We had fall break last week so we decided to head out to find some fall family fun activities in Wichita, Kansas. As you may know, we live in Oklahoma so it was only two hours away for us and since I was born and raised in Kansas we decided to go check out Wichita with the kids to see how much it has changed over the years and spend some fun quality time together. We were hosted my Visit Wichita for our visit and really enjoyed how friendly and nice they were to work with. Wichita may not be on the top of the vacation destinations list but we found it to be full of awesome family-friendly venues that we really had fun exploring and enjoying. So we wanted to share our trip with you and all the fun we had along the way.
We were in Wichita for three days and we really stayed busy while we were there. We did a ton on our trip and I thought it would be easiest to break it down into museums, entertainment, food, and lodging.
Wichita has several really cool museums that are both educational and fun to explore. We love checking out museums everywhere we visit. Many of them offer free admission or are super cheap so it’s a great way to have some family-friendly fun plus the kids always learn so much while having fun so it’s a win-win. While in Wichita we visited two museums Mark Arts and Exploration Place. Both were awesome and I highly recommend them if you visit.
We started our trip on Friday with a stop at the new Mark Arts studio and gallery. We enjoyed a tour of the facility and guided art classes where we made some cute pottery. My 9-year-old loves art and takes art classes at our local art center so when we learned that Wichita had an art center we had to check it out. The Mark Arts center just recently opened there new location Rock Road but they have been creating arts in Wichita for many years. On our tour, the guide explained to us that they have had several different locations as the Wichita Art Association include a home at one time. The new art center is a big accomplishment for the art association and houses all of their hard work. Mark Arts is free to visit and explore. They do have a bunch of classes that they offer for a fee, we really enjoyed our small guided activity while we were there. Our instructor was so nice and helped us create some really neat clay vases.
Mark Arts has over 5000 square feet in the main gallery where they showcase regional and national artists. Their goal is both to make and create arts but also provide art education to the community. The facility is amazing, they have classrooms inside for just about every kind of art you can think of. Specialized tools for the different mediums are available for use. They even have cooking classes with a state of the art kitchen for teaching. One of my favorite areas was the outdoor sculpture area. You can sit outside and enjoy the art, draw, or write. It was very beautiful and would be a great place to hang out on a nice fall day.
Exploration place is an amazing science and children’s museum. My kids fell in love with this place. Even my 17-year-old had a blast exploring the exhibits. Hands-on fun for kids of all ages Exploration Place is a must-see if you are heading to Wichita for some family fun. They have an amazing facility that sits on the Arkansas river which you can see from the beautiful architecture of the building. Exploration Place opened in April of 2000 and has provided a fun educational environment for the children and families in the community.
While we were there they had some fun Halloween stations set up for some spooky science experiments that were a lot of fun for the kids. They made slime and several other small crafts that made for some great fall fun. We also explored their Toytopia exhibit that featured the toys for yesterday and today in giant sizes. They had the largest etch-a-sketch I have ever seen and even a full-size dollhouse. We spent a lot of time in this exhibit playing with the toys and showing our kiddos toys we used to have when we were growing up. They had a blast.
We found a giant castle in their Where Kids Rule exhibit. We had visited the museum several years ago when my now 17-year-old was about 4 or 5 years old and they had this exhibit then. So we had a lot of fun recreating some old family photos from our previous visit. The castle is really cool though and really does a great job of transporting you back to medieval days.
Exploration Place is also home to the biggest dome theatre in Kansas. We got to experience the theatre while we’re there and watched a great film called Pandas: The Journey Home. You really feel like you are in the forest with the pandas while you watch. We learned a lot about the pandas and their struggle with extinction. It was a great film the kids really enjoyed it. They show a variety of films throughout the year so if you are planning a visit it’s a great addition to your schedule.
Tickets are fairly cheap. Starting at $7 for kids and $10.50 for adults. Children under 2 are free. If you are a member then the entry is free as well. So it’s a pretty inexpensive family option that the entire family will enjoy. You can easily spend all day there exploring as well. We were there for several hours and the kids enjoyed every minute.
Keeper of the Plains Plaza:
Right next to the Exploration Place museum is The Keeper of the Plains Plaza. The Keeper statue was installed in 1974 as a celebration of the bicentennial of the United States. The Keeper has since become a symbol of Wichita. The 44-foot statue stands at the confluence of the Big & Little Arkansas rivers with its hands raised to the great spirit. Renowned Native American artist Blackbear Bosin donated the Keeper of the Plains to the citizens of Wichita in 1974.
