Kansas is the Sunflower State, a vast Midwest land characterized by sprawling farmland, sweeping plains and undulating hills. In L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the main character Dorothy hails from Kansas. She proudly proclaims that there’s no place like home as she clicks her heels and prepares for her journey back to the state. Here are four cool reasons why you might want to add this slice of classic America to your travel itinerary.
From celebrations of a legendary daredevil to the home of a former president and interactive science centers, there’s a museum for everyone in Kansas. In Abilene, the life of the 34th president of the U.S. comes to life at the five buildings of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Topeka honors the death-defying stunts of Robert Craig Knievel at the Evel Knievel Museum. Discover everything there is to know and more about the Wizard of Oz at the Oz Museum.
In Manhattan, the Flint Hills Discovery Center presents a fascinating insight into the state’s ecosystems and culture history. Visitors of all ages will enjoy exploring the underground mine at Strataca and getting hands-on with space-themed exhibits at Cosmosphere. You’ll find both in the Reno Country city of Hutchinson.
Stunning Natural Beauty
Unblemished countryside and 26 state parks invite you to discover the great outdoors of Kansas. Experience one of the last remaining tallgrass prairies in the U.S. at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. See free-roaming bison, admire wildlife meadows and marvel at the enormous open spaces while traversing miles of hiking trails. Experience a shrinking feeling while standing beneath the arches and buttes of the Monument Rocks (aka Chalk Pyramids). Outside of Great Bend are two of the most important wetland regions in North America. Spot 320 bird species, many of which migrate along the Central Flyway, at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area. Varied waterfowl inhabits the salt marsh and sand prairie of Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The 77-mile-long Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway connects the two.
Thrill-seekers fuel their need for speed at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. This 1.5-mile-long and 72,000 capacity oval race track hosts NASCAR events, pickup racing and stock car races. It also hosts the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, which is your chance to chow down on finger-licking and mouth-watering Midwest barbecue dishes. Baseball fans can watch the Kansas City T-Bones compete in the American Association league at T-Bones Stadium. Soccer is also becoming a favorite pastime and Sporting Kansas City compete in the MLS at Children’s Mercy Park.
The Wild West and Cowboy Heritage
Few things describe the Midwest better than cowboy culture and Kansas has it in barrel loads. Put on a 10-gallon hat and step into the Wild West of the 1800s at Boot Hill, Dodge City. Saunter between a general store, saloon, church and museum. Observe gunfights, watch variety shows and feast on typical cowboy fare. The summertime Dodge City Days festival has a barbecue contest, cowboy parade, live music and rodeos. Over in Wichita, the Old Cowtown Museum recreates life in the city in the 1880s. The legendary Old West bison hunter and showman William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody passed through Kansas on military service in the 1860s. Fort Larned National Historic Site is an authentic preservation of his and the Guardians of the Santa Fe Trail soldiers' time here.