Many of us enjoy getting outside and taking in fresh air while traveling, and Wichita is a nature lover’s dream, with plenty of opportunities for travelers to explore the outdoors.
The Heart of the Country offers something for everyone – from peaceful hiking through nature to paddling on the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita. And if you like a cold pint and a satisfying meal after a long day of adventure, unique breweries and eateries are around every corner of the city.
But where do you start? We put together a list of popular outdoor adventures. Pick one – or all of them – and start planning your next trip to Wichita.
Kayaking and SUP
Boats & Bikes, located at the River Vista Apartments loading dock, offers season passes and hourly rentals for kayaking and other water activities such as pedal boats and stand-up paddle boards (SUP) from May through September. From this dock, it’s easy to make your way to the Keeper of the Plains in downtown Wichita, which is among the most photographed spots in all of Kansas. The iconic sculpture is beautiful when you see it against a bright blue sky full of puffy clouds.
Wichita Park & Recreation also offers fun kayaking options. During summer and fall months, rentals are available for $10/hour on the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita (at the boat launch near the Maple Street bridge), and at O.J. Watson Park when the park is open. Don't miss their special events like Floatin' on the River: Glow Tours and Sunset Tours that start at Old Cowtown Museum and take you south on the river to the Wichita Boathouse and back.
Biking and Walking
Wichita offers up a variety of ways to enjoy the outdoors, including more than 140 parks and greenways covering more than 5,000 acres. Bike Walk Wichita has many resources for walking and biking the city. You can download the Bike Walk Wichita app for free to access its collection of self-guided walks and rides, complete with points of interest and historical information to enjoy as you explore. Among the group's featured bike paths are scenic trails you’ll enjoy whether you prefer the solitude of a rail-trail, the bustle of an urban trail or mountain biking. If you don’t have your own wheels, try Wichita’s bike-sharing program, Bike Share ICT, which offers more than 200 bicycles at 40 stations across the city, or a rental from Boats & Bikes.
Within walking distance from the Keeper of the Plains is Veteran’s Memorial Park. From the Bicentennial Flag Pavilion to the 19 memorials representing six wars and every branch of the military, visitors can pay their respects to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Take the Veteran’s Memorial Walk along the east side of the Arkansas River right to the park and witness for yourself this beautiful and unique collection.
The Wichita Public Library offers the PocketSights app, which allows users to explore Wichita's history with the Wichita History Walk. After you download the app, you can explore the historical sites as you stroll along Douglas Avenue. The app will send alerts to sites that have historic significance, including images and a story with audio narration. Images are from the Wichita Public Library's photo archives and other local sources.
Keeper of the Plains
The Keeper of the Plains remains a must-explore area in Wichita. One of the most iconic images in Wichita, the Keeper of the Plains stands at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers. This 44-foot, 5-ton weathered steel sculpture sits atop a 30-foot pedestal overlooking the city. Don't miss the nightly Ring of Fire when the firepots surrounding the Keeper are lit for 15 minutes (starting at 9 p.m. during spring and summer months, weather permitting).
Surrounding the Keeper is a plaza, complete with exhibits that depict the Plains Indians’ way of life and representing the four elements essential to life – earth, air, water and fire. Access to the plaza area is by two bow-and-arrow-inspired cable-stay bridges or through the Mid-America All-Indian Museum during the day. The entire area is wheelchair accessible. From the plaza, paths for walking, biking and more are available on both banks of the Arkansas River.
Wichita is also home to many outdoor attractions. From feeding giraffes at our nationally renowned zoo, capturing your need-for-speed at an outdoor go-kart track or experiencing nature in the heart of the city at Botanica Wichita, there is never a shortage of outdoor activities in Wichita.
With more than 24 acres loaded with 26 attractions and activities from batting cages to miniature golf, take the family to All Star Adventures or All Star Sports. Each location has multiple outdoor activities to choose from.
As the No. 1 motocross track in the state of Kansas, Bar2Bar MX Park offers outdoor racing on a sandy loam track and the perfect spot for adrenaline junkies to watch races or riders to practice.
No matter the season, head to Botanica Wichita to explore more than 30 themed gardens and exhibits. They also have special events throughout the year like honey tasting at the Alexander Bee House and one of only five Allan Herschell Carousels left in the world that guests can ride (for a small fee).
