Riverside Park in Downtown Wichita: Free Splash Pad, Wildlife Exhibit, Hiking/Biking Trails & More

Kansas Wildlife Exhibit at Central Riverside Park (photo copyright WichitaMom.com)

Central Riverside Park is located near Downtown Wichita at 720 Nims and spans over 50 acres. This is truly one of the most beautiful parks in ICT and one of my kids’ favorite spots to visit.

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Riverside Park Wildlife feeding timeRiverside Park Kansas Wildlife Exhibit & Education Center

There are so many unique and interesting features within the park including the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit which contains over 25 species (originally the city’s zoo until the Sedgwick County Zoo opened). Visitors can learn about wildlife free of charge.

Pro Tip: Feeding time is every day at noon and this is considered the best time to visit as the zookeepers will answer questions about the wildlife, and you have the best chance to see animals like the bobcat and beaver. If you’re not there at noon, you can still catch the turtles and birds.

After the animals have had their lunch, kids can get special food from Todd, the exhibit caretaker, to feed the fish in the pond for free!

In the small stone building adjacent to the wildlife enclosures, you’ll find the educational center. Hours are not regular at this point, but if you are there for a noon feeding, the exhibit caretaker can let you in and show you even more turtles, a snake, a tarantula, and a scorpion! 

If your kids are obsessed with animals, this is a don’t miss opportunity!

Kansas Wildlife Exhibit at Central Riverside Park (photo copyright WichitaMom.com)

Riverside Park Playground

At Central Riverside, there are three play structures; two geared toward older kids and one that is more “toddler sized” for toddler/preschool ages. I appreciate that there are big kid swings and toddler swings here (sometimes baby swings are hard to find!) since my kids are a wide range of ages. There is plenty of equipment to keep kids of all ages busy; mine are 10, 7 and 1.5 and they all love playing here.

If you played here as a child, you may remember one of the most popular attractions, the rocket slide! While the rocket no longer functions as a slide, it still stands as a fun and notable piece of history.

Rocket slide & playground at Riverside Park (photo copyright WichitaMom.com)

Riverside Park Nature Trails

Riverside Park walking paths (photo copyright WichitaMom.com)

The park is actually made up of three sections, North and South Riverside Park and Central Riverside Park. Near North Riverside Park, Oak Park offers many shaded walking paths as part of the Wichita Wild Habitat initiative, as well as picnic tables and open areas for playing or relaxing. And don’t forget the 18-hole frisbee golf course!

We normally spend our time at Central Riverside because of all the play opportunities, but South and North Riverside are also great spots for walking and biking on the nature trails and viewing wildlife (South has tennis courts as well).

 If you enjoy exploring, look for the Solar Calendar, an outdoor astronomical observatory. The beautiful standing stones follow the sun’s location.

Riverside Park’s Celebration Plaza Splash Fountain

This interactive splash pad is perfect for hot days. Benches and picnic tables surround the area, making it easy for parents and caregivers to monitor children. A picnic date with splash park fun following is definitely on our bucket list for this summer!

Check out over 20 free splash pads in the Wichita area here!

Splash Pad at Central Riverside Park (photo copyright WichitaMom.com)
Lauren Davis
Lauren and her husband Dan live in El Dorado with their two boys (born 2011 and 2014). They have added a goldendoodle, a hedgehog and two cats to their family in recent years and are expecting a daughter to join their crew at the end of 2020! She is an elementary school secretary, a member of the Junior League of Wichita and the Tri-County CASA Board of Directors. Lauren spent much of her childhood in Lawrence, Kansas and moved to El Dorado about ten years ago after her husband graduated from pharmacy school. She gets by on a lot of coffee and loves all the messy, fun, wild and wonderful parts of being a mom.