Every night (weather permitting) the ring of fire around the statue is lit for 15 minutes. The lighting and viewing of the statue are free to the public so this is a great experience for families to enjoy during your visit. It’s a beautiful statue and seeing it all lit up is breathtaking.
When we were planning our visit to Wichita we were blown away with all the choices they have for entertainment. They have so many great entertainment options to choose from. Whether you want to see animals, play video games, or play a round of laser tag, they have lots of great spots to choose from. We tried to choose a variety to make everyone in the family happy. We were super busy on our trip and still have a bunch of places we didn’t get to visit due to time that we will have to come back and explore again later.
If you have read any of our other travel posts then you might know that we love escape rooms and my youngest recently discovered laser tag so we had to stop by Laser Quest where we could do both. They have some great laser tag courses that make the laser tag experience even more fun. Their courses combine both hide and seek and tag in a high energy twist to the game. Featuring multi-level arenas and even fog to add some fun to your gaming experience. If you are a fan of laser tag then you are going to love this place. You even get to pick out a cool laser tag name like Maverick or Laser King. It’s impossible to take photos in the arena since it’s dark and you can’t really see a lot. So we don’t really have photos to share, but we had a blast.
They also have Key Quest at the same location which is a fun little escape room experience. We completed the Detention room which has a theme of being held in detention, your goal is to find the hall pass so you can get out of detention early. It was a lot of fun and really family-friendly. No spooky elements and pretty easy to complete. We got out with only a few seconds to spare and had a fun while trying to figure out the puzzles. If you like escape rooms this is a fun one to check out during your visit.
All Star Adventures:
If you are looking for a family pleaser venue then All Star Adventures is perfect. They have something for everyone. All Star Adventures is huge, they have 24 acres full of entertainment for the entire family. They have everything from an old-school arcade, amusement park rides, mini golf, bumper boats, batting cages, and more. I mentioned before that I grew up in Kansas everyone who grew up around Wichita remembers the old amusement park Joyland. Well if you miss Joyland then visit All Star Adventures. They have all the great classic rides that I grew up with and loved. In fact, I kept asking myself did they get all these rides from Joyland when it closed? It really took me back walking around the amusement park rides on the grounds. On Friday nights they have a family fun night pass that allows you to ride the rides as much as you want and play mini-golf as much as you want from 6pm to close. It’s a great deal! We had a lot of fun riding the rides and even checked out the arcade as well. They had some great games and kids had a blast playing them and earning tickets.
We love arcades and usually spend at least some of our vacation at one All Star Adventure was the perfect location for us. We didn’t check out everything but we were impressed with how much variety they have to offer. It’s a great stop for a family like ours where everyone has a variety of likes. That way everyone can find something they enjoy.
Tanganyika Pumpkins at the Park:
Do you love animals? Our family loves animals, all kinds, big or small. We have actually visited Tanganyika before, the girls have visited with their Girl Scout troops so it wasn’t completely new to us but we have never visited during their Pumpkins at the Park event which they host for Halloween. Tanganyika is a small zoo but it’s great because you can see the animals up close and they have several exhibits where you can even interact with them by petting or feeding. So if you are looking for a more intimate zoo setting they are perfect. They didn’t have a lot of animals out during this event but did have some that the kids really enjoyed seeing and petting. This event is more about fall and Halloween fun. They had lots going on, it was the perfect way to spend our fall break.
For Pumpkins at the Park, they have a bunch of fall themed activities set up all over the park. The park is beautiful by the way, for Pumpkins at the Park they have the entire park decorated in super fun Halloween decor and all the staff dress up in awesome Halloween costumes including lots of kid-favorite characters from TV and movies. We saw lots of Disney princesses, Pokemon characters, and Jurrasic Park costumes. They really did an amazing job making it fun for the kids. They even have a spooky Halloween light show and have three jack-o-lantern mouths set up on the rocks as you come in singing Halloween classics. It’s super cool a must-see.
They had lots of fun activities to check out while we were there. Stuff for older kids and younger kids which as nice. They had escape rooms, haunted hayrides, a corn maze with zombies, pumpkin patch, petting zoo, candy stations, and more. We had a blast exploring all the different activities. It’s a bit crowded but lots of fun.
