We love spring here in Wichita – it’s the time of the year when we can enjoy a large selection of outdoor activities in comfortable temperatures with beautiful scenery and the calendar is still packed full of things to do indoors too. It’s the perfect season to explore Wichita’s outdoor gardens, play a round of golf or enjoy a meal on one of our outdoor patios.
Wichita’s outdoor flower and art gardens
Regular visitors to Wichita’s Botanica have their favorite spot, maybe in the wildflower meadow, the bird garden or the aquatic collection, and they know that every season creates a magnificent landscape. But none will argue that spring is among the most colorful times of year to get out and enjoy the 18 acres of paths, sculptures, water features and plantings found throughout 27 themed gardens.
Botanica gardeners amaze us every spring with a vivid display of 60,000 tulips in nearly every color of the rainbow and 110,000 daffodils. Visitors find blooming bulbs, perennials, trees and shrubs around every corner, including in the Downing Children’s Garden – with one acre of imaginative and interactive elements – and the Chinese Garden of Friendship that opened in 2015 to showcase traditional Chinese architecture, art and culture. Other recent additions at Botanica: an indoor children’s library with weekly story time, games and a treehouse and the Garden Café, which serves light snacks and specialty drinks including coffee roasted by Wichita’s The Spice Merchant & Co.
To celebrate the spring season, Botanica is hosting Tulips, Fairies & Forts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday March 26 through April 16. Included in regular admission to the gardens, the event has music, performers, games and scavenger hunts, activities like bubbles and a bounce house, story time with fairies, fairy dress up and at least two craft projects each week. There are forts throughout the gardens and a fairy house making competition open to the public. During the final Tulips, Fairies & Forts event on April 16, there is also a Fairy Tea Party with a performance by Ballet Wichita. This event often sells out so reservations are required. A Fairy Tea Party fee of $35 per child and $10 per adult includes beverages and lunch, and each child can visit stations to create a flower crown, fairy wand and plant a flower to take home. There are two seatings available: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Take time while in the Botanica lobby to see the beautifully restored horses that once lived on the Joyland Merry-Go-Round. The Wichita amusement park purchased the carousel in 1949 and kept it in storage from 2006, when Joyland closed permanently, until donating it to Botanica in 2014. In addition to restoring the horses, plans for the Botanica Carousel Project include a building to make it a year-round attraction.
The gardens are open year-round 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. From April through October they are open 1-5 p.m. on Sunday and from April through September they have extended evening hours until 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Botanica is one of 11 Wichita-area attractions participating in the Explore Card. After guests pay full admission for each ticket at the first attraction they visit, they are eligible to receive a $2 discount for each ticket purchased at the other participating attractions through Dec. 31, 2016. The card is free and available at the attractions or at Visit Wichita’s office, 515 S. Main, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Another Explore Card partner is the Wichita Art Museum and this is the first spring to explore the American art museum’s new Art Garden that opened last fall. Along the nine landscaped acres featuring more than 80 species of trees, shrubs and perennials are a dozen art installations. The garden surrounds the museum and is free for visitors to walk the paths, bring their dogs or simply sit and enjoy.
Another outdoor art garden in Wichita is on the Wichita State University campus. The 76-piece Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection is rated one of the top collections of its kind by Public Art Review and until summer 2017 includes Makin’ Hay, a group of three 18-foot-tall sculptures by Wichita-born Tom Otterness, one of the world’s most beloved public sculptors. The collection is free and part of the Ulrich Museum of Art, a regional destination for modern and contemporary art.
Wichita golf courses
Spring in Wichita can also mean getting back outside for recreation. A combination of public, private and semi-private golf courses make Wichita an excellent golf destination. The city of Wichita operates five high-quality golf courses with a variety of course layouts to challenge all skill levels. The municipal courses offer affordable fees, group and individual lessons and special events, including tournaments, neon night golf and FootGolf – a blend of soccer and golf played on the front nine holes of L.W. Clapp Golf Course.
Outdoor dining in Wichita
The outdoor theme doesn’t have to end when it comes to dining in Wichita. With more than 1,000 restaurants across the city, Wichita serves up a large selection of outdoor patios perfect for springtime lunch, dinner or drinks.
The trellised terrace at Larkspur Bistro & Bar in Old Town hosts live music on weekend evenings starting in April. The patio at Monarch puts diners street-side with a view of the Historic Delano District’s clock tower. Newport Grill has two tiers of seating on its patio overlooking the Bradley Fair pond in east Wichita: white-clothed dining tables and lounge seating perfect for the restaurant’s live jazz series on Thursdays beginning in April or special events staged at the outdoor shopping center’s plaza area.
Some of our other favorite Wichita restaurant patios:
Downtown: Emerson Biggins Old Town, Hana Cafe, Heroes Sports Bar & Grill, Lotus Leaf Cafe, McDonald’s - Downtown, Lou’s Charcuteria & Cocktails, Old Chicago - Old Town, Public at the Brickyard, Pumphouse, River City Brewing Co., Siena Tuscan
East: Blue River Mexican Grill, Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar, Deano's Grill & Tapworks, Ernie Biggs Dueling Piano Bar, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Granite City Food & Brewery - East, Great American Grill at Hilton Garden Inn, Hereford House, Jason's Deli - East, Molino’s Mexican Cuisine East, P.F. Chang’s, Redrock Canyon Grill, Stearman Field Bar & Grill, The Hill Bar & Grill, Twin Peaks East, Wine Dive, YaYa’s Eurobistro
Beyond restaurants, there are other places to enjoy open-air dining too:
Coffee and treat shops – Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates