For many parents, planning a family vacation is fun and exciting. Yet for families traveling with someone on the autism spectrum, planning autism-friendly getaways can also be daunting. Traveling with a child on the autism spectrum may require careful planning and consideration. Fortunately, destinations are better prepared to help families with children with autism today than ever before.

While Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, it remains easy to navigate, has ample parking, consists of wide-open spaces and has many other attributes that make it attractive to families traveling with children with autism. Plus, there are many attractions that are autism friendly.

Before we jump in, we want to acknowledge autism is a spectrum, and that children with autism have unique sensory needs and these suggestions may not work for everyone. We hope that with these suggestions, you may find a few places and activities to put on your list if you are planning to visit Wichita.

keeper at night_family

Outdoor activities

Want to avoid crowds and get some fresh air? Outdoor activities that children on the spectrum may enjoy include going on a hunt for murals and other public art, exploring parks and outdoor areas like Pawnee Prairie Park and experiencing the iconic Keeper of the Plains Plaza, which turns 50 this year. Enjoy a variety of activities with little to no wait time at O.J. Watson Park. There are paddle boats, a train ride, a playground and a mini golf course. At Riverside Park you’ll find a children’s playground, an interactive fountain and the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit. Show up at noon on weekdays and see animal feedings for free.

While sometimes busy during weekends, Botanica Wichita is a great option for a weekday outing. This botanical wonderland features a variety of kid-friendly, open-air options including the butterfly house, children’s garden and troll hill. Purchase a token upon entering for easy access to the garden’s carousel.

Five women sing and dance during a scene from "On Your Feet"

Performing Arts

If theater is of interest to your child with autism, Wichita’s performing arts scene will not disappoint! American Theatre Guild, a civic performing arts organization, offers an annual Broadway in Wichita series at Century II Concert Hall. The series presents national Broadway tours and professional touring productions in Wichita. Explore the 2023-24 season.

Each summer at Century II Performing Arts CenterMusic Theatre Wichita self-produces Broadway-scale musical productions, using a unique mixture of top-flight professionals from Broadway and Hollywood working hand-in-hand with talented Midwesterners. For 27 years, except for 2020 and 2021, Music Theatre Wichita has hosted an in-person Broadway production that caters to families with children who have special needs. The shows are designed to be a safe space and kids are welcome to vocalize throughout the show. During these productions, special accommodations are made to make the show more enjoyable for those with special needs. For example, the production is shorter (lasting only 90 minutes). Their 2024 season kicks off with “Gypsy” on May 22. Stay tuned for details about this year’s sensory-friendly performance.


Great Plains Nature Center

Open air and free admission make the Great Plains Nature Center a great place for families with a child with autism, especially those who love nature and animals. Even if things don’t go as planned and you have to leave shortly after arrival, it’s free so you can come and go to fit your needs. The indoor museum features animals of the plains and an aquarium. Bring a quarter for turtle food before heading out to the wildlife trails at Chisholm Creek Park, which is just outside the doors of the museum.

Other museums and attractions with no general admission fee include the Wichita Baseball MuseumCityArtsEnvision Arts Gallery and Engagement CenterGreat Plains Transportation MuseumMark ArtsThe Original Pizza Hut Museum, PBS Kansas’ Children’s Education & Discovery CenterUlrich Museum of Art and the Wichita Art Museum. On Sundays, admission is free at the Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum and Old Cowtown Museum, which also offers free admission to kids ages 4 and under.


A family enjoys burgers and pizza on the patio at Stearman Field while a small prop plane is parked on the landing strip behind them

Stearman Field Bar & Grill 

Autism families know all too well the challenges of dining out. Not only does Stearman Field Bar & Grill have ample space to enjoy a meal on their indoor/outdoor patio, but they also have a playground nearby for children of all abilities to burn off some energy. And don’t forget the planes that are likely to be taking off and landing just feet from the patio! Stearman is located just northeast of the city, so be prepared for a short drive to get there from the city.

Other eateries that feature a patio where you may find a quiet, cozy spot to enjoy a meal include Fizz Burgers & Bottles, Ziggy’s Pizza (Auburn HillsClifton SquareNortheast and West), Prost in Revolutsia, all five Meddys locations (NortheastNorthwestSoutheastOld Town and West), Chicken N Pickle and Sweet Allie B’s Limestone Beer Co

Or, order carryout from downtown eateries like Old Mill Tasty ShopThe KitchenNortons Brewing Co.Bite Me BBQ and Homegrown Wichita and enjoy the newly-redesigned Naftzger Park, which features plenty of available outdoor seating throughout the park.A boy plays at CityArts

Hands-on Fun

Want to create your own masterpiece in a quiet space and small class sizes? Sign up for an art or culinary class at Mark Arts. Youth and adult arts education camps, classes and workshops are offered Tuesday through Saturday throughout the year. Course areas include ceramics, culinary, drawing, enameling, jewelry/metalsmithing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Or become an artist and hone your skills at CityArts. Year-round art classes and workshops are offered in photography, silversmithing, glass fusing, glass blowing, painting, digital arts, pottery, drawing and more. 

Advanced Learning Library_STEAM garden

Wichita Public Library - Advanced Learning Library

As the largest and newest public library facility in Wichita, the Advanced Learning Library is a great resource and place to find quiet, cozy nooks. Plus, visitors love their STEAM Learning Garden. It features interactive play stations that promote learning skills related to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.


If your child with autism has a specific interest, check out our list of museums by topic:

Because every family and child is unique, check out even more ideas of things to do and options for dining or explore our 2024 Spring/Summer Visitor Guide to find just the right fit to make your visit to the Heart of the Country a memorable one.