Disclosure: Visit Wichita hosted my trip to Wichita, Kansas. However, all opinions are my own.
Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 but has since been updated with new information.
One of my favorite things about exploring the Midwest is that its destinations are often underestimated. There’s always the potential to be surprised, and what I discovered in Wichita, Kansas was no different.
To put it simply, Kansas’ largest city always wows me. Wichita reminds me a lot of my hometown of Des Moines—quietly cool and full of incredible places to eat, things to do, and unexpected gems for a city its size. While some may remark that there’s nothing to do in Kansas, I would strongly urge you to look again. When you visit Wichita, you’ll discover inspiring public art, what are sure to be some of your best meals of the year, incredible coffee shops, quirky attractions and so much more.
Before you claim that there’s nothing to do in “flyover country,” take the time to look and discover these 20 terrific things to do in Wichita, Kansas.
Things to Do in Wichita, Kansas
Experience the Firepot Lighting at the Keeper of the Plains
Possibly one of the most iconic sights in Wichita is the Keeper of the Plains. Located at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers, the Keeper of the Plains is a beautiful symbol of the area’s heritage.
Each night the Keeper of the Plains is transformed by a ring of fire. The sculpture is illuminated by fire for 15 minutes each day, weather and river levels permitting. During Daylight Savings Time (spring and summer), the lighting begins at 9 pm. During the fall and winter, the lighting begins at 7 pm. The firepot lighting is a sight you won’t want to miss!
Keeper of the Plains, 650 N. Seneca Street in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is full of wonderful small businesses! Consider shopping small while you’re in town and pick up a few Wichita-themed souvenirs. During my visit I popped into quite a few shops as I explored the area around downtown. Some of my favorites were:
- Vortex Souvenir (607 W. Douglas Avenue in Wichita): Vortex Souvenir offers a fantastic mix of local art and fabulous gifts. With a striking exterior and unique wares, you won’t want to miss this cool and quirky shop.
- The Workroom (150 N. Cleveland in Wichita): If you’re in the market for a Wichita-themed souvenir, look no further than The Workroom. Not only is this shop home to lots of Kansas-themed items, but it’s also full of incredible home decor.
- The Spice Merchant (1300 E. Douglas Avenue in Wichita): This former warehouse space is full of loose spices, tea leaves, and coffee beans. Roam the aisles and you’ll discover all sorts of culinary gadgets and kitchen accessories you never knew you needed. Or grab spices in bulk or beans by the pound to bring home with you.
- Clifton Collective (3700 E. Douglas Avenue, #80 in Wichita): This collective of Midwest makers based in Wichita’s College Hill neighborhood speaks my love language.
- GROW Giesen Plant Shop (320 S. Market Street, Suite 120, in Wichita): I can never resist a plant shop and this one is seriously next-level. Shop their wide variety of plants, take advantage of the DIY planting bar and even grab a cocktail to sip while you shop.
- The Loud Cicada (2721 E. Central Avenue, Suite 113, in Wichita): Located inside of Revolutsia, this colorful shop and studio is sure to be a whimsical stop. I especially loved the shop’s card and confetti station.
Say Hello to the Wichita Troll
Tell me about an offbeat attraction in your town and it’ll go straight to the top of my “to visit” list. Before visiting, a number of friends told me I needed to find the Wichita Troll. So after catching a glimpse of the Keeper of the Plains, I set off on a troll hunt.
Located under an unmarked sewer grate near the Westar Energy building, the Wichita Troll is easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled! Installed in 2007 by local artist Connie Ernatt, the troll was placed in his current home as part of an effort to revitalize the city’s riverfront.
Wichita Troll, 777 W. Central Avenue in Wichita, Kansas
Head Out on a Mural Hunt
Wichita is full of phenomenal public art! Spend an afternoon hunting down some of the city’s coolest murals. If you’re short on time, head to the Douglas Design District to get the most creative bang for your buck.
Sip Something Local
Wichita is full of fantastic craft breweries. I can’t wait to visit again soon to find some new favorites. But for now, if you’re looking for a place to grab a drink, consider checking out:
- Nortons Brewing Company (125 N. St. Francis Street in Wichita): Located in Wichita’s Old Town, Nortons Brewing Company is a neighborhood staple. With a large taproom and enclosed patio, this local favorite is the perfect place for enjoying a flight or grabbing a bite to eat.
- Central Standard Brewing (156 S. Greenwood in Wichita): With a cool vibe and inventive beer menu, Central Standard Brewing is the perfect place to spend an afternoon relaxing and catching up with friends. If you like sours, IPAs or unconventional brews, this will be the place for you.
- Wichita Brewing Company (Multiple locations in Wichita): It’s been more than 10 years since Wichita Brewing Company opened its first location. But that hasn’t lessened Wichita’s thirst for quality craft beer and equally delicious food. With 19 different taps to choose from, there are brew options galore at this local favorite. And you won’t want to miss out on their delicious pizzas!
Find Inspiration at the Wichita Art Museum
No matter the destination, art museums always call my name. So I didn’t want to pass up the chance to explore the Wichita Art Museum. Located along the river in the city’s museum district, the Wichita Art Museum is a great place to discover a new favorite artist or find a spark of inspiration.
The museum has an impressive collection, both within its walls and on its grounds. The colorful glass Dale Chihuly sculptures will stop you in your tracks upon entering the museum as well as other contemporary masterpieces. When you visit make sure not to miss the sculptures outside on the museum grounds!
