Once a podunk cow town, Wichita has shed it’s boots and spurs and is now an industrial hub for arts and culture. Home to a mindboggling eight shopping districts, 28 art galleries, and 33 museums, who knew Kansas was such a hotbed of attractions?
If you’re looking for a Midwest road trip or weekend getaway with the kids, here are a few family-friendly suggestions in the Sunflower State.
Visit Exploration Place
Kansas’s premier science museum and one of the prettiest buildings in the city, the exhibits at Exploration Place are interactive, appeal to all ages, and rotate every couple months. One mainstay is the cool tornado simulator, which allows you to experience a natural disaster without the dangers. The kids will be so wiped after an afternoon here; you just may get some peace and quiet on the drive home.
Catch a movie at Starlite Drive-In
This retro drive-in movie theatre is the perfect, inexpensive family outing. You can bring your own snacks, but there is a concession stand with some seriously delicious treats like made-to-order funnel cake that aren’t at crazy movie theatre prices. The picture is sharp and audio comes through an FM station or piped in via old-fashioned drive in speakers just like way back when…
Visit Old Cowtown Museum
A 23-acre open-air museum, Cowtown is a great place to learn what life in Kansas was like back in the day. With exhibits from 1865-1880, the staff is in full costume and reenacts daily activities like making butter and gardening. The buildings include a jail, school house, church, residential homes and a general store, and if you get really lucky you may even witness a shootout.
Go nuts for Nifty Nut House
Nifty Nut House is a third generation family owned business that started in 1937 in Wichita. An iconic sweets emporium that includes over 3,000 items, go crazy tasting everything from roasted nuts, fresh fudge and dried fruits to retro Moon Pies and gum balls. Alton Brown from the Food Network called it “a national treasure” for sticky, family fun.
Stop to Smell the Roses at Botanica Gardens
These beautiful gardens are open year-round and are home to many breathtaking flora displays. Organized by theme, the Children’s Garden, the Railroad Garden, and the Butterfly House (summer only) delight both young and old alike. The property is well maintained and it’s a great place to admire some of nature’s best and see there’s more than corn in Kansas.