From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, with over 390,000 residents calling it home. It’s located in the south-central region of the state and is situated on the Arkansas River, providing beautiful river views right from the city. Wichita is also home to several universities, large museums, theaters, parks, and entertainment venues, making it an important cultural hub for the region.
Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Wichita has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.
Ready to discover the best of Wichita, Kansas? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Looking to leave the bustling city behind in favor of Mother Nature? Luckily for you, Wichita has numerous state parks and recreation areas nearby, all offering fun activities and the tranquillity of the great outdoors.
The closest state park to the city is Cheney State Park, which is just over a half-hour drive from Wichita. It’s located on the Cheney Reservoir, offering plenty of fun water activities, such as boating and fishing. There are also 3 nature trails including a 5 mile bicycle and walking trail, as well as over 400 primitive campsites, over 200 electrical hookup sites with water, and so much more.
Around an hour’s drive north-west of Wichita is the Sand Hills State Park, which has been preserved for its scenic sand dunes, grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands. Here, visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, horseback riding, hunting, bird watching, and more.
Around a 40-minute drive north-east of the city will take you to El Dorado State Park, which is situated on the tranquil El Dorado Lake. It’s one of the most popular state parks within the state due to its picturesque setting, as well as its offering of activities such as camping, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.
If you fancy heading around an hour-and-a-half’s drive north-east of Wichita, you’ll end up at one of the most famous parks within the state: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. This 11,000-acre nature preserve is home to a popular Visitor’s Center, as well as historic buildings. There are also nature trails, guided tours, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing to enjoy here.
A little further away from the city (around 100 miles north) is Mushroom Rock State Park, which is famous for – you guessed it – its mushroom shaped rock. It’s known as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography, while Mushroom Rock is the smallest, but one of the most unique, state parks in Kansas. There are trails to enjoy here, as well as scheduled events from time-to-time.
If you’re still looking to explore more of Wichita by foot, then perhaps a hike in or outside of the city is in order? These two trails don’t just offer magnificent views and natural scenery, but are also the two most popular walks within the area.
Located within Pawnee Prairie Park is a 3.5 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail that passes by a river and is a great choice for all skill levels. It’s accessible year-round and passes by a river, giving hikers a chance to admire the scenery and wildlife (particularly birds). Your dog can join too, as long as they are on a leash.
If you’re looking for another pleasant walk within the city, the Chisholm Creek trail is for you. It’s a paved 2.7km loop trail that passes by, and through, multiple rivers and streams, making it a scenic way to spend an hour or two. It’s best used from April until September and is suitable for all skill levels.
Stomach rumbling? Whether you’re craving a casual spot for lunch or the luxury of fine dining, Wichita is filled to the brim with eateries worth noting. Here are our favorites!
Doo-Dah Diner is a Midwest favorite, serving the best breakfast, brunch, and lunch in Wichita. In fact, their scratch made gourmet comfort food has them voted as a #1 Restaurant favorite in Kansas and Missouri. Try their favorites, including the Banana Bread French Toast, Crispy Corned Beef Hash, and Tanya’s Benny!
It has been named as one of the best BBQ restaurants, not just in Wichita, but the whole of Kansas! Bite Me BBQ is famous for their smoked sandwiches and BBQ dinners, but also serve fantastic appetizers and drinks to accompany their popular meals. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!
Fancy a Mexican fiesta down by the water? Located on the Wichita Waterfront is Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant, which prides itself on serving delicious, made-from-scratch Mexican food at everyday prices. Locals and visitors love to flock here for their traditional dishes, including fajitas, burritos, tacos, and so much more.
If you’re looking for the best burger in town, locals will direct you to Dempsey's Burger Pub at Clifton Square, which uses angus beef from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas, as well as fresh bread from Farm to Market Bread Co. in Kansas City. There are also vegetarian and vegan options, so no one has to miss out!
For French cuisine and finery, head to George’s French Bistro in the city. It embraces the culture of dining at a true French bistro, so you can enjoy menu favorites such as French Onion Soup, Steak Frites and Escargot, or Creme Brûlée. Go on, treat yourself!
Wondering “what’s next?” Well, when it comes to Wichita’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
If you and your family are looking for a way to pass the day, look no further than these fantastic activities.
Who doesn’t love a family trip to the zoo? The Sedgwick County Zoo is home to 3,000 individual animals of nearly 400 species. Along with viewing native and exotic animals from near and afar, visitors can also partake in activities such as giraffe feeding, boat tours, and tram tours.
