As the temperatures rise this summer in Wichita, the prices stay the same on these activities: free!
Ulrich Museum of Art
The Ulrich Museum of Art on the Wichita State University campus is always free (closed on Mondays and major holidays). The museum is home to an indoor collection of modern and contemporary art and is best known for its outdoor collection: more than 70 sculptures on the walkable campus. Don’t miss the massive mosaic mural by Spanish surrealist Joan Miró, one of only four in the U.S. and his only mural in the world made predominately of mosaic glass.
Old Cowtown Museum
The Old Cowtown Museum is free on Sundays from April through October. The living history museum is open from noon to 5 p.m. that day and you’ll find regular daily activities like gunfights and wagon rides as well as special events like vintage 1870s baseball games on select Sundays.
Wichita Art Museum
Thanks to the same benefactor who makes Old Cowtown free on Sunday, the Wichita Art Museum is free on Saturdays year-round. In addition to their collection of American art and their outdoor Art Garden, the museum also hosts special events on select Saturdays, from family-friendly artmaking activities to yoga. Their Summer Birthday Bash is from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 15. Enjoy free ice cream, live music and participate in a community art project.
Keeper of the Plains
Throughout the spring and summer, you can see the lighting of the “Ring of Fire” at our iconic Keeper of the Plains sculpture at 9 p.m., weather permitting. The lighting of the fire pots only lasts 15 minutes so don’t be late! The 44-foot, five-ton steel sculpture by Kiowa/Osage artist Blackbear Bosin pays tribute to the Native Americans who made the area their home before the arrival of European settlers. Visiting the sculpture is free and it is located at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers, surrounded by a plaza that features exhibits depicting the Plains Indians’ way of life and representing the four elements essential to life – earth, air, water and fire.
The Fountains at WaterWalk
They call the 10-15 minutes choreographed show at the Fountains at WaterWalk liquid fireworks. Catch the lights and music synched with 1,200 water nozzles at noon, 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday, May through October (as long as winds are below 15 miles per hour).
Park downtown and hop on the free Q-Line Trolley to participate in Final Friday, Wichita’s monthly art crawl. Galleries, studios, museums, restaurants and retail shops often use Final Friday to unveil and debut new shows or as a closing reception. Several locations will incorporate artist demonstrations, live music and refreshments.
Great Plains nature Center
The Great Plains Nature Center offers two miles of accessible trails through wetlands, prairie and riparian habitats on the 240 acres of the Chisholm Creek Park. The pathways are free as is the visitor center, which houses a 2,200-gallon aquarium and other nature exhibits. The nature center – a collaboration between the city of Wichita, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – also hosts youth, adult and family programs throughout the summer.
Wichita Park System
The Wichita’s park system has 144 parks with more than 5,000 acres of land. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s a disc golf course, dog park, Memories Park with oversized props and scenic backdrops to encourage fun photo opps, Riverside Park’s playground, interactive fountain and Kansas Wildlife Exhibit or O.J. Watson Park’s 119 acres of picnic tables, playgrounds, volleyball courts, 40-acre lake for fishing and pedal boating or fee-based activities like miniature golf, train rides, pony rides and hayrack rides.
In addition to offering fresh produce and handmade items, farmers’ markets often schedule live entertainment and activities for kids. Read our recent blog post about the markets in Wichita.
The Bradley Fair Summer Jazz Concert Series wraps up on June 29 with Vincent Ingala, jazz saxophone, followed by a spectacular fireworks display but there are other free concert series in Wichita on tap this summer:
- Starting July 7, the KEYN Summer Concert Series happens at 8 p.m. every Friday at downtown’s WaterWalk. Food trucks and a cash bar are available starting at 6:30 p.m.; bring lawn chairs but leave pets and coolers at home. Free parking is available nearby at the WaterWalk parking garage or in the garage near Gander Mountain. On the schedule:
- July 7 – King Midas, classic rock
- July 14 – Across the Pond (English invasion)
- July 21 – Annie Up, high-energy covers
- July 28 – Big Fat Fun, party covers
- Aug. 4 – Lucky People, pop
- Aug. 11 – The Astronauts, 1980s covers.
- The Carnegie Concert Series at Heritage Square takes place weekly in September during lunchtime in downtown Wichita. Bring your own lunch or visit the Flying Stove and Funky Monkey food trucks. On Wednesdays from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. you’ll find:
- Sept. 6 – The Mudbugs Cajun and Zydeco Band, Cajun & zydeco
- Sept. 13 – Cherokee Maidens and Sycamore Swing, western swing
- Sept. 20 – Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy, brass and grass
- Sept. 27 – Gooding, rock ‘n’ roll.