If you’re moving to or living in Wichita and seeking advice, you’ve already made one right step in visiting this website. As someone who has lived here for over 40 years with zero intention of leaving, I wanted to put together a Wichita Survival Guide; a list of tips on living in the 316.
If you’re looking to do Wichita right, ease the stress of living here, and simply enjoy this city, follow these 30 steps and you’ll be on your way to happiness (not guaranteed) but it’s a good start.
Wichita Survival Guide
1.) Avoid north Rock Road and north Maize Road between November and December. Traffic gets really crazy during the holiday shopping season. If you can avoid, those two stretches of road.
2.) Check out the festivals, cook-offs, and different events around town. There is plenty to do in Wichita including such events as the Wichita River Festival, Downtown Chili Cook Off, Taco Fest, Wichita Asian Festival, many of which have affordable entry fees of $5-15. Take advantage of these events and find out for yourself whether you enjoy instead of listening to the negative noise you may see online. And come any of the major holidays, the events really pick up!
3.) If you have to drive across town, it should take no more than 30 minutes. If you’re moving here from a bigger city, this should come as a blessing.
4.) Find reliable transportation. Wichita doesn’t necessarily have the best public transportation when you compare it to bigger cities. Get a car if you can.
5.) Need a car wash, you’re in luck! If you listen to advice #4 and need a car wash, then you’re in luck. Wichita has seen a recent boom of new car washes enter the market. If you have to drive more than 4 minutes to find a car wash, you’re driving too slow.
6.) Never Drive More Than 20 MPH in Eastborough. Speaking of driving too slow. If you’re passing through Eastborough near Woodlawn and Douglas, do not drive more than 20 MPH or you’re essentially guaranteeing yourself a speeding ticket.
7.) If you have bad allergies, you’re in for a ride. Wichita has a wide array of tree pollens ranging from walnut to willow, maple to oak and cedar to ash. A high number of weed pollens are present in the fall and grass pollens remain fairly stable year round.
8.) It’s OK to show up 10-20 minutes early to the airport. One of the nice parts about Wichita is how easy it is to get in and out of the airport. No need to show up 1-2 hours before.
9.) If there is severe weather in the forecast, the local grocery store will soon be wiped of necessities. Anytime terrible weather is predicted by our meteorologist, items like milk, bread, bananas, bottled water are likely to be out of stock within an hour. Wichita loves to stockpile for any weather Armageddon.
10.) Add 5-10 minutes of drive time if you’re taking Kellogg. Whether it’s because of construction, traffic, or an accident, something will always slow your drive time a bit on Wichita’s busiest road.
11.) Try a new restaurant at least once a week. This is great advice, especially if you’re new to Wichita. With over a thousand restaurants and food trucks to choose from in the Wichita area, that’s enough to find something new every week of the year. As an added bonus, there’s so much diversity here.
12.) The best shopping carts are found at Target. If you’re looking for a good arm workout that will make you sore the next day, forget Genesis or the YMCA, use the shopping carts at Walmart. For a decent workout, check out Dillons. For low stress, the shopping carts at Target are the easiest to maneuver.
13.) Buy a lawn chair. This is a necessity for Wichita. Whether you’re sitting on the hill at a Wichita State baseball game, hanging out in a friend’s backyard, or watching a tornado in your front yard (yes, we do that in Wichita), a lawn chair can be your best friend.
14.) Exercise your right to vote. With the population in Wichita, every vote counts. Vote in the local elections, as your single ballot could be a huge difference maker.
15.) It’s pronounced “Ar-Kansas”, not “Ar-kan-saw”. Whether it’s the road or the river, make sure you pronounce it “Ar-Kansas” or you’ll get some weird looks.
16.) Don’t ask why our minor baseball team is called the Wind Surge. Just don’t.
17.) Have a coat, umbrella, and swimsuit nearby at all times. With the Wichita weather, there could be 30-50 degree swings, an earthquake, tornado, rain, and sunshine in a 24-hour span.
