A gentle west wind warms the air at Botanica, the Wichita Gardens, and 110,000 daffodils nod their cheerful yellow faces in happy reply. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012, Botanica has walking paths among 17 acres of themed gardens, making it the perfect anchor to a spring weekend in Kansas’ biggest city.
The Arkansas River winds through downtown and links several major attractions, and Old Town packs more than 100 shops and restaurants in an eight-block, brick-paved warehouse district.
For convenience, stay at downtown’s restored Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, but keep exploring. Back Lot Carry-Out is a hidden-gem barbecue joint that draws lunchtime crowds to an industrial park, and the Kansas Aviation Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s heritage.
Five museums (including Botanica) cluster along the Arkansas River. Our favorites: The Old Cowtown Museum captures the rowdy spirit of Wichita’s early days, when longhorns were herded to Chisholm Trail railheads, and the Wichita Art Museum houses an extensive glass collection, plus a delightful cafe, The Muse. At any of these museums, ask for a Go Card, which will score you a $2 discount at nine other participating area attractions. The riverfront also hosts a street party called Riverfest in early June. Activities include concerts, a parade, fireworks and even a zip line across the Arkansas River.