Summer vacation is right around the corner and there’s no better destination for affordable family fun than Wichita, Kansas. With attractions catering to every kind of traveler, visitors will find educational experiences, extreme fun, exotic excursions and more.

New this summer, visitors can experience Field Station: Dinosaurs, which is set to open to the public May 26, offering a trip back to prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Kids can enjoy dozens of activities and performances while learning about both sea and land creatures from different periods and interacting with more than 40 dinosaurs. They can even dig up their own fossils at the largest, soon-to-be-open animatronic dinosaur park in North America.

Also new to Wichita is a permanent exhibit at Exploration Place, Design Build Fly. It’s the only exhibit in the country where visitors can learn what it takes to create an aircraft – made possible by tapping into aerospace experts and resources in Wichita, known as the Air Capital of the World for its innovation and manufacturing aptitude in the aviation industry. On May 26, the traveling exhibit Planet Shark: Predator or Prey will open at Exploration Place, following an outdoor showing of “Jaws” on May 25.

Additionally, a new museum highlighting the success story of Pizza Hut recently opened on Wichita State University’s (WSU) Innovation Campus. Brothers and WSU students, Dan and Frank Carney, founded the pizza chain in Wichita. The company’s original building is now a museum, providing inspiration for future generations of entrepreneurs. This unique museum is open Monday through Friday only.

More Wichita vacation ideas:

Exotic Excursions

  • Tanganyika Wildlife Park – Get up-close-and-personal with a variety of wildlife from pygmy hippos, penguins and giraffes to kangaroos, lemurs and exotic birds.
  • Sedgwick County Zoo – Visit the seventh-largest zoo in the nation and one of the best elephant exhibits in the country, featuring a 550,000-gallon pool and feeding demonstrations by the zookeepers. 

Educational Experiences

  • Old Cowtown Museum – Head back to the 1860s to see Wichita as a bustling Cowtown at this living history museum.
  • Museum of World Treasures – Experience the massiveness of the third-largest T. rex in the world, Ivan, or let the kids play in Ivan’s Playhouse where imaginations run wild.
  • Keeper of the Plains and Mid-America All-Indian Center – Discover the lifestyles of Native Americans and see Wichita’s most iconic monument overlooking the Arkansas River and downtown Wichita.
  • The Kansas African American Museum – Learn about the history of the black community in Kansas from famous African American Kansans to Negro League Baseball stars.
  • Kansas Aviation Museum – Learn about Wichita’s aviation history at this museum built in the original Wichita Airport.
  • Wichita Toy Train Club & Museum – Don’t miss this enchanting museum celebrating train collectors and enthusiasts. Open every second and fourth weekend of the month.

Wet & Wild Fun

  • Rock River Rapids – Cool off from the summer heat at this unique water park built with six water slides, a lazy river and tons of features for all ages.
  • Greater Wichita YMCAs – Considered some of the best in the nation, Wichita’s seven locations offer day passes for $5 each, providing an affordable and fun option to enjoy the indoor or outdoor pools at any local YMCA. 
  • WaterWalk Fountains – Experience “liquid fireworks” during the 10- to 15-minute water show at WaterWalk Plaza. You can catch the light and water shows every Thursday through Sunday, May through October at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. (as long as the wind doesn’t gust past 15 mph). 
  • Rent a kayak or paddleboat and head out on the Arkansas River any time of the year or during Wichita Riverfest, June 1-9.

Outdoor Adventures

  • Botanica Wichita – Enjoy more than 30-themed gardens, including the Downing Children’s Garden bringing education and beauty to life in a magical fairy-inspired playground.
  • Bike Share ICT powered by Zagster – Stop at one of the 19 downtown-area bike racks to rent a bike to explore downtown Wichita. There are several bike paths, including the Arkansas River Trail, that showcase the beauty of the Arkansas. 
  • Wichita is home to 125 parks, including OJ Watson Park that offers children’s rides like a miniature train ride, pony rides and hayrack rides, as well as a miniature golf course and sand volleyball court.
  • ICT Pop-Up Urban Park – This park offers food trucks during the lunch period, a sand box area, table tennis and games and a chalk wall all situated between two downtown Wichita buildings.
  • Head outside to visit one of five public golf coursesFootGolf courses or Disc Golf courses.  
  • Starlite Drive-In – With six movie options a night (three on each screen), Starlite offers a nostalgic way to watch a movie under the stars.

High Energy Fun

Cultivating Creativity

  • Wichita Art Museum – Kids can play in the “Living Room” and create a masterpiece to take home. 
  • Mark Arts – At the new Mary R. Koch Arts Center, everyone can take art or culinary classes to build on creativity and artistic skills.
  • Mural Tours – Walk around downtown to discover urban art pieces, which make perfect selfie backdrops.
  • Music Theatre Wichita – Don’t miss the 2018 Music Theatre Wichita Season with multiple Disney shows and the chance to see current rising Broadway stars. 

Sports Outings

  • Wichita Wingnuts – Take the family out to the ball game and cheer for the home team as the Wichita Wingnuts play at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Or visit between July 27 and Aug. 11 to attend the 84th NBC World Series, which has been the Summer Collegiate National Championship since 1935.
  • Wichita Ice Center – If it’s too hot outside, cool off with some ice skating or hockey.
  • Learn about Kansas’ rich history of sports through pictures, videos, artifacts and interactive tools at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

For specific events happening throughout the summer months in Wichita, check what’s going on through Visit Wichita’s calendar of events page

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About Visit Wichita
Visit Wichita markets the Greater Wichita area and advocates for the city as a destination, increasing travel and tourism as a key economic driver for the city, county, region and state. Visit Wichita is led by president and CEO Susie Santo, and in 2017 travel and tourism contributed more than $1.1 billion in economic impact to the greater Wichita area.