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Sprawling out across the Great Plains of south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita represents not only the state's largest city but a cultural hub of the Midwest. Founded as a humble Western trading post, the city grew into a bustling "Cowtown" as a destination for cattle drives and then evolved into a major center for the aircraft industry, earning the nickname "Air Capital of the World." Today, Wichita is a bustling metropolis that plays host to an impressive number of museums, parks, entertainment venues, and theaters, as well as Wichita State University. Whether you're interested in exploring the city's art scene, immersing yourself in its history, or uncovering its lively nightlife, this vibrant city has something for everyone.
Wichita's most famous neighborhoods reveal an appealing mix of old and new. As you explore areas like Downtown, College Hill, and Riverside, markers of Wichita's history surround you, while the sheer variety of cultural and commercial attractions speak to the city's undeniable energy.
Populated with art galleries, theaters, craft breweries, and an international array of eateries, Downtown is the center of activity in Wichita for locals and visitors alike. Among the impressive list of museums and attractions in this area are the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, the 1920s-era Orpheum Theatre, and the INTRUST Bank Arena.
Technically, Old Town is a subsection of Downtown, but its abundant restaurants, nightclubs, and bars have made it an entertainment capital in the city. The area holds its fair share of history too—many of the establishments are housed in converted industrial warehouses.
Built between the Arkansas and the Little Arkansas River, the Riverside neighborhood boasts the city's highest concentration of museums and parks. With sights spanning the Botanica Gardens, the Old Cowtown Museum, and the Keeper of the Plains statue, you'll likely spend a great deal of time in this charming residential area.
For a glimpse of Wichita's most beautiful and historic homes, pay a visit to College Hill. Most of the residences were constructed during the early 20th century, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Henry J. Allen House.
Delve into Wichita's heritage and scenery with sights that range from fascinating museums to beautiful outdoor landmarks. Start by admiring the steel grandeur of the Keeper of the Plains statue, which stands at the spot where the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers meet. Visit at night to glimpse the statue illuminated against the Kansas sky, or opt to visit during the daytime for a chance to immerse yourself in Native American history at the Mid-America All-Indian Center. Then, take a journey back to the days of the Wild West at the Old Cowtown Museum, which tells the story of 19th-century Wichita through a series of historic buildings, artifacts, and costumed guides. If you're intrigued by aviation history, discover how Wichita became known as the Air Capital of the World at the Kansas Aviation Museum. Home of the formerly buzzing Wichita Municipal Airport, this Art Deco building now features an impressive collection of historic aircraft and the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame. Frank Lloyd Wright also left his mark on Wichita—see the master architect's handiwork at the Henry J. Allen House built in the Prairie Style for the former Kansas governor and his wife.
Take advantage of a wealth of activities and attractions in Wichita. Get the lay of the land in downtown Wichita as you stroll or bike along the Arkansas River Trail, which follows the river's southwest bank past many of the city's landmarks. Botanica: The Wichita Gardens showcases more of Wichita's natural beauty. Step into a world of living color as you explore the gardens' many resplendent sections, including a butterfly garden, a peony collection, and an aquatic collection. Traveling with the kids? Take the family to check out over 2,500 animals at the extensive Sedgwick County Zoo, or marvel at the wonders of science as you discover the hands-on exhibits at Exploration Place. Art lovers will find themselves in heaven at the Wichita Art Museum, where you can lose yourself among a world-class collection of sculptures, paintings, and glasswork, as well as a lush landscaped garden. Wichita's Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center offers a vibrant repertoire of concerts and theater productions. Music Theatre Wichita, the Wichita Grand Opera, and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra perform regularly at this massive entertainment center. The city also buzzes with a constant stream of festivals and events. Visit in summertime to check out the live music, block parties, and cultural activities at Wichita Riverfest, or peruse city art galleries and museums for free during the monthly Final Friday Art Crawl.