I have moved many times in my life. Growing up, my dad was in the Marine Corps and we moved every three years. My husband and I have moved our family four times in the short eight years of our marriage. We never plan on moving – always be some extenuating circumstance either for good or bad. So, I have come wholly and fully appreciate each city that I’ve lived in. And, I’ve decided to live like a tourist in each city. Doing so has really taught me that there is so much to explore everywhere you live.
And with spring break coming up this month, it is the perfect time to plan a stay-cation and explore Wichita just like a tourist. So, here are 15 ways to be a tourist in your city.
Book a Local Hotel
To make it feel like a real vacation, and to get a different change of pace for spring break, try booking a hotel room for a night or two. Try getting one closer to downtown Wichita for more of an easy walk to different locals. Even talk to a concierge and ask them for their recommendations on what to do in Wichita.
If you want to save money, instead allow for some sleepovers with family friends. Or set up the tent in the backyard. My kids like making a blanket fort in the basement during long weekends. Get out of the norm somehow.
Drive Using Different Routes
If you’re like me, you usually take the same roads everywhere. My two most used roads are Maize Road and 21st street. Instead, try going a different way. Turn off the GPS on your phone and just drive to explore. Take the long route. Drive through cool neighborhoods.
Grab your camera and take a #wallcrawl in downtown Wichita. Both Visit Wichita and 360 Wichita have great lists for the amazing and colorful wall art murals Wichita has to offer. Go the Keeper of the Plains and take some pictures alongside the river. Pretend to be a photographer and take some fun urban family pictures in front of the amazing architecture that downtown has to offer. And post it to social media — it didn’t happen if you don’t post it to Instagram, right?
Eat At Unique Local Restaurants
Rather than doing the drive thru at Chick-fil-A or ordering from Pizza Hut, try one of Wichita’s unique and locally owned restaurants. We have quite the local scene in the food industry – it’s amazing! Did you know that the owner and chef of The Kitchen was even on Guy Fieri’s Guy’s Grocery Games?!?!?!?! Make sure to check our Wichita by EB for some great reviews and recommendations.
Spend Time Outside in Nature
Visit what’s unique about Wichita’s outdoor space and the nature of Kansas. Take some family walks at Sedgwick County Park, Swanson Park, OJ Watson Park (which opens on March 19th!!!), and Pawnee Prairie Trail and Park. Have a picnic along the River Trails and near the Keeper of the Plains.
Visit Botanica for their Spring Break Gnome Scavenger Hunt. Or spend the day at the Great Plains Nature Center. Go to Field Station: Dinosaurs for their Spring Break Sneak Peek.
Watch some animals and walk around at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Kansas Wildlife Habitat, and Tanganyika Wild Life Park.
Go Spend Time on the Lakes and Camping
Or, if you really want to enjoy the warm weather that’s coming, go play on the water at OJ Watson Park. Take your boat out to Bright Water Bay, Santa Fe Lake, Lake Afton, Harvey County Lake, El Dorado, or even Cheney Lake. Go fishing in your neighborhood ponds.
You can even start camping season at Sand Hills, El Dorado, or Cheney. Or, break out the tent in your own backyard and make sure to break in your grill and smoker for the season.
Make sure to check out our page on Unique Wichita Attractions for more ideas!
Learn about the History and Culture
Did you know we have more than 50 museums and art galleries in the Wichita area? We have listed some great family friendly ones on our Museums page. Take the kids to the Kansas Aviation Museum or Exploration Place. Visit the Wichita Art Museum for some of their fun family-friendly events. Or pick up a Spring Break Camp in a box participate in virtual events with Exploration Place.
Spend the day downtown. Walk some of the neighborhoods like Riverside or Delano. Walk along the river. Visit some of the shopping areas like Bradley Fair or Clifton Square. Support some local businesses. Get up to the rooftops and take some photos. Go on a tour. Rent out some bikes through the Bike Share ICT program. You can even download Wichita Public Library’s History Walk app for a self-guided tour of downtown.
Play at Some Different Playgrounds
Ever get in a playground rut? Stuck going to the same 2-3 neighborhood parks? Did you know that Wichita’s Parks and Rec department has over 100 playgrounds and parks? And that doesn’t include what Maize, Park City, Andover, Goddard, and other surrounding towns have to offer. Check our parks and playgrounds list for links to local Parks and Rec department pages for more information. Try to some different playgrounds – don’t be afraid to drive 30 minutes for it. And check out our playground reviews for in-depth pros and cons of playgrounds and pictures! Talk to some of the other moms and make new friends!
Go on a Treasure Hunt
There are so many different ways to do a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt in Wichita. You could create your own for your kids. Or you could start Geocaching. A simple Google will also show just how many city-wide scavenger hunts you can participate in, usually for around $10.
The real touristy thing to do is shop for souvenirs. Get an ICT sticker, flag, or pin. There are many local shops that offer fun and unique ICT-specific items. Try Clifton Collective or The Work Room to begin. Also, visit some fun locally owned and operated snack and treat locations like Nifty Nuthouse or Cocoa Dolce. Check out our Coffee and Treats page for more options.
Attend a Local Sports Event
Get tickets for a local sporting event. Watch hockey with the Wichita Thunder. Or support the ACL Cornhole Mania. Get tickets for Intrust Bank Arena for the NCAA Division 1 March Madness games. Or visit Chicken N Pickle and play some of their fun yard games with your family while you have a delicious outdoor dinner.
Watch a Sunset or Sunrise
The amazing thing about Wichita is that although it’s the largest city in Kansas, the country is just a few minutes out of the city. Drive out past ICT boundaries and watch an amazing spring sunset or sunrise. Stay in pajamas, bring blankets and camp chairs and a yummy treat to share as a family.
Or you could even check out Starlight Drive’s website for the beginning of the season (beginning March 12th).
Read a Guidebook
Visit Watermark Books and Cafe and buy one their many guidebooks on Wichita, Sedgwick County, and the state of Kansas. Explore what our area has to offer as listed by the experts! Make sure to get the book Wicked Wichita, a fun history read on all the “baddies” of Wichita – we will actually be reading this book in October for our TWMN Book Club (make sure to sign up)!
Have Some Family Fun
Tourists love to spend time with their family in exciting events. Visit one of Wichita’s many arcades and fun zones. Don’t forget to see what indoor play places we have to offer as well for their open gym. And of course, there is also bowling as a family or mall walking at East Towne, West Towne, or Bradley Fair.