A southern suburb of Wichita, Haysville is a city of some 11,000 and has a small-town feel, independent of its larger neighbor.
This place, founded in the 1890s, has also overcome some adversity, rebuilding after an F4 tornado ripped through the historic heart of the city in 1999, destroying almost everything in its path.
There’s a glimpse of this past at the sweet Haysville Historic Park, which has a special feel on Saturdays in summer when the farmers’ market is in progress.
On that topic, Haysville is surrounded by a whole directory of rural businesses like greenhouses and berry farms, all long-standing family businesses showing off the best of south-central Kansas agriculture.
1. W.W. Hays Historic Park
Haysville’s history, sadly razed by the tornado in 1999, has been resurrected at this adorable park, home to the public library and the multipurpose Haysville Community Building.
With free Wi-Fi, the Haysville Historic Park has a few feathers in its cap. For one, this is the location for the weekly farmer’s market, which we’ll talk about below.
The marker is one of many events at the park, including the family-oriented Village Christmas in the holiday season.
Among the old buildings relocated to the park are a blacksmith’s shop, the Old Bank Building (now home to the local chamber of commerce) and the beautiful Wire House, built in the 1890s.
2. Riggs Park
Free City Wi-Fi is also available at this much-loved park, part of a tapestry of interlinked green spaces near the center of the city.
The band shell in Riggs Park is the venue for big events in spring and summer, the biggest of which is the day-long Party in the 060 in spring.
This is also a great spot if you just want to be active outside. At the heart of the park is a two-acre fishing pond, a haven for waterfowl and stocked with rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill.
Also on hand is a nine-hole disc golf course, one of two public courses in Haysville, a handful of shelters, a choice of playgrounds for kids and a hike/bike path.
3. Sargeant’s Berry Farm
Right on Haysville’s doorstep in bucolic landscape there’s a cute farm open spring through fall and growing more than 40 varieties of fruit.
The season begins with asparagus in April and ends with pumpkins in the fall. Maybe the best time of all is when the strawberries and blackberries are in season, and you can visit to pick your own, taking a hay ride out to the patches.
The farm stand sells jellies made with the farm’s own fruit, as well as local honey from the bees that help the farm flourish.
4. Party in the 060
Riggs Park sets the scene for Haysville’s biggest event of the year. With a name referring to the city’s zip code, Party in the 060 is a day-long festival crammed full of things for people of all ages.
Throughout the afternoon and evening there are concerts at the Riggs Park Band Shell, and this coincides with a car show and some of the best food trucks from the area.
Food-wise this might be old school diner favorites, BBQ, shaved ice and other sweet treats, along with a beer fest showcasing the finest breweries from around Wichita. There’s also a chili cook-off, a cornhole tournament.
5. Field Station: Dinosaurs
Ten of millions of years ago, much of Kansas was on the seabed and inhabited by terrifying marine reptiles like the mosasaurus.
For a glimpse of the land-based dinosaurs from that period you can head over to this outdoor attraction close by in Derby.
The next best thing to a time machine, Field Station: Dinosaurs has more than 40 life-sized dinosaurs, most of which have motion sensors that trigger movements and sounds.
These monsters are discovered on 10 acres of walking trails, and the largest is the gargantuan Alamosaurus.
The staff here host a range of live shows and activities, while there’s also an 18-hole dinosaur-themed miniature golf course, a “Paleo Playground”, a paleontology exhibit and the “Raptor Maze”.
6. Haysville Hometown Market
Haysville’s summer farmers’ market has an endearing, purpose-built home, at a semi-circular shelter in the north end of the Hays Historic Park.
Taking place on Saturdays, 8am till noon, the Haysville Hometown Market is a convenient way to make the most of the rich agriculture on the city’s outskirts.
There’s a cornucopia of fresh produce all summer long, as well as homemade baked goods, eggs, honey, jams and jellies, sauces and unique crafts.
During the season there’s a series of special events at the market, from kids’ days to vintage craft days.
7. Noah’s Donut Shop
One of an assortment of locally-owned businesses that deserve your support is this quaint bakery on the east side of town along Grand Ave..
