Wichita is much more than sunflowers and prairie. Don’t just pass through. Plan to spend some time here. See for yourself what there is to do with this Ultimate Guide to 2 Days in Wichita, Kansas.
Whether your goal is to visit all 50 states and check Kansas off the list, you are seeking a road trip pit stop, or you are extending a business or sports tournament trip, Wichita, Kansas, has a lot to offer. You can pack a lot of fun and delicious food into a two-day trip. This ultimate guide to 2 days in Wichita has fabulous options to kick-start your trip planning.
The Ultimate Guide to 2 Days in Wichita Kansas
You can’t see everything there is to see in Wichita in two days, but that amount of time will give you a feel for what this vibrant, walkable city has to offer. It might even inspire you to plan a repeat trip, explore other parts of Kansas, or both!
Getting To and Around Wichita Kansas
To give you a reference, Wichita is 363 miles from Dallas, 300 miles from Omaha, 198 miles from Kansas City, and 160 miles from Oklahoma City. Weekend trips are entirely doable, with a starting point for one of these cities and many others. Wichita’s Dwight D. Eisenhower airport is serviced by all major airlines. There are 14 locations within the United States where you can get a direct flight to Wichita. I flew United from San Antonio and connected in Houston.
If you’re committed to a city break without a rental car, you can find activities centered around the downtown area and explore on foot. I rented a car and would rent a car again if I had the trip to do over, but that’s my preference. If you’re on a strict budget or committed to greener travel, Wichita does have many options for public transportation to help you get around, including the free Q-Line downtown shuttle. I did not take the shuttle, but I can vouch that the buses frequently run downtown. There are also electric scooters and bike share programs. You can learn more about options on Visit Wichita’s transportation page. Plus, downtown Wichita is only a 10-minute drive from the airport, so a taxi or ride share would be a minimal expense.
Where to Stay in Wichita
I stayed at the Drury Plaza Broadview Hotel and loved it. The hotel is in a beautiful, Art Deco-style historic building but has all the modern amenities travelers expect from the Drury brand. I enjoyed the location right along the banks of the Arkansas River, and although my stay included garage parking, I did walk to many places. A complimentary hot breakfast and a 5:30 “kickback” with hot food and beverages are also included. There are other options, such as a Marriott, Hyatt Regency, and a handful of more budget options in or near the downtown area if you are brand loyal.
Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Wichita – Things to Do
There are ample opportunities for getting out and exploring when you visit Wichita. While you can’t do everything in one visit, I recommend these spots as musts when you have only 2 days in Wichita.
Old Cowtown Museum
The Old Cowtown Museum is an open-air living history museum that shows what life was like in 1865. Explore a residential street, a farm outside of town, and business industry areas, including a carriage house, blacksmith, and saloon. There are 54 buildings in all. You can explore the Old Cowtown Museum on your own or book a guided tour in advance.
The most entertaining part of visiting the Old Cowtown Museum is the gunfights. Simulated interactions occur at scheduled times throughout the day, so check with the visitor’s center when you arrive to ensure you don’t miss the show. You’ll find a more robust show with more drama and actors on the weekends. I visited on a quiet weekday, and the show had four participants, a pair of buggy thieves, a sheriff, and a bystander. It was still a great show and very funny.
The average visit lasts about two hours. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, and there’s little shade, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and have a hat and sunscreen.
One of the things that surprised me the most was the number of German visitors the Wichita area, and Kansas in general, receive. The gentleman who gave me my guided tour estimated that 30 percent of the Old Cow Town Museum’s visitors came from Germany. He said that Germans are fascinated with anything relating to the Old West.
Fun fact: Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp resided in Wichita for a time.
Keeper of the Plains/Ring of Fire
The Keeper of the Plains is a 44-foot tall steel sculpture that stands guard over the point where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers meet. The statue can be seen from a distance, and a paved pathway along the river is pleasant for walking or biking. A bridge leads to the statue on both sides of the river. You can also rent a kayak and see the Keeper of the Plains from the water.
Fire pots encircling the statue’s base are lit every night (weather permitting) from the Ring of Fire. This symbolizes the Native American relationship with the earth, fire, and water. The Ring of Fire occurs at 9:00 pm during Daylight Savings Time and 7:00 pm during standard time. If you have time, I recommend viewing both during the day and night when the Keeper of the Plains is aglow amongst the flames.
You might not think Kansas is where you’d find a stunning botanical paradise, but Botanica will surprise you. I was certainly surprised at how lush and green the gardens were.
There are 30 different gardens and exhibits to explore inside Botanica, including a children’s garden and carousel. I saw many young moms taking their kids to play on a weekday morning and families walking the paved paths together. There are also lots of quiet spots to sit and take a break.
Explore the Douglas Design District
Wichita is a fun place to take in street art. I saw color and sculpture in just about every corner of the city I explored, but the Douglas Design District is home to many vibrant murals.
Find all the murals on this interactive map.
New Envision Gallery and Engagement Center
One of the most one-of-a-kind experiences I’ve had while traveling was visiting an art gallery featuring the works of artists with vision loss. Envision is the nation’s premier service provider to an employer of the blind or visually impaired and operates an art gallery in downtown Wichita.
