Wichita's Outdoor Activities
Cold, then warm for a few days, then cold again. Make up your mind, Wichita! Now that it seems to be staying warm, it's time to get outside, get some fresh air, and have fun! Here are some of Wichita's outdoor activities that are perfect for spring and summer weather!
The Sandbox at Derby
The Sandbox at Derby is opening in Summer 2022 and we can't wait. This sports and entertainment complex will feature eight sand volleyball courts, five outdoor and five indoor pickleball courts, cornhole, yard games and more. You can reserve the volleyball and pickleball courts ahead of time. Best of all, you can play all year round thanks to a 65,000 square foot seasonal dome that covers the outdoor courts—the largest of its kind in Kansas.
If you need refreshment after all that outdoor fun, you can grab a drink or a bite in the two-story restaurant and bar, complete with an open-air rooftop patio overlooking the sports courts. The Sandbox at Derby will also feature an event venue you can book for your next party or meeting.
Central Riverside Park
Equipped with a unique solar calendar and a Kansas Wildlife Exhibit featuring up to 25 species that are native to the state, Central Riverside Park is a great place to spend a spring day!
With large playgrounds and an interactive fountain in the Celebration Plaza, kids and families will have plenty to do. The park also features historical buildings and statues, as well as a walking path that serves as a timeline of Wichita history, making it a great place for a fun and educational experience. Central Riverside Park also offers on-site restrooms.
Springtime and gardens go hand-in-hand. Wichita's Botanica offers a total of 26 gardens, each with a different theme!
Spanning nine acres covered in thousands of plant species, Botanica highlights a Chinese garden, a train garden, a children's garden, a Shakespeare garden and much more. Over 30 bronze statues and fountains add to Botanica's breathtaking scenery. Botanica offers a variety of springtime events each year, including the largest Tulip display in the state of Kansas in April.
Keeper of the Plains Plaza
The iconic Keeper of the Plains stands 44 feet tall. Overlooking Wichita from the confluence of the big and little Arkansas Rivers since 1974, the Keeper, created by sculptor Blackbear Bosin, stands on a rock promontory above the Plaza. Though the Keeper is easy to see from a distance, you've got to see it up close to truly appreciate its size and beauty. The surrounding Plaza features inscriptions, replicas and an audio presentation that detail the life of the Plains Indians.
The Keeper is also known for its "Ring of Fire." The Ring of Fire occurs when the Keeper is illuminated by fire around its base. This takes place every evening (Weather permitting). During daylight savings time (spring and summer) the fire burns at 9-9:15 p.m. and during standard time (fall and winter) it burns from 7-7:15 p.m.
Sedgwick County Park
Northwest Wichita's Sedgwick County Park features several outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. From large scenic lakes for fishing to miles of paved trails for walking, jogging and biking, there's something for everyone. The park also features a Sunrise boundless playground and a Memories Park designed to serve as a backdrop for fun family photos.
The park also includes volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, basketball courts and a bocce court. There are restrooms and water fountains located in various places across the park and a park office sells fishing licenses, tackle, bait and snacks. Barbecue grills and shelters are available for rent.
Great Plains Nature Center
A visit to the Great Plains Nature Center is a perfect way to experience the outdoors. Scenic paved trails that wind through the trees and ponds at Chisholm Creek Park let visitors get active and connect with nature all at once.
At the nature center, you'll find native prairie grasses and wildlife like deer, turtles, frogs and more. The Great Plains Nature Center is free and open to the public daily. While you visit, check out the interactive displays inside!
Wichita Bike Paths and Rail Trails
According to the City of Wichita's website, the City maintains more than 60 miles of bike-friendly paths. Of course, you're also welcome to walk or jog on city paths, too! On the east side, 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 between Wichita and Augusta. Another Rail Trail, the Prairie Sunset Trail, runs west from Goddard to Garden Plain.
Spanning 119-acres in southwest Wichita, Watson Park offers three separate 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 – to October 31, the park is open 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day. On weekdays, the rides operate from 5 –dusk, and from noon –to dusk on weekends. Coupon books are available to save you money on amusements.
Old Cowtown Museum
Located next to Botanica in the Riverside neighborhood, Old Cowtown Museum is 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 gunfights, ride in a covered wagon, try on period costumes, explore real historic buildings from the era, and more. Currently, open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Spring and summer hours begin in April and will be 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday and noon - 5 p.m. 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, flowers and plants, baked goods, salsas, honey and more.
The Old Town Farm & Art Market at 1st and Rock Island features a wide variety of goods for sale, plus live music, street performers, food trucks and more. Summer hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., April to October.
On the west side, check out the Kansas Grown Farmer's Market at the Sedgwick County Extension Center. It's the largest farmer's market in the state, with acres of vendors plus live music, cooking and gardening demonstrations, and much more. The market is open Saturday mornings from April through October.
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.
From March to October, you can also enjoy the Zoo by bicycle, with Wheeling Wild! This event happens on the fourth Tuesday of each month, from 6-7 p.m., and there is $4 cost for zoo members and a $5 cost for non-members.
Wichita is fortunate to have one of the last remaining two-screen drive-in movie theaters. The drive-in closes each winter and its reopening is a Wichita springtime staple! Located in the southeast part of town, spring is one of the best times to go to the Starlite Drive-In, because the weather is perfect for a night under the stars! See upcoming showtimes here.
Wichita Wind Surge Baseball
From May to September, enjoy professional baseball in downtown Wichita!
The Wichita Wind Surge is a Minor League Baseball team that plays at the new Riverfront Stadium. There are often theme nights and special events such as fireworks, and special activities for kids.