Andover was established as long ago as 1880, but the city’s modern story begins with a catastrophic event in 1991.
A rare F5 tornado ripped through the community, leaving a trail of destruction half a mile wide, claiming 13 lives and leaving 4,300 people homeless.
Andover was literally rebuilt from the ground up, and the devastation paved the way for brand new infrastructure, encouraging more development and persuading Wichita residents to move out to the suburbs.
1. Andover Central Park
Integral to local life, the 80-acre Andover Central Park is the setting for the City Hall, Municipal Court and the Public Library building.
These municipal buildings are at the north end of the park, while much of the center is occupied by the Capitol Federal Amphitheater, a 10,000-capacity outdoor venue with a feast of live entertainment in the summer.
To the west is Lake George, which is ringed by a 1.25-mile path, offering access to six fishing docks around the shore. And then at the south end you’ll find a dog park and the first hole for an 18-hole disc golf course that extends up around the lake.
There are picnic shelters throughout Central Park, as well as a gazebo, lodge and cabin that can all be reserved.
2. Redbud Trail
More than 15 miles of a BNSF railroad corridor has been turned into a linear park, cutting through Andover on its way from East 17th Street, near Wichita State University, to just outside of Augusta.
Traveling on the Redbud Trail you can reflect on this line’s once vital role, exporting hay and livestock, and bringing in manufactured goods from all over the country.
The trail is ten feet wide and is designed for biking, walking, jogging, dog-walking and other non-motorized activities.
About six miles of trail pass through Andover, and you can pause at the trailhead park at 1601 N Main for more detail on the former railroad.
3. Greater Andover Days (GAD)
The community’s largest annual event is a four-day festival, normally on the fourth weekend after Labor Day.
Greater Andover Days attracts thousands of people, and has a packed program, with something for all ages.
For a short summary, there’s a parade, a car show, a variety of live entertainment, a food court, a KidFest area, 5K fun run, an expo/craft fair, carnival rides & games, an ice cream social and a fireworks show to round it all off.
The first GAD took place in 1967 to help bring the community together. Admission is covered with a GAD button, and these are available from local retailers, one or two weeks before the festival.
4. Andover YMCA
This giant modern facility is part of the Greater Wichita YMCA and is worth keeping in mind, even if you’re a non-member.
You can purchase guest passes at the welcome desk for the excellent water park here. This facility is a dream for kids and teenagers, with a family pool, lazy river, toddler bay, spray and splash grounds, a tube slide and body slide, a water basketball area and much more.
Inside there’s also a family pool with a play structure and an exercise pool if you want to get your laps in.
5. The Rusted Rooster
In just over a decade this locally-owned cafe has become a mainstay in Andover.
The Rusted Rooster, in a quaint little building at 837 N Andover Rd, sources its coffee from a Kanas roaster and is the prime spot in town for breakfast (served all day) and lunch, especially if you want to support small businesses.
Some of the menu picks are the breakfast burrito, fresh-baked scones, waffles made to order, hot + cold sandwiches and soup in a sourdough bread bowl. There’s a cute shaded seating area outside, as well as a drive-through window on one side.
6. Santa Fe Lake
To the east, between Andover and Augusta, there’s a scenic lake that becomes a mecca for outdoor recreation in the summertime.
For just a few of the activities available at Santa Fe Lake, you’ve got swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, picnicking and camping.
A no-wake lake, this is the prime spot in the Wichita area for paddlesports, and you can rent paddle boards and kayaks from Flatwater Fitness and Fun here in the summer.
If you’re here to hike, the South Trail takes you along Dry Creek to a cascading waterfall, about ten feet high and especially pretty after rainfall.
7. The Alley Indoor Entertainment
One of several family attractions a stone’s throw from Andover, The Alley Indoor Entertainment is an entertainment center based around a state-of-the-art, 32-lane bowling alley.
For a more private bowling experience, there’s the Back Alley Boutique, which features eight lanes, with giant screens, black light and luxury seating.
This space is perfect for group rentals and parties. The complex also features AJ’s Sports Grill, known for its 29” Superdome Pizza, along with an indoor go-kart track, a large arcade, Escapology escape room attraction and the Hologate multiplayer VR game.
