Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, shines as a lively destination right in the heart of the United States. In 2015, the estimated population of the Wichita metropolitan area was 644,610. The city began as a trading post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860s, then was incorporated in 1870. It subsequently became a key destination for cattle drives traveling north from Texas to access railroads, earning it the nickname "Cowtown.” In the 1920s and 1930s, businessmen and aeronautical engineers established a number of successful aircraft manufacturing companies in Wichita. The city transformed into a hub of U.S. aircraft production and became known as "The Air Capital of the World.” The city continues to thrive today and boasts expansive cuisine choices, unique landmarks, friendly residents, modernity, revitalization, charm, shopping, nature, value and everything in between.
Located along Douglas Avenue on the west bank of the Arkansas River at the end of the Chisholm Trail, the Historic Delano District was established during the days of the Chisholm Trail cattle drives as a place for the cowboys to blow off steam after months on the trail from Texas. They would spend their pay in its many saloons, gambling houses and brothels. Eventually incorporated into Wichita, Delano is now a thriving shopping district with more than 250 businesses, including dining and shopping. Several notable businesses are Bungalow 26, Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hat Works and Bohemia Healing Spa. If you’re looking for a bite to eat or a place to find a microbrew or specialty drink, try Delano favorites like Monarch, Aero Plains Brewing, Ruben’s Mexican Grill, Delano Barbecue Company and others.
Head east on Douglas Avenue from Delano, and you’ll find yourself in downtown Wichita. In the downtown area, you’re surrounded by more than 40 pieces of public art, including 31 bronze sculptures by Puget Sound, Washington artist Georgia Gerber, were donated by a local family in the late 1990s. The largest of the bronze sculptures is a re-creation of a dime store counter, placed in Lewis Reflection Square Park, which was once the site of a F. W. Woolworth store. Coincidentally, an event in the integration of the Wichita area happened at the nearby Dockum Drug Store in 1958.
Wichita’s downtown is a place where you can experience the sights and sounds of the city and find unique attractions like the Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum located in the original 1890 City Hall, exciting entertainment every day of the week and historic landmarks nearby like the Keeper of the Plains.
Downtown Wichita has spearheaded place making projects like the ICT Pop-Up Urban Park, an outdoor space and regular gathering spot for food trucks and lunch-goers, and Gallery Alley, an under-utilized alley that is now a vibrant public space, complete with a local art, a portable concert stage, a screen for outdoor movies and outdoor seating. They’ve also assisted in making getting around effortless, affordable and convenient. You can easily walk the area or hop on the free Q-Line Trolley. Another option you will find scattered throughout downtown is Bike Share ICT, a low-cost and simple-to-use way to explore Wichita on two wheels.
Old Town is nestled in the heart of Wichita, just east of downtown. Among the brick-lined streets and historic lampposts are a collection of converted brick warehouses dating back to the late 1800s. Built with brick and native limestone accents, these distinctive architectural features define the character of Old Town. With more than 100 businesses, Old Town has become a destination sought out for its restaurants, shops, clubs, theaters, galleries, museums and stores.
Places to include during your visit to Wichita include the Museum of World Treasures, River City Brewing Co., Public at the Brickyard and Mort’s Martini & Cigar Bar, plus many more eateries, sports bars and entertainment venues.
Douglas Design District
Douglas Design District has more than 300 locally-owned businesses with an emphasis on design, located along Douglas Avenue between Washington and Glendale. It’s a wonderfully diverse community of businesses, retail and residential neighborhoods, including the popular and historic College Hill, which is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House Museum and Study Center.
Also in the area is Clifton Square, a collection of unique Victorian-era houses transformed into a shopping and dining village. The area is chock-full of eateries like Tanya’s Soup Kitchen and Piatto Neapolitan Pizzeria and breweries including Hopping Gnome Brewing Company and Central Standard Brewing.
One of the district’s most unique features is the locally-created murals you will find in every nook and cranny. Visitors and locals alike enjoy exploring the area, looking for the area’s many murals and capturing them and most likely sharing them on social media using hashtags such as #ilovewichita, #visitwichita and #ictmoments.
Museums on the River District
Located just north of Douglas Avenue in the heart of Wichita flows the scenic Arkansas and Little Arkansas River, a centerpiece of the city that connects all it surrounds. As you follow the river's path you will encounter five entities that have grown from this wellspring of life: the Museums on the River, comprised of Botanica, Exploration Place, Mid-America All-Indian Center, Old Cowtown Museum and the Wichita Art Museum. Near the Mid-America All-Indian Center, is the Keeper of the Plains.