Previously known as an aircraft and cow town, Wichita offers plenty of ways to sightsee and play. In fact, the city’s biggest event, Riverfest, takes place for nine days each spring (this year from May 29 to June 6), and draws more than 380,000 people.
But there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Kansas’ largest city, too, whether scoping out art and history museums or touring its upscale riverfront. The culinary scene has also grown considerably in recent years, from contemporary fine dining to ethnic cuisine.
The Inn at Glenstrae
This lovely bed-and-breakfast combines 1900s elegance and charm with modern hospitality, including plush robes and linens in every room. Guests can also enjoy the spacious screened-in porch, lush gardens and four sun-drenched common areas. Fresh and light breakfast options may include classic eggs Benedict, cottage cheese quiche, eggs “all-in” made with Mexican-inspired flavors or pomegranate waffles with whipped cream, as well as cups of “fancy joes” with layers of dark chocolate, vanilla and espresso. 3342 Country Club Place, 316.631.2883, theinnatglenstrae.com
Hotel at Old Town
The renovated Hotel at Old Town includes a full kitchen and 37-inch TV in each comfortable suite. Victorian Wichita is represented throughout the hotel in historically themed murals and memorabilia in its massive-yet-cozy lobby. The catered hot breakfast buffet offers eggs; potatoes; bacon, sausage or ham; and more. 830 E. First St., 316.267.4800, hotelatoldtown.com
Ambassador Hotel Wichita
Housed in a circa 1912 bank, the contemporary lobby at this luxurious boutique hotel has soaring ceilings, spacious guest rooms and a 24-hour fitness center. Breakfast at the on-site restaurant may include brioche French toast with rum custard and apricot-pecan butter or a steak omelet with smoked Gouda, while its lunch menu has items such as a balsamic barbecued salmon salad and Italian sundried tomato wrap. For dinner, classic entrées like steak, lamb or scallops have been served with sides such as pumpkin-chipotle risotto. 104 S. Broadway St., 316.239.7100, ambassadorhotelcollection.com/wichita
Nu Way Cafe
It’s been 85 years since this iconic diner first served homemade root beer and its signature crumbled meat sandwiches with plenty of mustard, pickles and onion – and don’t even think about asking for substitutions. Sidle up to the black Formica counter and listen to classic rock ‘n’ roll while digging into Nu Way’s super long curly fries, chili (with or without beans) and chocolate malts so thick the straws stand straight up. Multiple locations, 316.686.7444, nuwayburgers.com
Sabor Latin Bar & Grille
Located beside a sprawling plaza in Old Town, Sabor Latin Bar & Grille serves dishes with Latin American flair – from shrimp ceviche and plantain- and pumpkin-crusted mahi mahi to sirloin caribe with pineapple, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and cheese. For a vegetarian-friendly main course, try the polenta tower with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, Manchego cheese, spicy black bean sauce and a drizzle of jalapeño crema. 309 N. Mead St., 316.201.4880, saborgrillwichita.com
Larkspur Bistro & Bar
Tucked inside an early 1900s building, the décor at Larkspur Bistro & Bar is all about understated elegance, personified by the baby grand that entertains guests each evening. The restaurant’s dinner menu covers a range of influences – Mediterranean, French, Italian and American – in dishes like lamb T-bones, pistachio chicken or filet mignon. For lunch, try the steamed mussels, blackened tilapia tacos or housemade pasta. 904 E. Douglas Ave., 316.262.5275, larkspuronline.com
Connie’s Mexico Cafe
Family owned since 1963, this little place is known for its old-fashioned, wood-paneled walls, welcoming atmosphere and hot salsa. King-sized burritos smothered in cheese are the house specialty, served with huge portions of Mexican rice and creamy pinto beans. 2227 N. Broadway St., 316.832.9636
Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar
Bathed in leather and wood, with stone fireplaces overlooking lake views, Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar is the ideal setting for enjoying the restaurant’s steak, seafood and Wine Spectator-recognized wine list. Most items are made in-house, from red pepper hummus to crisp flatbreads. Dishes are creative – think maple-mustard salmon, sweet barbecued calamari and “cowboy” bone-in rib eyes. Start your meal with fresh oysters, available by the half dozen, and end it with decadent Granny Smith apple beignets or chocolate croissant bread pudding. 1550 N. Webb Road, 316.201.1300, chesterschophouse.com
The Spice Merchant & Co.
Open since 1984, The Spice Merchant & Co. is a great place to purchase more than 60 varieties of roasted coffee beans and dozens of bulk spices and teas. Kitchen accessories include salt and pepper mills, imported teapots, specialty tea-infuser mugs and pour-over coffeemakers. 1308 E. Douglas Ave., 316.263.3141, thespicemerchant.com
Watermark Books and Cafe
Soups like curried quinoa-tomato and salads (like the strawberry fields pictured above) are just several fresh choices at the popular Watermark Books and Cafe, which opened nearly 40 years ago. The bookstore also serves housemade scones, plus treats like red velvet Mascarpone cupcakes, muffins, cookies and more. 4701 E. Douglas Ave., 316.682.1181, watermarkbooks.com
Starlite Drive-In Theatre
Screening drive-in movies since 1973, this popular theater opens for a new season each March. The neon-decorated snack bar serves hot dogs, malts and root beer as well as big pickles, soft pretzels and popcorn, which enhance the old-fashioned movie experience. 3900 S. Hydraulic St., 316.524.2424, starlitefun.com
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