Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]
Even in the depths of winter, Wichita, Kansas can be an inviting destination. My wintry escape included a traveling Broadway show, museums, dining, A Cowtown Christmas and quality comfort in an expansive historic hotel. And its two and half hour drive north of Oklahoma City on smooth interstate 35, made it even more appealing.
Over the decades, I have seen several theatrical events at Century II, Wichita’s modern convention and entertainment venue, and it was my starting point in planning my weekend get a way. Having never seen, and needing a humorous musical entertainment, Once I booked a ticket to see the traveling, “Young Frankenstein.” It was performed admirably, and despite the inevitable comparison to the movie, it held up rather well as an evening’s respite from reality.
The convenience of my hotel stay at the Drury Broadview, across the street, added to my pleasure as did the perfect meal at its adjoining restaurant Avi. My filet was prepared to my directions as was the three blue cheese olive Stoli Martini, which got the evening off to a fine start. Completing the meal it was hard to choose from the dessert offerings of: Carrot Cake with German Chocolate Ice Cream, Chocolate and Orange Vanilla Cream Brule, Apricot Almond Goat Cheese-cheesecake, or a Chocolate covered Cranberry Chipolte bread pudding with Mixed Berry ice cream. But I did.
Besides the complete renovation of the Drury’s interior, the free extras of Internet, a hot buffet breakfast and the offerings of 3 free cocktails at their evening breakaway, complete with heavy additional treats that might include hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and nachos, and free internet, made the reasonably priced stay even more of a pleasure. Of course the pool and hot tub along with covered parking let you know you were an appreciated guest.
The highlight of my weekend’s theatrical entertainment was the surprise virtuosity of the Diamond W Wrangler singers at the Empire House Christmas Dinner at the living history Cowtown venue. Their close harmonies ~ reminiscent to the “Sons of the Pioneers”~ along with tongue in cheek humor, and a sufficient western style meal made the evening worth the effort to venture out in the cold.
Of course I was there during a Santa Claus visit, with his lap venue for good little girls and boys, along with singing in the western church ~ complimented by guitars and dulcimers courtesy of the Great Plains Dulcimer Alliance and Acoustic Treasures ~ and wandering in the moonlight over boardwalks past wooden stores and Victorian styled houses lit by kerosene lamps, set the stage for a congenial wintry outing.
Wichita has a number of exceptional museums and galleries, including the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum with its authentic recreation of an 1890 Wichita Cottage; the Kansas Aviation Museum with its collection of everything aviation; the Wichita Art Museum with its traveling exhibits and the Museum of World Treasures with everything from pre historic Dinosaurs to movie memorabilia.
A visit to Hat Man Jacks, in the historic Delano district, will custom fit your head to the appropriate covering for comfort, utility, and most expertly for an appealing appearance. Jack is the couture of men’s hats. He also has an extensive knowledge of early Wichita, and his stories are not only educational on frontier Chisholm Trail times, but entertaining.
Of course in our mobile society some venues may have changed or even closed so it is wise to do a little on line checking before taking your Wichita visit.
As there is more to share of Wichita, so please explore on your own by visiting, www.gowichita.com and asking for their visitor guide.
Drury Plaza Broadview – druryhotels.com/content/broadview.aspx
Wichita Historical Museum – www.wichitahistory.org
Wichita Art Museum – http://wichitaartmuseum.org
Century II – www.century2.org
Mr. Terry Zinn – Travel Editor
Past President: International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association