If you haven’t already, you need to add these places to your Wichita family bucket list. There are plenty of reasons why, but first, let me ask you this; has anyone ever told you “There’s nothing to do in Kansas” or that “Kansas is boring”? Because I’m here to tell you that if they have, they’re wrong. Wichita, Kansas, is a great destination for families with kids of all ages. From history and gardens to water parks and zoos, Wichita has it all.
This article contains #ads and affiliate links, which could earn us money without costing you a thing.
Your Wichita Family Bucket List Destinations
With all the family-friendly destinations to visit in Wichita, you’re going to have a hard time narrowing it down to just a few. This list should help you as you’re planning your adventure. I’ll go over some of the must-visit locations first. As you move down the list, it will include things that are great if you’re going to be in the area a little longer. I’ll also include some great restaurants and where we stayed at the end.
If you love animals, especially baby animals, then a visit to Tanganyika Wildlife Park is a must. This unique zoo experience is unlike any other zoo we’ve ever been to. You will encounter animals like no where else allows. They are a breeding zoo too, which means lots of baby animals to see. There are three ticketing options when visiting Tanganyika.
First, just visiting the zoo and it is an amazing one, but for an even greater experience, go for the second or third option. Second, you can choose five animal encounters, these can be spread out among many or choose the same one again and again. Lastly, you can get the option which allows you as many animal encounters as you want all day.
What are these animal encounters, you might be asking. While there were a few that we’ve experienced at other zoos across the country, many were unique to Tanganyika. Feeding the giraffes and riding the camels are things you can do at lots of zoos. However, when you have the ticket option that allows you as many animal encounters as you want, you get to do these things as many times as you like throughout the day.
In addition to these more common place encounters, you will get to interact with other animals that most zoos don’t allow. We were able to feed and touch a rhinoceros. Tossing carrots into the mouth of a pygmy hippo was so much fun. Letting the tortoises chomp lettuce leaves from our hands and lemurs eat out of our palms were unforgettable family memory’s. Petting kangaroos and seeing the little joeys inside their pockets was so cool.
Some of the other things to love about Tanganyika are the very affordable concessions, the fun playground, and that they have misters going when it’s hot out.
Splash Aqua Park
What kid doesn’t love a good water park? On the same note, most kids also jump for joy at any sign of a bounce house. Splash Aqua Park is definitely a place you have to add to your Wichita family bucket list. While this totally new type of water park might be just as exhausting as its counterparts, it is so worth it. It basically combines a water park with a bounce house to create something super fun and different.
You can get one or two hour sessions or rent out the whole site for a party or event. If you think one or two hours isn’t long enough, like we did, let me assure you that it will be plenty of time. Climbing up and down, not to mention across and over, will tire you out before you know it.
This bounce house like structure is an obstacle course on the water. There are climbing walls, swings, slides, and more. The whole time you’re running around, it’s being kept wet by sprinklers. Find your way to the water catapult where you can launch your kids into the air to come down with a splash. It’s a blast.
Splash Aqua Park is located on a small lake. Kids must be 5 years of age or older to participate, but life jackets are provided for everyone. If the parents don’t feel up to the challenge, there are plenty of seats available on the sidelines. Some even have umbrellas to hang out under and watch the kids having fun.
Don’t worry, if you get hungry, there’s even a small concession stand on-site. They offer several small bites, snacks, and drinks. There is a small changing area located near the portable toilets for your convenience.
Old Cowtown Museum
The scene is the 1880s wild west. The environment is both fun and educational. Old Cowtown Museum is a living history museum that takes you back to the early days of Wichita. It is a block lined with historical buildings which all represent places that would have been in Wichita during its birth as a city.
Start your exploration off in the visitor orientation center. Here you will find some signs with the history of each building in the town. You can also watch the video, which will give you a greater understanding of how Wichita came to be. Once you’re done here, you can start exploring Old Cowtown.
As you stroll down the street of this historic place, you’ll find yourself among houses, shops, and even an old saloon that look like they came right off the pages of an old photograph album. You’re able to tour almost every building in Old Cowtown and many have interpreters inside to help you get an even better feel for the time period.
Stop by the saloon for an ice cold sarsaparilla or other cold beverage. They also have snacks available. Then find a seat out front and catch the show. They are typically based off of old dime store novels and add a bit of humor, along with a good old-fashioned gunfight. Depending on when you visit, there may be shows throughout the day or just one or two.
