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Wichita Trip Guide

Cowboys pushing cattle across the Kansas prairie longed for a view of Wichita on the horizon. Today, the city of almost 400,000 still makes a great stop. Check out our list of what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

Do

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens Twenty-seven themed gardens and a butterfly house encourage quiet walks as well as hands-on learning. At the Downing Children’s Garden, even adults can't resist plunking away on instruments. botanica.org

Botanica

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Exploration Place The science museum has 11 interactive exhibits and a park along the Arkansas River. exploration.org

Kansas Aviation Museum A revamped airport terminal showcases historical aircraft while illustrating the state’s role in the evolution of flight. kansasaviationmuseum.org 

Keeper of the Plains Standing on sacred ground at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers, this statue pays tribute to the tribes that once inhabited the region. At 9 p.m. in the summer (7 in winter), flames from fire drums surrounding the Keeper illuminate the river. wichita.gov

Keeper of the Plains

Mid-America All-Indian Center Tribal flags, a Plains Indian encampment and art gardens along the path to the Keeper of the Plains statue accompany what is the largest collection of art by the Keeper sculptor, Blackbear Bosin. theindiancenter.org

Museum of World Treasures The theme is a little ambiguous at this Old Town collection, but the 9,000 artifacts all enlighten. The three floors display the likes of dinosaur skeletons, a Berlin Wall segment and Egyptian mummies. worldtreasures.org

Old Cowtown Museum The 19th-century living-history town and farm includes a blacksmith’s shop, daily gunfight shows and a saloon serving sarsaparilla. For the most fun, visit during special events. oldcowtown.org

Old Cowtown Museum

Old Cowtown Museum

Paramount Antique Malls Two locations including the just-opened East Mall offer browsing among dozens of booths. Need a break? Sink into the leather couch and sip free coffee. paramountantiquemall.com

Sedgwick County Zoo More than 2,500 animals—including six newly arrived elephants from drought-stricken Swaziland—thrive in spacious natural habitats at one of the top-ranked zoos in the United States. scz.org

Sedgwick County Zoo

Sedgwick County Zoo

Riverfest Wichita’s huge annual celebration (late May to early June) draws crowds for the Sundown Parade, fireworks, concerts, food, sporting events, arts and crafts fair, and more. wichitariverfest.com

Tanganyika Wildlife Park Giraffes and lemurs (and many of the other 300-plus residents) eat from guests’ hands, and kangaroos accept pats, in nearby Goddard. twpark.com

Wichita Art Museum Glasswork—by Steuben and contemporary artists—makes up a big portion of the more than three centuries of American art on display. The garden features 80 species of plants and 13 sculptures. wichitaartmuseum.org 

Eat

AVI Seabar and Chophouse Jumbo lump crab cakes and salmon fillets burst with flavor. Check out the black-and-white images of trains honoring the Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway (AVI). AVI Seabar on Facebook

Bite Me BBQ Perhaps best known for its giant fall-off-the-bone spare ribs, the Old Town joint also gets props for its extensive condiment bar that includes habanero-brined cucumbers. biteme-bbq.com

Central Standard Brewing Head to an open-air shed with a variety of cozy seating for tastes of funky brews like the Red Cicada, made with Kansas salt, hibiscus flowers, ginger and lime. Another favorite: the bold, citrusy Wizard of Hops IPA. centralstandardbrewing.com

Central Standard Brewing

Central Standard Brewing

Chester’s Chophouse and Wine Bar Mahogany and leather warm this date-night destination serving steaks, plus some Italian dishes and fish. chesterschophouse.com

The Donut Whole It’s part coffee bar, part performance center, but mostly the place for doughnuts. Toppings include Fruity Pebbles, bacon or Hydrox cookies. thedonutwhole.com

Doo-Dah Diner This highway-side lunch and dinner spot plates from-scratch items with twists (banana bread French toast topped with apple slices, apple butter and salted pecans). doodahdiner.com

Hangar One Steakhouse The atmosphere immerses guests in flight: A C-45 cargo plane stretches from the dining room out into the parking lot, and the building resembles an airplane hangar and looks out on a runway. The menu follows suit with King Air filet and Piper Cub chicken strips. hangaronesteakhouse.com

Harvest Kitchen and Bar The ever-changing menu at this eatery inside the Wichita Hyatt Regency highlights regional vendors and locally sourced ingredients. wichita.hyatt.com

Larkspur Bistro and Bar Jazz music played on a baby grand piano accompanies meals of handmade pasta, fresh seafood and juicy steaks. larkspuronline.com

Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper There is no place for 21st-century cynicism during this dinner and show, 20 minutes outside of town. Come ready to experience cowboy music and comedy. prairierosechuckwagon.com

Sabor Latin Bar and Grille Inventive starters, like crispy plantain chips with chimichurri, complement mains such as paella, tacos and pupusas. empireks.com

Sabor Latin Bar and Grille

Sabor Latin Bar and Grille

Wine Dive It’s not really much of a dive (decor tends to the dark and sleek), and the extensive wine list enhances meals like wild boar ragù. winediveks.com

YaYa’s Euro Bistro It’s hard to complain about a good steak in cattle country, but if you’re in need of a change, try YaYa’s. The menu offers fresh options, including wood-fired pizzas, hummus, Idaho rainbow trout and gnocchi. yayaswichita.com

Stay

Ambassador Hotel The 1926 neoclassic exterior hints at the luxury inside: This 117-room hotel is a modern showplace dressed in purples and grays. ambassadorhotelcollection.com

Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview You’ll love the granite counters, soft beds, stellar service and tasty hot breakfast in this beautiful 1922 property. druryhotels.com 

Hotel at Old Town Original architecture of the 1906 former warehouse downtown sets a retro tone. Suites have full kitchens, and you’re near shopping and restaurants. hotelatoldtown.com

The Inn at Glenstrae In the Flint Hills Suite, canvas awnings create the feeling of glamping in the city. Breakfasts come with rich, creamy coffee. theinnatglenstrae.com

For information: Visit Wichita visitwichita.com

Day trip

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Hike to observation platforms for prime viewing of Sandhill cranes and other migratory birds in Stafford (85 miles west of Wichita). To date, 344 bird species have been seen in the salt marshes, sand prairie and woodlands. fws.gov/refuge/quivira

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