How to have fun in Wichita, on the cheap

03/01/2014 9:13 AM

03/02/2014 7:59 AM

There’s plenty to do in Wichita. This list is chock-full of suggestions for free and low-cost events for families. It is by no means an exhaustive list. Other ideas may be found at

Free activities

•  Nature: Get some exercise and see turtles, native grasses and wildflowers at the Great Plains Nature Center at 6232 E. 29th St. North. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The center is closed Sundays and holidays. The center is a half-mile south of K-96 at the northwest corner of Woodlawn and 29th Street North.
•  Art: Take advantage of the Ulrich Museum at Wichita State University and its Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection with a free guided tour. Tours are available for 10 or more people and may be requested three weeks in advance by calling Aimee Geist, the curator of education, at 316-978-7116 or by e-mailing her at Admission and parking at the Ulrich are free, and self-guided tours are available. Free maps are available at the museum for self-guided tours of the Outdoor Sculpture Collection.

The museum also offers Art for Your Ears, a summer concert series. Concerts are from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the McKnight Arts Center Plaza. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own chairs, although Ulrich will have some on hand as well. On June 5, Darden Smith will perform. The performer for July 10 has not been set yet. The Cherokee Maidens with Robin Macy, Jennifer Pettersen and Monica Taylor will perform Aug. 7.

•  Pets: Pack up the pups and take your family to one of Wichita’s off-leash dog parks. The city operates three: Chapin Park at Hydraulic and MacArthur; Meridian Park at 2127 N. Meridian; and the Murfin Animal Care Campus Park at the Kansas Humane Society at K-96 and Hillside. The parks are open from 6 a.m. to midnight. Dogs must be over 5 months old and have a rabies vaccination and a license. They must wear a collar with their rabies tag and an ID tag while in the park. No one can bring more than three dogs during one visit.
•  Music: Enjoy free music at the Thursday Summer Concert Series at Bradley Fair Lake. Concerts are scheduled from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. June 5, 12, 19 and 26 and July 3.

$10 or less

•  Donuts: Ever tried a maple-bacon or peanut-butter-and-jelly doughnut? No? Visit the Donut Whole in the Douglas Design District at 1720 E. Douglas and try some inventive doughnutty goodness. If you visit on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll probably catch a free musical act. The coffeeshop has a vintage vibe and features a small art gallery as well.
•  Games: Rent equipment for horseshoes, volleyball or bocce ball for $2 an hour at Sedgwick County Park. The park is at 6501 W. 21st St. Call 316-943-0192 for more information.
•  Skating: Try your your hand at roller skating. Wichita has three rinks. Carousel Skate Center at 312 N. West St. offers public skating from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays for $8, including skate rental; 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays for $5 admission and $2 skate rental; 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays for $5 admission and $2 skate rental; and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays for $4 admission that includes skate rental. Roller City at 3234 S. Meridian offers public skating from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays for $5 admission and $3 for skate rental; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays for $5 admission and $3 skate rental (if you enter after 6 p.m., admission is $6); 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays for $4 admission and $3 skate rental with parents skating for free; 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for $2 admission and $3 skate rental. Skate South at 1900 E. MacArthur offers public skating from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is $5.50 per person, and skates can be rented for $4 per person.
•  Architecture: Tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen-Lambe House at 255 N. Roosevelt. Tours are by appointment only and must be made at least 10 days in advance. Group tours must include at least five people but not more than 25. If you have less than five people, the museum can schedule you with another small group. Visitors must be at least 16. Admission is $10 per person. Call 316-706-9286 to schedule a tour.
•  Firefighter museum: Visit the Kansas Firefighters Museum at 1300 S. Broadway. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment for groups over 15. Admission is $3 for adults; $2.50 for students; and free for under age 5. Reach the museum at 316-264-5990.

Less than $25

•  Star-gazing: See the stars at Lake Afton Public Observatory, operated by Wichita State University. Hours are 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. through March 31; 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. April 1 to 30; 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. May 1 through Aug. 31; 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 1 to 30; and 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 1 and Dec. 21. The observatory is closed Dec. 22 to Jan. 1. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children under age 6. The observatory offers a family rate for parents and their minor children for $15. Credit and debit cards are not accepted. Reservations may be made by calling 316-978-3191. Call 316-978-7827 for information about programs.
•  Pajamas at the zoo:Take your newborn- to kindergarten-aged children to a pajama party at the Sedgwick County Zoo. Each class includes a discussion, a craft, a bedtime story and snack. A fee of $17 for members covers a family of up to five. A fee of $19 for non-members covers a family of up to five. Additional people are $5 per person. Advance registration is required. Call 316-266-8213 for more information.
•  Salt museum: Visit Strataca, the Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. A maximum of 28 visitors can depart at regular intervals from 9:20 a.m. until 3 p.m. Hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, and tours depart from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $14 general; $12 for people over age 60 and people who are AAA members or in the military; and $7.50 for ages 4 to 12. Children under age 3 are not allowed underground. More information is available by calling 866-755-3450.

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