Wichita Walkabout

Experiencing new places is one of the reasons I love to travel so much, and Wichita, Kansas was definitely an experience.  It was October when my husband, 10-year old daughter, and I visited.  We were actually there for our son’s college bowling tournament.  Me being me, however, I planned things to do and see outside of the bowling alley.

The first thing I want to share about Wichita is the atmosphere.  It was a little strange, actually.  We got there early in the morning and around noon, my daughter and I headed to our first outing.  The streets were eerily quiet.  It was a Saturday, so it wasn’t because people were at work.  Even the freeway wasn’t busy at all.  To this day, I haven’t been able to explain it.  After the tournament, about 7:00p.m., when the whole family left the bowling alley the streets were bustling.  Traffic everywhere.  Where did they all come from and where had they been all day?  Is Wichita a town of nothing but night owls?  I have no idea and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the experience.

Aside from that, I found Wichita charming.  Our first outing was at a place called “Nifty Nut House”.  It’s a huge warehouse full of every kind of candy you could think of and more.  They have nuts of all kinds and flavors at a huge counter kind of like an ice cream counter only with nuts.  It’s amazing!

For our second excursion we headed downtown and walked around New Market Square and Old Town.  The weather was perfect and it was not crowded at all.  In fact, Old Town was practically deserted.  New Market Square was a little more inhabited as there were a myriad of restaurants and shopping; Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, On the Border . . . just to name a few of the restaurants to be found there.  It was a charming area with fountains and a small park area, clean sidewalks and modern architecture.  I would definitely go back and explore some more if given the chance.  I’d like to see more of Old Town as well.  It had a charm all it’s own with restaurants like Emerson Biggins and Bite Me BBQ.  There was plenty of shopping with boutiques, specialty shops, and several antique stores.

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We liked Wichita so much that after the bowling team went back to school, we decided to stay another day and that’s when we discovered what was the highlight of our sight-seeing for me.

I have five words for you – Keeper of the Plains Plaza!  Uh-Mazing!!  If you see nothing else in Wichita, please see this.  The Keeper of the Plains is a 44-foot tall steel sculpture standing at the point where the Big and Little Arkansas rivers join together.  The plaza is also home to the All-American Indian Center.  The sculpture is spectacular and the bridges over the rivers are beautiful as well.  The Keeper looks especially amazing when the “Ring of Fire” is lit every night at 9:00p.m. (7:00p.m. in fall and winter) and burns for 15 minutes.  There is a walkway around the river for strolling and the bridges are foot bridges, so there’s no car traffic to contend with.  The whole thing is free and just a gorgeous place to be at sunset in particular.  Words don’t do it justice.

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Also along the Little Arkansas river is Riverside Park.  A huge park with three different sections; Central, North, and South.  We visited the Central section.  This section contains the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit, Celebration Plaza where there’s an interactive fountain, a large lake with a gazebo overlooking it, a playground, and more.

At the time we were there, the normally 25 wildlife exhibits were down to maybe 10.  The Kansas Wildlife Exhibit was a bit sad.  There were no attendants in sight, and no identifying markers or informational plaques on any of the exhibits.  Maybe it was undergoing renovation?  I’m not sure.  Hopefully it’s in better shape by now.  The playground was nice, the lake was stagnant, and the plaza was beautiful.  There is also a half-mile walking path with 12 historical markers along it with archival photos and text about the history of the park.  We spent several hours there and barely scratched the surface of all the park has to offer.

Before leaving town, we found this adorable restaurant called “Spangles”.  It’s a 50’s diner filled with Elvis memorabilia and all things “50’s”.  The food was delicious, the staff were friendly, and the atmosphere was fun.  I would gladly go there again!

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TRIP NOTES:

  • Northrock Suites is where we stayed and we could stay there again.  Nice hotel.
  • Keeper of the Plains was awesome!
  • A meal at Spangles is a must!
  • Riverside Park is great for photos!

Happy Venturing!  🚙😁

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