When you take an opportunity to explore one of Wichita’s 144 parks, you’ll find tons of hidden treasures that go way beyond the playground. Some offer free wildlife habitats, nature and hiking trails, unique family-friendly activities, art and history experiences and other unexpected adventures.
Below is a list of some of the hidden gems in Wichita parks, and where you can find them.
A. Price Woodard Park
This park is named after a former Wichita mayor and showcases several bronze sculptures dating back to 1975. Housing the city’s only fully lit decorative fountain, this park is located near the Arkansas River near Douglas Avenue & Waco Street.
In addition to a sprawling playground, children will love the water playground and splash pad area at this park. The large buffalo head kids can climb on in the middle of the splash park’s many spraying fountains make this park unique. Wichita’s splash pads are free and open to the public and run from May through October. Buffalo Park is located on the west side of town near Central Avenue & Maize Road.
Central Riverside Park
Perhaps one of the most popular parks in Wichita, Central Riverside Park is home to the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit, a free exhibit featuring more than 25 species of animals in eight enclosures. Visitors can see beavers, a red fox, a porcupine, mink, a bobcat, hawks, owls and various birds all native to Kansas. Riverside Park also houses gorgeous artwork and floating sculptures in the pond, bronze sculptures dating back to 1926, the Spanish-American War Memorial and a solar calendar known as Wichita’s “mini Stonehenge.” Visitors will also find interesting architecture in the form of a gazebo and pagoda, and Celebration Plaza, an interactive fountain/splash pad for a summer cool-down. The park is located near Central Avenue & Nims Street.
Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square Park
Tucked between buildings in downtown Wichita is a quiet hideaway called Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square Park, not far from the Ambassador Hotel Wichita, which was once a Dockum Drug Store and the location of the Dockum Sit-In of 1958. The park features a life-size bronze sculpture of a lunch counter representative of that time in America’s history. The sculpture is one of several within the pocket park named for a Black lawyer who became president of the Wichita chapter of the NAACP and helped desegregate the city’s restaurants, swimming pools, manufacturing companies and government agencies. The Wichita Park & Recreation Department began a renovation of the park in summer 2020 and when complete later in 2021, the park will have interpretative art features, ornamental paving and improved lighting, as well as seating areas to relax, study and gather for special events. While under construction, some elements could be unavailable to the public. It is located on Douglas Avenue between Market and Broadway Streets.
Chisholm Creek Park
This park is home to the free Great Plains Nature Center and a natural habitat for many Kansas species. It includes a wetlands area, natural prairie grasses and 2-mile walking path full of various metal sculptures. It’s one of a dozen Wichita parks to be designated as Wichita Wild Habitat Areas. The park and nature center are located at East 29th Street North and Woodlawn Boulevard, just south of K-96.
College Hill Park
This neighborhood park has been around since 1925 and includes one of Wichita’s most beloved community pools. Each summer, patrons and their dogs are allowed to dive in during the Dog Days of Summer, making this park super pet-friendly. The park is located near Douglas Avenue & Clifton Street.
Delano Park is located at McLean Boulevard and the Douglas Street Bridge near the Historic Delano District, and houses a lot of history in less than 1 acre of land. With a beautifully decorative fountain built in 1934 and a bull sculpture made from chrome-plated car bumpers by artist John Kearney, the park highlights Delano’s role on the Chisholm Trail. It’s one of the many things to do near Wichita’s Riverfront Stadium.
Equipped with a full recreation center and the Ryan Woodward Memorial Skatepark, this 25-acre park is one of the few places skaters of all experiences can go to practice their jumps and tricks. Built in 2007, it’s great for beginners and skaters with intermediate skills. It is located at Edgemoor & 9th streets.
In addition to a recreation center, playground and more, Evergreen Park is home to Wichita’s newest splash park. It’s one of four new splash pads the city is adding to local parks in 2021. Other new splash pads will also be located at Boston, Edgemoor and Linwood parks. Existing water playgrounds are located throughout the city at Buffalo Park, Fairmount Park, Lincoln Park, Old Town Plaza, Osage Park and Riverside Central Park.
