Sunrise drone flight over Cheney State Park
Editor's note: During Twilight Tuesdays at the Sedgwick County Zoo, admission is $3 with a voucher. A previous version of this story was incorrect.
Memorial Day weekend: the last vestige of spring (or whatever passed for spring in Wichita this year).
Summer is just around the corner, which means it's time to bust out the sunscreen and the shorts.
We've compiled a list of the top 20 things to do in Wichita this summer — both special events and fun Kansas things to do all summer long.
Use this to help plan those long, lazy summer weeks.
June 1-9, downtown Wichita
Riverfest has always been the unofficial start of summer in Wichita — and for good reason. It's got just about everything you could want in a summer festival: two nights of fireworks, multiple concerts, fair food, street performers and lots more. For festival first-timers, be sure not to miss the opening-night Safelite AutoGlass Sundown Parade, followed by the Twilight Pops Concert and the Textron Aviation Opening Night Fireworks.
Bradley Fair's summer jazz series
7:30-9 p.m. June 7, 14, 21, 28, July 5, Bradley Fair, 21st and Rock
Need a way to fill your Thursday evenings with free entertainment? Bradley Fair's summer jazz series is always a popular event for those seeking a good time. The series features smooth jazz artists from around the world, culminating with "Celebrate America" on July 5. There will be a long fireworks show after the "Celebrate America" show, perhaps the most popular of the jazz concerts. Many shops in Bradley Fair stay open late during the jazz series as well.
Music Theatre Wichita's summer season
Select weekends June 13-Aug. 18, Century II, 225 W. Douglas
Music Theatre Wichita is one of the city's premier arts organizations, regularly bringing in Broadway-caliber actors and actresses to put on a series of five musicals over a roughly two-month period every summer. This year, the company is producing "Sister Act," "Guys and Dolls," "Disney's Freaky Friday," "Pippin" and "Disney's The Little Mermaid."
Stearman Field Fly-In
10 a.m.-midnight June 16, Stearman Field, 14789 SW 30th St., Benton
This annual tradition is in its 11th year. Throughout the day, various aircraft will fly into the airfield, allowing visitors to see them up close. A car show is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Later that evening, The Lucky People will play from 8 p.m. to midnight. The Stearman Field Bar and Grill will be open for business.
Doc Sunback Film Festival
June 21-24, 101 E. Main, Mulvane
Will this summer take you down to Mulvane? The Doc Sunback Film Festival is one of the most underappreciated summer events in the Wichita area. It's a small film festival that highlights films made by both local and regional filmmakers.
$2 for about an hour’s worth of films; $39-$59 for VIP passes. www.docsunbackfilmfest.com
Field Station: Dinosaurs opening season
2999 N. Rock Road, Derby. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Sun. through Sept. 9, then switching to weekends only
Derby's brand-new dinosaur park attraction is sure to be a hot ticket this summer, especially for families with children between the ages of 3 and 11. The 14-acre park features 44 life-size animatronic dinosaurs, as well as a mini-golf course and an indoor "challenge course" with ropes. The park cost $6.5 million, and it opened Memorial Day weekend.
Last year for Lawrence-Dumont Stadium
Ongoing through Sept. 3, Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, 300 S. Sycamore
Baseball fans were a little shocked earlier this month as the Wichita Wingnuts announced this would be their final season at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Turns out, 2018 will be the last year for Lawrence-Dumont in general. Take this chance to enjoy a couple of ballgames at Wichita's longtime ballpark before it is gone for good — and for superfans, the first 1,000 people at the Aug. 28 game will receive a mini replica of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Tuesdays on the Terrace at Botanica
6-8 p.m. Tuesdays from May 29-Sept. 25, Botanica, 701 N. Amidon
Looking for Tuesday-night relaxation and live music this summer? Botanica is bringing back its popular Tuesdays on the Terrace series of concerts for four months. The gardens will be open, and while you're at Botanica, be sure to check out its Butterfly House, which will be open for the season.
Red, White and BOOM! fireworks show
5-10 p.m., July 4, Hyatt Regency Wichita, 400 W. Waterman
This popular Fourth of July event, sponsored by the Wichita Parks Foundation and Freddy's Frozen Custard, is returning this summer. Food trucks will be on site starting at 5 p.m., and a beer garden will be open all night long. Local '80s dance band The Astronauts will perform a free concert at 7:30 p.m., and the fireworks show is scheduled to start at 9:45 p.m.
Twilight Tuesdays at the zoo
Tuesday nights in July, Sedgwick County Zoo, 5555 Zoo Blvd.
