, music, and games come together at this creative downtown venue. 

17. Go Antiquing 

Antiquing in Wichita isn’t complete without stopping at spots like Paramount Antique Mall and Generations Antiques and Artisans, two standout local establishments that are great for a free day indoors. 

Browse the aisles of furniture, clothing, books, and knickknacks at your leisure. You’ll never know what treasures you’ll find. 

Family Staycation Ideas in Wichita

Bring the kids, the grandparents, or even your great aunt to these family-friendly events and activities happening around Wichita:

18. Step Back in Time at Old Cowtown Museum

Get a feel for Wichita’s early pioneer days by visiting the recreated village at the Old Cowtown Museum.

Contrary to the name, you might not find many cows roaming through the frontier streets. But you will find plenty of folks dressed in period garb and signature buildings replicating Wichita across its earliest days, plus interactive games and activities for the whole family.

19. Soar Into the Skies

Wichita is considered the aviation capital of the world. As such, it’s only fitting to add a visit to the Kansas Aviation Museum to your family’s staycation. There, you can check out model planes, flight simulations, and tutorials across history’s most famous aerial battles and pilots come to life. 

The Kansas Aviation Museum is one of the best in the region. Complete your adventures in air and space by visiting Exploration Place, where kids can learn both the science, mechanics, and more behind modern flight and other scientific fields and topics. Exploration Place is a truly one-of-a-kind science museum with multiple exhibitions, traveling expos, programs, activities, and special events, all geared towards kids. 

20. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

All that walking and exploring around Wichita is bound to make you hungry. Harness your inner kid in a candy store with a visit to a literal candy emporium — the one and only Nifty Nut House on North Saint Francis Street.

Nifty Nut House has a regional reputation for quality and quantity. Explore aisles and aisles of sweet treats and novelties catering to all tastes, from taffies and toffee to roasted nuts, licorice, hard candy, fudge, chocolate-covered fruits, lollipops and much, much more. It’s more than worth dealing with the kids’ sugar rushes afterward, we promise. Plus, you’ll probably have one, too. 

21. Learn a New Sport

Not just any sport, either. At Chicken N Pickle, your family can foray into the world of pickleball on the venue’s full-scale pickleball court.

The new hotspot is a concept experiment that combines games, sports, entertainment, music, and food. Indoor and outdoor activities year-round include lawn games, concerts, and sports tournaments in Wichita’s warmer months, while the winter means an outdoor ice rink open to patrons. 

Activities span the venue’s interior and outdoor courtyard areas. When the family gets hungry from all that pickleball competition, simply mosey inside for a full restaurant and bar. 

22. Meet Penguins at the Zoo

Waddle into a memorable wildlife experience perfect for the whole family with a backstage ticket to chill with the Sedgwick County Zoo’s Humboldt penguins. 

The Penguin Encounter brings you behind-the-scenes at the Zoo’s Cessna Penguin Cove. There, a penguin keeper provides a full tour of the penguin’s home, relays their care and daily schedule, shares interesting penguin facts and, — last but not least — lets you feed and play with the cute polar crew. If you’re lucky, one may waddle right into your arms.  

Visit Chrisholm’s for a Must-Do Wichita Culinary Experience

Chrisholm’s is a true, heartland beef and ale house designed to curate the true beauty of quality meats, sides, and signature beverages.

Featuring local Wichita ingredients, Chrisholm’s honors the city’s frontier history and enduring pioneer spirit through its unique menu and multi-dimensional set of dining experiences. 

Stop in during your next date night or family outing, or contact us to book a private dining reservation

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