Chicken N Pickle is a fast casual restaurant, sports haven and entertainment complex that appeals to sports fans and foodies of all ages. The complex consists of 10 pickleball courts (six indoor and four outdoor), two bocce ball courts, four shuffleboard courts, a bar and entertainment space, outdoor lawn games like Jenga and corn hole, and a game room with ping pong and TV screens to catch your favorite game. Even in the winter months, Chicken N Pickle brings the entertainment through their Ice Pond at the Plazzio, which allows guests to enjoy ice skating, curling, and hockey.
Just 15 minutes outside of Wichita, you’ll feel immersed in country life on Elderslie Farm. Visitors can enjoy formal, multi-course farm dinners, products from the farm’s creamery such as gelato and cheeses, breakfast and lunch on the patio from Bramble Café and blackberry You-Picks that begin in mid-June. Plus, don’t miss the wood elements throughout, done on the farm at Elderslie Woodworks. You’ll see hackberry elements, walnut doors – and a goat carved into the creamery’s front door by George Elder, who owns the farm with his wife and chef Katharine Elder.
Experience the largest dinosaur theme park in the country at Field Station: Dinosaurs in Derby. A short drive south of Wichita will land you in a magical zone where 40+ animatronic dinosaurs come to life as you learn about each of them.
To explore nature, both indoors and outdoors, head to the Great Plains Nature Center. Learn about animal and plant life native to Kansas inside the nature center and experience the great outdoors along the many paths of the Chisholm Creek Trail.
Step back in time to the days when Wichita was a booming cattle town. At Old Cowtown Museum, walk the streets and experience life in the 1860s and watch blacksmiths at work or witness a gunfight right outside a local saloon.
Bring your family and friends to spend a day splashing, soaking, sliding and sunning yourself at Rock River Rapids, a full-service water park just south of Wichita. The park features six water slides, a lap pool as well as an area with diving boards, a 600-foot lazy river, a zero-depth pool, play structures, aqua climbing walls and a treehouse-themed spray-ground.
Sedgwick County Zoo houses more than 3,000 animals and 400 species in its 215-acre outdoor environment. See exotic creatures from all over the world including red pandas, rare okapis and an impressive number of apes.
Splash Aqua Park is located on a 27-acre lake and features inflatable slides, runways, jumping bags, trampolines and extreme fun.
For even more animal interactions, take the family and head just west of Wichita to Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Sign up for 10 different animal experiences and get the rare opportunity to feed creatures like lemurs, giraffes, okapi and pygmy rhinos. Plus, check out their various early-bird and behind-the-scenes tours.
The Wichita Wind Surge is Wichita’s newest baseball team. Affiliated with the Minnesota Twins, the Wind Surge is bringing Double-A minor league baseball to Wichita and will play home games at the all-new Riverfront Stadium, a state-of-the-art ballpark built on the west bank of the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita.
Self-guided Mural Driving Tours
Wichita has seen an influx of murals throughout the community over the last few years. Projects like Alley Doors, Avenue Art Days and Horizontes have inspired local and traveling artists to enliven our neighborhoods with vibrant creations.
Explore our gallery of some of the most photogenic murals around Wichita, and visit your favorites with a driving tour using this map of over 100 murals that includes GLeo's largest mural in the world painted by a single artist and Personnages Oiseaux by Joan Miró.
Public Art Installations
You can also explore Wichita’s art scene by taking a tour of public art installations in Wichita. In a four-block area in the heart of downtown Wichita, you’ll find a collection of 31 lifelike bronze sculptures by Washington artist Georgia Gerber. They range from animals to a street musician to a woman and boy pointing up at a building.
The largest sculpture is in Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square Park, on Douglas Avenue between Market and Broadway streets, where a Woolworth five-and-dime store once stood. The sculpture re-creates a soda fountain that might have been in the store, with a man and a boy sitting at two stools and a woman behind the counter. While the artist said the sculpture was not made to memorialize the 1958 anti-segregation lunch counter sit-ins that took place nearby, she did consider the events and “the black man and his grandson were placed at the counter as an intentional acknowledgment of the Dockum Drug Store sit-ins and the peaceful integration it brought about.”
Other unique public art to view in Wichita includes the many Keepers on Parade and Dreamers Awake, a giant bronze sculpture outside of the Wichita Art Museum by artist Tom Otterness, who was born in Wichita in 1952 and is today considered one of America’s most prolific public artists.
Kansas State Parks
Additionally, fishing lakes and wildlife areas at Kansas State Parks are open to the public, including campgrounds and boat ramps. With 28 state parks, there is an endless amount of outdoor adventure. All park offices are temporarily closed to the public, but staff will answer the phone during regular business hours.