Jake Cain is an entrepreneur and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He spends his free time driving around the country in his late 90’s conversion van, affectionately known as the “Monster Van” with his wife and 3 boys.
Also known as the “sunflower state”, Kansas is situated in the heart of the United States and is brimming with attractions to entice visitors. This midwestern state is also known as the backdrop for the American film classic The Wizard of Oz.
It is the 15th largest state by size and the state has a tranquil, historical, and natural ambiance. In the next few paragraphs, we will explore some of the best vacation spots in Kansas which you can explore.
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and ticks all the boxes for anyone looking for an action-packed vacation spot. Historically, Wichita was a meeting place and trade post for Native Americans.
The city is also now the world’s largest ‘western-wear’ store where you can pick up a new cowboy hat or boots. Culture enthusiasts can head to the city’s museums, five of which are situated along the banks of the Arkansas River.
Some museums worth visiting are Exploration Place, Old Cowtown Museum, and the impressive Wichita Art Museum. Nature lovers can also head to Botanica which comprises over 18 acres of themed landscaped gardens.
If you are an art enthusiast, then you can visit for the final Friday of the month, when art museums and galleries offer free admissions.
The capital of Kansas state offers a taste of the state’s history. Topeka is bursting at the seams with attractions for everyone. Start your tour of the city with the impressive Kansas Statehouse.
If motor racing interests you, then you can head to Yesterday’s Motorbike Museum and the Evel Knievel Museum. You can also watch drag racing at Heartland Park Topeka.
Families with children can head to the 1908 vintage carousel and the mini-train at Gage Park. Plus, there are plenty of parks and green spaces where you can relax, walk and do hiking.
Manhattan offers its visitors a mix of historical, cultural, culinary, and outdoor activities. Visitors can also learn more about the city’s history as you tour the Riley Country Historical Museum, Goodnow House Museum, and Wolf House Museum.
If you are here with your family then you will enjoy a visit to the interactive Flint Hills Discovery Center, Sunset Zoo, and the Lazy T Ranch. Outdoor enthusiasts can head to Tuttle Creek Lake for boating and hiking.
Known as the artistic hub, Salina is home to a thriving arts community where you can enjoy a variety of museums, concerts all throughout the year. If you love art, do visit the First Friday Live Art Walk in Oldtown Salinas, this is when galleries stay open late in the night.
Outdoor enthusiasts can head to the Rock City national landmark, where you can climb rocks which are the sizes of houses. You can also explore the Smoky Hill Museum which has captivating exhibits and 350 animals that inhabit the Rolling Hills Zoo.
Apart from that, you can also visit the Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park with your family.
Dodge City, Kansas
Get a taste of the real Wild West at Dodge City which was once the mecca for cowboys and gunfights. Visitors can watch the thrilling Dodge City Rodeo or get transported back to the 1800s on Main Street in the Boot Hill Museum.
You can also visit the Wright Park & Zoo, including an aviary and petting zoo with your family. Art lovers can head to the Carnegie Arts Center and the Depot Theatre Company.
You can also visit the spiral staircase at the Big Well Museum in Greensburg.
Hutchinson is home to the salt mines and has been since the late 1800s and one of the city’s prime attractions is Strataca. Here you can also take a trip below the surface of the Earth to get a glimpse of the working conditions in a real salt mine.
The Kansas Underground Salt Museum is located 650 feet beneath the earth’s surface in a salt bed formed 275 million years ago. After that, you can visit Cosmosphere, a fascinating museum dedicated to tracking America’s Space Program, past and present.
If the outdoors is where you want to be, then head to the Dillon Nature Center where you can hike or fish.
Flint Hills, Kansas
Flint Hills is one of the world’s largest areas of tallgrass prairie as it spans 4,000,000 acres. It extends from Marshall County in the North to Cowley County in the south. The Flint Hills were formed by the erosion of limestone and shale during the Permian over 240 million years ago when the entire area was covered by an ocean.
Today, these hills are covered in native prairie grassland and form one of the last remaining tall-grass prairies in the country.
Parts of the prairie are completely wild, untouched with fields of wildflowers, which also form a rich habitat for bison, birds, and other wild animals.
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, Kansas
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is located in the heart of the central Kansas prairies. It is also the largest wetland in the mainland United States.
The wildlife area is a huge natural land sink comprising 15,000 acres of wetlands. Many migratory birds visit here, which is why this area is popular with birdwatchers and wildlife photographers.
Some birds stop to rest, but some mate here as well. Visit the onsite Kansas Wetlands Education Center which has some great exhibits. Also, walk till the observation platform where naturalists are on hand to answer your questions.
Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill, Cedar Point
The Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill, also known as the Cedar Point Mill, is a focal point in the small hamlet of Cedar Point in Chase County, Kansas.
The mill has been a landmark of Cedar Point since 1875 when the stone building we see today was completed. Standing by a stone dam in the Cottonwood River, the mill was originally a sawmill.
Monument Rocks, Kansas
The Monument Rocks in Kansas were one of the first landmarks to be declared a National Natural Landmark. These are also referred to as Chalk Pyramids which are a group of rock outcrops situated just off US 83 in western Kansas.
If you are interested in geology and fossils, then take the 6-mile detour off the highway to see these striking, 70-foot sedimentary shapes. The formations are unmissable as they rise unexpectedly from the flat farmland surrounding them on all sides.
Do spot the famous “Keyhole” which is a large gap in one of the monuments and offers the perfect window on a setting Kansas sun. After the sunset, you can visit the nearby Keystone Gallery.
Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Kansas
The Overland Park Arboretum covers over 300 acres and is dedicated to the preservation and showcasing of no less than eight natural ecosystems. If you are a nature lover or garden enthusiast, then this is a must-visit for you.
Admire the many themed gardens in the park which include a 1-acre replica of Monet’s garden, a delightful water garden, and the Legacy Garden. Apart from that, there are picnic shelters and a cafe for you to rest as well.
Lake Scott State Park, Kansas
Located 14 miles north of Scott City in western Kansas, Lake Scott State Park is definitely a must-see destination for visitors. Outdoor lovers will love visiting this State Park as there are lots of outdoor activities that you can explore.
From natural springs to rock outcrops and deeply carved gorges, there are lots of places to explore in Lake Scott State Park. Spend your time hiking, biking, or rent a canoe or paddleboat to enjoy the lake.
Veterans’ Memorial Park, Kansas
The Veterans Memorial Park is dedicated to brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their country and their freedom. The park is situated on the east bank of the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita.
You can visit the park via the Wichita Riverwalk and take a quiet stroll down the winding riverside paths that will lead you to each of the park’s seven memorials.
There are benches as well where you can sit and reflect, after which you can see the memorial to the USS Wichita, which received 13 battle stars for service during World War II.
If you want to experience warm Midwestern hospitality, then Lawrence is the place to be. Learn about the city’s pioneering history at the Watkins Museum of History, the Black Jack Battlefield Park, and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area in downtown.
Culture vultures can head to e Lawrence Art Center, which hosts regular exhibitions and is home to the Black Box Theater. Other attractions in the city include Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, the Baker Wetlands Discovery Center, and Clinton State Park.
Situated just 20 miles away from Kansas City, Olathe, which means beautiful, can be reached along the historic Oregon-California and Santé Fe Trails. Start by learning more about the history of the city by visiting the Ensor Park and Museum.
If you are an art enthusiast then take a walking tour of the Downtown Outdoor Sculpture Exhibits.
Kansas has plenty of beautiful vacation spots that you can explore from the lovely Wichita to the entertaining Manhattan.
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