18.) So many free online resources for Wichita. Learning about Wichita is easily done online. Besides this site which, I think, is in the top 47% in town, there are other resources to look at. Wichita Life, Wichita Mom, Fert the Foodie, Significantly Spicy, Wichita on the Cheap, and the Wichita Reddit.
19.) The wind in Wichita doesn’t mess around. If I had to choose the worst part about Wichita, it’s not the drivers (which can be bad but it’s like that everywhere), it’s the wind. The wind can be brutal, the type that stings the moment it hits your skin. And if you have lawn furniture or playground sets, there’s a chance they won’t be upright by the time the wind stops by to say hello. Be careful if you’re wearing a dress, learn not to care if your hair is messed up, and don’t stand by someone peeing outside.
20.) Compared to bigger cities, the parking is great. Parking is free in most of Wichita. If you’re downtown or attending a show at INTRUST Bank Arena or a game at Riverfront Stadium, there’s a chance you may have to pay to park, but it’s minimal. You can always take your chances and park a little further away and walk. The walking is a breeze compared to any bigger city. Even events at smaller cities like Lawrence, KS for a Jayhawks game will require you to walk further. Enjoy it.
21.) The local music scene is thriving. Love music? There are so many places to catch a live show. On top of the many venues in town, you can always find some local musician playing at a nearby restaurant or bar.
22.) A little kindness can go a long ways in Wichita. This ICT is a “little big city”. It’s little where there’s one to two degrees of separation between people, but also has that big and growing city vibe at times. Regardless of what you think, a majority of Wichita is filled with kind people. Open the door for someone, let a car in trying to turn on to a street, wave at a neighbor, help a local cause you believe in, any act of kindness can only help our city.
23.) If you love alcohol and marijuana, the rules here are quite conservative. You can purchase beer in grocery stores, but not alcohol. There are laws when it comes to what bars and restaurants can charge for alcohol, so you won’t see bottomless mimosas, all you can drink type specials here. And marijuana is illegal in the state of Kansas. Rumor has it all that will change in the year 2087.
24.) Don’t feel stuck to one side of town. Whether you’re living out in east Wichita, west, north, or the south side town. Explore, check out all there is to do in all parts of this city. I’ve lived in essentially all the major parts of Wichita and have found plenty of positives in every area, but don’t feel glued down. FYI, some people may judge you for what side of town you live on, but that’s why God made humans with a middle finger.
25.) Don’t drink the water in the Arkansas River. Every so often the obvious needs to be stated.
26.) You can eat the seafood and fish served at restaurants and live to see tomorrow. Yes, Wichita is in a landlocked state, but there’s still plenty of seafood here that’s worthwhile. Does it compare to the coast? Well, no, but it’s still delicious. Some places even have their seafood shipped daily… not from the Arkansas River.
27.) Lock your car doors. Unfortunately, there’s always going to be petty theft. Lock your car doors at all times.
28.) The roads here are well taken care of. People may complain about the condition of the roads, but the City of Wichita works hard at taking care of them. That’s also why there’s road construction going on all the time. Side streets and neighborhoods, that’s a different story. If anything, find a neighborhood that takes care of their streets.
29.) Just because we have a Michelle’s Beach House, doesn’t mean we have a beach. As stated earlier, we are in a landlocked state, so the best you’ll find in Wichita are outdoor pools. There are some lakes outside of Wichita, but you can check those out for yourself to see what you think.
30.) Keep a positive attitude. It’s like anything in life, if you go into something with a negative attitude, you’re going to hate it. Give Wichita an honest chance. I’ll be the first person to say, it’s not for everyone. But if you can be honest with yourself, keep a positive attitude, venture out, you just may call Wichita what I’ve been calling it…. home.
… and that, friends, is your Wichita Survival Guide.
Did you love the article and want to help the continuing free content at Wichita By E.B.? You can help keep our site going with a simple one-time or recurring donation. Your contribution is appreciated.