WICHITA, Kan.— When selecting an urban destination to travel to, Wichita, Kansas, may not pop up as the obvious choice. But it should. The largest city in Kansas has history, culture, expansive cuisine choices, unique landmarks, friendly residents, modernity, revitalization, charm, shopping, nature, value and everything in between.

“Wichita is a strikingly beautiful city,” says Susie Santo, CEO and president of Visit Wichita. “A city that was once home to cattle drives, Wichita has risen out of the Old West dust, with its contemporary art museums, revitalized downtown and surrounding areas and distinctive landmarks, and shines as a lively destination right in the heart of the United States.”  

Wichita has evolved from a trading post and cow town to “Air Capital of the World” and has more than 33 museums, 22 attractions, 22 live theatres, 17 festivals and eight shopping districts to appeal to any traveler. Additionally, the city’s central location makes it easy to access by driving or flying. The Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport supports five major carriers, including Southwest Airlines, with nonstop options to most major hubs. To top it off, it’s an easy 10-minute drive from the airport to Wichita’s downtown hotels, restaurants and attractions.

Food aficionados have more than 1,000 restaurants spread across the city to choose from. While in the heart of American beef country, you’ll get apple pie and ribeye steaks, but you’ll also find a hot pot of international cuisine.

Uniquely Wichita experiences:

The 44-foot-tall Keeper of the Plains is Wichita’s most iconic and most photographed landmark. The statue is surrounded by Keeper of the Plains Plaza, which features exhibits depicting the Plains Indians way of life. Access to the plaza area is by two bow-and-arrow-inspired cable-stay bridges or through the Mid-America All-Indian Center during the day. The center houses a museum, gallery of nations and a gift shop featuring artists’ work.

Just blocks away, Old Cowtown Museum relives the 1870s – complete with re-enactors, savory sarsaparilla, a chuckwagon supper and cowboy songs from the Diamond W Wranglers. The Museum was established in 1952, and is one of the oldest open-air history museums in the Midwest with 54 historic and re-created buildings, including a period farm and out-buildings, situated on 23 acres of land off the old Chisholm Trail.

Several other notable museums include:

In the Air Capital of the World, it’s only appropriate that you can enjoy a meal right next to a landing

strip. Whether dining indoors or on the outdoor patio, watch planes take off and land as you eat at Stearman Field Bar & Grill. Adults love the ambience and live music and kids enjoy the playground and watching planes come and go.

Wichita has one of the only movie theaters in the country where you can enjoy a movie and be served dinner and cocktail at the Warren Theater Old Town. The city is also home to the Orpheum Performing Arts Center is a fully operational historic theater that hosts world-class entertainment. Going strong for more than 90 years, the Orpheum is the place to see concerts, ballet, comedians and more.

Animal lovers will enjoy both the Sedgwick County Zoo and Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Sedgwick County Zoo is the seventh largest zoo in the United States and recently opened its newest exhibit, Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley. It’s the third largest elephant exhibit in the country and is the first in the world to feature boat rides that will put visitors in the same water as elephants. Visitors to Tanganyika Wildlife Park can pet kangaroos, ride a camel, feed giraffes and interact with ring-tailed lemurs in a hands-on environment – one of only two exhibits of its kind in the country. 

Incredible hiking trails and adventures are all around Wichita. Wichita’s more than 125 parks and greenways covering nearly 5,000 acres makes it easy to enjoy nature. In addition to hiking trails, Wichita has over 26 miles of bicycle paths following scenic areas such as the banks of the Arkansas River, giving the cyclist a safe, easy and enjoyable ride. Cyclists can also explore the heart of the city using bicycle lanes that take you safely through five of Wichita’s most distinctive districts: Delano, downtown, Old Town, Douglas Design District and Clifton Square. Douglas Design District has 22 murals created by local artists. Visitors can download a map to locate them all.

For more insights into what makes Wichita a desirable urban destination, visit www.VisitWichita.com