Wichita has so many wonderful things to do. Here is a collection of just a few of the kid-friendly attractions in Wichita. We really could just keep going and going…
So what are you waiting for? Start checking these places off your list and see what Wichita has to offer!
We love our Wichita museums, which are always welcoming to kids and families. Some are more hands-on than others, but almost all of them offer very kid-friendly programming at various times during the year.
This fun science museum is a favorite for Wichita kids, with both permanent and traveling hands-on interactive exhibits. It’s in a stunning building that looks like it’s part of the Arkansas River near downtown. Exploration Place is open daily for much of the season, but closed on most Mondays during the winter.
Museum of World Treasures
Wow the kids by showing them the fossilized skeletons of dinosaurs (including T-rex) and huge sea creatures and letting them play in the kids area. Parents will find plenty to fascinate them as well with ancient Egyptian mummies, a shrunken head, military exhibits, American history, and other exhibits from civilizations throughout time and from around the world. It’s an eclectic collection at the Museum of World Treasures, and it will likely take repeat visits to see it all.
Old Cowtown Museum
Travel back in time to the 19th century at the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita. See the streets of Wichita as it would have looked in the 1800s, hear the stories of the folks who lived in that time, play in a historically accurate schoolyard, visit a farm, and take a ride on the horse-drawn wagon. Volunteers and staff at Cowtown make history come alive for both kids and adults. Cowtown hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. You can also visit during their regular hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. or Sunday noon-5 p.m. Kids under 4 are free, as well as active military members and their families, and Cowtown members.
Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum
Have you ever passed by the cool-looking clock tower building on Main Street near Century II and wondered what it was? It’s Wichita’s original city hall, and it’s a museum! The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum has four floors of history particular to our area, and frequent kid-friendly presentations and events. If you time it right, you may even be able to go inside the clock tower and pull the cord to make the bell chime! Metered parking is almost always available along William Street or next to Century II. (And it only takes a quarter or two; you’ll have plenty of time to explore the museum.) Younger kids might not have enough attention span to appreciate the displays. Older kids will have fun trying to use the working pay phone in the museum. Give them a dime and let them make a phone call… they might have to ask you for help! Fun for parents. 😀
Kansas Aviation Museum
What would the Air Capital of the World be without an aviation museum? That just wouldn’t be right. 🙂 The Kansas Aviation Museum (KAM) has kid-friendly activities and a learning center that gives kids (and adults) an opportunity for hands-on learning experiences. The building that houses the museum used to be Wichita’s airport, and it has that wonderful 1920s style. The museum has planes inside and outside on the tarmac, and numerous historical displays. In the wide open atrium/lobby, you can exercise your aeronautical chops by making and flying (or crashing) paper airplanes. Outside, you might be able to see planes taking off or landing next door to the museum. It’s a fun experience for any kids who have an interest in aviation.
Great Plains Transportation Museum
This is a great museum for the train lover in your life. Inside, there is a gift shop with fun train-related merchandise as well as a small exhibit that includes railroad prints, signs, lanterns, tools, and other artifacts that discuss the history of the railroad industry in the Great Plains. The stars of the museum is the collection of railroad cars and locomotives, including a Santa Fe steam locomotive, a Santa Fe diesel locomotive, a postal car, several cabooses and more! You can climb on and in the rail cars to get an up close, personal look at them.
This museum is located in the heart of downtown Wichita. Visit their website for current hours of operation and admission fees.
Wichita Art Museum (WAM)
The Wichita Art Museum has been a staple in the Wichita area since the 1930s. The WAM has a wonderful permanent collection of different genres of paintings, glass and pre-Columbian artifacts as well as a regular rotation of current exhibits. WAM is a great place to introduce children to the world of art. Like all traditional art museums, these are hands-off exhibits. However, the Wichita Art Museum does have a children’s area where kids are free to roam, play with puppets, crawl in tents, lounge on bean bag chairs and create their own art. WAM also has free special events just for kids such as the preschool program-Art Start, Family Artventure, and admission on Saturdays is always free. On free Saturdays, there is often something for the kids to do in the kids area too. Check out the links to find out more about the various WAM programs for kids.
Zoos and Nature Attractions
Wichita is home to several attractions for nature-loving kids.
Sedgwick County Zoo
Definitely plan to take a whole day (or more!) to see everything there is to see at this Wichita zoo. The Sedgwick County Zoo seems it just gets better and better every year, and it’s kind of impossible to list the highlights, since all the exhibits will be loved by kids and adults alike. Yeah, there’s lions and tigers and bears – but also penguins and elephants and gorillas and camels and giraffes and… you get the idea. The best deal is when you get the membership, but the zoo also has a few discounts throughout the year. We always include them when we hear about them!
Tanganyika Wildlife Park
Another very kid-friendly attraction in Wichita, Tanganyika gives kids an opportunity to see wildlife up-close and personal. This family-owned zoo began life as a world-class breeding facility and opened to the public in 2008 with exhibits and interactive experiences enjoyed by children and adults. Tanganyika is open from spring through fall, closing to the public during the winter season.
