Creative outings and outdoor adventures

Written by Karen Long

Warm sun, fresh air, a cool breeze — there’s a whole world out there. And it’s gradually opening up as government and business workers are hard at work rebooting community services and activities, while keeping the public safe during an ongoing pandemic.

These venues are already open, or have announced plans to resume operations in June. Check each website for detailed health guidelines to control crowd size, social distancing, P.P.E. and sanitizing. Some locations, such as the Sedgwick County Zoo, Tanganyika Wildlife Park and golf courses are requiring advanced reservations, even for members, to limit crowd size.

With a little advance planning you can safely enjoy time outdoors, stay active and maximize your outdoor play time, even during a partial reopening.

The great outdoors

Go fishing at Sedgwick County Park, tote a picnic lunch to Riverside Park or jog the trails outside of the Great Plains Nature Center. Or even visit GPNC itself since the building is now open as well. Wichita city parks have remained open — now including playgrounds, restrooms and dog parks, with guidelines for social distancing — although public pools were still closed at press time. Wichita recreation centers plan to reopen June 1. For the latest, visit wichita.gov.

Kansas lakes are open for boating and skiing (but beware of any blue-green algae warnings). Swimming beaches remain closed; check ksoutdoors.com for updates. Farmer’s Markets, designated as essential businesses, have remained open. And now, with the addition of a new Kansas Grown Market at Union Station last month, there are even more opportunities to browse farm-fresh produce, baked goods, eggs and artisan crafts under a blue Kansas sky.

Sports and fitness

Gyms are finally open again, after being closed for two months, although pools, locker rooms and most classes are not. YMCA area branches are open to members, who can take advantage of cardio equipment, weights, personal training and small group training, according to their website at ymcawichita.org. YMCA Summer Youth Sports are scheduled to ramp up at some branches starting this month.

For those itching to get back on the court — whether basketball or tennis— those activities are stepping up. Wichita Hoops has reopened, but without spectators, team practices, leagues or camps, and you must schedule ahead of time by calling 316.440.4990. The Riverside Tennis Center is bouncing back, and for more than just tennis — the center offers pickleball as well. Watch their website at riversidetenniscenter.com for more info on courts and classes.

The smell of cut grass and the thwack of a tee-off are just a short drive away, as several private golf courses, including Tallgrass and Willowbend remain open, with specific limitations. Last month the City of Wichita opened the Auburn Hills and MacDonald golf courses with similar guidelines, including staggered tee times for a maximum of five golfers, no walk-ins and a ban on large groups. Driving ranges at the two city courses were still closed at press time. Visit golfwichita.com for more information.

Families

A movie under the stars, rowdy water play, outdoor bike cruising and animal adventures are all within reach of Wichita families this month. Starlight Drive-In is open, with social distancing requests for cars and people. Splash Aqua Park’s projected reopening is June 1, and they encourage patrons to purchase tickets and sign waivers online at splashict.com to avoid standing in line.

Boats and Bikes at River Vista is open for the rental of bikes, pedal boats, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards for fun on the Arkansas River downtown. The Sedgwick County Zoo and Tanganyika Wildlife Park are also open, while limiting the number of guests at any one time, so be sure to reserve your space online before heading out. The Covid-19 guidelines at scz.org include restrictions on viewing gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans, due to possible transmission of the virus from humans to the great apes.

 
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