Noah’s Donut Shop has been part of the scenery in Haysville for decades, presenting a delectable array of fresh donuts, twists, cinnamon rolls, swirls, bear claws, pinecones, cream-filled Bismarks, fritters and turnovers, all made on site.
This place is open for business as early as 4am, and as a measure of its popularity there will always be a couple of coffee klatches inside.
8. 4th of July Celebration
Each year, Haysville celebrates the nation’s independence with an exciting schedule of events and activities around the city.
For a taster there’s a grand Independence Day parade starting at the Haysville Middle School, a Citizen of the Year announcement and ceremony, a beer garden/food court, an outdoor concert and fireworks to close out a day of festivities.
In between all of the main events there’s a ton of family fun, from raft races and a water carnival at the pool to frog races, a volleyball tournament and a fishing derby.
9. Dutch’s Greenhouse
In that collection of local businesses that have been around for decades you’ve got Dutch’s Greenhouse, a short drive north of Haysville on Seneca St..
Covering more than 60,000 square feet, this full-service garden center has been in business since 1957, when it was founded by immigrants from the Netherlands.
The greenhouse is now in its second generation, and has all you could want for a flourishing garden, from perennials to annuals, shrubs and seasonal plants, as well as garden decor, planters and other supplies.
10. Dewey Gunzelman Memorial Swimming Pool
Most people who grew up in Haysville have fond memories of this outdoor pool complex, open throughout the summer.
Just east of Riggs Park, the Dewey Gunzelman Pool, is a 50-meter, eight-lane competition pool, hosting important swimming events, but also perfect as a place for kids to make a splash.
On one side there’s a diving well, combined with the splash areas for a couple of drop slides. The pool also has a longer, twisting slide and a new splash pad that smaller children are sure to love.
To help you escape the fierce Wichita sunshine there are shaded areas on all sides of the pool.
11. Wichita South Lake
Just north of Haysville there’s a series of former sandpits that have since become lakes and ponds for recreation.
The largest of these is Wichita South Lake, which is known for its exceptionally clear waters and absence of dense vegetation on its shoreline.
The lake is mainly a fishing destination, with fair to good numbers of channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill and rainbow trout, depending on the season.
You can also bring a canoe or kayak for a paddle on the lake, while there’s a path along the shore, and the scenery is especially pretty at sunset.
12. Cox Farm
Under new ownership in the last couple of years, this family-owned farm has a history stretching way back to 1924.
As yet another place to sample the rich agriculture around Wichita, Cox Farm offers something new with every season.
In spring you can buy young plants grown in the greenhouse, and then as summer progresses there’s an abundance of fresh produce, from early peas all the way through to watermelons and cantaloupes to pumpkins and squashes in fall.
The farm store also sells preserves, jams, jellies, dressings, spreads, local raw honey and farm-raised beef from Kansas.
13. Old Oak Park
This neighborhood park is on a hike and bike trail system connecting it with several other green spaces in the southwest of Haysville, including Whisler Park and Dorner Park.
Aside from that trail, the big attraction at Old Oak Park is the 18-hole disc golf course, though you’ll need to be accurate to avoid throwing your disc over the fences here.
On the west side, also linked by that trail is the Chris Elsen Skate Park, which has a decent array of ramps and rails, and is a good place for younger skaters to learn the ropes.
14. Orchard Acres Park
Both the trail and the 18-hole disc golf course continue through this adjacent park, sitting to the east of Old Oak.
Orchard Acres Park is on a long and narrow plot, enclosed by quiet residential streets and incorporating some great amenities for a peaceful family outing or reunion.
Along with the disc golf course, there’s a top-notch playground here, with quirky equipment mostly designed for younger children, along with a rentable picnic shelter and basketball goals.
15. Kansas Star Casino
About ten minutes down US-81 from Haysville there’s a giant casino and 300-room hotel complex that opened in 2011.
Also on the site is the 5,000-seat Kansas Star Arena, which has hosted concerts by important recording artists, as well as PRCA rodeo events, pro indoor football and the Miss Kansas Pageant.
As for the casino, this has more than 1,600 of the latest slot machines, as well as 50+ table games including an Asian gaming pit, craps, poker, blackjack and roulette.
Kansas Star also features three bars, a full-service grille and two casual spots for pho and deli specialties respectively.