Wichita is a city in Kansas that is located on the Arkansas River in the south-central part of the state. Originally, it was a trading post on the Chisholm Trail, and it became a city in 1870. It is an important part of industry in Kansas, especially the manufacturing and aviation industries. In addition to being an industrial hub, it is a regional center of culture, media, and trade. Therefore, it is a popular tourist destination. There are plenty of things to see and do if this is your chosen destination, and there are activities and attractions to suit everyone. Here are the 19 best things to do in Wichita, KS for first-timers.
19. Dine at Newport Grill
There are many outstanding places to eat in Wichita, with options for both traditional local cuisine and international foods, and with both casual eateries and fine dining options available. One of the best places to eat in this city is Newport Grill. The menu consists of both classic and traditional American dishes, and it is equally good regardless of whether you visit at lunch or dinner. It is especially known for its diverse selection of seafood dishes and for serving top-quality steaks. One of the reasons that this is such a popular food destination is because of the stunning water views from the dining room.
18. Go to the Wichita Toy Train Club and Museum
If you are in Wichita with children, then a popular attraction to visit is the Wichita Toy Train Club and Museum. This attraction was founded by a group of people who were enthusiasts and collectors of toy trains. There are several working toy trains set up in their scenic toy surroundings, along with displays of toy trains and collectible items relating to toy train brands. These are displayed in more than 50-feet of display cases. Most of the items are for display purposes only. However, there are some items with which visitors can interact under the supervision of the staff.
17. See a Performance at Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center
For evening entertainment, an excellent option is to see a performance at the Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center. Various performances and entertainment events take place at this venue throughout the year. These vary from music to comedy, and from dance to drama. Check what is on before embarking on your visit to Wichita and book tickets in advance if there is anything you fancy.
16. Explore Old Town Wichita
Each district of Wichita has something different to offer, and a great area for tourists to visit is Old Town Wichita. This covers an area of four blocks, and it is a historic district with some of the oldest buildings in the area alongside converted warehouses. Some of the older buildings have now been transformed into modern shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, and various entertainment facilities. It is a good place to visit during your stay as you can admire the diversity of the buildings, grab a bite to eat, and go shopping. It is also where the farmer’s market is held, and various festivals and events take place in this part of the city throughout the year.
15. Visit the Kansas Aviation Museum
Wichita is famous for its links to the aviation industry, so it is worth learning more about this during your visit. The best place for such a learning experience is at the Kansas Aviation Museum. This is one of the most popular destinations for aviation enthusiasts in the world. This museum’s goal is to preserve the state’s aviation history and to educate visitors about this industry in both the past and the present. Visitors can enjoy authentic aircraft, aviation-themed displays, educational materials, and hands-on materials. You can opt to take either a guided or self-guided tour.
14. Go to the Mid-America All-Indian Center
The culture and history of the Native American peoples are celebrated at the Mid-America All-Indian Center. There are displays of original tribal artifacts alongside interpretive educational displays. You will see interesting collections of artwork, jewelry, pottery, beadwork, pipe bags, and baskets. One of the highlights is the display of more than 70 flags of various tribes from across North America.
13. Keeper of the Plains Plaza
To get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, a wonderful place to spend some time in a peaceful environment is Keeper of the Plains Plaza. This is a public park in downtown Wichita that has paved and dirt trails, sports courts, picnic areas, and shelters. There are also four inland lakes that are used for various recreational activities, including boating, fishing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. If you are in Wichita with your children, this is a free place to take them to let off some steam and enjoy the outdoors. You can try some of the water activities and then enjoy a picnic together.
12. Learn About 19th-Century Life in Kansas at Old Cowtown Museum
In the early days, Wichita was a Cowtown. Visitors to the city can revisit these times when they spend a day at the Old Cowtown Museum. This is one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in the Midwest. It is located by the banks of the Arkansas River. The open-air museum consists of a combination of historic buildings and buildings that have been recreated to reflect life between 1860 and 1880. Visitors can take tours of the various buildings to learn more about life in Wichita during this era. The staff wears period costumes, which adds to the authenticity of the experience.