Next to the saloon, there’s a wooden bowling lane. We had a great time knocking down the pins with the small wooden ball. Walking through the old schoolhouse and writing on the chalkboard is fun for the kids. Our kids also enjoyed seeing the train and the old train depot building. Visiting Old Cowtown Museum makes for a great addition to your Wichita family bucket list.
If you need a place to get in out of the weather, check out Exploration Place. This children’s museum offers tons of hands-on exhibits that your kids will love. It is large, but not so big you’ll feel overwhelmed by it. Even the architecture is cool and they have a small exhibit indoors where you can learn more about the designer.
You enter through a long hallway the leads to a large room. Here you will find a variety of games that will challenge your mind. On either side is a door leading to the different exhibits. On one side you can enter a medieval castle. Kids can dress up in period clothing, take a ride on a horse drawn carriage, and explore the castle. It is maze-like with several ways to go and even a spiral staircase to climb. Our boys didn’t mind having to wait in line to launch the catapult.
Traveling Exhibits and More
A traveling exhibit can also be found near the medieval section. As parents, we found the Ripley’s Believe it or Not traveling exhibit fascinating. You can even catch a live science show, we enjoyed the show about flight while we were here.
When you explore through the other door on the opposite side, you’ll find a water play section where kids can experiment with water flow by building dams. This is especially cool because you’re treated to beautiful views of the Arkansas River from here. There’s also an underground section where you can look at fossils and learn more about the Ogallala Aquifer.
A very fitting exhibit for Wichita is the airplane section. Here kids can do everything from sit in the cockpit of an airplane to design and fly their own simulated airplane. Our very creative daughter enjoyed the computer that let you color and draw on your own airplane. The boys both enjoyed fixing the wing of the plane. Many other flight related activities can be found here that kids of all ages will love.
This botanical garden in Wichita is very family-friendly and includes an amazing children’s garden. You enter the children’s garden through a rainbow archway. They even have a small one just for the kids. Once you wind your way back to the garden, you’ll see a playhouse, water pumps with watering cans, and the bee house. Inside the bee house we were lucky to get a short lesson on some unique things about bees, a honey sample, and we also got to try some honey infused hand cream.
If you follow the path all the way around, you’ll go across bridges, find a tree house to climb up in, encounter a fairy garden, and lots more. For the little musicians in your group, there is a music maze. To get their imaginations really going, step into the storybook garden. If you can manage to drag them away from this area, there’s lots more to explore.
Every great botanical garden has a butterfly house and you will definitely find one at Botanica. It is located toward the back of the garden and, although it’s not large, it houses several species of beautiful butterflies. They fly all around you and if you’re lucky, might even land on you.
Your Wichita Family Bucket List Should Include Wichita Botanica
As you continue your exploration of this amazing garden, you’ll see fountains, along with an abundance of flowers, trees, and other plants. We got to be here during the Lego exhibit which included several Lego models spread throughout the garden. It was fun trying to find them all. Don’t forget to visit the Asian garden which you can get to through the main entrance. Buy some food and feed the koi or just walk around and enjoy the serenity.
There is a great gift shop where you can buy some of the honey from the bee house, as well as other unique gifts and souvenirs. If you get hungry, there’s a cafe on-site as well where you can grab a quick bite. This is a wonderful place to connect with nature and get kids excited about being outside.
The Historical Museum
We saw the building that houses this historical museum from down the street. It drew us in and as soon as we saw it up close, we knew we had to go inside and see what it was all about. This building served as Wichita’s City Hall in 1892 and makes the perfect location for a historical museum. It is beautiful both inside and out. It offers three floors of exhibits and includes many hands-on things for the kids.
One of the things our kids really enjoyed here was typing on an actual typewriter. We have seen many typewriters at museums all over the country, but never have they had one they actually let kids type on. Usually they have distinct signs stating in large print “Do Not Touch.” So getting the opportunity to try out one of these ancient machines was a unique experience.
The exhibits help trace Wichita’s timeline from the earliest tribes to the air age. View exhibits of what an upper class home would have looked like, see the first electric guitar, and learn about Wichita’s role in the flight industry and how it became known as the air capital.
It was so cool getting to see a very rare Jones Six car. This vehicle was built in Wichita and is known for being able to out live its competition. They weren’t built for long and there are only eight of them left in existence. It’s set in an old garage scene too, which just adds to the old time feel. Throughout the museum you’ll be able to watch videos that help explain the significance of each section.
