Top Things to Do in Wichita | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Wichita

Cowboys pushing cattle across the Kansas prairie longed for a view of Wichita on the horizon. Today, the city of almost 400,000 still makes a great stop. Check out our list of what to do, where to eat and where to stay.


Botanica, The Wichita Gardens Twenty-seven themed gardens and a butterfly house encourage quiet walks and hands-on learning. At the Downing Children’s Garden, even adults can’t resist plunking away on unconventional instruments.


Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Exploration Place Design an airplane seat, peek inside a luxury jet and test landing gear at the Design Build Fly exhibit in this interactive museum.

Field Station: Dinosaurs More than 40 life-size animatronic dinosaurs roar in a dreamland for budding paleontologists in Derby (11 miles south of Wichita). Live shows and an 18-hole Jurassic-theme mini golf course add to the fun.

Field Station: Dinosaurs

Field Station: Dinosaurs. Photo: Doug Stremel.

Kansas Aviation Museum A revamped airport terminal showcases historical aircraft while illustrating the state’s role in the evolution of flight.

Keeper of the Plains For 15 minutes each night, fire drums erupt with flames around this riverfront statue honoring Native Americans.

Keeper of the Plains

Mid-America All-Indian Center See a collection of works by renowned Native American sculptor Blackbear Bosin. A museum of native art tells the Plains Indian story.

Museum of World Treasures The theme is ambiguous at this Old Town collection, but the 12,000 artifacts all enlighten. Three floors display the likes of a Berlin Wall segment, Egyptian mummies and the Scarecrow’s pitchfork from The Wizard of Oz.

Nifty Nut House The 72-year-old family-owned business satisfies salty and sweet cravings with 4,500 items, including nuts, fudge and dried fruit. Food Network star Alton Brown called it “a national treasure."

Old Cowtown Museum The 19th-century living-history town and farm includes a blacksmith’s shop, daily gunfight shows and a saloon serving sarsaparilla.

Old Cowtown Museum

Old Cowtown Museum

Paramount Antique Malls Two locations offer browsing among dozens of booths. Need a break? Sink into the leather couch and sip free coffee.

Sedgwick County Zoo More than 3,000 animals— including a herd of elephants from drought-stricken Swaziland—thrive in spacious habitats at one of the top-ranked zoos in the United States.

Sedgwick County Zoo

Sedgwick County Zoo

Riverfest Wichita’s huge annual celebration (late May to early June) draws crowds for the Sundown Parade, fireworks, concerts, food, sporting events, arts and crafts fair, and more.

Tanganyika Wildlife Park Giraffes and lemurs (and many of the other 300-plus residents) eat from guests’ hands in nearby Goddard.

Wichita Art Museum Glasswork—by Steuben and contemporary artists—makes up a big part of the more than three centuries of American art on display. The garden features 80 species of plants and 13 sculptures. 

Wichita Art Museum

Wichita Art Museum. Photo: Ryan Donnell.


AVI Seabar and Chophouse Jumbo lump crab cakes and salmon fillets burst with flavor. Check out the black-and-white images of trains honoring the Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway (AVI). AVI Seabar on Facebook

Bite Me BBQ Known for its giant ribs, the Old Town joint also gets props for its extensive condiment bar that includes habanero- brined cucumbers. If you prefer to drink your dinner, try the bloody mary that comes with a sparerib, hot link, burnt end and more.

Central Standard Brewing Head to an open-air shed with a variety of cozy seating for tastes of funky brews like the Red Cicada, made with Kansas salt, hibiscus flowers, ginger and lime. Another favorite: the bold, citrusy Wizard of Hops IPA.

Central Standard Brewing

Central Standard Brewing. Photo: Ryan Donnell.

Chester’s Chophouse and Wine Bar Mahogany and leather warm this date-night destination serving steaks, plus some Italian dishes and fish.

The Donut Whole It’s part coffee bar, part performance center, but mostly the place for doughnuts. Toppings include Fruity Pebbles, bacon or Hydrox cookies.

Doo-Dah Diner This highway-side lunch and dinner spot plates from-scratch items with twists (banana bread French toast topped with apple slices, apple butter and salted pecans).

Hangar One Steakhouse The atmosphere immerses guests in flight: A C-45 cargo plane stretches from the dining room out into the parking lot, and the building resembles an airplane hangar and looks out on a runway. The menu follows suit with King Air filet and Piper Cub chicken strips.

Harvest Kitchen and Bar The ever-changing menu at this eatery inside the Wichita Hyatt Regency highlights regional vendors and locally sourced ingredients.

Larkspur Bistro and Bar Jazz music played on a baby grand piano accompanies meals of handmade pasta, fresh seafood and juicy steaks.

Lemongrass: Taste of Vietnam Vietnamese and French cuisine blend in an Old Town gem dishing fresh crawfish, pho and fried bananas.

Pop-Up Urban Park Food trucks appear between downtown office buildings each weekday at noon (and around the city on weekends). Nosh on Korean street tacos, s’mores crepes and other eclectic eats.

Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper There is no place for 21st-century cynicism during this dinner and show, 20 minutes outside of town. Come ready to experience cowboy music and comedy.

Sabor Latin Bar and Grille Inventive starters, like crispy plantain chips with chimichurri, complement mains such as paella, tacos and pupusas.

Sabor Latin Bar and Grille

Sabor Latin Bar and Grille

Wine Dive It’s not really much of a dive (decor tends toward the dark and sleek), and the wine list enhances meals like wild boar Bolognese.

YaYa’s Euro Bistro It’s hard to complain about a good steak in cattle country, but if you’re in need of a change, try YaYa’s. The menu offers fresh options, including wood-fired pizzas, hummus, Idaho rainbow trout and gnocchi.


Ambassador Hotel A neoclassic 1926 exterior hints at luxury inside. Sip cocktails at speakeasy-style Dockum in the basement.

Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview You’ll love the granite counters, soft beds, stellar service and tasty hot breakfast in this beautiful 1922 property. 

Hotel at Old Town This 1906 warehouse-turned-hotel preserves its vintage feel with classic furniture in the atrium and an original water tower on the rooftop.

The Inn at Tallgrass Stay in mod studios or apartment- like units with full kitchens and fireplaces. Lounge at a spa and outdoor pool.

For information: Visit Wichita

Day trip

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Hike to observation platforms for prime viewing of Sandhill cranes and other migratory birds in Stafford (85 miles west of Wichita). To date, 344 bird species have been seen in the salt marshes, sand prairie and woodlands.


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