If you are having out-of-town guests over the holidays, or have some time off work that allows you to take in local sights and attractions, here are some things to do in Wichita over the next week, including on Christmas Day.
You can catch drive-through light shows, walk-through lights at Botanica, and light shows in residential neighborhoods.
Illuminations, walk-through light display with more than 200 trees, music performances, hot drinks and snacks available. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 31 (except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), Botanica, 701 N. Amidon. $7 adults, $6 members, $5 ages 3 to 12, under 3 free. Information: 316-264-0448, www.botanica.org.
Lights on St. Paul, drive-through light display with more than 1 million lights synchronized to music, 5:30 p.m. through Dec. 29, Arc of Sedgwick County, 2919 W. Second St. Free; donations accepted, $5 suggested. Santa photos available 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday for $5 donation or take your own. Information: www.arc-sedgwickcounty.org.
Heartspring’s Lights on the Lake, drive-through light display through Christmas Day, 5:30 to 9 p.m., Heartspring, 8700 E. 29th St. North. Free; donations accepted. Information: 316-634-8761 or www.lightsonthelake.org.
Public skating is available every day but Christmas at the Wichita Ice Center, 505 W. Maple. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. (until 4:30 p.m. Saturdays) daily, plus 6 to 10 p.m. Monday and Thursday, and 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Holiday admission $7; skate rental $3. Information: www.wichitaicecenter.com, 316-337-9199.
The Thunder hockey team will play St. Charles on Saturday (7:05 p.m.) and Dec. 29 (5:05 p.m.). Tickets are $13 to $33, available by calling 316-755-SEAT, at www.selectaseat.com, at the Intrust Bank Arena box office and at Select-A-Seat outlets.
The Wichita State Shockers men’s basketball team will be playing two home games, but they’re basically sold out, so another option is to head to a sports bar to watch with fellow fans. The games will be televised on Cox 22. They’re at 7 p.m. Sunday (North Carolina Central) and 2 p.m. Dec. 29 (Davidson).
Exploration Place, 300 N. McLean Blvd., is open every day but Christmas Day. Hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. General admission $9:50, $8 seniors, $6 ages 3 to 11, ages 2 and younger and members free. Exploration Park open dawn to dusk; free. Information: 316-660-0600, exploration.org. Among the special activities:
Holiday Dome Show: “Let it Snow,” family-friendly show with holiday images and scenes set to Christmas songs from Frank Sinatra, the Muppets and more, through Dec. 29 (except Christmas Day), Boeing Dome Theater and Planetarium at Exploration Place, 300 N. McLean Blvd., $5, $4 seniors, $3 ages 3 to 11, free for ages 2 and under. Show times posted at exploration.org.
Kansas in Miniature Holiday Show, the Kansas in Miniature display transformed for the holidays, through Dec. 29 (except Christmas Day), Exploration Place, 300 N. McLean Blvd. Regular Exploration Place hours and admission.
Rock the Dome, three Pink Floyd cosmic light shows: “Dark Side of the Moon,” “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here,” Friday and Saturday night, Boeing Dome Theater and Planetarium, Exploration Place, 300 N McLean Blvd. For ages 17 years and older. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; shows at 7:30 p.m., 8:45 p.m., and 10 p.m. with short breaks in between. Tickets $12 (discounts for members), online at exploration.org/rock_dome.html or call 316-660-0620.
“Edventures,” featuring a different daylong topic for children in kindergarten through eighth grade, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Dec. 30, Jan. 2 and Jan. 3. $35 per session (before and after care extra if needed). Information: 316-660-0600, exploration.org.
Brett Valliant Advent Concert, Christmas carols played on a 5,000-pipe organ by Brett Valliant, 7:30 p.m. Monday, First United Methodist Church, 330 N. Broadway. Admission is a donation for the maintenance of the organ.
Bowling on Christmas Day
A few bowling alleys will be open Christmas Day:• The Alley, 11413 E. 13th St., opening at 4 p.m.
• Northrock Lanes, 3232 N. Rock Road, opening at 3 p.m.
• West Acres Bowl, 749 N. Ridge Road, opening at 3 p.m.
