You’re spending the weekend in Wichita and you want experiences that you can only have in our city. Here are five activities that showcase Wichita’s past and present, and should be on everyone’s Wichita bucket list. Your itinerary:
Experience the third-largest elephant exhibit in the country
Start your Saturday morning at the Sedgwick County Zoo, the state’s most-visited outdoor attraction and home to more than 3,000 animals. In 2016, the zoo opened the Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit. The new habitat has 5 acres of outdoor space and an 18,000-square-foot indoor facility, making it the third-largest elephant exhibit in the country. You can experience 360-degree views of the two largest elephant yards, where our seven resident elephants explore mud wallows, sand mounds, trees, open space and the world's largest elephant pool.
Discover why we are the Air Capital of the World
Wichita has a long and robust aviation history and is often referred to as the Air Capital of the World for its innovation and manufacturing aptitude in the aviation industry. You’ll find evidence of that throughout the city and at many of our attractions. Two museums where you can learn more about the history of our connection to this industry are the Kansas Aviation Museum and the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum (and in December 2017, Exploration Place is debuting a new Design Build Fly permanent exhibit). At the Kansas Aviation Museum, you can explore exhibits throughout an art-deco air terminal built in the 1930s as well as more than a dozen aircraft parked outdoors on the ramp
Witness the firepot lighting at the Keeper of the Plains
The 44-foot-tall Keeper of the Plains sculpture created by Blackbear Bosin is majestic in any light, but it is an amazing experience to see the 15-minute “Ring of Fire” at 9 p.m. (spring and summer) or 7 p.m. (fall and winter), weather permitting. The 5-ton sculpture of a Native American chief pays tribute to the Native Americans who made our area their home before the arrival of European settlers. It is surrounded by a plaza with exhibits depicting the Plains Indians’ way of life. Access to the plaza area is by two bow-and-arrow-inspired cable-stay bridges or through the Mid-America All-Indian Center during the day.
Explore our western heritage
Start your Sunday at Old Cowtown Museum, which is free on Sundays throughout 2017. This living history museum brings to life the stories of Wichita’s transformation from a frontier settlement to a cattle town to an agricultural and manufacturing area. Wander through 54 historic and recreated buildings containing textiles, furnishings, tools and art from the 1865-1880 timeframe. Costumed interpreters demonstrate activities throughout Cowtown’s districts. On select weekends, you can catch a baseball game played with vintage rules and uniforms.
See iconic public art
Travelers come from around the world to see Wichita’s massive, outdoor mosaic mural by Spanish surrealist Joan Miró, one of only four in the U.S. and his only mural made predominately of mosaic glass. The installation is on the exterior of The Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University and is part of a 76-piece outdoor sculpture collection on the campus. While you’re on campus, be sure to stop by the small brick building where Wichita brothers Frank and Dan Carney opened their first Pizza Hut restaurant in 1958. It was moved to the campus in 1986 from its original location at the corner of Kellogg and Bluff.