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14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Wichita, KS

Written by Anietra Hamper
Mar 10, 2020

As the largest city in Kansas, Wichita has an impressive blend of history, nature, and western culture. Over the years, 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.

Discover the best places to visit with our list of the top things to do in Wichita.

1. Keeper of the Plains

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

Botanica Wichita | Photo Copyright: 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 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
Official site: https://botanica.org/

3. Sedgwick County Zoo

Sedgwick County Zoo | larabelle / photo modified

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
Official site: https://www.scz.org/

4. Museum of World Treasures

Museum of World Treasures | Photo Copyright: 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. Besides natural history exhibits, the museum features sections on military history and world civilizations.

There are three floors that feel like a time capsule as you see fossilized bones from 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
Official site: http://www.worldtreasures.org/

5. Arkansas River Bike Path

Arkansas River Path | Mark Goebel / photo modified

The Arkansas River Bike Path is a scenic way to see downtown Wichita as you stroll or bike along the Arkansas River. The 10-mile, paved, multi-use 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

Century II Performing Arts Center | G. O'Graffer / photo modified

You can enjoy Wichita's rich cultural scene with a theater or symphony performance at the Century II Performing Arts and Convention 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
Official site: http://www.century2.org/Pages/default.aspx

7. Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Tanganyika Wildlife Park | Photo Copyright: 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
Official site: http://www.twpark.com/

8. Old Cowtown Museum

Old Cowtown Museum | Photator / photo modified

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.

The replica town gives you an understanding of 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
Official site: http://www.oldcowtown.org/Pages/default.aspx

9. Exploration Place

Exploration Place | Photo Copyright: Gavin Peters

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
Official site: http://exploration.org/

10. Wichita Art Museum

Wichita Art Museum | Photo Copyright: 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. There are extensive displays of sculptures, paintings, and glasswork throughout the museum representing not just American artwork but also the heritage of the Great Plains region.

The Art Garden that surrounds the museum is worth some of your time. The free art garden is open 24 hours a day and is landscaped 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
Official site: https://www.wichitaartmuseum.org/

11. Kansas Aviation Museum

Kansas Aviation Museum | ginosalerno.com / photo modified

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 restaurant 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
Official site: http://kansasaviationmuseum.org/

12. Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House

Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

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
Official site: https://flwrightwichita.org/

13. Great Plains Nature Center

Great Plains Nature Center | Christine Warner / photo modified

You would never expect a wildlife habitat cooperative in the middle of urban Wichita, but the Great Plains Nature Center is just that. The center is a great place to visit to gain an appreciation for the wildlife and natural elements that call Kansas home.

After you take a stroll on some of the paved walking trails take advantage of some of the bird-watching opportunities at the center. In the Koch Habitat Hall learn about grass prairies, wetlands, and wildlife habitat important to Kansas. Visit the glass wildlife observatory, where you can relax and watch nature outside in the wetlands at Chisholm Creek Park.

Address: 6232 E. 29th Street N., Wichita, Kansas
Official site: https://gpnc.org

14. Old Town Wichita

Alley in Old Town Wichita

Old Town Wichita is a section of town that is a fun area to visit for a day. With the many shops, boutiques, restaurants and old-school vibe it shows a more vintage side to the city. One of the highlights of Old Town is the Arcade that has dozens of famous retro games from the 1980s and 90s. Stroll to the Old Town Square to browse through unique gift shops.

Official site: https://www.oldtownwichita.com

Where to Stay in Wichita for Sightseeing

There are some great hotel options in Wichita that range from historic and renovated hotels and boutique hotels to apartment hotels and standard lodging. Most are conveniently located so that getting to the local attractions is easy. Overall, the cost of lodging in Wichita is reasonable compared to many other cities even for higher-end hotels.

  • Luxury Hotels: The Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview Wichita is in the heart of downtown and only a couple of blocks from Exploration Place and the Century II Performing Arts Center, where you can catch an evening show or performance close to the hotel. The Ambassador Hotel Wichita, Autograph Collection is a luxury hotel in the center of the city. It is close to the Century II Performing Arts Center and the Museum of world Treasures.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: If you want to stay in a mid-range priced hotel with a lake view, Homewood Suites by Hilton is a good option. The waterfront property is just east of downtown and within walking distance of many local restaurants. The Hotel at Old Town is a mid-range hotel that puts you in the center of the Old Town district, one of the most charming areas of Wichita. The hotel is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and the Old Town entertainment options.
  • Budget Hotels: The Best Western Plus near the airport provides guests airport transportation. It is a convenient location close to the Keeper of the Plains and other top Wichita attractions. Another option just outside of downtown is the Red Roof Inn & Conference Center. It is close to the airport and attractions like the Sedgwick County Zoo.

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Exploring Kansas & Kansas City: If you have time to explore other areas of Kansas before or after your Wichita visit, you will not be disappointed. From Topeka and the Kansas Flight Hills to Kansas City, there are so many places to visit, ranging from natural landscapes to historical sites. Just over the border, you can visit Kansas City, Missouri, which has attractions like the American Jazz Museum.

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