Local Wanderer: Wichita
Wichita dweller, Andrew Kemp, knows the best ins and outs of the city. With shots of local hot spots as well as some of his favorite destinations, he knows how to bring Kansas from life to our news feeds. He is being featured as part of Alaska’s Local Wanderer series. Follow Alaska Airlines on Instagram as Andrew gives you a glimpse of Wichita through his lens.
I’ve grown up in Wichita my entire life. The city has grown so much, especially in the past few years, and is continuing to evolve into something truly great. Exploring Wichita is honestly one of my favorite pastimes. There are so many hidden gems, and you’re sure to find something that interests you, just by driving or walking around town. Here are some of my favorites.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Henry J. Allen House
Wichita’s very own Frank Lloyd Wright house is just a few miles east of downtown. The Allen House, built for newspaper publisher Henry Allen and his wife, Elise, was one of the architect’s last prairie houses. Construction of the house was completed in 1918, and next year will be its 100-year anniversary. Tours vary and often sell out, so be sure to check the house’s website before planning your trip.
Sedgwick County Zoo
The Sedgwick Country Zoo is one of Wichita’s most popular destinations and sure to keep the whole family entertained for hours. The Sedgwick County Zoo has just about every animal you could think of, and recently the zoo added a brand-new, expanded elephant exhibit stretching five acres.
Located downtown beside the Keeper of the Plains lies Exploration Place: The Sedgwick County Science and Discovery Center. Geared mainly towards kids, there are lots of interactive exhibits including a 3-story medieval castle, and Hall of Heroes, a special superhero exhibit on display until January. The fun continues outside with a mini golf course and walkways around the Arkansas River.
El Dorado Lake: El Dorado State Park is an extremely popular weekend destination for Wichita residents. The lake is only 30 minutes away from Wichita by car, and you can spend the day swimming, boating, fishing or relaxing. Cabins are available for rent, as well as RV campsites.
Santa Fe Lake: Although smaller than El Dorado Lake, Santa Fe Lake is about half the distance from Wichita and even has a waterfall with some hiking trails. Kayaks are available for rent, and there is a beach with a designated swimming area.
Restaurants: Downtown Wichita is the life of the party with many amazing restaurants and sights. Dempsey’s Burger Pub, Picasso’s Pizzeria, District Taqueria, Old Mill Tasty Shop, The Beacon and AVI Seabar & Chophouse are my personal favorites.
Keeper of the Plains: Keeper of the Plains is one of Wichita’s most iconic landmarks. Located on the shores of the Arkansas River, the statue is surrounded by rock and fire pits, known as the “Ring of Fire.” Weather pending, the fire pits are lit each night and it’s a beautiful experience.
Wichita Skyline: Everyone loves a good skyline photo, and Wichita will not disappoint. The downtown Wichita skyline is especially amazing in the mornings or evenings, because Kansas boasts some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Final Fridays: On the final Friday of each month (hence the name), local artists of all types display their artwork in local shops and there’s live music, too.
College Basketball: If you come to Wichita during basketball season, you can cheer on the Wichita State University’s NCAA men’s basketball team. Due to their recent successes, the WSU Shockers joined the American Athletic Conference this year. The AAC is home to top-tier teams, so be prepared to watch some competitive games.
All in all, Wichita is a great city. I hope you take the time to explore around the city.