seeing wichita through fresh eyes 2
Wichita is rich with adventures to be had and experiences to be enjoyed. Some well-known and others a bit more obscure. I have some personal favorites, as I’m sure you do as well. If you’re not that familiar with our city or haven’t really stopped to smell the roses, there’s quality of life aplenty. Read carefully as there may be a few surprises!
Being a lifelong “west sider” we’ll start our journey on my side of town!
West Wichita is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and soak up some sun. Rain or shine, take a stroll along the winding paths at Sedgwick County Zoo and experience the wildlife of the many continents of the world. View animals native to North America, the Tapirs of South America, Asian Birds of Paradise, African Lions and Australian Wombats. You can also hike through a rain forest, sun with the amphibians and reptiles, or visit the swimming penguins and swinging orangutans and chimpanzees. In total it houses more than 3,000 exotic and unique animals. A must see, for certain!
While the Sedgwick County Zoo is better-known there is another hidden gem – Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Tanganyika features more interactive experiences with the animals. Cuddle the ring-tail lemurs, feed the Pygmy Hippos, Indian Rhinos, African Giraffes and take a trip on the back of Charlie the Camel. If you are looking for a more hands-on animal experience Tanganyika is the place for you.
If you appreciate home-grown, organic fare – or are a cooking fanatic – West Wichita offers luscious produce, meats, honey, breads and more each Saturday morning at the Farmers’ Market at the Sedgwick County Extension Office. Not only do they offer melt-in-your-mouth food for sale they have live music and delicious free samples. Each week you will find a host of unique, fun events open to the public. The month of July features cooking demonstrations by local chefs and Saturday, July 29 paint the town red at Tomato Fest – a celebration of all things Tomato!
Let’s cross the great divide that is Broadway and head to East Wichita! This time, I’ll focus on some fit and fun indoor experiences.
A must-stop is Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex. They offer a 38-foot-tall top-rope and a 15-foot-tall bouldering area. Climb your way to fit and fabulous! The training room provides customers an off-the-norm fitness experience using moon boards, hang boards and climbing devices. The yoga studio facilitated by certified instructors finishes it all off. If you don’t want to sweat it out in a gym, this is the training program for you.
If you have a little spring in your step, the Wichita Sports Forum will soon be your new favorite place. Compete in basketball, court and sand volleyball, soccer, take a few swings in the batting cages or jump to your heart’s content in the trampoline and foam pit Aviate section. Get your Lebron on and catch some air in the Aviate ninja obstacle course, extreme dodgeball, slack line and air dunk. If you’d rather take the traditional route, visit the fitness area and request your very own personal trainer. Either way, you’re sure to leave energized and ready for a repeat visit.
Workout and recreation complete? East Wichita’s Bradley Fair has everything from cute boutiques to yummy eats. In Bradley Fair, alone, there are over 40 different shops and restaurants. Find one-of-a-kind shopping and relaxation experiences at Apricot Lane Boutique, Nouveau, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Healing Waters Spa and Cosmetic Clinic and finally sample international cuisine at Outback Steakhouse, Bella Luna Cafe and YaYa’s Eurobistro. Whether you are seeking retail therapy, fun with family and friends, or a good glass of wine and chance to relax, Bradley Fair is a wish list come true.
EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
Last time we talked, I noted the superb list of options for food, friendship and fun in downtown Wichita. Recently two sublimely unique sweet treat places opened downtown. Whether you’re an ice cream fanatic or shaved ice lover the Union Station area offers both with a special twist. Eight Below serves up a new trend, rolled ice cream. Ice cream is spread on a chilled base, thinly scraped and rolled into cylindrical tubes. Funky Monkeys Shaved Ice is located right next door to Eight Below. Funky Monkey offers a variety of flavors, similar to other shaved ice stores, but with a boozier selection. Choose your favorite liquor to mix with shaved ice – and find your chill in more than one way!
For our final tour, take a walk with me along the beautiful Arkansas river and visit with the legendary Keeper of the Plains. This is my favorite place in all of Wichita. Keeper of the Plains is a 44-foot-tall sculpture by Blackbear Bosin, a Kiowa-Comanche artist. It stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. It is described as an Indian Warrior Sculpture. You won’t want to miss the Keeper when the “Ring of Fire” is burning – all of earth’s elements in one place. Stones spurt flames in the spring and the summer at 9:00 p.m. and the fall and winter at 7:00 p.m. It is a magical experience!
Wichita has so many wonderful experiences to offer, that I can’t begin to cover them all. The Chamber has made a commitment to continue to improve quality of life in our city, and we are well on our way. I invite you to join me again next week as we tour the youthful, eclectic housing opportunities in downtown Wichita as we see wichita through fresh eyes.