If you’re going to be visiting Wichita, Kansas, this 24 Hours in Wichita travel guide will give you some ideas of where to stay, where to eat, and what to do.
A couple of weeks ago, work took me to Wichita, Kansas for a short visit. Much like where I live in Dallas, Wichita isn’t exactly a tourist destination.
But like most places, there’s good food and interesting things to be found.
It was a super short trip, but I managed to find some good eats and cool things to do and see while I was there, and meet some really lovely people.
So if you ever find yourself in Wichita for the day, I put together this short travel guide with ideas for where to eat, where to stay, and what to do . . .
Where I stayed
My friend Hannah’s boyfriend lives in Wichita and recommended I stay in the Old Town area of the city. I loved this area. It’s a historic part of town that has been revitalized and is now a destination entertainment district that has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
It was super walkable and you could get to plenty of restaurants, cute shops (which I didn’t have time to peruse but would have liked to), and attractions.
I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott at Old Town, which is just on the edges of this development. (I’m all about our Marriott reward points!). And this was a really nice Marriott — super clean, open, nicely decorated, good amenities (including a Starbucks on site), and really spacious rooms. And if you’re a female traveling alone like I was, it feels very safe.
My only complaints about this hotel were that the Starbucks doesn’t open till 7am, so I had to wait for my morning coffee since I’m an early bird (I know, first world problems).
And the other bigger complaint is that the heater in my room didn’t work very well and was super loud — and the fan runs non-stop. It only stops if you manually turn it off. I was there such a short time I didn’t bother to complain, so I don’t know if this is a problem just in my room or they’re all like this.
They had dedicated parking right across the street so that was easy. Being there at Old Town, it’s also conveniently located so that you can walk to any place in Old Town.
Another hotel that I think would be worth checking out is the Old Town Hotel. As the name implies, it’s also right inside Old Town. I didn’t go inside, but it had a nice colonial look to it and might be a good option if you like to avoid the chain hotels.
Where I ate
Breakfast at A Beautiful Day Cafe
This was probably my favorite meal in Wichita.I was looking for a healthier option (not easy to find in Wichita), and stumbled upon this place while researching.
It’s a really cute, colorful, and eclectic spot with a funky vibe that I loved.
They have a garden next to the restaurant and (when it’s not the middle of winter), they harvest their own vegetables there.
Their menu offers vegan and gluten-free options and is generally on the healthy side.
I had a really delicious veggie omelet. It was more like a crepe that was loaded with fresh veggies and a little cheese (just how I like it), plus some yummy shredded hash browns (the only way to make hash browns in my book!). And I indulged in a buckwheat Banana pancake, which was really good.
But the most interesting part of the meal was this really unusual drink called Champurrado. I don’t know if this is a “thing” elsewhere or if it’s their own concoction, but it was too unique to resist.
It’s a vegan drink that’s kind of a riff on hot chocolate. It’s made with cocoa, Pinole (had to look this up . . . it’s a sweetened flour made from ground dried corn mixed with flour made of mesquite beans, sugar, and spices), blue and yellow cornmeal, coconut cream, cinnamon, brown sugar, and almond milk. How wild is that?!
I thought it was really tasty and different. As you might imagine, the cornmeal made it pretty thick. I probably couldn’t drink it every day, but I really enjoyed having it this morning — such a tasty and unique treat!
Lunch at Tanya’s Soup Kitchen
Hannah told me I had to eat at Tanya’s while I was there — so of course, I did. Definitely a good call.
They’re known for their soup (obvi), but also have sandwiches and salads.
I was so excited when I saw that they offer a “flight of soups” — what a smart idea! They serve four different soups each day, and with the flight, you can get a little serving of all four.
Being indecisive by nature, having the flight was perfect for me because I didn’t have to decide between soups — I could have them all!
Today their soups were Ecuadorian Cheesy Potato with Avocado Crema and Feta Cheese; Tomato Dill Bisque; Creamy Chicken Artichoke with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Crouton Crumble; and Tuscan White Bean Soup with Parmesan Garnish.
They do offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options there. The potato and tomato soups were both vegetarian.
I added a half sandwich to the flight of soups, and that was just the right amount of food to be filling without leaving me feeling stuffed.
All the soups were delicious, but my favorite was the creamy chicken. I thought the bean soup was lacking in flavor just a bit, but still good.
I had the Delilah’s Light Lunch sandwich. Overall I thought the sandwich was just okay, and the roll it came on was bordering on burnt. The salad might be a better choice to go with your soup.
This place is super popular and gets packed, sometimes with a line out the door, so I recommend going at an off-time if possible.
Also, they’re only open for lunch during the week.
A Sweet Treat at The Donut Whole
This wasn’t exactly part of my master plan, but it was right across the street from Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, so how could I resist?
And with a giant rooster on top of their building, I had a feeling this would be a fun place. I was right.
The Donut Whole has a fun and funky vibe, with super colorful and eclectic decor ranging from a waving lucky Japanese cat to colorful vintage metal signs to a brightly painted giant lion head that looks like it may have once been part of a carnival ride.
But on to more important matters . . . the donuts.
They had racks and racks of all kinds of fun flavors of donuts. And really friendly helpful staff who were very patient with me as I spent way too much time deliberating over which donut to get (it is an extremely important decision, after all).
