Wichita is a small city with big fun for families with kids of all ages. We polled our contributors to create our Top 10 list of things to do in Wichita with kids, and regardless of age, season, or budget, it’s got something for everyone. Families in the ICT or families visiting the ICT, this one’s for you!
#1: Go Wild
Check out the new elephant exhibit, get up close and personal with goats, sheep and more in the petting zoo, or take a class with your child to learn more about the critters that call the Sedgwick County Zoo home. If you’re downtown in warmer months, don’t miss the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit (AKA the Riverside Zoo) near the interactive fountains – it’s free! And to get up close and personal with wildlife – including feedings – Tanganyika Wildlife Park is a MUST!
It’s new permanent preschool exhibit has attracted droves of families since opening, but this Wichita favorite truly has something the entire family can love at the science and discovery center whether it be experiencing a tornado through 20-foot tall simulation to ruling medieval life. Plus once you’re done learning inside, you can make more memories outdoors at EP’s very own park and mini-golf course.
Not only are the gardens stunning year-round, but the Downing Children’s Garden encourages interactive play for families through pumping water for the farm with raised beds, winding through the musical maze, or climbing into a giant tree house, plus more. The butterfly house can be magical to walk through and don’t forget to stop by the Railroad Garden for train-lovers. And it’s magical walk-about premiere lights display, Illuminations, is a can’t miss during the holiday season.
So many of our contributors are partial to a walk along the river downtown, packing a picnic and viewing the iconic steel sculpture marking where the where the Big and Little Arkansas rivers join together downtown. Bonus if you see it at night through the Ring of Fire.
#5: Parks and Nature Centers
No matter what part of town you’re in, there’s a park nearby. Playground parks, splash parks, parks for tots, parks with trains, and literally parks all over town. But, if you’re not really interested in the typical playground check out one of Wichita’s amazing nature centers. These little gems of natural Kansas terrain are perfect for a quick reprieve, viewing wildlife in natural habitat at the Great Plains Nature Center, forging your own way at Chisholm Creek Park, or even bring horses to ride along the trails of Pawnee Prairie.
#6: Fruit Picking
There are many family-owned and operated apple, peach, and pear orchards plus berry farms that are so worth the short driving distance from Wichita proper. Call ahead to get the details on whether pails or baskets are provided, when the fruit will be in season and ready to be picked, and whether reservations are needed! And don’t forget about Wichita pumpkin patches in the fall!
#7: Concerts/Movies/Sporting Events
Wichita is home to Intrust Bank arena, a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue, and home of the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL and Wichita Force of Champions Indoor Football, plus hosts shows from Carrie Underwood to Sesame Street Live. The Orpheum is a smaller, but iconic Wichita venue that hosts a classic film series, world-class entertainment as well as local and national music, dance and theater. And be sure to check out the amazing Warren Theaters plus IMAX options, Music Theater of Wichita to see incredible local and national talent, and the home-town team Wichita State University for sports and the arts, as well. Check out our family calendar for current kid-friendly events in Wichita!
Wichita Art Museum offers free admission on Saturdays and check out Art Start for younger kids to engage with art, imagine and create. Wichita’s history is brought to life at Cowtown and includes 54 historic and recreated structures that tell the tale of our beloved city. The Museum of World Treasures appeals to children of all ages, displaying treasures from dinosaur skeletons to Egyptian mummies, plus an expansive military exhibit.
#9: Local Cuisine
Ask any family in town, and they’re sure to have their own family-friendly restaurant they’re considered regulars at, but these tasty local gems come up in recommendations from our crew time and time again. Stearmans – for food and entertainment as planes take off and land on the runway right outside the restaurant, and bonus…there’s a playground for little ones while you’re waiting for your food! Wichita Food Trucks parked at the ICT Pop Up Park. The Donut Hole for gourmet cake donuts. Drinks and Ziggy’s pizza at one of Wichita’s favorite patios. Stroll into the Nifty Nut House and oogle over all the different candies, nuts and chocolates. After story time at Watermark Books and Cafe stay for a grilled cheese or pastry and then peruse the bookshelves for a new favorite. Pick up a fresh smoothie or juice at Songbird Juice Co…as good as the place is cute.
And check out some of our other local faves:
#10: Indoor Fun
And when the weather isn’t cooperating to be outdoors, check out one of Wichita’s popular Trampoline Parks or The Alley for go karts, bowling, laser maze, and games. Our Top 10 spots for Indoor Fun in Wichita has even more great ideas to give you boredom-busting inspiration!