Visit Wichita – The Heart of the Country

This post is sponsored by Visit Wichita. Opinions belong to the writer.

Are you looking for a weekend with your family that’s jam-packed with things everyone will love? Baseball games, exotic animal encounters, STEM fun for all ages? Then hop in the car and head southwest to Wichita, the heart of the country! My family and I recently spent three days in Wichita. Every place we visited was tween- and teen-approved!

What to Do in Wichita

Our first stop was the Splash Aqua Park. Located just off I-235, this park is a series of inflatable runways, slides, bouncers and jumping pillows all connected and floating in a large lake. There is a beach area with umbrellas and chairs, for those who don’t want to get wet. All you need is your swimsuit, towel and your energy! Be sure to fill out the waiver online ahead of time!

That evening, we took in a Wichita Wind Surge baseball game at their newly-renovated Riverfront Stadium on the Arkansas River. This is minor league baseball at its finest! There is family-friendly entertainment between each inning, and the cameras are always showing pictures of the stands, so keep an eye out for your face on the big screen! There’s a play area for kids, fireworks on Friday night, and not a bad seat in the house!

The next day, we spent the morning at Exploration Place. This interactive museum inspires scientists and engineers of all ages! There are many permanent exhibits dedicated to aviation, Kansas geography, health and more, as well as traveling exhibits. Allow yourself a few hours to experience all of it! There is a snack bar, gift shop and hand sanitizer at every turn. There’s also a great space for the littlest explorers to play – ages 5 and under only!

We took some time in the afternoon to check out some of the murals downtown, especially in the Douglas Design District. These bright paintings burst with Wichita pride and positive messages, bringing life to older buildings.

After dinner, we enjoyed a walk along the Arkansas River and explored the Keeper of the Plains Plaza. This plaza features exhibits about the Plains Indians’ way of life, and is home to one of the most iconic images of Wichita – the Keeper of the Plains. This 44-foot steel sculpture is most impressive to see at night, during the 15-minute “Ring of Fire” lit every evening at 9:00 (spring and summer, weather permitting). Park in the Exploration Place parking lot by 8:45 p.m. and have your camera ready!

Our final stop was an all-day excursion to Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Located just outside of Wichita, this is the only wildlife park in the country with 10 interactive encounters where you can feed and touch exotic animals. We loved every minute! Mom tip: outside food and drink is allowed in the park, so pack up the wagon and stay awhile!

Where to Stay in Wichita

We thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of the Ambassador Hotel Autograph Collection in the heart of downtown Wichita! We were minutes from all of our attractions, as well as many restaurants and Old Town. Our kids remarked that this was “the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in!”

Where to Eat in Wichita

Stearman Field Bar and Grill – located just outside of Wichita, this restaurant is on a private airport where airplanes land 20 yards from you! The patio is huge and there’s a play space for the kids.

Ziggy’s Pizza – locally owned and family operated in three Wichita locations. Ziggy’s serves pizza, sandwiches and more. The location in Clifton Square is in an adorable shopping and dining area, with a quaint outdoor eating space.

HomeGrown Wichita – open for breakfast and lunch, with outdoor seating and takeout available. Their creative dishes use locally sourced ingredients. Try the seasonal Limoncello French Toast. Trust me. Be sure to use the Yelp app to get on their waitlist.

Station 8 BBQ – this restaurant opens at 11am and closes at 2pm or before if they sell out of their BBQ. It is located in an old fire house, full of nostalgia. Arrive at 11, or risk missing out on their ribs and brisket. Indoor and outdoor seating available, as well as carryout.

Doo-Dah Diner – this place is a must for breakfast in Wichita! Call ahead seating is available at 316-265-7011. They also have takeout and delivery options. 

Siena Tuscan Steakhouse – located inside the Ambassador Hotel, experience the cuisine of northern Italy in an upscale setting. They also have a children’s menu with smaller pasta portions.

This was our first visit to Wichita and I know it won’t be the last! For an extensive list of all Wichita has to offer, visit here to plan your vacation!

Jen was born and raised in Overland Park. After going to Indiana University for college, then living in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, she grew exhausted of circling for a parking spot and headed back home to be near family. She and her husband Matt are parents to a 10 year-old boy and a 8 year-old girl. Jen teaches kindergarten and her husband teaches high school, so they wonder how they’ll relate to their kids during the middle school years. She spends her free time cheering on the Chiefs, Royals, and Hoosiers, hanging out with family, laughing with her teacher friends, and fostering a love/hate relationship with boxing. She also loves traveling, Target, coffee, wine, sunflowers and all things pop culture.