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My Wichita Bucket List

I’m taking the family to Wichita, Kansas this spring, and as usual, I have a big ol’ list of things to do, places to see, and food to eat. Here’s my Wichita bucket list, if time and money were not an issue.

Update: This post was first published in 2017, and has been updated in July 2020.

COVID-19 Update: Be sure to check local guidelines before visiting Wichita. Visit Wichita has a lot of information about which restaurants, attractions, hotels, and more are open.

Wichita, Kansas is a hidden gem in the Midwest! Here's my bucket list of things to do in Wichita, including museums and cultural attractions to visit, not-to-miss restaurants, and unforgettable animal encounters. #Wichita #Kansas #Midwest #FamilyTravel #BucketList

See the Keeper of the Plains

There’s a giant statue along the Big and Little Arkansas rivers called Keeper of the Plains. Each night, you can watch flames spring up from fire drums around the statue, illuminating the surroundings.

Keeper of the Plains statute at dusk in Wichita
Photo by Merrill Thomas

It sounds pretty cool, especially for my kids. Catch it at 7 p.m. in the winter and 9 p.m. in the summer.

Dine at Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper

I still haven’t the chuckwagon dinner I’ve been dreaming about ever since planning our South Dakota road trip two years ago. Maybe Wichita is the place?

Just 20 minutes outside of town, there’s Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper, a dinner show with classic cowboy tunes and a chance to ride a wagon.

Get up close to animals at Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Several friends familiar with Wichita have recommended we take the kids to Tanganyika Wildlife Park. It’s about 10 minutes from downtown.

Family feeding a lemur at Tanganyka Wildlife Park near Wichita, Kansas
Photo courtesy Visit Wichita

At the park, visitors can get up-close to the 300+ residents, even feeding some like giraffes and lemurs.

Update: We did it! We went to Tanganyika and it was ah-MAZ-ing. Read all about it here.

Explore the children’s garden at Botanica Wichita

There are 26 themed gardens at Botanica Wichita. We’d definitely have to check out Downing Children’s Garden and the butterfly house, as well as the Fossil Wall.

Fossil wall and little tree house in the Children's Garden at Botanica Wichita, the botanical gardens in the city
Photo courtesy Visit Wichita

Update: We went to Botanica Wichita and LOVED it, especially the children’s garden. Read about our experience here.

Eat all the food in Wichita

I have so many restaurants I want to try – how will I decide? Do we get breakfast at Doo Dah Diner (I heard they had some habit-forming french toast there)? Or do we get donuts at Donut Whole or Hurts Donuts for a crazy creations? I’m thinking of getting malts with lunch at the old-fashioned soda fountain in downtown Wichita, Old Mill Tasty Shop.

The counter at Doo Dah Diner in Wichita, Kansas
Photo courtesy Visit Wichita

My foodie friends in Wichita sent me a whole list of places to go to, including burgers at The Anchor, Dempsey’s or Ty’s; pizza at Ziggy’s; Mediterranean food at N&J; Songbird Juice Co.; and Two Olives.

The Oh My! Omaha Facebook group also had some good recommendations, and I’m pretty sure The Kitchen will be on our itinerary for the spring trip.

Outdoor table at Stearman Field Bar & Grill near Wichita, Kansas. It's a restaurant at an airfield.
Photo courtesy Visit Wichita

There’s also Stearman Field Bar & Grill, a restaurant located right on a landing strip where you can watch aircraft take off and land 20 yards from you.

Marvel at Wichita Art Museum

The Wichita Art Museum has a space called The Living Room, which is an interactive gallery for art investigation and make-it/take-it art activities. My kids would totally love it.

Wichita Art Museum patrons. The art museum has a kid's space called The Living Room.
Photo courtesy Wichita Art Museum

Plus, if we visit on a Saturday, admission is free.

Play at Exploration Place

We could likely spend an entire day here, exploring flight, nanoscience, and what will likely be my castle-obsessed son’s favorite space, Where Kids Rule with its three-story castle.

Update: We visited Exploration Place! Read about the exciting things my kids and I did there.

Stroll around Old Cowtown Museum

I think my kids would love seeing the cowboys and other costumed interpreters walking around this open-air museum – they tell visitors about Wichita life in the 1860s.

Old Cowtown actor in front of the saloon. Old Cowtown is in Wichita.
Photo courtesy Visit Wichita

Hope we time the visit right to catch a shootout on Main Street.

Have an adventure at Museum of World Treasures

This three-floor museum sounds like a hodgepodge collection dreamed up by my children. It has everything from dinosaur skeletons, a segment of the Berlin Wall, and a mummy.

Visit Old Town Wichita

Old Town Wichita at night
Photo courtesy Visit Wichita

Saturday mornings sound like a good time to visit, during the lively farmers market. It sounds very much like Omaha’s Old Market with its brick roads and converted warehouses, so I’ll be right at home.

Get nostalgic at Wichita Toy Train Club and Museum

In my kids’ younger days, this would be the place for us to spend our entire vacation. It still sounds like a family-friendly stop we’d enjoy. They even have a trains for kids to operate.

See the animals at Sedgwick County Zoo

A tiger at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas
Photo courtesy Visit Wichita

I heard the animals live in authentic habitats, like Downing Gorilla Forest, which emulates a Congo village. The Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit opened in 2016 and has the world’s largest elephant pool (550,000 gallons of water)!

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Want more Wichita Vacation Ideas?

Want to see more ideas for family travel to Wichita? Check out Visit Wichita and my Pinterest board:

Share your ideas: What are other not-to-miss things to do in Wichita that my family should check out? Leave a comment!

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Plan a weekend in Wichita, Kansas with this family-friendly bucket list! Learn about top attractions, popular restaurants, and fun things to do in Wichita. #Kansas #Wichita #Midwest #Vacation #FamilyTravel

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