Sedgwick County Zoo
Zoos are great places to visit with kids and, in addition to Tanganyika, Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo makes for a perfect family outing. This zoo is home to around 400 species and their enclosures make you feel like you’re in their home. You’ll be able to experience habitats from around the world. This includes places like Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia.
There are so many amazing things to see at this zoo that I can’t possibly include them all in this article. Instead let me highlight a few of our family’s favorites. Being that we are big reptile fans, we really enjoyed walking through the reptile house. It is home to a large variety of snakes, lizards, turtles, and my favorite, tortoises. Our daughter loves elephants and we got watch them up close, their trunks were literally reaching up out of the fence!
Watching the penguins swimming in their habitat was fun for our youngest because his favorite animal is a penguin. You feel like they’re swimming right next to you. The North American section is very cool because you view the animals from a raised boardwalk. It winds through the enclosure where you’ll see bison, wolves, a bald eagle, and many other species as well.
One of our favorite parts of this zoo by far was the South America/Australia walk-through aviary. It is among the largest of its kind in the United States and is alone worth making it onto your Wichita family bucket list. Although you’re required to stay on the path, the animals are not. It was so exciting to watch the kids as wallaby’s, followed by their babies, crossed the path right in front of us. There were beautiful birds flying right over our heads. It is awesome not having any barriers between you and the animals.
Field Station: Dinosaurs
If you have a dinosaur lover in your family, then Field Station: Dinosaurs is a must-visit to put on your Wichita family bucket list. Your little ones will be thrilled at the sight of life-size dinosaur models towering over them. These dinosaurs move and roar to the delight of children and adults alike. Each dinosaur is labeled with a sign that tells you its name and a few interesting facts.
Throughout the day, you can catch shows and activities all related to dinosaurs. You’ll be given a passport for each child and as they participate in these shows and activities, a stamp will be placed inside. Furthermore, when a certain number of these have been completed, they get a prize.
A shaded fossil dig area is fun for kids and a nice place for the adults to take a break. The kids will also enjoy the short raptor maze near the back of Field Station. Other activities on-site that were closed when we were here due to extreme heat include a bounce house and a climbing dome. The climbing dome is perfect for any older kids that might not be as excited about the other activities. There is a height restriction on this activity so be aware of this.
Our favorite part of our visit to Field Station: Dinosaurs was the mini golf. We did this at the end of our visit and it was a blast. The course takes you through some fun terrain and obstacles. There is a river with a bridge to cross. A tunnel to go through. Even the practice holes at the beginning were fun. All this with huge dinosaurs looming and roaring in the background makes for a fun round of mini golf.
Wichita Art Museum
With so many awesome things to see and do in Wichita, it might be difficult to find a place in your itinerary for the art museum, but it is worth visiting. The great things about visiting the Wichita art museum with kids are; firstly, it’s not huge and secondly, it has a great kids space.
They have many exhibits to peruse so everyone is sure to see something they like. Kids will really like taking off their shoes and walking on the glass floor. From above and below you can see the beautiful glass art sandwiched between the glass flooring. There is also a beautiful glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling.
I personally enjoyed the depression era photography and the ceramic bird sculptures. There are also many pieces of ancient South American art, a variety of paintings, and much more. Take a walk around outside to see some interesting sculptures.
This museum is free to the public on Saturday, and as a result, is great for families, especially those with young children. The children’s area includes art books, puppets, blocks, and coloring pages. It is a large area away from the rest of the museum, and therefore, you don’t have to feel the need to keep the kids quiet. You can also check out the gift shop which is full of unique items or grab something to eat at the on-site cafe.
Museum of World Treasures
If you had to choose between the Historical Museum and the Museum of World Treasures, definitely go with the Historical Museum. Otherwise, this museum is full of really neat stuff from all over the world. You’ll be treated to three floors of unique items you won’t see anywhere else.
Starting on the top floor, you can see some old first edition books. The real draw for families though will probably be the kids section. Here is where the kids can enjoy putting on a show on the stage. There are costumes to wear and props too. Likewise, there’s also a puppet theater with a variety of puppets to put on a fun act. It’s a great spot for kids to be kids.
On the second floor is the hall of presidents. This interesting display has information about every U.S. president. It includes panels that can be flipped up to help keep the kids engaged. We all learned something about the presidents you don’t often hear much about. This floor also included displays about several wars. It was interesting seeing all the propaganda posters and old uniforms they wore.
