The air is turning cool. The leaves are starting to change. Halloween is around the corner. Christmas decorations are already starting to show up in stores. Football is on TV. At last, after a long warm summer, it must be time for FALL! Growing up and living most of our lives on the East Coast, fall was always a time for picking apples, hayrides, corn mazes, fall festivals and most of all, visiting a pumpkin patch to find the perfect pumpkin. Now that we live in Oklahoma, we want to create new fall traditions but also continue some of our classic ones. So we went to Google Maps and found that our closest pick-your-own apple orchard was in Wichita, KS. Only a couple hours north, Wichita was not only a great destination to pick apples, but can also fill a weekend full of fall, fun, and food!
The fall destination that first inspired our visit to Wichita was Meadowlark Farm. Meadowlark Farm is a pick-your-own apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and more just southeast of Wichita. They are especially known for their hard cider and other apple-based products they produce.
Our first stop at Meadowlark Farm was to pick up a bucket for apples and a wagon for pumpkins. We were warned that it was a little late for the apples and that most of them were already picked (or claimed by some of the local wildlife). Undaunted, we set out in search of apples and pumpkins down a muddy, muddy path.
Walking through the orchard we confirmed that almost all of the apples, at least all of the ones anyone would want to eat, were gone. While disappointed, the orchard itself was really pretty and we made a note to come back earlier next year so that we could actually pick some apples. From walking around, it looked like they had peaches and possibly even strawberries when in season as well. Beyond the orchard were the pumpkin patches, and that is where the true fall fun began.
Meadowlark Farm had two main pumpkin patches with a dense mix of perfect mini, “pie”, and larger Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins. After the six inches of rain Wichita had received the week before, both patches were a mix of mud, vines, blossoms, and pumpkins. As the children scoured for the perfect pumpkins, their shoes, jeans, hands, and in some cases faces (still not sure how) became caked with the dark rich Kansas mud. Once we found our perfect giant, two “pie”, and one mini pumpkins, we cut them free with a pair of garden shears from home and loaded up the wagon. Forgot to bring your own garden shears? No worries, they have some you can rent.
We trudged back to the store, weighed down by mud and pumpkins, but filled with a bliss that only fall can inspire. After weighing the pumpkins on a giant scale, we went into the store to pay. Once inside, we finally found what we had come in search of – apples! We picked up a few apples, a bottle of their own Apple Peach vinegar, and some other local products like a bag of Schlaegel’s Popcorn to bring home.
Another great destination for fall fun around Wichita was Klausmeyer Dairy Farm. Klausmeyer Dairy Farm is a working family dairy farm that becomes a fall fun wonderland every September and October. Hayrides? Check. Corn maze? Check. Random farm inspired play equipment? Check. Animals to pet? Check. Pumpkin Patch? Check. Klausmeyer Dairy Farm has it all.
Our first stop, when visiting any farm, is always to see the animals. There’s something special about getting to see, touch, and smell animals we depend on. For our littelest, this was her first opportunity to see some of these animals up close and even feed them! After spending some time with the animals, the kids burned off some energy on the play equipment, running through the hay maze, and jumping on the giant “pillow”.
Checking the schedule of events, we saw they had pig races and we made sure to not miss them! Of all of the farm festivals we have attended over the years, we have never seen a pig race, so we were curious. When it came time for the pig race, we made sure to get there early so that the kids would have a great seat. You know “this little piggy ran all the way home?” – we never had fully appreciated just how fast those little piggies can run! Each race had four, generally piglets, that raced around a short track to be the first to enjoy a bowl of sour milk. The pigs were so cute and everyone had a blast watching them.
With the sun starting to fade, we were running out of time to enjoy everything that Klausmeyer offered. So we made the strategic decision to skip the hay ride and pumpkin patch (since we had already done the Meadowlark Farm patch), and focus on the corn maze as our grand finale. This year’s Klausmeyer Farm Corn Maze was a 5 acre Sorghum maze (a common substitute for corn in different climates). Like Meadowlark, the maze was really muddy – but that just added to the fun of exploring and getting lost and getting found and having the special fun you can only have in the fall.
Beyond just fall fun, Wichita has a lot of other great options for fun as the weather starts to get cool and the sun sets earlier. Two of those options are the Museum of World Treasures and Aviate at the Wichita Sports Forum.
Museum of World Treasures
The Museum of World Treasures is the ultimate amalgam of all things culture, nature, history, and unusual. It truly has a little bit of everything from a section of the Berlin Wall to dinosaurs, Egpytian mummies to a document from President Grover Cleveland, rare gems to a World War II traveling piano, shrunken heads to a giant taxidermy bear. The Museum of World Treasures also has lot of fun activities for kids.
