I have received multiple requests to share great vacation spots in Kansas for young children. I’ve been working hard to scope out different locations to find the best places to take little ones. Today, I am partnering with Visit Wichita to share one of my favorite Kansas cities – Wichita Kansas.
Wichita holds a very special place in my heart. It’s where I went to college, met my husband, and got married. It was also where I went on many weekend getaways with my mom when I was growing up. We still have family in Wichita and visit with our daughter multiple times a year. It’s a great city that’s packed full of activities for children. I couldn’t be more excited to share some of them with you today.
Where to Stay in Wichita Kansas
Before we talk about where to go in Wichita, we should probably talk about where to stay. Wichita has a lot of excellent hotel options located in the west side, downtown area, and east side. So, you’ll always be able to find something centrally located to the activities you have planned. For this trip, we stayed at Candlewood Suites Wichita East. This was our first time staying with them and I already know I will rebooking with them again for our next visit. Their hotel is one of the best that I have found for families to date.
Candlewood Suites was beautifully renovated in December of 2017. This renovation included all 91 guest rooms. All of their suites come with a full kitchen including a refrigerator, stove top, sink, microwave, dishwasher, dining table, cookware, and dishes. If you need anything above that, they do have a rental area where you can check out more specific items like a waffle maker. Speaking of food, you’ll notice when you walk in their lobby that they have a small grocery area where you can purchase various foods and drinks. A space like this really helps save money for families during a vacation.
There are a few other important points to note about Candlewood Suites Wichita East. All of their suites have room for a portable crib to be set up – even their studio suite! As a parent, this is so important because a successful bedtime can really make or break a trip. They also have plenty of activities for children to enjoy in the hotel like a pool table, a swimming pool, and activities that can be rented from the front desk like movies and coloring books.
Where to Go in Wichita Kansas
As I mentioned earlier, there are so many amazing attractions in Wichita for children. In fact, there are so many that I wasn’t able to go visit and photograph them all for you in this trip. However, the ones I am listing below are some of my absolute favorites. They are definitely worth the stop.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park
One of my favorite Wichita attractions is Tanganyika Wildlife Park. It has been since I was a child. Tanganyika is an amazing interactive zoo that allows visitors to connect with the animals on site. At Tanganyika you’ll find a wide variety of animals including Lorikeets, Ring-tail Lemurs, Snow Leopards, Giraffes, Camels, Kangaroos, and so many more.
What makes Tanganyika so unique is the animal encounters that they offer. At Tanganyika, you aren’t just looking at animals behind a barrier. You are actually able to interact with these amazing creatures and be hands on with them. Every animal encounter is a bit different. Some of my favorites are feeding the Giraffes, feeding the Lorikeets, and riding the Camel. Another fan favorite is feeding the Ring-tailed Lemurs. They also have a great selection of “Wildly Different Experiences” that you can enjoy. These include swimming with the penguins, going behind the scenes with a sloth, painting with the animals, and more.
Tanganyika is well known for their unique, hands-on animal encounters. However, there is another important part of Tanganyika that sets them apart. That is, how they care for their animals. As an animal lover, it’s crucial to me to choose zoos that treat their animals with kindness, compassion, and love. From the moment you arrive at Tanganyika, you can see that they do just that. The animals are kept in very large, clean, and customized exhibits. More importantly, they are cared for by zookeepers who truly understand and appreciate them. Every employee I spoke to knew all about their animals personalities, their likes and dislikes, their schedules, and more.
The Exploration Place
Another one of my childhood favorites is The Exploration Place. The Exploration Place is an interactive science museum. They work to inspire an interest of science in children of all ages through fun and engaging experiences. They feature a selection of traveling and permanent exhibits that are perfectly suited for all ages and interests. The Exploration Place has been a Wichita staple since 2000.
All of their permanent exhibits are phenomenal and truly stand the test of time. However, like every family, I have a few that I love just a tiny bit more than others. Our current favorite is the Kansas Kids Connect Exhibit. This exhibit is exclusively for children under age 5, which is wonderful for parents of toddlers. Here young children will have the opportunity to learn more about the world around them including planting a garden, fixing a tractor, and going to the farmers market. Older children will love getting to play and enjoy medieval life in Where Kids Rule. This exhibit transports kids back in time to medieval life and allows them to enjoy more than 60 individual hands on activities. Explore Kansas is another phenomenal exhibit that allows children to learn about our state’s land, water, and weather in a hands on and exciting way.
If you were sold on The Exploration Place just by the exhibits listed above, then I am about to blow your mind. This attraction houses more than just the traveling and permanent exhibits. They have the largest Dome Theater in the state on site. Their theater plays a rotation of educational and exciting films. Admission to the theater can be purchased as a stand alone ticket or in addition to your museum pass. When the weather is nice, you’ll want to step outside to enjoy their 18-hole miniature golf course. Admission to the golf course is included with your museum pass. While you’re outside, be sure to stop by Exploration Park to let your child release some energy. Admission to the park is free.
The Museum of World Treasures
The Museum of World Treasures has been a long time favorite of my husband’s. However, this was my first time visiting. I can honestly say that I am now as hooked as he is! If you have a history buff in your family, then this is a Wichita attraction that you won’t want to miss out on. The Museum of World Treasures offers a diverse look into history including the life of dinosaurs, ancient Egyptians, past presidents, World War II, and much much more. This museum is packed full of three floors worth of history.
