Wichita, Kansas, has acquired many names over the years: Cowtown for its cattle heritage, ICT after its airport code, and even the whimsical Doo-Dah for its laid-back vibe. But whichever name you use, Wichita means fun, with a long list of attractions that make it a go-to city for arts and entertainment.
What to do
A great first stop is the Keeper of the Plains statue at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers. Cross a suspended pedestrian bridge for an up-close view of the 44-foot-tall steel sculpture designed by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin. At its base, listen to the sounds of Native American chants and watch the Ring of Fire ignite at 9 p.m. in spring and summer and at 7 p.m. in fall and winter.
Known for its hands-on exhibits, Exploration Place is a science center for those who want to learn more about the way things work. Fly a virtual plane or fire up a rivet gun in the “Design Build Fly” exhibit, which shares a behind-the-scenes glimpse of airplane construction. In other exhibits, peer into a 7-foot replica mouth, explore a 3-story medieval castle, and safely step into a tornado. When you’re ready to relax, enjoy an enveloping 360-degree show in the Dome Theater.
Exploration Place is part of Museums on the River, a group of attractions within walking distance of one another along the Arkansas River. Immerse yourself in the frontier at Old Cowtown Museum and discover Native heritage at the Mid-America All-Indian Museum. The Wichita Art Museum’s collection of more than 10,000 works emphasizes American art, and Botanica, the Wichita Gardens showcases an ever-changing landscape.
During baseball season, cheer on the Wind Surge at Riverfront Stadium, which opened about a year ago. As the Minnesota Twins’ Double-A affiliate, the team brings high-energy excitement and fan-friendly promotions to downtown from April through September. Walk the stadium between innings to view murals and sculptures. Along the way, you may spot the team’s mascot, Windy, who’s always up for a photo op.
A manufacturing hub for aviation, Wichita earned another nickname—the Air Capital of the World. Explore its history of flight at the Kansas Aviation Museum, located in the city’s original 1935 art deco municipal airport terminal. History buffs appreciate the interactive exhibits, a 360-degree tower view, and the vintage plane collection, including a 1944 Beechcraft Staggerwing.
Where to shop
Stock up on salty snacks at the Nifty Nut House; Food Network’s Alton Brown called it “a national treasure.”
In the Old Town district, shop for home decor and gifts at Mr. Diggs Dwelling & Co.
Where to eat
Locals love Doo-Dah Diner for its hearty breakfasts, especially the Brutus: hash browns topped with chicken-fried steak, 2 eggs, sausage gravy, and caramelized onions.
Families have been flocking to Old Mill Tasty Shop since 1932 for comfort classics like meat loaf; leave room for a milkshake or sundae from the soda fountain.
Where to stay
A historic gem on the banks of the Arkansas River, Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview dates to 1922. Rates start at $149.
AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.
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