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Top Seven Things to Do in Wichita

We just returned from our family Road Trip to Wichita, Kansas and Oklahoma City.  Before we left and all during the trip, friends, family, and strangers asked us,

Why Wichita?

And our nonplussed Peruvian leader replied, “Because we’ve never been there before.” Well, now we have. And, for when you want to go, here are the Garfias family top seven experiences.

7. Learn how to pronounce Wichita.

This was a huge family joke the entire time we were gone. In the middle of the trip, our Peruvian leader burst out,

I am tired of Americans mispronouncing Wi-CHEE-tuh!

We always said, amongst ourselves, the “proper, Peruvian pronunciation” of the city, so at the end of the trip, when someone asked my daughter, the wordsmith, where we went, she stammered,

We went to Wich, Witch, WichEE, whi, whicha, …

And we all burst out laughing! You know you have succeeded when you’ve messed up the children.

6. Shop the Antique Mall.

Antiquing is not usually on a child’s top list of attractions, yet this antique mall had something for everyone.  My boys enjoyed looking at the vintage toys, guns, and pocket knives. Princess was enamored with the clothes, jewelry, and household items.  Oldest son purchased his first gold coin.  My husband negotiated a really good price on five “radioactive red” vintage fiesta plates for me.

5. Take Pride in the Zoo.

On the tram

Ever since we bought a membership to the Dallas zoo when our three-year-old was a newborn, he has believed he owns the “ba-zoo” and every animal in it. So, it only stands to reason he should visit other “ba-zoos” to compare their facilities and residents.  Wichita’s Sedgwick Zoo has our enthusiastic approval for its overly-friendly ducks, copious petting areas, and convenient cross-park tram.  This “ba-zoo” is rightfully proud of its pride of lions. The rainforest bird house and large reptile exhibit are not to be missed, either.

Sweetie Pooh in the reptile house. Look behind him!

As if I needed proof he is big

Can you find all three lions in the pride?

4. Explore the World Treasure Museum.

Section of the Berlin Wall

It may sound strange, but an amazing amount of the world’s treasures are right there in Wichita. Who knew? We touched a portion of the Berlin Wall, viewed a marine dinosaur fossil unearthed in Kansas, examined Incan artifacts, studied Roman coins, and marveled at natural gems.  The men loved the large displays of artillery, uniforms, and artifacts from American war campaigns.  We had a great time.

Ancient Inca Shrunken Head from Peru

Identifying Natural Gemstones

Marine Dino Found in Kansas. They claim it proves Kansas was once covered by a giant lake. My son said, “What will they think of next?”

3. Meet some friends at Exploration Place.

This children’s museum is a blast; if we lived near it, I would be there every month. Heavy on the math and science hands-on fun, boys and girls alike will find hours of educational puzzles and displays to keep them busy. We met up with college friends of my husband and their 5 children, making an ideal homeschool morning of it!

Sweetie and Daddy Flying the Wright Brothers’ Plane

Baby Exploring the Tornado Simulator

Homeschool Dream Come True- Three-Story Medieval Castle Replica to Explore

2. Tour Cowtown in the Rain.

Proof I was present for the vacation.

This outdoor museum cannot be dampened even in the cold drizzle of Kansas. We had a blast going back in time, exploring real homes, shops, and businesses from the 1870s-1890s.  Curator Amy Loch walked us through the streets, explaining the significance of the buildings and patiently answering the children’s questions. Did I tell you we had fun? This is the way to learn about this time in history – actually seeing the real houses and church where families lived and the shops they frequented. I was so impressed at how beautifully these buildings are preserved and how open to the public. We walked right inside almost every one of the more than two dozen buildings. Unlike most historic home tours, these buildings have few rooms behind glass or partitions. Children have unobstructed views of each place they visit. I think this actually increased their respect for the treasures they saw.

entering a preserved log cabin

walking the rails

Princess playing Clementi on a parlor pump organ

“Cutting a rug” in the dance hall

Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita is worth driving to tour for yourself. We will go back again, for sure. If you are ever within a few hours, it is a must for home educators to see.

1. Pops

the iconic giant soda bottle, with family in front

Our favorite stop wasn’t in Kansas, but really in Oklahoma on Route 66 on our way back to Oklahoma City.  Pops is the most fun burgers and fries you can ever have on the road, thanks to the cool decor and awesome giant neon giant soda bottle.  Inside, you will find the glass walls completely lined with soda pop from around the world – every flavor and brand you have never imagined.  David had kola inglesa from Peru, I sampled maple cream soda from New Hampshire, Eldest had some kind of Dr. Pepper he is fanatical about, Princess had a root beer she’s never tasted before, and Sweetie Pooh orange cream soda.  The youngest just got regular soda of some kind. Anyway, we all drank right out of the bottles and declared our own flavor the best.

Surprisingly, the burgers were great! I had one with avocado and veggies on it, and it was juicy and delicious. Daddy was feeling generous and ordered two big baskets of chili cheese fries, too! I think I was in diner heaven.

We declared Pops to be the most fun we’ve had for supper in quite a while!

We saw many other sites on our trip, including the Oklahoma City National Memorial, Fort Reno, and the Kansas Aviation Museum.  We heartily recommend you visit the Old Mill Tasty Shop for lunch in Wichita, too.  Order a shake.



  1. Lisa says

    Lea Ann thank you for posting this! At first I was thinking, uh ok what’s in Wichita, KS?? BUT WOW!! Now I want to go! We will definitely add this to the must do vacation list.


    • LOL! I know, right? We got that response from EVERYONE. I was a little skeptical about the venue, myself. But there is more to do there than even the locals realize.


  2. Thanks for sharing about your trip. I missed you while you were gone! And now that my internet is finally up to speed again, hopefully I’ll be able to stop by and read entire posts more often!

    My sons would totally love to fly the Wright Brothers’ plane, and I love the picture of your four munchkins at the diner!


    • It seemed like everywhere we went, there were flight simulators. The Aviation Museum had a really good computer one, and there at the Exploration Place there were several kinds for different types of planes. My oldest said he wants to be a pilot now. : )


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