8. Wichita Sports Forum
This indoor sports facility, a couple of minutes out of Andover, is on a mind-boggling scale. For conventional sports, you’ve got six basketball courts, eight batting cages and a regulation infield.
There are also ten hardwood volleyball courts and six sand volleyball courts. Big with families is the 32,000-square-foot trampoline park, which has wall-to-wall trampolines, along with a Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course, a basketball hoop for slam dunks, a climbing wall, foam pits, a dodgeball court and even a trapeze area.
9. Twisted Oz Motorcycle Museum
Minutes east on U.S. Route 400 is a free museum that will capture the imagination of any motorcycle enthusiast.
In an old brick body shop there are more than 70 vintage motorcycles on show at Twisted Oz, with several exhibits that can’t be seen anywhere else.
There are bikes from as early as 1905, and a couple of the museum’s stars are an Indian Six and a Wood Motorcycle that is the only one of its kind.
Check the hours, although the museum is normally open all day Friday through Sunday. Admission is free though donations are accepted.
10. All Star Adventures
This family entertainment is just next door in Wichita and has as many as 26 attractions on 24 acres.
The big draw has to be the pair of 18-hole miniature golf courses, designed exclusively for All Star Adventures, with whimsical structures like a pirate ship or castle, and lush landscaping threaded with water.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there’s also go karts, a driving range, bumper boats, batting cages, bowlingo, bumper cars and a video arcade with ticket redemption games.
On top of all that, All Star Adventures has a carnival’s worth of amusement rides (more than a dozen), from a turbo slide to a carousel to kiddie rides for wee ones.
11. Applejack Pumpkin Patch
Late September through October, there’s a fantastic fall attraction on Andover’s outskirts. Of course, you can come to the fields to pick the perfect pumpkin or gourd, but there’s much more to keep you and your family around.
In a quaint, rural setting you’ll find a corn maze, wagon rides, a gourd/pumpkin slingshot & cannon, a petting zoo with rabbits, goats and chickens and a sprawling outdoor market for local artisans and antique vendors.
Comforting festival food like funnel cakes, apple cider slushies and shaved ice is also on hand.
12. 13th Street Sports Park
The Redbud Trail runs right through this park, close to Andover High School. As you might expect from the name, this park is all about sport, with facilities for baseball, basketball, horseshoes, soccer, tennis and pickleball.
On your way in, Patrica Ln, crosses the Redbud Trail, which is clearly marked as it cuts through the south side of the park.
There’s enough space at 13th Street Sports Park for a relaxing family day out, and you can make use of one of the two picnic shelters and charcoal grill plus an ADA-accessible playground with features available during the summer.
13. Sierra Hills Golf Club
For golfers who want to test their ironplay, Wichita’s only executive golf course is practically on Andover’s doorstep. Sierra Hills Golf Club is an 18-hole course, but with 14 par 3s and 4 par 4s.
The fairways are bluegrass here, and there are six water features, including one guarding the signature 18th hole.
Given its short distances, this is a fine place for younger golfers and newcomers to test their skills. Also on site is a practice putting green and natural-grass driving range with 35 hitting berths.
14. Summer Concert Series
The Capitol Federal Amphitheater in Andover Central Park is the stage for a program of outdoor concerts in the summer months.
Normally taking place on Saturdays, Memorial Day weekend through August, these shows are often major events, befitting a venue of this size and closing off a big portion of the park.
Some of the recent performers include Colbie Caillat, James Lann, Daughtry, Clay Walker, Plain White T’s and Terri Clark. Stay up to date via the amphitheater’s facebook page for details of free family movie screenings here in summer.
15. Hometown Christmas
For some extra cheer in the holiday season, there’s a fun-filled evening of festivities in December at Central Park.
Kicking off with the arrival of Santa Claus, Hometown Christmas involves a Christmas-themed movie at the park lodge, a chili cook-off, children’s activities at Andover Public Library, live music, s’mores around the firepit and hot drinks if you need to warm up.
There’s also a magical light show at the amphitheater and other areas in the park. As well as being an uplifting family event, Hometown Christmas has a charitable purpose, accepting donations for the local Caring and Sharing 501c program and the Andover Food Bank.