Walking through the museum, some of our favorite exhibits were the giant dinosaur display at front and the focused sections on Egyptian and Greek history. Note – some of the exhibits might not be for everyone (especially the mummies and shrunken heads), but the museum is laid out in a way that allows you to focus on what interests you and easily skip areas that you might not want to explore in depth.
However the highlight of our visit to the Museum of World Treasures was the Behind-the-Scenes tour. As part of this tour, everyone got to touch (very very carefully) fossils, gems, and other rare artifacts. It was fascinating to see the storage areas full of history along with a few counterfeit artifacts that haven’t yet made it into the museum.
At the end of the tour, our awesome guide showed us a letter written and signed by George Washington. The opportunity to be that close to history and see behind the scenes was easily worth the extra charge for the tour.
Aviate at the Wichita Sports Forum
Aviate at the Wichita Sports Forum is a different kind of fun. It is the run and jump and flip and jump and run and flip and flip and jump and run until you stop and then realize you are so sore kind of fun.
Aviate is 20,000 square feet of trampolines, foam pits, obstacle courses, trapeze, air dunks, and much more. They even had a dedicated section perfectly scaled for children six and under.
The Ninja Obstacle Course was one of our favorite activities. It was the perfect combination of swinging, climbing, and bouncing!
Aviate can also turn out the lights and turn up the neon to take the flying fun to another level. Jump forward, jump backward. Flip or swing. It all felt faster and even more exciting in the dark.
La Quinta Inn and Suites Wichita Northeast
One of our favorite parts about Aviate was that it was right next door to our hotel, the La Quinta Inn and Suites Wichita Northeast. The La Quinta was a great base of operations for exploring all of Wichita. In addition to it’s proximity to Avita, the La Quinta is close to great restaurants, shopping, and so much of the other fun that Wichita has to offer. The La Quinta also had a nice indoor pool and a beautiful lobby with free breakfast every morning.
Just like fall and fun, Wichita is also a delicious destination for food!
Milkfloat is a celebration of dessert with a specific focus on ice cream, bakery treats, and coffee. While their pop tarts, cookies, and brownies looked divine, our focus on this trip was ice cream and pumpkin pie. Their chocolate ice cream was a perfect blend of creamy and crystally, soft and rich. The pumpkin pie was the epitome of fall decadence.
Our favorite spot for coffee is Reverie Roasters. Reverie roasts their own coffee and if we updated our list, it would be among our all-time favorite coffee spots. Their rosemary salted caramel latte is especially good. Whenever we visit, we always try to pickup some of their beans and cold brew to bring back home.
The Donut Whole
The Donut Whole is a Wichita donut destination. With flaky cake donuts in a variety of flavors, this kitschy shop is certain to please the entire family. Their “thick mint” and “chocolate cheesecake” were among our favorite flavors.
Delano Barbecue Company
Kansas is a great state for barbeque and the Delano Barbecue Company is no exception. In the heart of the Historic Delano District (and just up the street from Milkfloat), Delano Barbecue is the perfect stop for lunch or dinner. With a typical fast casual format, you order your smoky goodness at the counter and then patiently wait for your name to be called. The brisket, ribs, and pulled pork were all solid, but the burnt ends, which they only serve on the weekend, were especially noteworthy. Delano also offered a variety of kids meals that include a pick from any of their sides. So if your kids like smoky mac’n’cheese or fried okra (which ours love), they can get that AND their main dish.
Wichita is a perfect weekend destination for fall, fun, and food. Just a short drive from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Kansas City, Wichita is very affordable and has so much to offer. These are just a few of the great places that make Wichita special, and we didn’t even talk about Keeper of the Plains, Exploration Place, Botanica, and so many others. What are some of your favorite Wichita destinations? Share them in the comments below!
Interested in travel stories about amazing destinations and adventures like the White House Easter Egg Roll, Oklahoma City, Santa Fe or Craters of the Moon? How about interviews with authors like Daniel Pinkwater, musicians like Amy Lee (Evanescence), Lisa Loeb, Andrew & Polly, Caspar Babypants (Presidents of the United States), Danny Weinkauf (They Might Be Giants), Bryan Vander Ark (The Verve Pipe), Rissi Palmer, and Tim Kubart, or celebrity chefs like Fabio Viviani, Marc Murphy, and Jonathon Sawyer? What about recipes, ranks, reviews, or other tips for families?
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Photo credits: Full Van Fun
Disclaimer: Lodging and meals were provided by Visit Wichita in exchange for our posts, but all suggestions and endorsements are solely personal. We only recommend what we personally like and experience.