Visit the animals
The Sedgwick County Zoo, 5555 Zoo Blvd., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day including Christmas. And as it happens this year, Christmas falls on Winter Wednesday, which means admission for everybody is $2.50. On other days, regular admission is charged: $13.95 for adults, $11.95 for seniors, $8.95 for children 3 to 11, free for kids 2 and under. Information: 316-660-9453, www.scz.org.
Catch a movie
These films are scheduled to open on Christmas Day (subject to change):• “47 Ronin” — Long-absent Keanu Reeves stars in this actioner about a band of samurai who set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master.
• “Grudge Match” — Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone star as aging boxing rivals who are coaxed out of retirement to fight each other in one final bout.
• “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” — Ben Stiller stars as a man who escapes his dull life by disappearing into a world full of fantasies.
• “The Wolf of Wall Street” — Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a wealthy stockbroker who falls into crime and corruption.
Check the movie section in Friday’s GO! for theaters and show times or go to www.kansas.com/entertainment/movies.
Keeper of the Plains
See the iconic Keeper of the Plains, which pays tribute to the American Indians who made this area their home before settlers arrived. The plaza, at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers, includes pedestrian bridges, sculptures, boulders, music, historical information and a Ring of Fire that lights up every evening at 6.
Head to the Old Town entertainment district for shopping, restaurants or a movie at the Warren Old Town Theater & Grill (where you can watch a movie and have dinner at the same time).
Check out some stores and restaurants that you can’t find anywhere else: Browse antiques and thrift stores along Douglas Avenue. Have a dog and shake at Dog-n-Shake, 8800 W. Maple, 1706 E. Central, 1640 S. Hillside and 4323 S. Seneca. Sample the goods at the Nifty Nut House, 537 N. St. Francis. Grab a pair of cowboy boots at Sheplers, 6501 W. Kellogg. Try on hats at Hatman Jack’s, 601 W. Douglas. Have a handmade malt at the Old Mill Tasty Shop, 604 E. Douglas. Have a NuWay and root beer at NuWay Cafe at 6404 E. Central, 7301 W. Central, 2415 S. Seneca, 2135 W. 21st St., 3441 E. Harry or the original at 1416 W. Douglas.
Kansas Star Casino
Play slots or table games at the Kansas Star Casino, 777 Kansas Star Drive in Mulvane. The casino and resort, near Exit 33 on the Kansas Turnpike, also features a hotel, restaurants and shopping. Information: www.kansasstarcasino.com, 316-719-5000.
Visit one of Wichita’s museums or cultural attractions, including Old Cowtown Museum, the Wichita Art Museum, Exploration Place, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Botanica, the Museum of World Treasures, the Kansas Aviation Museum. Admission to the Wichita Art Museum is free on Saturdays.
Restaurants that are open on Christmas: Many Asian restaurants are open, and, for fine dining, the Harvest Kitchen/Bar inside the Hyatt Regency, 400 W. Waterman; Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, inside the Ambassador Hotel, 104 S. Broadway; Woodfire Grille, inside the Kansas Star Casino, 777 Kansas Star Drive, Mulvane; and Zaytun, 2020 N. Woodlawn, will be open.
See the whole list at www.kansas.com/dining.
The bar scene
Many of Wichita’s most popular bars will close down over the holiday. The Anchor closes early on Christmas Eve and will be closed on Christmas Day. Same goes for Heroes, Mort’s, Old Chicago, the Monarch and both Emerson Biggin’s. The Pumphouse and Fat Tony’s will be closed both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
But several others will be opening and accepting customers, including Public at the Brickyard, The Shamrock Lounge, Joe’s Old Town Bar & Grill and The Hill Bar & Grill and the Alibi Room. For a complete list along with hours, visit www.kansas.com/entertainment.
Several art galleries will be open for Final Friday events. Go to kansas.com Thursday for a list of events.
Wichita Art Museum activities
The Wichita Art Museum, 1400 W. Museum Blvd., is decorated for the season and offering family activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Christmas and New Year’s. A different drop-in family art-making project will be offered each day from Thursday through Dec. 31. The activities are included in admission, which is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for ages 5 to 17, free for children under 5, except on Saturday, when admission is free for everyone.
Ask at the welcome desk for directions to each day’s project. No reservations required.
Contributing: Rod Pocowatchit of The Eagle