Wichita Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Wichita Trip Guide

Little pockets of this city of 382,000 feel like they fell out of a movie set—a slice of the Serengeti or a town from the Old West—and into place here.
A children’s garden at Botanica
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The Arkansas River cuts through Wichita on its way to the Mississippi.
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With its past as an Old West cow town and a launchpad for the aviation industry, Wichita—Kansas' largest city—strikes an interesting historical balance. Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman were among the adventurers who launched the city's aircraft industry in the early 1900s. Visitors can learn more about the area's high-flying heritage at the Kansas Aviation Museum, the former terminal of the Wichita Municipal Airport, built in the Art Deco style of the 1930s.

Of course, before the aviation industry took off in this south-central Kansas community, catte reigned supreme. The Old Cowtown Museum captures the rowdy mood of Wichita's early days, when more than 1 million longhorns were herded to Chisholm Trail railheads. 

Visitors searching for local treasures and cuisine find them in Old Town, a converted warehouse district east of downtown.

What to do

Botanica A children’s garden at the city's gardens encourages hands-on learning, while other areas feature flowers, bird walks and sculptures. (316) 264-0448; botanica.org

Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre See engaging shows at the 1928 former vaudeville venue with stars in the ceiling. The 2013 lineup includes Annie Get Your Gun and Hairspray. (316) 612-7696; crownuptown.com 

Kansas Aviation Museum A revamped airport terminal houses historic aircraft, a flight simulator and an exhibit on perfect paper airplanes. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, visitors can watch volunteers restore vintage aircraft. (877) 683-9242; kansasaviationmuseum.org 

Old Cowtown Museum A 19th-century living-history town and farm includes a blacksmith’s shop, a newspaper printer and daily gunfight shows. For the best experience, check the online schedule and visit during special events. (316) 219-1871; oldcowtown.org

Riverfest Wichita’s huge annual celebration (May 31–June 8 in 2013) draws crowds for the Sundown Parade, fireworks, concerts, food, sporting events, arts and crafts fair, and more. (877) 934-3378; wichitariverfest.com

Wichita Art Museum Historic and contemporary glassworks make up a big part of the collection. The on-site Muse Cafe offers a light, lovely menu. (316) 268-4921; wichitaartmuseum.org 

Where to eat

The Donut Whole It’s part coffee bar, part performance center, but mostly the place for cake doughnuts. More adventurous toppings include Fruity Pebbles, bacon or Hydrox cookies. (316) 262-3700; thedonutwhole.com

Hangar One Steakhouse Eat up the city’s heritage at this restaurant that looks like an airplane hangar. The “award-winning” Bailey’s bread pudding hasn’t actually won awards, but it could. (316) 941-4900; hangaronesteakhouse.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. See reviews and ratings. (316) 634-1000; yayaswichita.com

Where to stay

Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview This beautiful historic property reopened in 2011 under new ownership. You’ll love the granite counters, soft beds, stellar service and tasty hot breakfast. From $109, breakfast included. See reviews and ratings. (316) 262-5000; druryhotels.com 

Hotel at Old Town Richly furnished rooms, many with balconies, fill a 1906 downtown building. Suites have full kitchens, and you’re within easy distance of shopping and restaurants. From $119. See reviews and ratings. (877) 265-3869; hotelatoldtown.com

For information: Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 288-9424; gowichita.com

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