5 Botanica Attractions for All the Family Fun
June 9, 2021
In the museum district along the Arkansas River is a place that literally grows beauty. Botanica, the Wichita Gardens, is the second-most visited cultural venue in the state – and it’s easy to see why. Nearly 30 different gardens dot the grounds and unique attractions welcome families and visitors of all ages. Read on to discover what makes Botanica a one-of-a-kind experience you can only have in Wichita.
Built in 2010, the Downing Children’s Garden is a magical place full of surprises. Children (and their parents) are free to roam throughout the garden where they can play musical instruments, get archaeological with a dinosaur bone dig and climb through the expansive canopy of a tree playground. You’re bound to discover something new with every visit.
A new addition for 2021 is the Alexander Bee House, where a hive of bees makes its home. Families can get to know the bees on Beekeeper Wednesdays, and even take home some of their handiwork: the bees’ honey is available for sale in the gift shop.
A beautifully restored carousel from Wichita’s historic amusement park, Joyland, is an instant crowd pleaser and a Wichita original. Housed inside a pavilion, the Khicha Family Carousel at Koch Carousel Gardens is a magical and timeless experience year-round.
The carousel was acquired in 2014, and for six years artist Marlene Irvin worked to restore the sculptural horses and carriages to their former splendor. In fact, this type of carousel – an Allan Herschell carousel – is believed to be the only one of its kind remaining in existence. Oh, and did you know you can ride one of its 36 pristine horses?
The Koch Carousel Gardens is a lovely open and accessible space featuring interactive and edible gardens, a sleeping giant created by a local artist and an event stage perfect for hosting concerts or events.
Botanica prides itself on its community connections, and they have a long tradition of featuring unique performances and experiences for visitors. Performances from the Wichita Children’s Community Choir to the Wichita Symphony have graced the gardens, and the vibrant and luxurious surroundings only enhance the experience – making each event one to remember.
A dozen giant animatronic insects have invaded the gardens at Botanica. The shockingly realistic bugs are the centerpieces of an educational experience that brings children into close contact with all kinds of six- and eight-legged creatures, like spiders, crickets, butterflies and millipedes. There’s even a mealworm snackbar for visitors with a taste for adventure.
The exhibit runs through July 31st, 2021, and is included with regular admission. A new exhibit featuring giant sea life sculptures will take its place in 2022, made entirely of marine debris to graphically illustrate plastic pollution. Stay tuned!
Botanica doesn’t slow down just because the planting beds are dormant in the winter. The gardens’ biggest event of the year is Illuminations, a dazzling display of lights, holiday-themed gardens and local musicians showing off their best takes on the holiday classics. The gardens go all out with nearly 2 million lights, 300 lighted trees and 18 themed holiday gardens. There's even a drive thru option, so you can enjoy the spectacle from the comfort (and warmth) of your vehicle. Illuminations almost defies description, so you’ll just have to see for yourself.
Botanica is truly a beautiful oasis in Wichita. It’s about making people happy, says Marty Miller, executive director of Botanica. “We create experiences that bring out the good parts of life: people bring their babies here, they get married here. We’re more than just a garden, Botanica touches on all aspects of family life.”
The features mentioned above are only a glimpse at what you can experience at Botanica. Learn more at botanica.org.
The future of work is bright at the brand new headquarters of Hutton. Located in the central Wichita neighborhood of Delano, with Instagrammable views of downtown just across the river, the next-generation office building is a masterclass in Hutton’s architecture and construction expertise and a showcase of its purpose to “build life.”