One of the wonderful yet frustrating aspects of dealing with small children is their unpredictability. Sometimes it’s fun wondering what cute and funny things will come out of their unpredictable little mouths. It’s not always fun when you spend 45 minutes driving to the waterpark that your child is guaranteed to love and your 3-year-old has a meltdown approximately 2 seconds after you arrive. I enjoy taking my preschooler and 6-month-old on adventures, but I’ve learned to search for activities near our home in El Dorado (bonus if the activities are free or low-cost). I love supporting our local community and showing my kids what makes El Dorado unique. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite (mostly) free, kid-friendly El Dorado pastimes.
Bike/Walking Path– One of my favorite parts of the neighborhood where we live is the proximity to the city’s bike and walking path. Approximately 5 miles, this scenic path borders the Walnut River, takes you through Prairie Trails Golf Course, and connects El Dorado with the El Dorado State Park and Lake. When we hit the path in our jogging stroller, I know I’m guaranteed to get a good work out, and my older son enjoys looking for various types of wildlife (we have seen deer, rabbits and snakes!). Be sure to bring water and sunscreen as some areas are less shaded than others.
Splash Parks– Located within the 11-acre North Main Park in El Dorado (1000 N. Main Street), the newest spray park is adjacent to a play structure, covered picnic area and gazebos. A second spray park is located at El Dorado’s Graham Park, 1600 Edgemoor, and is also home to several play structures and a covered picnic area. I have to admit, I love spray park days with my kids! We usually arrive at 10:30 a.m. (the time the water turns on) as it is cooler at this time and we can score the best picnic table to set our stuff on. If my 3-year-old loses interest in the splashing, he can move to one of the play structures nearby.
Bradford Memorial Library– The recently renovated Bradford Memorial Library is one of our go-to summer activities (and all-year-round activities). I know everyone has e-readers and tablets now, but I still heart the library. With several library story-times, family movie showings, “make and take” craft days and other periodic special events, the library has saved us from boredom on numerous occasions. A park is located immediately behind the library, so after story time and checking out books, my preschooler always asks to play on the playground.
Municipal Band– The El Dorado Municipal Band is made up of community members and band students. During the summer, the Municipal Band plays most Thursday evenings at the band shell in Forest Park. The concerts, free to the public, have become a well-loved, family-friendly tradition since 1923. Several additional special events, including an ice cream social and a bake sale, are scheduled throughout the summer.
El Dorado Broncos Baseball– A fun and free way to spend an evening in El Dorado is watching an El Dorado Broncos baseball game! This summer collegiate baseball team offers free admission to the games, thanks to business sponsors, boosters, and local host families. My husband and I hosted two of the players several years ago and it was a very rewarding experience. We still keep in touch with the two players who lived with us and we look forward to watching the Broncos every year. The games are a blast for adults and kids both! Be sure to check their schedule online.
Family Fun Day at the Kansas Oil Museum– This free family event on the 3rd Saturday of each month features free crafts and activities for all ages. Each month features a different theme. The event is free, but regular admission will apply if you want to access all of the indoor and outdoor exhibits. If you’ve never visited the Oil Museum before, it’s a great way to teach kids about oil exploration and production. In addition to the indoor exhibits, a 10-acre outdoor area with oil field equipment is perfect for kiddos to explore.
Coutts Museum of Art– The Coutts Museum is home to over 1500 pieces of art from various time periods. Although it is a not-for-profit museum, donations are accepted and are tax-deductible. While not specifically geared toward children, my 3-year-old is beginning to become interested in learning about different types of art and I would not hesitate to take him to visit. Just use your best judgement by taking into consideration the age of interest of your child when planning your visit, as little hands may want to touch things that are off-limits. The museum is also hosting an art camp for children ages 8-14 from July 13-15 (fees will apply).
If you and your family are looking for activities to keep you busy this summer, I hope you will check out El Dorado. Many fun, educational, and unique opportunities await you just a short drive from Wichita!