The exhibit I saw featured blind artist John Bramblitt, who uses raised lines on his canvas to create his artwork. The artist lost his vision as a child and said color returned to him the first time he touched his newborn son’s face. Color is back in Bramblitt’s imagination and is reflected in his fun, splashy artwork. I bought one of his prints to hang in my office and still have a tiny bit of buyer’s remorse that I didn’t snag the original. Check with the gallery before your visit to see what’s being shown or get info on any special events.
These activities (plus lots of eating, see below!) were enough to keep me busy in Wichita, but there’s a bevy of other options if you have more time or different interests. There’s an art museum near the Old Cowtown Museum that you could easily add to a visit. You can find a zoo, a science center across from the Keeper of the Plains, and several choices for parks and outdoor spaces, as well as various performing arts venues.
Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Wichita – Where to Eat
I’m limiting my recommendations to eateries I experienced—and I did eat a lot during my two days in Wichita—but if you want other options, Visit Wichita lists many on their website. I could easily see myself doing a two- or three-day food tour of Wichita, so if you’re a foodie, you won’t lack choices. My list only scratches the surface of what’s available.
HomeGrown is a breakfast and lunch place, and a real don’t miss, in my book. The owner’s philosophy is cultivating kindness, which is evident in the décor and the general feel-good vibe you get from hanging out there. The physical menu you’ll see in the restaurant may have more choices than the linked online menu, like seasonal specials.
Breakfast options include a variety of benedicts and scrambles as well as things like salsa verde pork and egg, which I was surprised to see on a menu in Kansas. I think I came in with the notion that food in the plains states wouldn’t be very exciting, but I certainly didn’t leave with it. The lunch selections include sandwiches, soups, and salads.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the homemade Pop-Tarts. I’m honestly not a huge fan of Pop-Tarts. Although they were a childhood breakfast staple, these homemade Pop-Tarts were next-level. We sampled both strawberry and lemon flavors, which were delicious, flaky, and the perfect amount of sweet.
Public at the Brickyard (live entertainment venue) serves lunch and dinner. I had the mushroom bao appetizer and a burger off the chef’s special menu. The regular menu made it hard to choose, and when I scanned the QR code for the specials (specials feature fresh, locally sourced food items), I was even more stumped.
I was happy with my meal, but I’d love to revisit Public with a couple of friends so we could all order something different and share each other’s plates. It’s that kind of place.
Tanya’s Soup Kitchen
Soups are made fresh daily and listed on the blackboard. Soup flights, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free soups are available upon request. I grabbed lunch here on a warm day and opted for a creamy chicken salad with dried cherries and cashews. There’s also a robust sandwich menu. In a commitment to reducing waste, Tanya’s doesn’t give out to-go cups, so if you want to take a drink with you, make sure you have a water bottle or other vessel.
Doo-Dah is a nickname for Wichita, Kansas. The origins of this nickname are unknown. There’s a sign posted at the diner’s entrance suggesting the name is due to the laid-back and whimsical attitude of the city. I accept that explanation.
I had breakfast at the Doo-Dah Diner. They offer hearty, inventive breakfast dishes like banana bread French toast, corned beef hash, and an incredible benny with maple-cured bacon and avocado. They also have chicken fried steak, eggs, biscuits and gravy, and a fried bologna and egg sandwich. If you’re looking for the bacon, eggs, and toast kind of breakfast, they also have that. The menu lists it as The Basic Boring.
I decided going big was the only way to experience a Doo-Dah breakfast. The first step was to say “yes” to the complimentary monkey bread with my coffee. Then I ordered the Triple D, a sampler platter with Doo-Dah Diner’s best sellers: banana bread French toast, Tanya’s Benny, and corned beef hash. When my server, Kathy, asked if I wanted to add a side of biscuits and gravy to make it a Home Run, I found myself saying yes.
Although everything was delicious, my favorite was the banana bread French toast, which is interesting because I’m not that big on banana bread or French toast. I’m more of a savory breakfast, and I enjoyed the other dishes, but the French toast was a big party for my taste buds. It’s made with almond flour and topped with caramelized pecans and apple butter.
I glanced at the lunch menu very briefly. They offer a variety of burgers, sandwiches, and salads. My server told me their meatloaf was the most popular item on the lunch menu.
Central Standard Brewing
Central Standard Brewing is a great place to kick back and have a beer if you like to sample local brews while traveling. I liked both the Girlfriend Pale Ale and Double Tripping IPA, although the Double Tripping was my favorite.
I didn’t eat here, but there’s onsite pizza if you’re hungry. There’s indoor and patio seating, and the atmosphere is very welcoming and family-friendly. Central Standard Brewing is located a block off downtown and on the edge of a Wichita neighborhood.
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Plan Your Trip to Wichita Kansas
Wichita, Kansas, is a fun, friendly, modern city that was much more than prairies and sunflowers. It’s small enough that visitors get the lay of the land quickly but big enough to offer a variety of choices for travelers with different interests and taste buds. I visited in early fall, and it was warm enough to enjoy being outside without being stiflingly hot. I’d recommend a spring, summer, or fall escape. Check out Wander when planning your trip to Kansas, Nebraska, or elsewhere in the Midwest. Looking for more layover and short trip options? Please explore our complete 2-Day Ultimate Guides.