Two-Day Getaway to Wichita
Old West spirit meets urban energy in Wichita, where travelers find contemporary fine arts and a restored Old Town.
Old Cowtown Museum preserves the 1870s lifestyle with a history museum, working farm, a business district and warm-weather gunfight shows.
Blocks away, The Keeper of the Plains statue pays tribute to the tribes that once inhabited the region and stands on sacred ground at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers.
Inventive starters, like crispy plantain chips with chimichurri, complement tacos and traditional Cuban sandwiches at Sabor Latin Bar and Grille.
The Kansas Aviation Museum features historical aircraft, a flight simulator and an exhibit on how to make perfect paper airplanes.
The Wichita Art Museum reveals a large collection of glasswork, including Steuben glass.
Jumbo lump crab cakes and Scottish salmon fillets burst with flavor at Avi Seabar and Chophouse.
Casual elegance is the hallmark of the renovated 1926 Ambassador Hotel (from $179).
Serenity defines the 26 themed gardens at Botanica, The Wichita Gardens.
In Goddard (14 miles west), giraffes and lemurs eat from guests' hands and kangaroos accept pats at Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
Back in Wichita, more than 225 booths at the Paramount Antique Mall satisfy lovers of all things vintage.
Classic sandwiches with flavor twists fill the lunch menu at Doo-Dah Diner.
History buffs marvel at dinosaur skeletons, a Berlin Wall segment and Egyptian mummies at the Museum of World Treasures.
At the beautiful Botanica Gardens, paved paths lead to serenity among 26 themed gardens and a butterfly house.
Mahogany and leather warm the mood at Chester's Chophouse and Wine Bar.
More information: Visit Wichita (800) 288-9424; visitwichita.com
One Big Party
A parade and concerts herald the start of Wichita's annual Riverfest, but the fireworks along the Arkansas River are the opening-day exclamation point. Celebrate with helicopter rides, ziplines, Jet Ski races, hot-air balloons and fun runs. Make art at Full Steam Ahead, and shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs at a one-day sale. (316) 267-2817; wichitariverfest.com
Bring the Kids
Cosmosphere Crane your neck to see a rocket that's more than 100 feet tall. View the command module Odyssey from the Apollo 13 lunar mission and a cosmosphere showcasing space gear. Feel like a jet pilot in a daredevil flight with the Blue Angels in the simulator. The Smithsonian-affiliated center in Hutchinson (52 miles northwest of Wichita), also wows with special events and its Justice Planetarium. (800) 397-0330; cosmo.org
Swedish flags on display and colorful fiberglass Dala horses in Lindsborg (72 miles north of Wichita) serve as reminders of the town's immigrant heritage. Tour downtown on pedal carts. We suggest starting at the craft shop Hemslojd, where a resident artist sells Scandinavian art and you can get lingonberries. The Brick House Grill pleases crowds with the popular meaty Viking pizza. (888) 227-2227; visitlindsborg.com