Keeper of the Plans

5 things to do in Wichita on Christmas Day

Giant reindeer are the featured attraction of Wichita’s latest Christmas display

"Reindeer Road" in west Wichita, features nearly 20 giant reindeer lined up along Firefly Street near 119th and Central. The neighborhood is already well known for its "Candy Cane Lane" display.
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"Reindeer Road" in west Wichita, features nearly 20 giant reindeer lined up along Firefly Street near 119th and Central. The neighborhood is already well known for its "Candy Cane Lane" display.

Editor’s note: Since the publication of this story in print, a few more Christmas Day options have come to our attention. The Arcade, 139 N. Mead, will be open from 2-8 p.m. on Christmas Day, Aero Plains Brewing, 117 N. Handley, will be open from 3-9 p.m. Christmas Day, and The Arc’s Lights, Douglas and St. Paul, will be open from 5:30-9 p.m. Christmas Day.

It’s a quintessential holiday dilemma.

While many love spending the day with family at home, not everyone has that luxury.

On a day when most entertainment spots in town are closed, what can you do?

Don’t resign yourself to watching Netflix or playing board games just yet — there are a few fun things you can do in and around Wichita on Christmas Day.

Here are some suggestions for what to do over the holiday in and around town:

Go to the zoo

The Sedgwick County Zoo is open 364 days a year — only closing to prepare for its Zoobilee event in September — which means it’s one of the few spots in town people can visit for entertainment on Christmas Day. Conveniently, the zoo currently has a promotion running where admission is half-off through the end of 2018. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7.98 for adults (12-61 years old) and $5.98 for children (3-11) and seniors (62+).

Grab a cool beverage

Sometimes you just need to get out of the house for a bit and grab a drink. A few Wichita bars will be open on Christmas Day serving up liquid refreshment for those in need of a cold one. Those bars include The Hill Bar & Grill, 4800 E. Douglas; Oasis Lounge, 4121 W. Maple; Walt’s East, 7732 E. Central; and Whiskey Dicks, 801 S. Seneca. My colleague Denise Neil has also compiled a list of Wichita restaurants open Christmas Day, which you can find on Kansas.com.

See a movie

Sure, I may be phoning it in a bit here, but for many, the Christmas Day movie is a tradition. All of the Warren Theaters are open, as is the AMC Northrock 14. A slew of sure Oscar-favorites will be in theaters on Christmas, including “Vice,” “Welcome to Marwen,” “Mary Poppins Returns” and others. If you’re planning on eating Christmas Day dinner at the Warren’s in-theater restaurant, prepare for a long wait (speaking from experience). For listings, visit www.regmovies.com and www.amctheatres.com.

Explore the Kansas outdoors

You know one thing that can’t possibly be closed? The great outdoors. If you’re willing to go on a bit of a drive, all Kansas state parks are open on Christmas Day — and now is one of the best times of year to look for bald eagles. Both Cheney State Park and El Dorado State Park have good populations of bald eagles that can be spotted by the lucky hiker down by the water. El Dorado has over 50 miles of hiking trails, if you are so inclined to hike or run a couple marathons’ distance. $5 daily admission still applies.

See Wichita’s best Christmas lights

What better way to cap off your Christmas Day than with a tour of some of Wichita’s best Christmas lights? There’s no need to pay anything to see them, either: just grab a mug of hot cocoa from home and start driving. The Eagle has a comprehensive list of Wichita’s 15 best drive-by holiday light displays available for the reading on Kansas.com.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.


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