12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Wichita
As the largest city in Kansas, Wichita has an impressive blend of history, nature, and western culture. More recently, the city has experienced a fresh wave of modernization, with unique landmarks, contemporary museums, and community revitalization.
Downtown Wichita has emerged from an old western trading post to a vibrant city. With more than 33 museums, 22 attractions, eight shopping districts, 22 theaters, and festivals throughout the year, there are always plenty of things to do. The city is also gaining notoriety as a foodie destination. More than 1,000 restaurants are in the city, including a boom of creative farm-to-table options. The central location of Wichita in the state makes it an easy place to reach by driving or flying, and downtown is only 10 minutes from the airport.
1 Keeper of the Plains
One of the most breathtaking and memorable tourist attractions in Wichita is the Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot-tall steel sculpture that is most impressive at night. The statue stands on sacred land, where the Big and Little Arkansas rivers converge. The plaza that surrounds the sculpture has benches and walkways for pedestrians. If you visit during the day, take time to see the Mid-America All-Indian Center, which has historical information on the area and the statue. The most impressive time to visit is in the evenings, when you have the stunning backdrop of the Wichita sunset and the "Ring of Fire" that is set below the Keeper of the Plains statue.
Address: 650 N. Seneca Street, Wichita, Kansas
2 Botanica Wichita
Spring and summer are popular times to visit Botanica Wichita, when more than 150,000 tulips and daffodils color the gardens. This community garden in the heart of Wichita has more than 30 sections to explore. Two of the most popular gardens are the Butterfly Pansy House, which showcases butterfly habitats, and the Downing Children's Garden, which has large, colorful statues among the flowers, trees, and shrubs that engage children. During the holidays, Botanica Wichita is decorated with one million lights throughout the 18 acres of gardens.
Address: 701 Amidon Street, Wichita, Kansas
3 Sedgwick County Zoo
The Sedgwick County Zoo is one of the top things to do in Wichita. It is home to more than 3,000 animals. Exploring the zoo is easy, as the animals are grouped together in regions that are laid out geographically on the grounds. The exhibits let you get the best view of hippopotamus and lowland gorillas in the Africa region, a grizzly bear in the North America area, and the always-entertaining penguins in the Cessna Penguin Cove. If you happen to catch a zookeeper in the elephant exhibit during your visit, stick around and watch the elephants respond by name during feeding time.
Address: 5555 W. Zoo Blvd., Wichita, Kansas
4 Museum of World Treasures
You can go on a scavenger hunt through history at the unique Museum of World Treasures. It is a vast collection of artifacts and information from ancient civilizations and countries around the world. There are three floors that feel like a time capsule as you see Ivan the T. Rex (one of the most popular exhibits in the museum), religious art from Asia, an exploration into royal dynasties, and Egyptian mummies. It is worth checking out the event calendar to see if an opportunity to have coffee with a curator coincides with your visit.
Address: 835 E. 1st Street North, Wichita, Kansas
5 Arkansas River Path
The Arkansas River Path is a scenic way to see downtown Wichita as you stroll or bike along the Arkansas River. The 3.6-mile paved trail follows the river and takes you past the All-American Indian Center, Cowtown, and the Keeper of the Plains statue. You can download a trail map from the Wichita Parks and Recreation Department onto your phone for easy navigation and to locate parking. This is one of more than 125 greenways and 26 miles of bike trails throughout the city if you want to spend time outdoors during your stay.
6 Century II Performing Arts Center
You can enjoy Wichita's rich cultural scene with a theater or symphony performance at the Century II Performing Arts Center. The theater, concert hall, and expo center always has something on the calendar, from concerts to plays. Take in a performance of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra or enjoy the local talent during a show from the Music Theater of Wichita. For a truly special experience, catch a performance by the Wichita Grand Opera, which often features international opera stars.
Address: 225 W. Douglas Avenue, Wichita, Kansas
7 Tanganyika Wildlife Park
The Tanganyika Wildlife Park is one of the more unique things to do in Wichita. The open space at the park lets you enjoy wild animals, like lemurs, alligators, giraffes, and hundreds of other animals in a wildlife setting. The park is focused on preservation and conservation, so you will find these animal encounters different from what you will find at the zoo. Interactive experiences with the animals range from sunset tours or swimming with penguins to behind-the-scenes encounters and painting experiences with baby leopards or another animals.
Address: 1000 S. Hawkins Lane, Goddard, Kansas
8 Old Cowtown Museum
At the Old Cowtown Museum, you can take a step back into the Wild West. When you step on the dirt roads in the replica 1870s village, you get a sensory introduction into the time of frontier settlement. While you explore the 54 historic replica buildings, you will see artifacts from period tools to clothing and understand the way of life in the early days of Wichita settlement. Some of the highlights of Cowtown include the buffalo hunter trading area, costumed interpreters, a blacksmith, and cowboy gunfights in the street that take place most days.
Address: 1865 W. Museum Blvd., Wichita, Kansas
9 Exploration Place
Dive into the history of the cowboy, observe Kansas on a miniature scale, or put your mind to work making an invention come to life at the Exploration Place. The science and discovery center has hands-on exhibits that explore the details of how things work in our homes and in our bodies, but it also has unique exhibits that look at the American west and life in Kansas. Be sure to plan time for one of the showings in the Dome Theater and Planetarium or take in one of the live science shows.
Address: 300 N. Mclean Blvd., Wichita, Kansas
10 Wichita Art Museum
Located on the river, the Wichita Art Museum is the largest art museum in Kansas. As you walk through the galleries, you will observe one of the top collections of American artwork in the United States. The museum has 28 galleries, one of which is an artist cooperative. There are extensive displays of sculptures, paintings, and glasswork throughout the museum. The Art Garden that surrounds the museum is worth some of your time. It is eight acres of lush landscape with flowering trees and plants and 13 outdoor sculptures, making it an artistically tranquil setting. For an equally artistic lunch or snack, stop by the café, The Muse, for a bite of locally grown food.
Address: 1400 W. Museum Blvd., Wichita, Kansas
11 Kansas Aviation Museum
If you are an aviation enthusiast, you will enjoy what Wichita has to offer, starting with the Kansas Aviation Museum. The Art-Deco-style building is actually the former terminal of the Wichita Municipal Airport, which served as one of the busiest airports in the United States during the 1940s. The museum features unique aircraft, historical information and archives, and the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame. You will want to make your way to the control tower for a unique perspective that you will not find in other aviation museums. For a truly themed day of aviation, take a short drive from the museum to Stearman Field Bar & Grill, where you can enjoy a meal right next to a private landing strip and watch planes coming and going from the city.
Address: 3350 South George Washington Blvd., Wichita, Kansas
12 Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House
The Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House is one of the more unique displays of the famous architect's work. This was one of the last prairie houses designed by Wright. The Allen House showcases the genius behind Wright's work by blending the outside with the inside using the specific placement of windows. A grand backyard garden and fountain is the backdrop to the floor to ceiling windows in the living room. Across the street is a small museum with a detailed history of the home and Wright's work. The museum is open to the public, but you must sign up for a guided tour to see the inside of the home.
Address: 225 N. Roosevelt Street, Wichita, Kansas