Kansas Wildlife Exhibit at Riverside Park (Riverside Park Zoo)
While you’re out exploring Riverside Park and all it has to offer, don’t forget to stop by the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit, lovingly nicknamed the “Riverside Park Zoo” by locals. This free exhibit features over 25 animal species, that are native to Kansas, in 8 naturalistic cages. Animals include beavers, red fox, porcupine, mink, hawks, owls and more. The “zoo” is located near the Riverside Park splash fountains and playgrounds. The actual address of the exhibit is 600-620 Nims. There is a parking lot conveniently located next to it. The Kansas Wildlife exhibit is open during normal park hours/daylight hours. (Not all of the animals are on display during the winter months.)
Keeper of the Plains
The Keeper of the Plains is one of Wichita’s most iconic sculptures. Donated to the city of Wichita in 1974 by Blackbear Bosin, this sculpture sits at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers. This free downtown exhibit let’s kids get out and explore while learning about the lifestyle of the Plains Indians. You may even find Kindness Rocks hidden in the area. Take a trip in the evening to see the fire drums lit up. The Rings of Fire (fire drums) are lit for 15 minutes each evening (weather permitting). They are generally lit once a night around 7 p.m. during the summer and at sunset during the winter.
Great Plains Nature Center
The Great Plains Nature Center is a natural oasis in the middle of Wichita. Experience natural Kansas through the free exhibits, variety of free and inexpensive weekly events, and the paved walking trails. The Great Plains Nature Center is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is FREE. They are closed on Sundays and holidays.
Botanica The Wichita Gardens
The Botanica Wichita Gardens are a beautiful place to visit. There are wide paved paths with plenty of room for strollers and wheelchairs. During the summer months, tour the butterfly house to see a large variety of species. If you’re lucky, you may even witness a few butterflies emerging from their chrysalises! Besides all of the gorgeous seasonal flowers, lily pond and other beautiful plant displays, there is also the fun Downing Children’s Garden. The Children’s Garden has a playhouse, interactive and educational displays, a treehouse and more. Children can also feed the fish at the Khoi Pond and watch the miniature train in the Gene E. Spear Railroad Garden. Coming in Fall 2019, there will also be The Carousel Gardens which will proudly display the iconic carousel from Wichita’s former, well-loved amusement park, Joyland. Botanica is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, year-round, and until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from April through September. They host a variety of special events throughout the year. While the gardens are not free, they are definitely worth a visit!
Field Station: Dinosaurs
This family-friendly attraction features over 40 life-sized, realistic, animatronic dinosaurs in the natural backdrop of rolling Kansas grasslands. The park is located on 14 acres of tall grasses, shady trees, winding trails and an outdoor amphitheater. The dinosaur park, located in Derby, KS, also includes challenging activities such as a dome ropes course, miniature golf, a fossil dig and a dinosaur themed playground. There are also workshops, games and activities to teach kids about dinosaurs. They are open for regular hours Memorial weekend through Labor Day. They also have other special events throughout the year, such as New Year’s Eve and spring break. For reservations, call 855-833-3466.
Games and Entertainment
Kids these days have access to all kinds of high-tech games, but sometimes they have the most fun with un-tech board games, old school arcade games, and our very own, very cool drive-in movie theater. They’ll love the kid-friendly places we’ve gathered in this section.
The Arcade is a great place to play retro arcade games and pinball games from the 80s and 90s. You can relive your childhood and introduce the fun of arcade games to your children here. The Arcade currently has over 77 games such as Pac Man, Galaga, Street Fighter, and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Simpsons.The Arcade is located in the heart of Old Town. You pay one fee and can come and go and play all day. The only thing that costs extra are the pinball games due to the high maintenance that they require. In addition, every Thursday is Throwback Thursday. On Thursdays, there are discounted prices on snacks, drinks and pinball games all evening.
Sente: Games & Refreshments
Sente is a cozy coffee shop in downtown Wichita with a twist. They have hundreds of board games and tabletop games that you can enjoy with your kids. Sente has everything from classic games to modern ones and everything in between. It is a great way to unplug and connect in a fun environment. Besides coffee, they also have other specialty drinks such as Italian sodas and baked goods. There is a small fee to play for the day. Children 10 and under are free to play as long as they have at least one paying adult with them.
Starlite Drive-In is one of only a few remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country! We are lucky to still have one in Wichita, KS. It is a great place to take the family for a fun night at the movies under the stars. The Starlite has two movie screens. One usually plays shows that are more appropriate for younger audiences while the other screen plays movies for older kids and adults. For a minimal fee, you can enjoy more than one movie, refreshments and drinks in the great outdoors.
Miscellaneous Kid-Friendly Places in Wichita
The Advanced Learning Library
Adults and kids love the new Wichita Public Library location just west of downtown. It’s amazing. The new children’s area is designed specifically with kids in mind, and makes it easy for them to find books based on their interests, and learn through playing.
The Teen Pavilion in the library is equally enticing for teens, with lots of areas to do homework, lots of natural sunlight, fun gaming activities, and books specifically for them.