Sedgwick County Zoo:
As I mentioned, we love animals so we love visiting zoos. Growing up in Kansas I have visited the Sedgwick County Zoo as a kid but haven’t been back in several years and our youngest had never been to this zoo so we had to check it out during our visit. The zoo is home to over 3000 individual animals and 400 species. One thing I have always loved about the Sedgwick County Zoo is that they have the zoo split up into different geographic regions like Africa, Asia, North America, and more. It’s a great way to group the animals together and see animals together that would be together in the wild. It’s great when you are exploring too, I love the layout.
During our visit to the zoo, they were celebrating the birthday of two lion cubs who were turning 1 that weekend. They made them a fun cake and filled it with treats they would like. We had a blast watching them open their gifts and find their treats hidden in the big cake they made. It was a fun celebration and so exciting to see the lion family growing up.
We also went on the boat road which is a big hit with my kids. They have a little course lined out that takes you through several of the exhibits. You get to learn a little more details about the animals from the tour guide as well. The Sedgwick County Zoo has a lemur exhibit as well but you can only see it on the boat ride, you can visit them anywhere else in the park. The tour guide also told us it’s one of the only exhibits that you can be in the water the elephants can access at the same time which we thought was really cool, we love elephants. The lemurs were off exhibit when we visited since it’s gotten too cold for them so we didn’t get to see them but it’s a fun little extra you should check out if you visit.
One of our favorite parts of the Sedgwick County Zoo are all the statues they have around the park that are perfect for photo ops. I got the kids posing with several of these, but the lion was our favorite. It’s a great zoo and really worth the visit if you are in the area. It’s also affordable for a family and a great way to spend the day. We love going in the fall because it’s cooler and the animals are out more often.
As I mentioned before, we love arcades and video games. We found the coolest arcade ever during our visit to Wichita. In fact, my husband says he found his new home. The Arcade has all the old-school classic arcade games and pinball games all in one building. The best part is that they are all set to free play (except the pinball games). You pay one price when you come in and you can play video games all day. It’s amazing! A huge walk down memory lane too. I think my husband may have had more fun here than the kids but we all really enjoyed it.
It’s in a great location as well. While we were there the entire area was covered with Pokemon players playing in an event, it was really fun to meet up with and connect with new Pokemon Go players. We loved the old building it’s located in. They have over 60 arcade games from the 80’s and 90’s. It’s a great way to transport yourself to a simpler time. We loved it. With the huge variety of games, we were all able to find something we loved and it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. If you are a gamer you have to check it out!
There are so many great places to eat in Wichita. We loved the food. There were so many places to choose from it was difficult to pick at times but everywhere we went was amazing. So if you are a foodie then Wichita is a great place to visit to try out some local favorites.
Do you love pizza? We had a lot of pizza this weekend but one of our favorites was Ziggy’s Pizza. They have some great options to choose from. Their crust was so good. We tried out their cheesy garlic bread also which was fantastic. If you are a pizza fan we highly suggest checking out Ziggy’s.
If you love a great sports bar then check out Bubba’s 33. They have the best burgers, pizza, and they have more TVs than tables. They had just about every sports game available showing while we were there. The food was amazing, my personal favorite was the onion rings. If you want you can grab a beer and burger and watch the game while you enjoy. Family-friendly and a great place to take kiddos cause they can be loud and no one will care or even notice. The service was awesome too, our waitress was so nice and we told her it was our first time there so she sent out the manager to welcome us and he gave us a coupon to bring back next time for a free app. Great service and staff and awesome food, an A+ in my book.
We fell in love with our breakfast spot on Saturday morning. We stopped by Jimmy’s Diner and was transported back in time. Now I grew up with a grandma who ran a small diner the entire time I was growing up and since she kept an eye on me while my parents worked I spent a lot of time in her diner as a kid. So visiting Jimmy’s Diner was like visiting her old diner. It really brought me back. Like an old diner from the 50’s, you will find kind people, a jukebox, and delicious food. Their pancakes and cinnamon rolls are to die for. It was a great way to start the day.
River City Brewing Company:
Looking for great pizza? Or maybe a hand-crafted ale? The River City Brewing Company is Wichita’s only brew pub and was founded in 1993. I love the building is located in, an old factory, it has a great atmosphere. They keep 16 handcrafted ales on tap if you love to try out the ales. For the kids though they have some great food too. We had their pizza, it was great, the perfect crispy crust. They also had some large shell macaroni and cheese that was a huge hit with my kiddos. A great little place for lunch.
Delano Barbeque Company:
If you love BBQ then you have to check out Delano Barbeque Company. Some of the best BBQ we have ever had. It’s a small little place but big taste. Great BBQ with all the fixings. My husband had the ribs and he said they were full of flavor, highly recommend them. We ordered the onion rings and were surprised they put hot sauce on them, served with blue cheese so they almost taste like a hot wing, a little different but really good. Great family-style restaurant.