Wichita Art Museum, 1400 Museum Boulevard in Wichita, Kansas
Show Your Love of Wichita With its Flag
It seems like everywhere you look in Wichita, the city’s flag is prominently displayed. From T-shirts and license plates to full-building murals, the Wichita flag is an immense source of pride. Keep an eye out for it during your visit and consider picking up a flag-themed souvenir to remember your trip.
Grab a Coffee & a Short Story
I loved visiting Reverie Roasters not once but twice during my time in Wichita. One of the things that made my visits extra delightful was this short story dispenser from the Wichita Public Library.
I’m a book nerd through and through, and I loved the idea of being able to add a bit of lit to my morning. Simply push the button for a one-, three-, or five-minute story. Then your pocket-sized prose will be dispensed on receipt paper along with information about the public library. How cool is that!?
REVERIE COFFEE ROASTERS, 2202 E. DOUGLAS AVENUE IN WICHITA, KANSAS
Sip a Sarsaparilla at the Old Cowtown Museum
Step back in time to the early history of Wichita with a visit to the Old Cowtown Museum. Experience life in the city’s cowtown days by visiting a traditional homestead, wandering the shops on Main Street and sipping an ice cold sarsaparilla. Just be careful you don’t get caught in an Old West shootout!
Grab a Slice of History at the Pizza Hut Museum
A museum dedicated to pizza? Yes please! Stop by the Wichita State University campus to learn about the entrepreneurial spirit of two of its former students. Their life’s work? Pizza Hut! Now you can learn all about this iconic American pie through the small but incredibly informative Pizza Hut Museum.
Pizza Hut Museum, Wichita State Innovation Campus, 1845 Fairmount in Wichita, Kansas
Support Local Growers at the Old Town Farmers’ Market
After spending more than five years working at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market, I’ve got a soft spot for visiting markets when I travel. My last time in Wichita serendipitously aligned with the Old Town Farmers’ Market and I enjoyed wandering the vendors’ stalls to pick up some edible souvenirs before hitting the road. Along with a good cup of coffee (a must for any farmers’ market wandering), I also picked up some raw honey, pastries, and a few veggies.
Old Town Farmers’ Market, 835 E. 1st Street in Wichita, KS
Enjoy a Memorable Meal
Meet the People Who Helped Make the City Great
The city of Wichita is where it is today because of hundreds of incredible people who were passionate about their community. Get to know some of them during your trip and learn a little bit about the history of the surrounding area at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum.
Delve into another important part of the city’s history at the Kansas African American Museum, located in the historic Calvary Baptist Church. Or take in the riverfront and pay a visit to the Mid-American All-Indian Center, which also includes a phenomenal history of the artist behind the Keeper of the Plains, Blackbear Bosin.
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Discover a Piece of Aviation History
Whether you’re an aircraft enthusiast or not, a visit to see the B-29 Doc Hangar, Education & Visitors Center should be on your Wichita bucket list. This B-29 Superfortress is one of 1,644 manufactured in Wichita during World War II. Today, it’s one of only two remaining air-worthy planes of its kind in the world.
Explore the Sedgwick County Zoo
If you’re an animal lover, you won’t want to miss a stop to Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo. This sprawling zoo campus is home to more than 3,000 animals from 400 different species.
During my visit, I had a blast wandering the zoo and exploring the new Slawson Family Asian Big Cat Trek. It was so much fun to wander this unique enclosure and see the big cats up close. I also enjoyed popping inside to the Tropics where there is no shortage of free-flying birds to watch.
The zoo also recently added a new attraction that I’ve heard amazing things about. The Stingray Cove is an interactive experience that allows visitors to get hands-on with a variety of stingrays and small sharks.
Sedgwick County Zoo, 5555 W. Zoo Boulevard in Wichita, KS
Wander the Blooms at Botanica
I love to wander a botanical garden, regardless of the season. And Wichita’s Botanica did not disappoint! This stunning 18-acre garden has all sorts of plants, landscape designs and sculptures to explore.
We started our adventure in the Chinese Garden of Friendship, which was built as a tribute to Wichita’s sister city, Kaifeng.
While we were too early in the season for some of the garden’s bigger blooms, we loved exploring the Downing Children’s Garden and Koch Carousel Gardens. One of my favorite elements of Botanica was the wide variety of spaces it offers for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages to explore, learn and relax in nature.
And, of course, we couldn’t resist finding a quirky friend at Sleeping Troll Hill, directly across from the beautiful carousel, which you can also ride during your visit.
Botanica, 701 Amidon Street in Wichita, KS
Sneak Away to a Speakeasy
Knock twice to enter. Dockum is a Speakeasy-style bar in downtown Wichita that you won’t want to miss.
Located in the basement of the Ambassador Hotel Wichita, Dockum serves craft cocktails and small plates in an intimate setting.
Dockum, 104 S. Broadway in Wichita, KS
Plan Your Own Coffee Crawl
There is no shortage of coffee shops in Wichita. So why not plan your own coffee crawl to try some new spots and get to know the city? From cozy, plant-filled cafes to artisan sweet makers, you’re sure to find a few favorite or two on this caffeine-fueled adventure.
Be Inspired by Steampunk Art
In an unassuming residential neighborhood on the west side of Wichita, you’ll discover a true hidden gem. Gary Pendergrass’ Steampunk Art is truly something you need to see to fully appreciate. Gary has been creating these one-of-a-kind pieces since 2013 and today the sculptures spill over the fence, teasing at the whimsical world beyond.
Share Your Thoughts
I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite things to do in Wichita, Kansas?