Updated May 2023
Calling all outdoor enthusiasts! If you live in the Wichita area and would appreciate new ideas for exploring the city while staying active, I have a treat for you. My good friend, Jennifer Strong McConachie, and I decided to collaborate on a blog post that outlines a summer itinerary that gets you up and moving.
Jennifer is a native Wichitan who has recently authored “Go Far: How Endurance Sports Help You Win At Life,” a book that provides an inspiring look at endurance sports and how they make us better, more successful people. Having grown up in the Riverside neighborhood, staying active on the Arkansas River was just one aspect of her lifestyle. Today, she is a working mom who gets her workout in almost daily by biking, rollerskiing, swimming, packrafting, or kayaking. You name the sport, and Jennifer is ready to try it.
Even though I don’t exercise much (she inspires me to get moving!), Jennifer and I share quite a bit. We’re native Wichitans, and our pride for the city runs deep. We both appreciate making the most of each day and seeking adventure in everyday life. It’s that inner spirit that drives us to make life more delightful.
We hope that our ideas for adventure are ones that you can’t wait to seek out when exploring the city. We’ll identify how you can get in a workout while exploring a destination for each excursion.
BIKE RIDE ALONG THE ARKANSAS RIVER
Riding along the Arkansas River is one of my favorite places to get in an outdoor workout. The best thing is that you stay out of traffic! This makes the paved trails a great place to bring kids along for a ride in your bike chariot.
The 10-mile peaceful and scenic path runs along the bank of the Arkansas River, giving cyclists a view of the city’s downtown skyline. Cyclists have access to parks and attractions along the route, including the Museums on the River and the Keeper of the Plains iconic statue.
I suggest planning your route to end at Milkfloat (535 W. Douglas), the historic Delano District west of the river. The cafe is known for its long list of specialty coffees and drinks. After a long bike ride, why not try a Blueberry Lemonade Milkshake or iced coffee? Better yet, sit down and enjoy your beverage with one of their delectable baked goods. I recommend the classic chocolate brownie or homemade strawberry Pop-Tart. Plan your visit by viewing the cafe hours here.
RUN WITH AN EXPANSIVE VIEW
Running to Elderslie Farm on an early summer morning for a treat gets you out of the city and gives you a way to celebrate after sweating bramble-side.
Locals appreciate Elderslie Farm’s Bramble Cafe (3501 E. 101st St. North, Kechi) for its beautiful surroundings, a hard-to-resist menu of breakfast items, and flavorful drinks. Feeling parched after a run? Consider ordering a refreshingly tart blackberry lemonade with a scone. If you have extra time before setting out for a return home, don’t miss interacting with the goats roaming the grounds.
Prepare for your adventure before setting out on your run, view the cafe’s hours, and pack a cold pack to bring home fresh cheese from the creamery near the cafe.
SET OUT ON A SCOOTER
Channel your inner kid and scooter (not the electric kind, but the good old fashion kick scooter kind!) around downtown Wichita. Don’t have a scooter? Try rollerblades, skates, or any other form of wheeled fun. Stop in Cocoa Dolce for an iced drink and a sweet treat.
You can always find something delightful on Cocoa Dolce’s (235 St. Francis) menu. The downtown location is the perfect pitstop to relax and enjoy flavored iced tea, artisan chocolates, or made-from-scratch cookie. The friendly staff will suggest menu favorites or tell you about their latest specialty drink offerings. If you have a few extra minutes, step over to the glass wall to view employees making chocolate in the nearby factory. Plan your visit by viewing their hours here.
CYCLING AND SANDWICHES
Why not bike or run to the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine? You could pack a tasty sandwich from Tanya’s Soup Kitchen to take with you and enjoy a picnic under the trees. Go for live music, a program, or stroll the gardens. One of my favorite events is their annual croquet soiree.
Tayna’s Soup Kitchen serves menu items made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients made from scratch daily. I love to order the City Chicken sandwich made with sliced chicken, bacon, provolone, romaine, and Caesar dressing on an onion kaiser. Jennifer’s favorite sandwich is described below: Delilah’s Light Lunch, made from sliced chicken breast, apricot relish, sharp cheddar, and romaine on an onion Kaiser roll. Ask about their seasonal soups. View their lunch hours here.
WATCH THE SUNSET FROM A KAYAK
Another great idea is to take a kayak out to watch the sunset with cookies and snacks from J’Rae’s to nibble on while you’re on the water. Their frosted sugar cookies come in various festive shapes for any occasion.
Always a supporter of dining locally, I recommend stopping for a sweet treat at J Rae‘s (2357 N. Maize Rd.). They make baked goodies ranging from cheesecakes and cupcakes to cookies and chocolate truffles. Whether celebrating a special occasion or simply rewarding yourself for a high-intensity workout, it’s a win-win! Don’t forget to pack chilled sparkling water for your dessert session on the river! View the bakery’s hours here.
Did we inspire you to explore the city? You must be hungry by now! Wichita is nestled between two rivers and linked by several bike trails. Building your own adventure and finding your favorite fuel around town is easy and fun. Enjoy the outdoors this summer, and don’t forget to order your copy of “Go Far: How Endurance Sports Help You Win At Life” for more ideas, global travel inspiration, and tools for living adventurously. My book, 100 Things To Do In Wichita Before You Die, is available in paperback or via Kindle on Amazon.