Hi there! This is an older post, and some of the information is still good, but do be sure to check out the Wichita Kids Guide to Summer to see the latest summer activities in Wichita.
Let’s start our list! School is out in just a week or so for most public schools in the area. Below are some ideas of inexpensive summer activities for kids (and some for adults!) in the Wichita area. (I’ll update the list with links and more information as I get it.) If you see that I’ve missed some, please feel free to share in the comments!
- The Wichita Parks and Rec guide will be in this Sunday’s Wichita Eagle and available HERE for download on Monday, May 9, 2011.
- Fishing is available at over 20 public lakes in the Wichita metro area. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has a downloadable map with information about Wichita-area ponds and lakes that are open to fishing. Find them here on the Kansas Outdoors website. There are also other smaller community or neighborhood ponds in the city limits, just be sure to ask for permission before you fish. Children under 16 years of age are not required to have fishing licenses. There is now a multi-year youth (ages 16-20) license for fishing or fishing/hunting available for $42.50, which is a big savings. Adult licenses are $20.50 per year. Additional permits may be required and additional discounts are available, so be sure to check Kansas Fishing Application and Fees for all the details.
- Camping at state parks can be a real bargain. Many parks offer primitive camping, RV hookups, or even cabins to rent. Some have shelters for get-togethers. Here is a list of Kansas State Parks, and don’t forget about the Kansas Corps of Engineers reservoirs and campgrounds.
- Walking provides great exercise and we have plenty of nice places to walk here in Wichita. Friends of mine have made good use of the nice walking paths along the river near downtown. During the day, big trees provide some shade, and in the evenings, if you time it right, you might catch the fire-lighting at the Keeper of the Plains (9 p.m. during spring and summer). Chisholm park near the Great Plains Nature Center at Woodlawn and 29th is a beautiful walk, as is any of the paths at Sedgwick County Park on West 21st Street North.
- Playgrounds and parks dot the city. Some have water features, others have tennis courts, etc. All are free.
- Too hot to play outside? Get two games of bowling every day – free for kids, cheap for adults. See Kids Bowl Free for more information.
- Wichita has 11 outdoor swimming pools at parks located throughout the city. Adult admission is $3, kids $2, and family admission is only $8. The YMCA has water parks at four of its Wichita locations that are free for YMCA members. Non-member families can purchase a day-pass for the YMCA water parks.
- The Great Plains Nature Center is free and open to the public year-round. It offers a variety of programs throughout the year that are also free or low-cost. Adjacent to the GPNC, the Chisholm Creek park has a terrific walking path that winds through lush native Kansas grasses, trees, and plants.
- Summer Reading Programs from the Wichita Public Library, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and others allow kids to set their own reading goal, and then rewards them with prizes and coupons when they reach it. The Wichita Public Library even offers reading programs for teens and adults!
- In addition to classes and activities through the Wichita Parks and Rec department, several surrounding cities like Maize, Derby, and Andover have recreation centers that offer inexpensive classes, activities, and sports teams.
- May is bike month, and it’s a great time of year to explore some of Wichita’s cycling resources.
- Farmer’s markets are a great way to keep the kids and the parents entertained on early Saturday mornings. Some farmer’s markets are open on weeknights. See the list of Wichita Farmer’s Markets.
- And of course, Wichita museums offer plenty of fun. The Wichita Art Museum is always free on Saturdays and they also offer kids’ activities throughout the year. At the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, even the building is part of the history of our area. You’ll be amazed at some of the “firsts” we Wichitans can lay claim to. Admission is cheap year-round.
- Become a Kansas tourist on the cheap. One of my favorite websites to browse is TravelKS, from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Tourism. A vacation in your own state can be just as refreshing and fun as a long-distance trip, with the added bonus of getting there faster! Keep an eye on the TravelKS Hot Deals and Facebook page for ideas and ways to save.
Can you think of some other summer activities that are relatively inexpensive and fun?