Special thanks to Visit Wichita for hosting our visit! As always, thoughts and opinions are all my own.
There’s no place like Wichita, KS! From must see attractions, to delicious dining, and a relaxing place to stay, my family was wowed by Wichita! Here is how to make the most of your Wichita vacation.
If the closest you’ve gotten to Kansas is reading (or watching) The Wizard of Oz, then you are missing out! As we hopped in I35 to drive from Dallas to Wichita, Kansas, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, other than a chance to visit family and see a new city. While we have driven through Kansas on road-trips many times, I’m now ashamed to say that Kansas had never been our ultimate destination. After spending time in Wichita, I have realized the error of my ways! Wichita is a vibrant city, filled with delectable eats and fantastic attractions. My family was truly wowed by Wichita on our Wichita vacation!
Top Attractions in Wichita, KS
Feeding giraffes was just the start of the fun we had at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. We petted kangaroos, enjoyed being up close and personal with some lemurs, fed pygmy hippos, and got to interact with an okapi. (Learn more about our animal encounters!)
Want to pick up a truly unique gift on your trip and support a local Wichita artist? City Arts houses an exhibition gallery and gift boutique featuring works by local and regional artists. They offer youth and adult art classes, and admission is always free. We got a tour to see some of the classrooms and Littlest was really excited by this mural painted by students and featuring replicas of famous pieces. He instantly noticed several of the famous works including Mona Lisa, The Scream, Starry Starry Night, and others. Just another reason I love his fine arts elementary school!
During our visit to CityArts we were treated to a bucket list experience, a glass blowing activity! (Learn more about our glass blowing experience!)
Does your family love to camp! When we realized that the Coleman headquarters are in Wichita, we had to stop. The Coleman Factory Outlet and Museum is in Wichita’s Old Town District, and inside the store you’ll find great deals on Coleman products as well as some really interesting pieces in the small museum, including some vintage Coleman full-sized home stoves, interior lighting fixtures, and even irons.
Love hats? Wichita is home to the third-largest hat store in the nation! My husband loves hats and has been on the search for a new summer hat, so a quick trip to Hatman Jack’s was in order. The hat store is located in the historic Delano neighborhood, and surrounded by some great places to eat. Founded by a Wichita native, the store offers hats for men, women, and children.
For a group of Texans it was a fun surprise to see so many Canadian Geese at the Great Plains Nature Center! At the Great Plains Nature Center we were able to discover the flora and fauna of North America’s heartland. Inside the nature center is the Koch Habitat Hall where you can learn about the climate of the Great Plains and history of its great prairies, wildlife and plant life.
Don’t worry, these wild turkey statues aren’t attacking Littlest. He’s just having way to much fun posing as we were preparing for our 2-mile walk. There are several trail choices at the Great Plains Nature Center, ranging from 1/2 a mile to 2 miles, that twist through the 240-acre center.
Inside the museum we also really enjoyed the view from the observatory. And a fun surprise inside the observatory? A working beehive! We could lift the cover briefly to see the bees working up close. A tunnel lets the bees go and go from their beehive as they choose. It was fascinating to see the bees coming into the hive and observing the different shades of yellow from the pollen on their legs. The Great Plains Nature Center always offers free admission!
Set aside some time to visit Exploration Place! We love science museums, and Exploration Place is Kansas’ premier science center. Here you can explore the wonders of the world while overlooking the Arkansas River.
The interactive Design Build Fly exhibit features a collection of genuine aircraft parts and assemblies that you can explore closeup. Get ready to pilot an aircraft!
While we were visiting the museum had a traveling exhibit, Planet Shark: Predator or Prey, where we learned all about sharks and what incredible creatures they are. Littlest enjoyed testing out the shark tank!
The museum is full of hands on activities, and you will definitely want to set aside enough time for this attraction!
One attraction in Wichita that you literally cannot miss is The Keeper of the Plains! The 44-foot tall steel scultpure stands at the point where the Big and Little Arkansas rivers join together in downtown Wichita. It also happens to be in the same parking lot as Exploration Place. So after visiting Exploration Place you can just walk over! Stop by the Keeper of the Plains in the evening to see the “Ring of Fire,” which can be viewed nightly for 15 minutes. Be there by 9:00pm to see the Firepot Lighting.
Other attraction recommendations for your Wichita vacation include the Museum of World Treasures, Pizza Hut Museum, Botanica Wichita, Wichita Art Museum, Sedgwick County Zoo, and Mark Arts.
Looking for great photo opps? Stop at one of the murals to take a family photo! Download the Douglas Design District Mural app to find them.
Family Friendly Dining in Wichita, KS
Voted Wichita’s best pizza for 6 years in a row, we loved the thin-crust, NY-style slices at Picasso’s Pizzeria. Enjoy a slice from the 26″ pizza’s that they bake in a brick oven from dough and sauce that are made fresh daily. Ever tried sunflower seeds on a pizza? You can at the two Wichita locations of this cozy family-run restaurant.
Recognized by Thrillest and MSN as :America’s best burger chain you’ve probably enevr heard of,” we made sure to stop at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers for lunch one day! This tasty burger chain started in Wichita and their frozen custard was just what we needed to cool off after a morning spent exploring outdoors. I highly recommend the Signature Turtle sundae!
I pretty much decide during this trip that ice cream needed to happen every day. A Wichita tradition since 1932, Old Mill Tasty Shop serves a wide variety of dishes including their chicken salad sandwich, soda from a marbled-countered soda fountain, and amazing chocolate malts.
Our stop at The Donut Whole was a chance encounter. On our last morning in Wichita we got a recommendation to stop here, and I’m so glad we did. Key Lime Pie donuts? Yes, please! The cases at The Donut Whole are filled with unique and tempting flavors. You’ll fine gluten-free and vegan options here as well.
I couldn’t resist getting one of these donuts with gummy worms on top for Littlest. The name for this particular donut? Snakes on a Plain. Best donut name ever.
Want snacks for your adventures around ton? Stock up at the Nifty Nut House, and see why Food Network’s Alton Brown called it “a national treasure.”
Other dining recommendations for your Wichita vacation include Doo Dah Diner and Stearman Field Bar & Grill for breakfast, Norton’s Brewing Company (family friendly and serving funnel cake!), Ziggy’s Pizza, Monarch, and Hog Wild BBQ Pit.
Where to Stay in Wichita, KS
An outdoor pool and complimentary are just a few of the amenities offered at the Hotel at WaterWalk. Our suite had a mini kitchen, which is always a bonus when traveling with kids. Not only that, but if you will be staying for an extended period you can take advantage of their shopping service. Leave a list and they will pick up what you need.
When traveling with the kids I love when we are able to get breakfast at our hotel. It makes the mornings so much easier and quicker to get started with the day! Hotel at WaterWalk has a breakfast buffet as well as cooked-to-order hot breakfast!
Avid bird watchers will love staying at the Hilton Garden Inn located near Bradley Fair in northeast Wichita. The beautiful lakeside setting has a walking trail around the lake where I enjoyed some evening strolls with Littlest. We saw geese, ducks, cranes, and many other birds. There was even a waterfall! Inside the hotel you’ll find an indoor pool perfect for swimming year round, always a hotel favorite with kids, as well as an onsite restaurant.
Ready to be wowed by Wichita? I was astounded by all the fun there was to do! Visit Wichita has all the tips, tricks, tools and resources you’ll need to make the most of your Wichita vacation.