The first floor had an eclectic combination of items from all over the world. It had two mummies, a large collection of Buddhas, along with lots of other artifacts. There aren’t many hands-on displays at this museum, but the fact that it has so many unique items in it make it worth adding to your Wichita family bucket list.
Where to Stay When Checking Items Off Your Wichita Family Bucket List
We travel the country in our travel trailer, so we needed an RV park that would allow us to be close to everything we wanted to do. Fortunately, Wichita has just such a location. The USI RV Park is located on the east side of the city and put us within about 20 minutes or less of everything we wanted to do.
It is a full-service RV park that includes amenities such as water, electric, and sewer hook-ups. They have a small store with any items you may need during your stay, but is also close to stores if you need anything more. We used the free Wi-Fi which worked great for us to get some work done in our down time. There is a small laundry facility and very clean bathrooms with showers.
You’ll find a nice little play area in the back corner with a climbing structure, an airplane , and a helicopter. They were so nice and told us that the kids could play in the sprinklers which were on near our site because it was pretty hot during our visit. They took full advantage of this! This was a great place to stay in Wichita, and even though it cost a little more than we usually pay, it was worth it to be so close to everything.
Where to Eat When Checking Items Off Your Wichita Family Bucket List
There are lots of great restaurants where you can get a delicious meal in Wichita, but these are just a few that you’re going to want to add to your Wichita family bucket list.
Homegrown- They have a great menu that includes a wide variety of breakfast and brunch selections. You have to try the coffee cake which comes with a delicious caramel sauce. We got one piece and split it between the five of us. They also have house made pop-tarts, we didn’t try one, but they looked really good. The kids all got pancakes topped with a cream cheese frosting and sprinkles with a side of sausage. I highly recommend the potatoes, they had a great flavor.
The Donut Whole- We love donuts and enjoy trying them from local shops wherever we travel. I can honestly say that The Donut Whole has some of the best donuts we have eaten anywhere. Although the service was somewhat lacking, they made up for it by having a great selection of tasty donuts. We tried a variety of flavors and enjoyed the unique taste of the chocolate mint. However, I think we all agreed that the cinnamon swirl was the best.
Chicken N Pickle- This place not only serves great food, but it’s fun too! Everything we tried tasted good. I got the burnt ends sandwich with fries and would definitely get it again. Our oldest tried the ribs and it was so much food that consequently, he couldn’t even finish it. The salads were huge and we all left full and satisfied.
Outside there is a large courtyard full of games. We played Foosball, battleship, ping-pong, and several others. So needless to say, this is a cool place to hang out while you wait for your meal or, like us, play around after you eat. I hope this place continues to grow because we would visit them all over the country if we could.
Ziggy’s Pizza- At first glance, you wouldn’t think much of this place. It is located in a neighborhood and you kinda feel like you’re walking into someones backyard as you approach the entrance. Once you get inside however, you know you’ve found something worth writing about. The pizzas are rectangles not circles, which leaves an impression. Their prices are great and the pizza is hot and fresh. We also ordered an appetizer sampler. It came with cheesy breadsticks, pizza rolls, and mozzarella sticks. All of it tasted great and as a result, we left satisfied.
River City Brewing Co.- This brewery is located downtown right next to the Museum of World Treasures. It’s housed in a brick building and has a laid back atmosphere. You won’t feel rushed to order and you can enjoy a leisurely dinner. The kids ordered from the kids menu and the portions were good. The burgers were juicy and big. You can get a beer flight which allows you to try a few of the unique flavors. Surprisingly, a great flavor combination was the chocolate cappuccino. Due to the fact that they were all good, it was hard to choose a favorite.
Put These Places on Your Wichita Family Bucket List
Do you still believe that person who told you Kansas is boring? There are all these destinations and more waiting for you. So go ahead and put these places on your Wichita family bucket list because once you go, you might not want to leave. We’d love to hear about your favorite family-friendly destination in the comments. Don’t forget to share all these great places with your friends and family. We want to thank Visit Wichita for inviting us to explore the area, they are a wealth of information and friendliness.
Disclosure: We were invited by Visit Wichita to explore the area and they provided tickets to multiple locations we mentioned in this article including our campsite at USI RV Park. All of the opinions given are our honest thoughts and there was no agreement with the tourism board to write anything. We just had a blast in Wichita and would recommend other travelers check it out!