All winter, you’ve been dreaming about the chance to get out and enjoy some fresh air, beautiful scenery and fun activities. Now that the weather’s warming up, here are some ideas for things to do outside in Wichita this spring:
Central Riverside Park
Located along the Little Arkansas River near downtown Wichita, Central Riverside Park has something to offer everyone. Kids and families will enjoy playing at the large playground and splashing in the interactive fountains at Celebration Plaza. History buffs will enjoy the historic buildings, statues and walking path with historical markers.
You can check out the sculptures that form a solar calendar, or check out more than 25 species of animals, including hawks, beavers, porcupines and more, at the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit. Restrooms are on-site.
Hidden away in the Riverside neighborhood, Wichita’s botanical garden offers more than nine beautifully landscaped acres to explore. There are 26 themed gardens, including the Downing Children’s Garden, and multiple fountains and statues throughout the grounds.
Botanica hosts several seasonal exhibits each year; in early April, you can see Kansas’ largest tulip display. In May, enjoy the annual Blooms, Brews and Bloody Marys event, with live music, food and adult beverages. The 2015 event will take place on May 14, and reservations are required.
Keeper of the Plains Plaza
The 44-foot tall Keeper of the Plains sculpture is a Wichita icon that has been overlooking the Arkansas River since 1974. It can be seen easily from a distance, but to really appreciate its size and beauty, you’ve got to see it up close. You can explore the Plaza around the Keeper of the Plains any time, but the best views are at night.
The “Ring of Fire” burns around the base of the statue at 9-9:15 pm every night during daylight savings time (spring and summer). During standard time (fall and winter) it burns from 7-7:15 pm. (While you’re there, take a walk along the east bank and see if you can find the Wichita Troll’s lair.)
Sedgwick County Park
Located in northwest Wichita just west of the Sedgwick County Zoo, Sedgwick County Park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities. You can walk, run or bike on more than 4 miles of wide, paved paths in and around the park. You could also fish in one of the four lakes on-site or take the kids to play at one of the playgrounds.
Other facilities include basketball courts, horseshoe pits, tennis and volleyball courts, and a bocce court. Restrooms and water fountains are located throughout the park, and bbq grills and shelters are available for rent. The park office sells fishing licenses, tackle, bait, and snacks.
Great Plains Nature Center
Experience the great outdoors without leaving the city. Located at 29th & Woodlawn, the Great Plains Nature Center offers 2 miles of paved trail that winds through trees and around ponds.
The nature center is home to native prairie grasses and wildlife including deer, turtles, frogs and more. There are nature-related events and programs scheduled throughout the year. Open daily.
Wichita Bike Paths and Rail Trails
Whether you want to ride, walk or run, there are many paths and trails available in around Wichita. According to the City of Wichita’s Website, the City maintains over 60 bike-friendly miles in town. Out east, between Wichita and Andover, you can access the Rails-to-Trails path.
A rail trail runs east and west between 21st & 13th streets in northeast Wichita, and the Redbud Trail is being developed between Wichita and Augusta. Another Rail Trail, the Prairie Sunset Trail, runs west from Goddard to Garden Plain.
Amber Waves Beer Walk and Tasting Tour
Enjoy specialty beers and delicious appetizers while exploring participating stores in Wichita’s Delano District. This is an annual fundraiser for Starkey, Inc., which supports over 500 people with disabilities in Sedgwick County. This year’s event takes place May 15, 2015, from 6-9 pm. Open to ages 21 and older, advance tickets are available online.
All Star Adventures & All Star Sports
If you want to enjoy a game of mini golf or race around the go-kart track, All Star Wichita is the place to go. There are locations in east and west Wichita.
Each location features different attractions, and you can choose from bumper-boats, driving range, laser tag, a climbing wall, a two-lane bowling alley, carnival rides for both kids and adults, and batting cages for softball and baseball.
There’s no charge for admission, so you only pay for the activities you’d like to do. Be sure to check the attractions offered at each location before you go.
Food Trucks at the Fountain
On the last Sunday of every month from March through October, enjoy an afternoon of live music and tasty homemade food. Wichita’s food trucks gather at the WaterWalk pavilion, located downtown at Waterman and Main Street. Depending on which trucks participate each month, food choices can include sandwiches, pasta, barbecue, pizza and desserts. Food served from 11:30am – 2:30pm. No charge for admission, but food is available for purchase.
Great Plains Renaissance Festival
The spring Great Plains Renaissance Festival will be held April 23-24 at Sedgwick County Park in Wichita. Travel back in time and enjoy knights, magicians, jousting, a variety of musicians, kids’ activities, vendors and contests. In addition, the Wichita Highland Games will be part of this event, so you can also witness amazing athletic feats and discover Scottish and Celtic history. Ticket prices are $5 for kids and $12 for adults, but advance tickets can be purchased for $8.50.
