When we think about travel, our minds often wander to far-flung destinations, exotic cultures, and unfamiliar landscapes. However, there's a treasure trove of experiences waiting for us right in our own backyard. Being a tourist in your hometown can be an eye-opening and delightful adventure that allows you to see your familiar surroundings with fresh eyes.
As locals, we often take our hometowns for granted. We become accustomed to our routines and the everyday sights and sounds. But when you approach your city with a tourist's perspective, you'll start to notice details and nuances you've never appreciated before. Whether it's the architecture of historic buildings, the beauty of local parks, or the uniqueness of neighborhood cafes, your city suddenly becomes a canvas of discovery.
Recently Kansas Tourism hosted a Fam (familiarization) tour of the Wichita area focusing on agritourism operations in the area and I had the opportunity to attend, not only as the Kansas Agritourism Program Manager but also as a Wichita native. I was born and raised in Wichita and was so excited to head back home for the week and experience Wichita with a new perspective!
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and may not be your first guess when trying to find agritourism destinations in the state. However, don’t let the size and population fool you, Wichita and surrounding areas are flourishing with agritourism destinations you must visit! On the tour we visited 6 unique stops that were all agriculturally focused and redefined how I viewed my hometown!
Kansas Maze Sunflower FieldBack to Top of List
Located in Buhler, Kansas Maze Sunflower Field offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in 16+ Acres of the state’s flower, the sunflower! They are open every Aug/Sept and host a multitude of events all focused around the flowers in bloom! Walk the trails looking for the perfect photo opportunity, enjoy a 5K or 1 Mile walk/run through the captivating fields or just enjoy being in the country!
Grace Hill WineryBack to Top of List
Just outside of Wichita, in Whitewater, Grace Hill offers the authentic winery experience! With over 15 locally grown and produced wines to try, there is something for everyone! Schedule a wine tour and tasting or follow their social media pages for a variety of upcoming events that range from live music, yoga, or even helping with grape harvest!
Lazy Moon RanchBack to Top of List
Lazy Moon Ranch is for the animal lovers and the eclectic! Where Farm & Art Collide-Pankratz family hobby farm, located in Augusta, is truly an experience like non-other! Experience a black lighted arcade or interact with a menagerie of alpacas, miniature donkeys, dwarf Nigerian goats, chickens and even a tortoise! My personal favorite activity was painting with alpacas! They host a number of activities throughout the year so be sure to check out their social media for upcoming events!
RISE FarmBack to Top of List
RISE Farms is unique to Kansas, as it is the largest rooftop farm in the Midwest and is located in the heart of downtown Wichita! This urban farm is a 15,000-square-foot specialty crop farm blooming on the top floor of Fidelity Bank’s RISE Car Park! They grow a variety of produce in a no-waste manner to supply area restaurants and residents with fresh, local ingredients! The tour of the urban farm was fantastic and extremely enlightening to learn their growing practices.
GROW Giesen Plant Shop/ BotanicBack to Top of List
GROW at Botanic is an entire vibe! Located in Downtown Wichita, what started out as a green house has turned into an experience you won’t want to miss out on. This location is a one stop shop that offers a coffee and cocktail lounge, plant store, event space and my favorite, a DIY plant bar where you can create your own Terrarium!
PublicBack to Top of List
To top off our amazing day, we came full circle with an amazing dinner at Public. Located in the heart of Old Town, Public is an all-inclusive farm-to-table eatery for the whole family! We enjoyed a wonderful meal, prepared by Travis Russell (Chef and Owner), that incorporated fresh produce from RISE Farms! It was a perfect way to end such a great day focused on agriculture and community!
Becoming a tourist in my hometown was not just an opportunity to see familiar places in a new light; it was a chance to deepen my connection to the place I call home, and I encourage you to do the same! By embracing a tourist's perspective, you can uncover hidden treasures, support local businesses, and create lasting memories. So, the next time you're seeking adventure, consider exploring the wonders of your own city. You just might be surprised at the beauty and excitement that have been right under your nose all along.
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