11. See a Performance by Wichita Symphony Orchestra
Music lovers visiting the city should try to see a performance by the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. This world-class orchestra was formed in 1944, and it consists of three musical ensembles. These include the Singing Quakers Alumni Choir, the Wichita Symphony Chorus, and the Wichita State University Chamber Players. If you want to see one of their performances, check when and where they are performing before visiting, and book tickets in advance.
10. Go to the Great Plains Transportation Museum
The Crazy Tourist recommends a visit to the Great Plains Transportation Museum. During the spring and summer months, it is open seven days a week. It has a fantastic collection of locomotive engines, carriages, and various other artifacts relating to railroad transport. This is an interesting attraction regardless of whether you are a train enthusiast or not.
9. Visit Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum
An interesting museum to visit if you want to learn more about the area’s history is the Sedgwick County Historical Museum. It is dedicated to teaching the public about the heritage of Wichita and preserving the city’s history. There are four floors of exhibits to explore, including many interactive elements.
8. See the Art at Wichita Art Museum
Art enthusiasts enjoying a vacation in Wichita should set aside a few hours to see the art at the Wichita Art Museum. This is one of the oldest galleries in Wichita, and it is located in the downtown area. Although there are various collections, the main focus of this museum is American based artists. There are both permanent and temporary collections. The museum also has a small outdoor garden with various sculptures and installations.
7. Have Fun at Exploration Place
A fun day out for all the family is Exploration Place. This is a large science and learning center that sits on a plot of 20 acres. There is a moat surrounding the center, so you must access the grounds across a walkway. Inside the center, it is an interactive experience with opportunities for scientific learning in an entertaining way. There is something for both adults and children at this attraction.
6. Go to Great Plains Nature Center
Nature lovers and those who enjoy the outdoors should go to the Great Plains Nature Center. This is a large complex that has both indoor and outdoor preserves. The focus of this attraction is the flora and fauna of the Great Plains Region. Visitors can explore the various ecosystem preserves, and they can also enjoy an array of exhibits and informative displays. The aim is for visitors to connect to the environment. Some of the features of the center include trails, a wildlife observatory, bird watching platforms, classes, and workshops.
5. Stroll Around Botanica Wichita Gardens
A popular attraction, and one recommended by Planetware, is a visit to Botanica Wichita Gardens. It is particularly popular during spring and summer when thousands of daffodils and tulips fill the gardens with color. There are 30 sections in the garden, each with a different focus. A popular section of the garden is the Butterfly House, which has several butterfly habitats. For children visiting the gardens, there is the Downing Children’s Garden.
4. Visit the Museum of World Treasures
Although there are many museums in Wichita, one of the most fascinating is the Museum of World Treasures. While many museums concentrate on one era of history or focus on a specific subject or place, this museum has artifacts from many periods, covering multiple subjects, and from across the globe. On the first floor, the highlight is the three dinosaurs. There are also Roman coins and an Egyptian mummy. On the second floor, you can learn about military history, world leaders, and royalty from around the world. Move up to the third floor, and you will find art, literature, sports artifacts, and movie memorabilia.
3. Go to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House
Those who enjoy history and architecture should go to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House. Frank Lloyd Wright is a famous designer from Wichita, and he designed his home himself. It was the last property he designed in his Prairie collection. His intention was to make this home feel like its visitors were connecting with nature and the surroundings, and it is his interpretation of prairie living. Although it was designed in 1915, it has been restored to what it was like in 1918. Visitors can tour the house and museum by appointment only., and the tours last for approximately an hour and a half.
2. See the Animals at Sedgwick County Zoo
A top activity that all the family can enjoy is a day at Sedgwick County Zoo, which you will find on West Zoo Boulevard. There are more than three thousand animals in the zoo, and these are grouped according to their geographical natural habitats. For example, the Africa region has gorillas and hippopotamuses, while the North America region features grizzly bears. A popular area is the Cessna Penguin Cove, as these flightless birds are always entertaining to watch.
1. Visit the Ulrich Museum of Art
According to Vacation Idea, the best thing to do in Wichita, KS for first-timers is to visit the Ulrich Museum of Art. This gallery is in the grounds of Wichita State University. It contains both traditional and contemporary modern art, and there are both permanent and temporary exhibitions. The art on display is predominantly from the 20th and 21st-centuries. Once you have seen everything inside the museum, head outdoors to see the 76 sculptures in the Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection.
Written by Liz Flynn
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