After agonizing over my decision and asking a million questions, I went with two flavors since I couldn’t make up my mind on just one (told you I was indecisive!).
On Thursdays, they make a variety of donuts with applesauce. Not sure how that came about, but apparently it’s an every Thursday thing.
And since I just happened to be there on Thursday, I felt it was only proper that I have one of the applesauce donuts — specifically, the salted caramel apple donut. SO GOOD!
I had a really nice cup of magnolia oolong tea to go with it. They have hot teas and coffee, plus Boba tea (of which I am not a fan).
My second donut was the chocolate puppy chow donut — a chocolate cake donut with peanut butter glaze and sprinkled with cocoa pebbles (and there may be a few other things I’m forgetting).
I saved that one for later, and it was equally delicious!
Coffee at Reverie Coffee Roasters
Just a little ways down the street from Tanya’s and The Donut Whole is Reverie Coffee Roasters. I’m so glad I had a meeting there, or else I might not have found this place — and that would have been a big loss.
I had what might just be the best coffee drink I’ve ever had. That’s a pretty big claim, but I do believe it’s true.
Again, in my typical indecisive fashion, I couldn’t decide which coffee drink to get (they all sounded SO good), so I asked the barista for help.
She recommended an iced Rosemary Salted Caramel Latte, which I’d already been eyeing (yes, I do have a thing for salted caramel).
They make the rosemary syrup in-house, and it was such a unique and tasty combo. I also liked that it just had a hint of sweetness and wasn’t overpoweringly sweet like some flavored lattes are.
Dinner at Public at the Brickyard
Public was recommended by the people I met with at Reverie, who knew the owners and said it’s not only delicious but owned by really good people. Plus I’d seen it had good reviews and is a farm-to-table (you know I’m always on the lookout for those wherever I travel), so this was an easy decision.
Public is in the Old Town complex, so it was a quick walk from my hotel. It’s actually below street level, so there are no windows. That, coupled with the exposed brick walls, gave it a dark and cozy feel.
They have a nice beer and cocktail menu (which I did not get to try since I don’t drink during the week — one of my tactics for eating less sugar).
Their food menu also had a nice variety of really delicious-sounding bar-type foods, salads, mains, and pizzas.
I will say the menu is pretty meat-centric, so there are limited choices if you’re vegetarian (but there are a few).
I’m not vegetarian, but I do eat mostly plant-based and I’d already had meat at lunch, so I decided to go with the Sun-dried Tomato Pappardelle (despite the fact that this was one of the less-healthy options). It consisted of house sun-dried tomato pappardelle pasta (I’m a sucker for pasta that’s made from scratch in-house), local roasted vegetables, local kale pesto sauce, and ricotta cheese.
The pasta was wonderful and the veggies were fresh and delicious — very well done! It was hearty without being overly heavy like some pastas can be. I had a small house salad with it that was also fresh and colorful (and made me feel better about having pasta :).
What I Did
Pawnee Prairie Park
Whenever I travel, I like to find a place where I can get out in nature, even if it’s just for a short break. Reconnecting with nature and getting some fresh air and sunshine really helps me feel grounded, centered, and energized.
So I was super lucky to have found Pawnee Prairie Park. It has a one-mile paved nature trail and over 8 miles of unpaved trails.
One thing I like about this park (unlike the parks where I live in Dallas), is that they don’t allow bikes on the trails. So you can walk or run the trails without having to constantly be on the lookout for speeding mountain bikes.
The park is just a few miles outside of the downtown area and was easy to get to. There are a couple of different parking options. I parked in the lot off of Yellowstone Road. There was a picnic pavilion and bathrooms there, plus trail heads to the paved and unpaved trails.
I can’t resist an unpaved trail, so I went that route, hoping I wouldn’t get lost.
The trail I was on ran parallel to a creek much of the way. There was hardly anyone on the trail (but it was also the middle of a weekday), so it was really quiet and peaceful. There were offshoots from the trail I was on, but I found it pretty easy to stay on track (I only got turned around once coming back, which is pretty good for my navigation-challenged self!).
Even in the winter months, it was really pretty here and definitely worth taking some time out of your day to visit if you’re a nature lover like me.
The Museum of World Treasures
The museum is located in the Old Town complex, so it was again an easy walk from my hotel. Everything is so convenient there!
The museum is fairly small, so it’s easy to navigate and can be perused in a fairly short amount of time (but you could certainly take longer depending on how thoroughly you like to read the exhibit info).
The exhibits ranged from dinosaurs to ancient history to modern wars. The war exhibits aren’t really my thing (but they looked impressive). I love fossils and ancient history, so those were my favorite exhibits.
Some of the artifacts that I thought were especially cool were a legit shrunken head (fascinating but a little disturbing), all the fossils, a couple of mummies, a collection of Buddhas, and Egyptian coffins.
Since I passed through the war exhibits pretty quickly, I made it through in about an hour. I think budgeting two hours would give you time to experience all the exhibits.
This is an excursion I would recommend when you’re in Wichita, especially if you’re staying at Old Town since it’s right there and so convenient (and at the time I went, only $10 admission!).
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Wichita. The people are friendly and it has a small-town feel that’s very appealing to this small-town-girl.
Have you visited Wichita (or from there)? What are your favorite places to eat and things to do there? Please share in the comments below!
Photo credits: Valerie Wong