Midwest Winefest Old Town Walkabout
This fun, casual event is a fundraiser for the Guadalupe Health Foundation and Guadalupe Clinic. Each spring, enjoy and evening exploring Old Town while enjoying live music and sampling delicious food and a variety of wines. The walk starts in Wichita’s Farm and Art Market Plaza in Old Town. Participants will stop at restaurants, museums and bars along the tour for entertainment, appetizers and wine. A trolley is available too.
This annual event usually sells out quickly, so purchase your tickets early. The 2016 Walkabout is April 21st, and tickets have already sold out.
O.J. Watson Park
This 119-acre park in southwest Wichita offers three playgrounds, two fishing lakes, a mini golf course, miniature train rides, pedal boats, pony rides, 32 sand volleyball courts, picnic tables, snacks and drinks. You can also rent shelters and inflatables, and reserve picnic tables, the campfire circle, and hayrack rides.
Educational and recreational programs are offered for visitors of all ages. Free admission, but there is a fee for the rides and some activities. Fishing licenses are not sold on-site. From March 14 – October 31, the park is open 8am – 10pm every day. On weekdays, the rides operate from 5 – 8pm, and from noon – 8pm on weekends. Coupon books are available to save you money on the amusements.
Old Cowtown Museum
There are probably a lot of people who’ve lived in Wichita for years and have never visited Old Cowtown Museum. Located next to Botanica in the Riverside neighborhood, it’s a hidden piece of our history. Old Cowtown is a living history museum that sits just off the historic Chisholm Trail. The 25-acre, open-air attraction will give you a glimpse of frontier life in Wichita and Sedgwick County during the “Old West” period of the late 1800s.
Visitors can watch gun fights, ride in a covered wagon, try on period costumes, explore real historic buildings from the era, and more. Currently open Tuesday – Saturday from 10am-4pm. Spring and summer hours begin April 25, and will be 9am-4:30pm Wednesday – Saturday and noon-4:30pm on Sunday.
Local Farmer's Markets
Visit a local farmer's market for a fun and unique shopping experience. Enjoy locally-grown produce, as well as meats, eggs, and cheeses. You’ll also find handmade crafts, baked goods, salsas, honey, and more.
Old Town offers a Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from May to October. This market holds special events throughout the season, including the Old Town Iron Chefs Cookoff, and each week features live music. Held at the Farm & Art Market Square at 2nd and Mosley in Old Town. Opens May 2, 2015, 7am-noon. No charge for admission, but items are for sale.
You can also check out the Kansas Grown Farmer's Market at the Sedgwick County Extension Center. Open on Saturday mornings from April through October, this market offers a variety of goods from across the state of Kansas. It's open from 7 a.m. until 12 p.m., so stop by and nd check it out!
Sedgwick County Zoo
Located in northwest Wichita, the Sedgwick County Zoo is open every day, except one day in the fall for their annual fundraiser. With your paid admission, you can check out more than 3,000 animals, and there are frequent special events.
Moms get in free with a paying child on Mother’s Day (May 8). From March to October, you can also enjoy the Zoo by bicycle! It happens the 3rd Wednesday of each month, from 5:30 – 6:30 pm, and there is a one-time fee to participate.
Wichita is fortunate to have a two-screen drive-in movie theater. Located in the southeast part of town, spring is one of the best times to go to the Starlite Drive-In, because they offer carload pricing. For $13, everyone in your vehicle gets in to see a triple feature. They even let you use a free car heater if the weather is chilly. Their snack bar features all the traditional favorites, like popcorn, candy, hamburgers, hot dogs, funnel cakes and more.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park
Located a few minutes west of Wichita in Goddard, Kansas, Tanganyika Wildlife Park is a zoo that lets you get up close and interact with animals.
The Park’s goal is to educate the public about endangered animals and promote their conservation.
Interactive activities include feeding a giraffe, riding a camel, and more. Days & hours vary. Open 9am-5pm daily starting in May.
Wichita State University Shocker Baseball
The WSU Shocker baseball team’s season runs through mid-May, so there are several opportunities each spring to catch a game at Eck Stadium on the Wichita State campus. Single-game ticket prices for 2015 range between $5 and $12, so it’s an affordable way to enjoy America’s favorite pastime.
Wichita Wingnuts Baseball
From May to September, enjoy professional baseball in downtown Wichita.
The Wingnuts are part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball’s Central Division, and they play at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
There are often theme nights and special events such as fireworks, and special activities for kids.