One of the largest in our city’s parks system, O.J. Watson Park sits on 119 acres, just west of the Arkansas River. The park, which was dedicated on May 22, 1965, has become a Wichita tradition of sorts, offering locals and visitors alike a place to get out, enjoy the weather and have fun.
You’re probably picturing trees, sidewalks and some playground equipment. While Watson Park does feature these things, it is by no means your typical city park. Highlighting some truly unique opportunities, this park is definitely worth a visit. Here’s a look at some of the coolest things the park has to offer.
Miniature Train Rides
All Aboard! Guests of all ages are invited to enjoy a train ride through scenic Watson Park. The Watson Park train ride has been around for more than 30 years, and it’s really a Wichita tradition in and of itself. After over three decades of excited children and parents boarding time and time again for rides, the original Watson Park train was taken out of commission. In April of this year, the park debuted a brand new locomotive, and you’ve got to ride it! It’s a shiny new toy that the whole city can enjoy. Train rides are available for $3 per person.
When I think of parks, I don’t usually think of pony rides. When I think of Watson Park, however, it’s a totally different story. Children under the age of 12 and under 90 pounds can take a seat on the saddle when they visit the park. Riders must be old enough to hold on to the saddle, though, as parents and staff are not allowed to walk with riders. Pony rides are priced at $2 per ride.
That’s right! O.J. Watson Park offers pedal boat rides, and with a 40 acre lake, this feature is a perfect fit! Grab a few friends and hit the dock to get into your boat. From there, you can pedal ‘til your heart’s content. This allows park visitors to explore the park in a brand new way! The boats can hold a maximum of four people, if the fourth rider is under the age of six. Riders under the age of 12 are required to wear life jackets. Rides are priced at $3 per person for 30 minutes. The lake is great for fishing, though fishing is not allowed from pedal boats.
Equipped with an 18-hole miniature golf course, the park allows guests to practice their putting! Some of the holes are pretty tricky! Are you up for the challenge? The course is lighted, allowing guests to continue to play as the sun begins to set. A round of mini golf at Watson Park is priced at $3 per person.
A concession stand located near the center of the park serves a variety of treats, and visitors who intend to fish can also purchase bait in the concession stand, which is open during the spring, summer and fall.
Children at Watson Park have three different playground options to choose from, varying in size, shape and surface. The park’s west playground and southeast playground feature a sand safety surface, while the northeast playground highlights a rubber pour-in place safety surface. These safety features allow children (and parents!) a playground experience that’s worry-free!
Between March 14 - October 4, Watson Park will observe the following summer hours:
The park will be open from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. Rides will operate from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. on weekdays, and from noon - 8 p.m. on weekends. Ride availability is subject to weather and maintenance issues.