A much chiller Great Plains city than you're expecting
This sort of easygoing, libertine episode upended my notion of Kansas as a bedrock conservative bastion of temperance. A rough-and-tumble river town in the 1870s, the city endured a Prohibition that Kansas dragged out till 1948 -- America’s longest, most uptight crackdown on the drink. The biggest city in Kansas at more than 400,000 people, Wichita still doesn’t exactly cry out “spend a weekend here.” Out-of-towners are probably more apt to visit nearby Tulsa, Kansas City, Branson, or even Bentonville.
But consider that Wichita, the very definition of an overlooked city, has also been flying under the national radar for a while now. The state on the whole, yeah, is deep red. Wichita, though? It’s more of a rainbow. Mike Marlett, a former alt-weekly magazine editor and media resources guy at Wichita State University, used to tell visitors, It’s a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit here. These days, he tells me, he has a new Wichita motto: “It’s a cool city that doesn’t really know yet that it’s big and cool.”