The Museum of World Treasures caters to guests of all ages and interests types. Thanks to their diverse range of history exhibits, every guest will be able to find something they love. If you’re interested in Natural History, then you’ll love Fossil Hall or Crystalizing Cultures. Popular military exhibits include World War I, World War II, Civil War, and Berlin Wall. American History buffs will enjoy Presidents Hall and Founding of America. If you’re interested in different World Civilizations like myself, then you will enjoy traveling through Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Africa. These are just a few highlights of the wide range of history you will discover at The Museum of World Treasures.
My favorite part of The Museum of World Treasures is Ivan’s Playhouse. If you’re coming with young children, then this will be your favorite part too. Ivan’s Playhouse is an excellent place to let your children explore, let loose, and get rid of all that pent up energy. It is set up with a stage, prewritten scripts, two backdrops, and actors chairs. You’ll also find a lego wall, a coloring station, a reading nook, and plenty of puzzles and games.
Wichita Art Museum
I love finding attractions that cater to both adults and children. This way everyone has something to look forward to. The Wichita Art Museum does just that. This museum is home to a vast collection of American art. The permanent collection houses over 8,000 objects. So, everyone will be able to find pieces they connect with. A variety of exhibitions also rotate through the museum. At the time of our visit Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image, Style was on display. Be sure to check out their website to see their current exhibitions when planning your trip.
Outside of the museum, visitors will find the Art Garden. The Art Garden surrounds the museum and was added in 2015. This beautiful landscape is home to over 100 trees, 600 shrubs, 20,000 perennials and grasses, and 13 sculptures. This breathtaking space is a perfect blend of art and nature. The Art Garden is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and admission is always free. A trip to Wichita Art Museum just wouldn’t be complete without taking the time to view this lush outdoor space.
Art isn’t just for adults. That’s why The Wichita Art Museum created The Living Room. The Living room is an interactive gallery for young children, and the young at heart, to enjoy. This creative space is the perfect spot to allow your child to explore and discover their inner artist. This open and spacious area is perfect to let those little legs stretch out and run around. The Living Room links what children saw throughout the museum to make it/take it style art projects. All materials and supplies are provided free of cost by the museum. Not only does The Living Room feature take home art projects, but it is also home to a puppet theater, various books, building supplies, and more. It’s a great place to allow your child’s creativity to flow.
Sedgwick County Zoo
I don’t know about your kids, but my daughter is beyond obsessed with animals. So, traveling to a city with multiple zoos is a dream come true for us. The Sedgwick County Zoo is also one of my childhood favorites and I love being able to continue to make memories here with my daughter. It is the number one outdoor family tourist attraction in Kansas and the 7th largest zoo in the United States. This zoo is truly one of a kind and is a must see Wichita attraction for families.
Sedgwick County Zoo is home to more than 3,000 individual animals and over 400 species. They have three different children’s farms (African Farm, American Farm, and Asian Farm) for children to explore. The American Farm is home to one particularly rowdy goat who enjoys a good cotton sweater for an afternoon snack (mine). This zoo has animals from every part of the world including North America, The Tropics, South America, Australia, Asia, and Africa. Some of our favorite exhibits include Downing Gorilla Forest, Slawson Family Tiger Trek, KOCH Orangutan & Chimpanzee Habitat, and Pride of the Plains.
This beautiful zoo is extremely large and is packed full of interesting and unique exhibits. Luckily, walking isn’t the only way to see this zoo. Although, it is an excellent form of exercise. You can hop on or off a tram at any stop to enjoy a narrated tour for free. You can also enjoy a boat tour of the zoo for $4 from 11-4 in the summer. This is one Wichita attraction that you won’t want to rush through. It could easily be a full morning or full afternoon excursion, especially if you want to enjoy the different tours. So, be sure to set aside plenty of time for it. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Where to Eat in Wichita Kansas
A travel guide just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a few good food stops. Wichita is home to some truly amazing and delicious food options. They have a wide variety to choose from including quick drive through spots, chain restaurants, unique diners, high end steak houses, and so much more. There really is something for everyone here.
For breakfasts, I highly recommend stopping in to The Donut Whole for a quick bite on the go. Their cake donuts are topped with delicious and unique flavors that you won’t want to miss out on. A good sit down spot for breakfast is Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. I can’t recommend their breakfast tacos enough! For lunch, I love to go to Old Mill Tasty Shop. Their chicken fried chicken special is truly award worthy. Another good lunch spot is Meddys. This counter-serve style restaurant serves delicious Mediterranean food that people of all ages will love. Scotch and Sirloin is a wonderful option for dinner. Despite being on the higher end cost wise, they were very family friendly. I felt extremely welcome and comfortable dining with my young toddler. A more cost effective, yet equally delicious dinner option is Delano BBQ Company. They have a great family meal deal that can easily feed an entire family.
Before you head home from your trip, you’ll want to stop in and grab a few sweets for the road. There’s no better place to do that than The Nifty Nut House. The Nifty Nut House has been delivering delicious treats to the citizens of Wichita for over 72 years. They have a great selection of over 3,ooo items including fresh nuts, dried fruits, chocolate covered nuts, gourmet chocolates, fresh fudge, candies, gummies, and even sugar free items. Every family member will be sure to find something that they love.