Wichita has some great summertime traditions. If you're looking for fun with an ICT spin, check out our list of the most "Wichita" things to do this summer.
Get Your Toes Wet in the Fountain at Oldtown Square
Oldtown Square is more than movies and dining. If the heat gets you, pull off your shoes and splash around in the dancing fountain. It's free... it's fun... and unlike the fountains a Century II, it was built just for this purpose. The fountains typically run from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
If you don't want to get wet, there's shaded seating nearby, and you'll often see local musicians and street performers in the square.
Free Summer Concert Series
The KEYN Summer Concert Series at the WaterWalk is a free outdoor concert held on Friday nights all summer long. For 2016, concerts will be held on six consecutive Fridays, beginning July 8. Here's the line-up for this year:
July 8 - King Midas
July 15 - Big Fat Fun
July 22 - Lucky People
July 29 - Annie Up
August 5 - Groove 42
August 12 - The Astronauts
Bring a chair and enjoy free live local music, a beautiful riverside sunset, and local Food Trucks. The event opens at 6:30 p.m. with music at 8 p.m.
Chill Out at Rock River Rapids
Oh, Derby, don't tell the others, but you're our favorite suburb in the summertime.
Lather on the sunscreen, because Derby’s Rock River Rapids water park has four giant water slides, a lazy river, rock wall, diving boards and more. What more could you ask for on a summer day? Grab a friend and a double-tube to twist and turn down the blue slide, or take a daring plunge down the red speed slide!
Rock River Rapids is located at 1900 E. James, and admission is priced at $8 for children ages 3-17, $9 for adults ages 18- 59, and $8 for ages 60 and over. Children under the are of two are admitted for free.
Ride the Historic Watson Park Train
If you haven't taken a ride on the Watson Park Train, your Wichita card will be revoked.
Watson Park's miniature train rides have been an iconic part of Wichita for decades. Just in time for summer, the park debuted a brand new train in 2016. It's a leisurely ride through the park. You might see some ponies. And don't be scared, the tunnel is the coolest part. Train rides are available for all ages. Watson Park is open from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day between March 14 – October 31, and train rides operate from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays, and from noon until 8 p.m. on weekends.
Watson Park also features three playgrounds, two lakes, a miniature golf course, pedal boats, sand volleyball courts, and picnic areas and more.
Visit Wichita's Biggest Icon
Nothing says Wichita like the 44-foot tall Keeper of the Plains statue. Sure, you see it in the distance all the time. But the Keeper plaza in the summertime is a great spot to enjoy the warm weather, take a stroll along the Arkansas River, and see a piece of the city's history up close. There's a scenic river walk and bridges around the statue, which are wheelchair accessible. Don't miss the Ring of Fire, which burns from at 9 p.m. until 9:15 p.m. every night during the summer.
Grab an Old Fashioned Soda or Ice Cream at the Old Mill
One of the few soda fountains remaining in Kansas (and the U.S.), The Old Mill Tasty Shop has operated in historic Old Town since 1932. Specializing in classic sodas, vanilla cokes and ice cream, the Old Mill is a Wichita treasure that goes hand-in-hand with summertime.
From a toddler's first taste of ice cream to the great grandparents' Friday night date, The Old Mill is a rare venue that the whole family can enjoy. The Old mill serves up memories and meals. You in addition to a classic drink, you can enjoy a variety of soups, sandwiches and even Mexican dishes at Old Mill. To cool down with a treat that’s truly Wichita, give the Old Mill a try.
The soda fountain is open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Fridays, and from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturdays.
Party in ICT
Riverfest is Wichita's biggest party, which makes 2016's theme, "Party in ICT", particularly appropriate. A $10 button ($3 for kids) gets you into just about everything, including some great concerts.
The 2016 shows include: The Roots, Elle King, Violent Femmes, Naughty By Nature, Reel Big Fish, Fishbone and many more.
There are also tons of other fun events like Human Bowling, Hot Air Balloons, Jet Ski Racing, Lucha Libre Wrestling and an Ice Cream Social to name a few. If you're not in to events, the people watching is top-notch.
Riverfest runs from June 3 through June 11 this year. Buttons are available at most Dillon's and QuikTrip locations.
Summertime baseball has been a tradition in downtown Wichita since Lawrence-Dumont Stadium opened in the 1930s. The Wichita Wingnuts now call the stadium home, and every year from May to Sept., America's pastime takes lights up the Arkansas river.
The Wingnuts (aside from having one of the coolest mascots in baseball, Spinner the squirrel) offer a fun, energy-packed, family-friendly environment. They have frequent ticket deals, giveaways, and special nights with fireworks and entertainment, so it's a great summer buy.
Grab a Bite to Eat at Food Trucks at the Fountain
Wichita is home to an impressive fleet of food trucks that can be found at the Wichita WaterWalk one Sunday each month for the Food Trucks at the Fountain event. Outdoor yoga will kick off the event, and the local food trucks serve lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. It's free to attend, but food is available for purchase only. The event will be held on the following dates:
- Sunday, May 22
- Sunday, June 26
- Sunday, July 31
- Sunday, August 28
- Sunday, September 25
- Sunday, October 30.
Twilight Tuesdays at the Sedgwick County Zoo
Enjoy some free and family-friendly fun at the Sedgwick County Zooon Tuesday evenings in the month of July. From 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., free admission is offered to anyone presenting a voucher for the event. The zoo features over 3,000 animals of almost 400 species, so there’s plenty to see. The animals are most active when the weather is nice, so summer is a great time to come check it out.
Twilight Tuesday vouchers can be picked up at select Cox Solutions stores, including the following Wichita locations:
- 2556 N. Maize Rd., Suite 102;
- 2240 N. Rock Rd., Suite 101
- 725 E. Douglas Ave
- Cox locations in Derby, El Dorado and Newton will also offer vouchers.
Have a Cocktail on one Wichita's Best Patios
One of the most popular patios in Wichita. Whether you're drinking a Fallen Angel, a 007, a Golden Mean this summer, Mort's is a great spot for a cool drink, a cigar and some live music.
Mort’s Martini and Cigar Bar is located in historic Old Town, operating there for more than 15 years. Offering 160 different martinis, a full bar with a large liquor collection, and an extensive beer selection, you’ll never run out of new options.
If martini's aren't your thing, check out some of the great patios in Wichita.
Check out a Local Farmer's Market
Featuring live music and a variety of special events, Wichita's Oldtown Farmer's Market is known for the Iron Chef's Cookoff. One of two farmer's markets in Wichita, the Oldtown market runs from May to October at the Farm & Art Market Square at 2nd and Mosley.
The Kansas Grown Farmer's Market is held at the Sedgwick County Extension Center on west 21st street. This market runs from April to October. Both farmer's markets run on Saturday mornings only, and are open from 7 a.m. until noon.
Cheap QuikTrip Drinks
It's the official unofficial start of summer, Cheap QuikTrip fountain drinks. The $0.79, 32 ounce Big Q full of your favorite beverage just tastes like summertime. Of course, this is just one the things we love about QuikTrip.