Affordable & Free Things to Do in Wichita
Wichita is known for its affordability, so it’s no surprise that the city is full of affordable and free things to do. From the iconic Keeper of the Plains sculpture to unique outdoor art, it’s easy to visit Wichita, and stay on budget.
Keeper of the Plains
The centerpiece of Wichita, the Keeper of the Plains, is a striking 44-foot tall steel sculpture by Blackbear Bosin, which stands at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers. At nightfall throughout the year, the Ring of Fire surrounding the Keeper of the Plains is lit for 15 minutes. It’s a popular and lively gathering place for locals and visitors of all ages and is completely free. If visiting during the day, step inside the Mid-America All-Indian Center to learn even more about the history and culture behind this Wichita icon. The Mid-America All-Indian Center features almost 30 other pieces of Blackbear Bosin's artwork and much more inside. Admission ranges from $3 to $7.
Art of the Country
Located in the "art" of the Country, Wichita is home to dozens of art galleries and urban art experiences. At Infinity Art Glass in Benton and Karg Art Glass in Kechi, watch hand-blown pieces being made. Douglas Design District has a plethora of murals created by local artists.
One of Kansas' largest art museums, the Wichita Art Museum, is always free on Saturdays and the 8-acre art garden showcases 11 sculptures and is open 24/7.
Wichita State University’s Ulrich Museum of Art is known for its modern and contemporary art collection and is always free. Plus, the campus boasts a collection of more than 70 outdoor sculptures on its campus. Some particularly fun sculptures to take posed photos or selfies at include “Millipede” near the 17th Street entrance; and “Man With Cane,” “Woman With Umbrella,” “Love” and “Three Women Walking,” all in the heart of the campus off Hillside Avenue. While you're on campus, you can also check out the free Original Pizza Hut Museum.
On the first Friday of each month in downtown Wichita, find a place to park and take the free Q-Line to the many galleries, museums and retail shops that open their doors to visitors to browse collections of art or watch artists at work during First Friday. It’s all available at no cost, and some venues will even provide free light refreshments.
Take a Hike
Take a walk and learn about people and places of the area and Kansas in walking paths in downtown Wichita. The Art Trail, Wichita Historic Trail, Exploration Trail, African American Trail, American Indian Trail, Tallgrass Film Festival Trail and People of Kansas Trail go through the heart of the City.
Kids can learn about Kansas habitats at the Great Plains Nature Center. It’s free to visit the indoor displays – where you can see a 2,200-gallon aquarium with native fish and tall- and short-grass prairies with preserved native animals in the Koch Natural Habitat – and wander the trails. The center offers several free, ongoing, year-round activities, like Little Nature Lovers (Thursdays 9:30 a.m.), Wildflower Walks (every 4th Saturday 9 a.m.), Nature Journal Club (every 2nd Saturday 9 a.m.), Creature Features (every 1st Monday) and Senior Wednesdays (every 5th Wednesday 10 a.m.).
Play at the Park
Incredible hiking trails, green spaces and adventures are all around Wichita and surrounding communities that you can enjoy for free. Wichita’s more than 144 parks and greenways covering over 5,000 acres makes it easy to enjoy nature. In addition to hiking trails, Wichita has more than 26 miles of bicycle paths following scenic areas such as the banks of the Arkansas River, giving the cyclist a safe, easy and enjoyable ride. Scattered throughout downtown are Wichita’s bike share program, Bike Share ICT. Users can borrow the bicycles through an hourly membership, at a rate of $3 an hour. Visitors can also explore Wichita on electric scooters available for rent downtown for just $1 to activate and $0.15/minute after that.
At the approximate center of the city of Wichita, you’ll find Riverside Park. Flanked by the Arkansas River on three sides, this park features a children’s playground, an interactive fountain and a Kansas Wildlife Exhibit that locals call the “Riverside Zoo.” Families with young children can stay entertained for hours here without paying a cent. After a morning playing in the park, swing by Songbird Juice Co. or R Coffeehouse for some refreshment. Both are located nearby in one of Wichita’s most charming neighborhoods.
