McConnell Air Force Base Survival Guide

There are those duty stations that everyone automatically assumes are going to be boring. Go ahead, give it a try: Tell someone you’re moving to Kansas. Did you get a head tilt and sad eyes? Maybe a consoling pat on the shoulder?

They tell us every duty station is what you make of it. Bloom where you’re planted. Military spouses can make it anywhere. Home is where your family is.

When we received orders to McConnell Air Force Base, I was not prepared to love it here, which is why the fact that I never want to leave is throwing me for a loop.

Yep, I’m in love with Kansas, for so many reasons.

For one thing, small town charm plus big city entertainment is the best of both worlds. Date nights in Wichita aren’t hard to plan with the Starlite Drive-In Theatre offering double and triple features of new movies for a fraction of the cost at a traditional theater. Bonus: Grab takeout and enjoy dinner during the movie!

Or, take a walk and enjoy interactive works of art like the lighting of the Keeper of the Plains, an absolute MUST SEE for the area, or The Fountains at WaterWalk, a gorgeous water show that actually rivals the one you can see on the Las Vegas strip.

Finding a place to eat is also not a problem in Kansas—trust me. The Doo Dah Diner is a favorite among nearly every one I’ve talked to, and I can’t say I haven’t had my fair share (and then some!) of their biscuits and gravy.

Choose between coffee or dessert at Churn and Burn, where they use liquid nitrogen to create some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. Go for the s’mores flavor; it’s worth it. Or, hedge your bets and try out Food Trucks at the Fountains for a variety of cuisine options after a morning yoga session by the river. Talk about zen.

There are endless places to explore in Kansas, like Strataca, and underground salt museum (I know, right?!), or feed giraffes and lemurs at Tanganyika, which is a big hit with the kids. The Sedgwick County Zoo is also a surprisingly interactive affair, with chances to get up close and personal with many of the animals, including a wallaby, much to the delight of my 4-year-old. The Tropics area of the zoo is honestly a shock, with dozens of exotic birds flying overhead and walking on the path, along with gigantic fruit bats taking flight right in front of you.

If you’re up for a little time in the car, a trip out to Yoder, an Amish settlement is a fascinating adventure. And, it’s educational, which is the reason you tell people when they ask why you go so often, not the real reason—that the cinnamon rolls at the Carriage Crossing Restaurant & Bakery are delicious and as big as your head. Nope, education and history. Stick to the story.

If someone had told me a year ago that I would be sitting here raving about living in Wichita, Kansas, I would have laughed. Surely not! And, yet, here I am, loving the Midwest.

Military life is so weird.

What are your must-see attractions at McConnell Air Force Base?

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