Kolace Dough Co & Eatery:
Sunday morning we tried out Kolace Dough Co & Eatery. They make kolaches fresh every morning. Not just plain old kolaches though they have a wide selection of unique flavors to choose from. Both savory and sweet so they have something for everyone. I tried out their egg, sausage, and cheese which was so yummy and filling. My favorite though was the sausage and gravy which tasted just like biscuits and gravy all rolled up in a kolache. They are unique and delicious a great place to stop for a quick and yummy breakfast.
Wichita Brewing Company & Pizzeria:
As I mentioned, we are big fans of pizza. We just had to try out the wood-fired pizza a Wichita Brewing Company & Pizzeria. We had their taco pizza and it was amazing. Full of flavor and great fresh ingredients. If you are a pizza fan you won’t want to miss out on their great pizzas. Great beer choices as well, my husband enjoyed the local favorite while we were there.
Churn & Burn:
Before we headed home we had to stop for ice cream at Churn & Burn. We had heard so many great things about Churn & Burn and wanted to try it out. They have some traditional ice creams to choose from but they are famous for the fusion of coffee and ice cream. My husband is a huge coffee fan so he had to check it out and loved it. They have fun unique flavors to choose from like Elvis and Cookie Monster. I’m an ice cream lover myself and really enjoyed the mint ice cream with some chocolate chips added in. The perfect treat on a fall Sunday afternoon. While we were there we enjoyed their Joyland memorabilia as well, again took me back to my childhood.
Saturday we spent the morning exploring Wichita and while we were looking around we came across this really cool little coffee shop called Sente. We fell in love with this place and we actually wish we lived close enough to visit the shop frequently. They have created a gaming coffee shop. They have a wall full of all kinds of board games. So you can come in and hang out and play games while you have your coffee. Pay $3 per person to play games all day. It’s a really cool idea and was a really fun way to hang out as a family. They had soda for the kids and coffee for us. We spent a couple of hours there just playing games, laughing, and enjoying the time together. It was one of our favorite stops for the entire trip.
There are a lot of lodging options in Wichita but we stayed at the Holiday Inn Wichita East I-35. It was centrally located so it was easy to get to all of the places we visited within a few minutes. It was right across from the mall as well, so if you want to do some shopping while you are there it’s really easy to get to some great shopping locations. The facility was really beautiful they even have weddings there often. The indoor pool was a favorite for the kids when we had time in the evening to swim. They have over 10,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space available too so it’s a great place for business meetings or events. There were a lot of events being hosted during our stay, it was pretty busy. Really friendly and nice staff made our stay really spectacular. It was the perfect lodging choice for us.
While we were in Wichita we did a little exploring and found a ton of great street art along the way. Wanted to share some of our favorites. They literally had statues all over the downtown area. We only explored a few blocks and found tons of great statues. You never really know when you are going to run into a cute bunny statue on the curb or a statue of a guitar player. They were really neat to look at and made our walking exploration of Wichita really fun. If you have some time during your visit take a walk around and see what you can find. Plus it’s great for families, and it’s free.
Nifty Nut House:
While we were exploring Wichita we find the ultimate candy store called the Nifty Nut House. It was huge! They have just about every kind of nut and candy you can imagine. My kids were in heaven. They have been around since 1937 and feature over 4,500 different items. If you have time to stop in make sure you do, your taste buds will thank you! The staff was super helpful and friendly as well. It was a great stop during our exploration of Wichita.
As you can see, we found a lot of fun in Wichita, Kansas. I’m not sure why we waited too long to bring the family and explore Wichita, we had the best time. Living in Oklahoma it’s only two hours away and full of great family-fun entertainment to make for a great vacation or long weekend. We love to go on vacation during fall break but we don’t want to spend a lot of time on the road or on a plane so Wichita was a great option that was close by and had something for everyone.
We did so much while we were there but there was still a long list of spots we didn’t have time for so you can easily find enough to do for any size vacation. Whether you are looking for family entertainment, some night fun for couples, or some fun shopping they have a little bit of everything.
We loved the atmosphere during our visit. We live in Oklahoma where everyone is friendly and waves when you pass by. Many times when we go on vacation we visit places where the friendliness is lacking but that was not the case in Wichita. Everyone we came across and all of the venues we visited was friendly and helpful. It really made us feel comfortable like we were at home. It’s a great little city that is worth the visit!
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