In recent years, a mood of excitement and pride has emerged in Wichita. The city has evolved into a vibrant, active, multicultural city, with many new restaurants, shops, breweries and outdoor spaces you can enjoy for free like the ICT Pop-Up Park, an urban park in downtown Wichita and regular gathering spot for food trucks and lunch-goers, and the brand-new Gallery Alley, an under-utilized alley that is now a vibrant public space, complete with local art, a portable concert stage, a screen for outdoor movies and outdoor seating.
Water is a welcome cool-down in the hot days of summer in Wichita, and there are nearly a dozen interactive fountains and splash parks in Wichita. From Memorial Day weekend through the end of September, guests can enjoy the uniqueness of Splash Aqua Park, an inflatable water playground for ages 5 and up. Admission starts at $15/hour.
In nearby Derby, you’ll find Rock River Rapids, unique water park featuring a treehouse-themed water play area, six water slides, a lazy river and much more for under $10 per person and kids 2 and under are free.
Watch the dancing fountains at WaterWalk during summer months. The fountains’ 1,200 nozzles put on a 10- to 15-minute show set to music at noon, 8, 9 and 10 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. The fountains are at 605 S. Wichita, between the WaterWalk apartments and the Wichita Boathouse. It’s free, but check the wind before you head out. The show doesn’t go on if wind speeds exceed 15 mph.
Engage in History
Let 33 museums in Wichita take you to distant cultures, days gone by and the edge of space. You’ll discover that museums in Wichita are one of the best – and affordable – things to do in the city. Art museums, history museums, our cluster of museums along the river – you can see one of the most complete tyrannosaurus rex in the country or a Frank Lloyd Wright house and much more.
Get the family together for a few frames at one of Wichita’s bowling centers. Northrock Lanes has 48 lanes, West Acres Bowl has 36 lanes and The Alley Indoor Entertainment has 32 lanes. The Alley also has indoor electric go karts, a laser maze and an arcade.
Laser Quest offers a multi-level arena for live action laser tag, and in the same complex you can race go karts on one of the country's only indoor asphalt tracks at Xtreme Racing & Entertainment. All Star Sports and All Star Adventures have large arcades. While both have go karts, they operate outdoors alongside the miniature golf. You can also play laser tag at the west location (All Star Sports).
Besides hosting practices and tournaments for soccer, basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball, Wichita Sports Forum opens up its sports courts when they are not in use by teams. That includes beach volleyball every Saturday on the facility’s indoor sand volleyball courts. Call ahead to see what other courts are available for $10 open play. Families can also hop on the trampoline park inside the Wichita Sports Forum, Aviate Extreme Air Sports. Work on your air dunk, try your and in a ninja course, soar on the the trapeze and dive into foam pits - Aviate is a great way to run off some energy in Wichita. Kids can enjoy an hour for as low as $10.
Ice, Ice Skating
Whether you’re into hockey, figure skating, speed skating or just looking to spend time with family, the Wichita Ice Center offers lessons and time on the ice at their indoor facility. They offer public ice skating sessions daily. Check their schedule on Facebook for times. They rent skates and also operate a concession stand. Cost ranges from $5 to $10, including skate rental, depending on the day of the week. The center also offers a family skate package for $30, including admission and skate rentals for a family of four.
Family owned since 1937, the Nifty Nut House features every kind of nut you can imagine - roasted or raw - fresh daily. Also featured are a huge variety of candies, by the piece or in bulk, including nostalgic candies and a good selection of sugar-free candies. Old Mill Tasty Shop has been a family tradition since 1932. Have a soda made the old-fashioned way from a working, marble countered soda fountain. Churn & Burn is a hand-crafted ice cream and coffee shop. Freeze your ice cream or coffee with liquid nitrogen so it doesn't get watered down or melt too quickly.