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Wichita: Easy to Reach, Wonderful to Wander

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Meeting planners routinely are trying to find easy access to their conventions, with some destinations being harder to reach. This simply isn’t the case with Wichita. The “Air Capital of the World” is living up to the name, not only through its long and continuing leadership in the aviation industry, but as home to Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, a moderate-sized airport that has greatly increased its air service by having airlines add destinations, especially the nonstop flights travelers prefer. 

“People don’t expect a national airport with so many options,” says Marisa Pechanec, convention sales manager for Visit Wichita.

Right now, six airlines offer nonstop connections to 16 destinations, and most are daily flights. With the recent addition of direct flights to Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas and with airlines moving to larger regional jets, the airport set a record for passengers in February, showing a 15 percent increase over last year. And the campaign for more direct connections hasn’t ended. Officials said last fall that they would love to add service to New York; Charlotte, N.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco and Salt Lake City.

Visitors might also be surprised by the airport’s terminal, opened in 2015 and built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Full of energy-saving measures and natural light, the terminal is also well-stocked with food and drink, including a brewery.

The airport’s warmth extends to the complimentary welcomes that can be arranged by Visit Wichita, which lines up local leaders like the mayor or officers from McConnell Air Force Base to greet groups.

Of course, not everyone who comes to a convention in Wichita will fly. Driving is a good option for many in the Midwest, with Oklahoma City and Kansas City two and a half hours away; Dallas about six. Even Denver, an eight-hour drive, is doable in a day. 

Walkable downtown convention district

As the state’s largest city, with a population nearing 400,000, Wichita has long been a natural meeting place. Decades ago, it set its main meeting venue, the Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center, near the picturesque Arkansas River, which flows through the city and is only 12 minutes from the airport. The Century II is round, sliced into three sections: a convention hall, an exhibit hall and a concert hall, giving planners versatile spaces with easy flow and boasting over 200,000 square feet of contiguous space. The center’s attached Expo Hall, with 45,000 square feet on its main floor, is linked to the 303-room Hyatt Regency Wichita and its 40,000 square feet of meeting space. Within walking distance, the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview Wichita adds another 200 guest rooms and more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space, in a carefully restored building. Downtown, another 1,000 hotel rooms are within walking distance of the convention center. 

Although downtown is the primary convention district, the Doubletree Wichita Airport is another popular convention property, with 302 guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. In 2025, a dual-branded Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites with 156 combined rooms will open nearby.

Getting around’s a breeze

As easy as it is to reach Wichita, it’s even easier to get around town. In the convention district, restaurants and bars are short walks from hotels; the city’s entertainment districts are linked by free Q-line Shuttle buses, which cover a three-mile route.

“The Q line goes through all our entertainment districts,” said Pechanec. “It starts in the Historic Delano District, goes from there through downtown to the Douglas Design District with its murals and emphasis on architecture, through Old Town with its nightlife and breweries and ends in Clifton Square, with its boutique restaurants.” 

Attractions and museums are also along the Q-line, and they are an entertaining mix: a minor league ballpark; a botanical garden; museums focused on Native Americans, African Americans and Western life; an art museum; a science center. 

Of course, aviation can also work its way into convention itineraries, whether its events and tours at the Kansas Aviation Museum or the B29 Doc Hangar or tours of the number one funded aeronautics research and development program at Wichita State University. And aviation is only one key industry that Visit Wichita draws on for guest speakers. “We have great connections to speakers in health care, technology and education,” said Pechanec. 

Wichita’s Statue of Liberty and exotic animals

One attraction that’s impossible to miss and easy to access is Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot sculpture of a Native American chief by the late Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin. The sculpture towers on its 30-foot rock perch at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. Each night, weather permitting, firepots are lighted around the base. Locals think of it as “our Statue of Liberty,” says Pechanec.

“The Keeper is walkable from the Hyatt and the Drury, so a lot of groups do it on their own. In winter, the lighting is at 7, so they might have dinner, go to the lighting and have dessert and drinks after. In summer, the lighting is at 9, so they could end their day with the Keeper.”

Exotic animals are the unexpected allure at two of Wichita’s most popular attractions. Sedgwick County Zoo has nine venues that put guests in the middle of the animals. For example, says Pechanec, “There’s a pavilion where you’ll have elephants walking all around you. You don’t expect that in Wichita, Kansas.”

Like the zoo, Tanganyika Wildlife Park is known for making it easy for visitors to connect with rare and endangered species. At Tanganyika, in addition to seeing 400 animals in 40 exhibits, visitors also hear the story of a family that turned a passion for conservation into a thriving attraction that has been recognized for its successful breeding programs. It has a number of venues, but groups often like to simply set up food stations along its paths so they can wander and, as they will do in all of Wichita, take in the wonders around them.

For more information:

Visit Wichita

Marisa Pechanec

Convention Sales Manager


316-660-6306 (direct)