Visitors of all ages can’t help but love Exploration Place. After all, it’s Kansas’ premier science center, which aims to inspire a deeper interest in science through creative and fun experiences for people of all ages. There are both traveling and permanent exhibitions, covering everything from the sun, earth, and universe, to music, art, science, and so much more.
What should you do in Wichita once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
At the popular All-Star Adventures in Wichita, you can enjoy activities such as Miniature Golf, Go-Karts, Bumper Boats, Bumper Cars, and more – whether it’s just you and your date, your entire family or a group birthday party. It’s open as late as 9 p.m., giving you plenty of time for a post-dinner activity.
Where can you find all of the action in Wichita at night? At the Old Town District, of course! Old Town is a bustling shopping and entertainment district home to more than 100 different businesses, making it a sought-out destination for its restaurants, shopping, and things to do. You’ll love its brick-lined streets and collection of converted brick warehouses dating back to the mid-1800s.
Looking to save a dollar or two during your Wichita excursion? There are plenty of activities and attractions that can be visited on a budget, helping you to get the most out of your time spent in the city.
For just $3 - $10 admission (children under 5 are free), you can access all that the Wichita Art Museum has to offer, including its numerous exhibitions, 10,000+ art and object collection, programs, events, café, shop, and art garden. It’s certainly one inexpensive, yet fulfilling, day out.
It isn’t hard to see why the Museum of World Treasures is one of the most popular attractions within Wichita. At less than $10 admission per person, you can gain access to numerous exhibits, which feature artifacts from around the world and throughout time. Learn about fossils, sea creatures of the plains, multiple wars, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Africa, and so very much more.
If you’re looking to make the most out of your time spent in Wichita, then look no further than these recommended activities. Oh, and did we mention they’re completely free?
The Keeper of the Plains is a 44-foot tall steel sculpture standing at the point where the Big and Little Arkansas rivers join together in downtown Wichita. This land between the two rivers is sacred ground to the Native American people and is also home to the Mid-America All-Indian Center. The Ring of Fire around the Keeper of the Plains is lit daily at wither 7 p.m. or 9 p.m., depending on the season.
Sedgwick County Park is located within the city, but it has a lot to offer – all with free admission, of course! Enjoy four lakes, over four miles of pathways, fishing, biking, jogging, playgrounds and shelters for your family activities. There are also numerous sporting activities to make use of, including basketball courts, horseshoe pits, softball hill, tennis courts, rollerblade hockey, and more.
If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
Healing Waters is an award-winning spa providing Wichita locals and visitors with day spa services including massages, body treatments, anti-aging facials, chemical peels and other advanced skin care treatments, as well as medical aesthetics and plastic surgery services. They provide a retreat from life’s chaos and encourage tranquillity.
Located in the Historic Delano District is Bohemia Healing Spa, which specializes in in therapeutic massage, facials, reiki, waxing, indulgent and healing wraps, and more. Their mission is simple: to improve quality of life by reducing stress and pain and reconnecting the mind and body with focused intention and a healing touch.
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Wichita is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
Why take part in average Yoga, when you can enjoy the benefits of Hot Asana Yoga? Hot Asana Yoga Studio offers high intensity yoga practices that will push you beyond what you thought was possible. They also provide unique classes such as stand up paddle board yoga and handstand workshops.
If you ask the locals which gym they recommend, the majority will point you in the direction ofVASA Fitness on Georgetown Street. This huge gym has amenities you dream of, including a fitness cinema, indoor pool, spa, sauna, KidCare, free WiFi for members, an expansive cardio deck, and so much more. It’s a ‘gym-with-the-lot’!
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Wichita without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this large city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
Fancy a trip to ‘Little Sweden’? Lindsborg is just over an hour’s drive from the city and will make you feel as though you’ve just arrived in Sweden, on the other side of the world. This small community is proud of its Scandinavian heritage – all of which you can experience through the architecture, food, and attractions. Look out for the Dala horse sculptures dotted around the town, its charming and colorful bed and breakfasts, and the popular Heritage Square.
Craving the sights, sounds, and smells of an even larger city? Oklahoma City is around a two-and-a-half hour’s drive south and is home to top attractions such as the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City Zoo, and so much more. If you can’t fit all of your chosen activities into a single day, why not stay for the weekend?
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Wichita that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Wichita? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.