Exploration Park is an extension of Wichita’s Exploration Place science museum, located along the Arkansas River. Visitors can hang out and observe Kansas Wildlife in the rain garden, play in a giant sandbox, on a jungle gym and enjoy walking trails. While you’re there – go on the hunt for the elusive Wichita Troll, hiding somewhere near the Keeper of the Plains.
Heritage Square Park
Included with admission to the Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum at William and Main streets, this local park is home to a beautiful fountain and unique bronze sculpture artwork. The gazebo is often a location for local bands to perform in the spring and summers, making this urban park a hidden gem in the middle of downtown Wichita.
Located to the west of I-135 & 17th Street, this wooded park features hike and bike trails, a playground, a football field named after Wichita native Barry Sanders, swimming pool, courts for tetherball, volleyball and more. It also serves as the location for League 42, an affordable youth baseball program named in honor of Jackie Robinson. Earlier this year, the organization debuted the Jackie Robinson Pavilion within the park, complete with a life-sized sculpture of the baseball legend.
Naftzger Park can be found in the heart of downtown Wichita at Douglas Avenue & Emporia Street, connecting Old Town and the INTRUST Bank Arena neighborhood. The park has recently undergone renovations, transforming it into an urban space and event park. The 1-acre lot now features a dog park, water fountain, LED screen and entertainment pavilion and an Astroturf field. Local eateries are plentiful in the area as well with Homegrown Wichita and Peace, Love and Pie along the park's east side.
O.J. Watson Park
There are many hidden gems in this Wichita park. Kids will love the miniature train ride, inflatables, pony rides, mini-golf, pedal boats, hayrack rides, playgrounds and fishing grounds. This 119-acre park is located off McLean Boulevard and 31st Street South.
Orchard Park has several features including a community pool and skatepark, but one of the most unique hidden gems lies in the baseball field. Miracle Field at Orchard Park is designed for kids and adults with disabilities, and is the first field of its kind in the state of Kansas.
Pawnee Prairie Park
Designated as the largest of Wichita’s 12 Wild Habitat Areas, Pawnee Prairie Park is the only park in the city to allow horseback riding on its trails. Equipped with a beautiful equestrian bridge, a 5-mile marked trail and many unmarked trails, it makes for one of the most popular experiences in the city.
Pracht Wetlands Park
If being one of the few remaining wetlands in the Midwest isn’t unique enough, the Pracht Wetlands Park is also remarkable thanks to the beautifully painted Keepers on Parade statue you’ll find when you arrive. The artwork is one of Wichita’s 35 Keepers on Parade replicas you’ll find throughout the city – many within city parks. Plus, the park provides a safe haven for migratory birds, muskrats, frogs and many other wildlife species while giving visitors a sensory experience with the use of elevated boardwalks, lush vegetation and bird blind structures.
Sedgwick County Park
Sedgwick County Park is one of Wichita’s most popular parks and home to the Great Plain Renaissance & Scottish Festival twice a year. This 645-acre park on the west side of Wichita includes a boundless playground, tons of walking and biking trails and five fishing ponds. The Sunrise Boundless Playground is a 27,000-square-foot barrier-free playground. Its main feature is the fact that more than 70 percent of the playground equipment can be used by people of all ages regardless of their health or physical limitations. Looking for a unique place for photography fun? Near the 13th street entrance to the park is the Sedgwick County Art Walk, a family-friendly, 20-acre meadow that features five large environmental, interactive public art installations by various artists.
Veterans Memorial Park
Even locals may not realize how incredible this hidden gem is along the Arkansas River, not far from the Keeper of the Plains. Wichita’s Veterans Memorial Park is home to 18 memorials in a 4.5-acre plot of land in downtown Wichita. It is also one of only three parks in the United States with a memorial commemorating the Berlin Airlift, which was dedicated in September 2019. This park represents six wars and every branch of the military, including Union and Confederate soldiers.
Learn more about the 144 parks Wichita has to offer by exploring our parks, hikes & bike paths.