Every Tuesday night in July, the Sedgwick County Zoo stays open late for its annual Twilight Tuesdays series. Admission to the zoo is $3 after 6 p.m. with a voucher from select local Cox Solutions stores or a zoo membership. Vouchers are available after June 22. The zoo stays open until 8:30 p.m. — perfect for late-night fun with the animals.
Sedgwick County Fair
July 18-21, Sedgwick County Fairgrounds, Cheney
What do monster trucks, carnival rides, wacky foods and a parade all have in common? They’re all things you can find at the annual Sedgwick County Fair. Check out favorites like the annual Sedgwick County 4-H show and Fair’s Got Talent to whatever concerts the fair brings in.
Ticket information not yet available. www.ourcountyfair.com
Pretty Prairie Rodeo
July 18-21, Booster Club Arena, 202 N. Elm, Pretty Prairie
What's more Kansas than going to a summertime rodeo? And of the many rodeos in the state, I've always found the Pretty Prairie Rodeo to be the best of the bunch. The event, which bills itself as the Largest Night Rodeo in Kansas, is attended by thousands every year. Watch bull-riding and mutton-busting, then stick around for dances every night.
LevelUP parking garage party
2-11 p.m. July 21, 215 S. Market
This summer, to celebrate Wichita's birthday, a group of creative locals are organizing an unconvential party in the Sutton Place parking garage. There will be live musicians, makers, yard games, local shopping, craft beer tastings and more — culminating in a rooftop party where a DJ will perform.
El Dorado Dam Music Festival
July 27-28, El Dorado Lake, El Dorado
The Dam Music Festival was a big hit in its inaugural year last July — so the festival is returning with a bigger lineup this year. Headlined by Toby Keith, the festival will also feature country stars Brantley Gilbert, Colt Ford, Aaron Lewis and Jamey Johnson, among others. There will be sponsored beach parties through the festival as well.
Kansas State Fair
Sept. 7-16, Kansas State Fairgrounds, 2000 N. Poplar, Hutchinson
If Riverfest is the unofficial start of summer, then the Kansas State Fair is the unofficial end of summer in Wichita. School is already in session by this point, but the State Fair will surely grant that last elusive taste of summer. Be sure to take in some of the fair classics, like pig races, chicken-bathing shows, Midway carnival rides and tasting a variety of odd fried foods. Pronto Pups and chicken noodle dinners are some of the fair's best food options.
Honorable mentions: Things to do all summer long.
Take a dip in the pool
Starting Memorial Day weekend, pools around the Wichita area
The city's eight public swimming pools open to the public on Monday, as well as Derby's popular Rock River Rapids waterpark. The daily cash-only rate at Wichita public pools is $2 for ages 17 and younger, $3 for adults or $8 for a family of six with at least one adult. Admission at Rock River Rapids is $9 for ages 18-59 and $8 for everyone else. The four waterparks at area YMCA locations open on Saturday — which are open to nonmembers for $10 per person or $18 per family.
Kayak on the Arkansas River
noon-3 p.m. Saturdays from June 16-Aug. 18, by the former Gander Mountain space, 605 S. Wichita
If you've ever wanted to kayak or paddleboard on the Arkansas River but don't have the equipment, the City of Wichita Park & Recreation Department can help. This summer, it's offering kayak and paddleboard rentals on Saturday afternoons from mid-June to mid-August. Participants will receive basic instruction on kayak paddling techniques and safety beforehand. Life vests are provided.
$10/hour for kayaks, $15/hour for stand-up paddleboards. Cash only.
Rent a Kansas cabin overnight
Various parks around the state
In Wichita, we often forget just how cool a night in the more rural parts of our state can be. Kansas has oodles of natural beauty just waiting to be found — and if you're looking to make it a lakeside weekend, there are cabins for the renting. A few parks I'd recommend: Kanopolis, Cross Timbers, Eisenhower and Clinton state parks. HorseThief Reservoir is a private retreat worth mentioning as well.
Rates vary. www.ksoutdoors.com/state-parks/reservations
Watch movies at the drive-in
Showtimes vary, Starlite Drive-In, 3900 S. Hydraulic
Wichita is home to one of a few remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country, so this summer is your chance to take advantage of that. Pull into the drive-in (which is now charging individual admission for the summer) to catch a weekend triple-feature, which just may keep you at the drive-in until 4 a.m., depending on how late the movies start. Call or check the website for showtimes.
Pick fresh berries at a local farm
Strawberries, peaches, blackberries in season during the summer at various farms
Visiting a you-pick berry farm is a fun way to get a taste (literally) of summer. Various local farms let guests pick their own berries, which can be a fun experience for the whole family. A few local suggestions: Elderslie Farm (blackberries), Meadowlark Farm (peaches) and Sweet Berries and Brambles (strawberries, blackberries).