Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Wichita? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Wichita?”
Nestled on the bank of the Arkansas River, Wichita is one of those often-overlooked but burgeoning and modern American cities that has retained its small-town feel. After humble beginnings as a small trading post, it became the country’s fastest-growing city after the Santa Fe Railroad opened an outpost there in 1872. During the early 20th century, Cowtown became a hub for the booming aviation industry and earned the new nickname of “Air Capital of the World.”
Today, Cowtown shines for different reasons, including a local dining scene that’s rich and varied — first, push aside the fact that Wichita is the birthplace of fast-food franchises like Pizza Hut and White Castle — and home to more than 1,200 restaurants. A prime destination for cattle drives from Texas and other states, Cowtown has become the place to go for steaks and barbecue. There’s also an innovative food-truck coalition, several shopping districts, a fun nightlife scene and over 100 miles of biking and walking paths that have contributed to Wichita’s rise as one of the most exciting spots to visit in the Midwest.