Brilliant yellow blossoms, rolling hills of wheat
Outdoor adventure mecca, bike, hike, ride horses and basketball
Get To Know Kansas
There’s no place like Kansas—and you don’t need to visit Oz for proof of that. The vast, landlocked state is known largely for its friendly, welcoming spirit. In fact, once you book your bus ticket to Kansas you may never want to go back home! Just what makes this homey state so special?
There's no shortage of things to do in Kansas.
A Brief History of Kansas
As settlers traveled to the west during the middle of the 19th century, they made their way through Kansas. Among the most widely traveled trails were the Oregon and Santa Fe, both of which passed directly through the state. To assist in these travels, and to make life for the settlers easier, forts were set up alongside these trails. As more people passed through, they ultimately decided to stop in Kansas instead of continuing west. In 1861, Kansas was admitted to the union.
A Look at Culture in Kansas
It’s sometimes referred to as the “Sunflower State” or the “Wheat State.” Both are apt monikers for a state whose lands are rife with the brilliant yellow blossoms. That’s right in line with the sunny spirit and positive attitude you’ll encounter as soon as you arrive. Friendliness is simply a way of life here!
Of course, if you really want to get into a great mood, you’ll want to immerse yourself in the state’s foodie culture as soon as you arrive. It’s barbecue that gets most mouths watering. What makes Kansas City barbecue in particular so noteworthy? It’s slow-smoked over different varieties of wood to impart the richest flavor, then served with a hearty tomato barbecue sauce on the side.
The real draws for many, however, are the numerous opportunities for outdoor adventure. Kansas is full of them — the state’s parks offer over 32,000 acres, and there are plenty of trails on which to bike, hike, and ride horses. The many lakes and rivers are ideal for everything from kayaking to paddling to rafting. Clinton Lake in Lawrence is popular for its many fishing and camping spots while boating enthusiasts will appreciate the calm waters at El Dorado Lake in El Dorado.
If you know anything about sports, you’re probably aware of Kansas City’s deep ties to college basketball. The city hosts more than 60 games a year! And while it may seem a natural inclination to root strictly for the Kansas Jayhawks, there’s a pretty strong rivalry in the state itself — and many are solely in the Kansas State Wildcats camp. You can only choose one!
Must See List
- Little Jerusalem
- Monument Rocks
- Castle Rock and Badlands
- Flint Hills
- Gypsum Hills
- Arikaree Breaks
- Wilson State Park
- Kanopolis State Park
- Dorothy’s house
- Oz Museum
- Yellow Brick Road
- Grinter Farms
- Berry Hill UPick Farm
- Britt’s Garden Acres
- Elk City Wildlife Area
- Schwinn Produce Farm
- Melvern Reservoir, Eisenhower State Park and Melvern Wildlife Area
- Tuttle Creek Reservoir, State Park and Wildlife Area
- Woodson State Fishing Lake
- Kansas Maze, Inc.
- Blaisdell Family Aquatic Center
- Salina’s Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park
- Lake Shawnee
- The Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center
- All Star Adventures
- Freedom’s Frontier
- El Quartelejo Museum
- Brown V. Board Of Education National Historic Site
- Fort Larned National Historic Site
- Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum
- Boot Hill Museum
- Pawnee Indian Museum
Top Cities To Visit in Kansas
Located in the south-central portion of the state, Wichita is a Kansas staple every traveler should see at least once. There’s a reason you’ll find Wichita at the heart of endless songs these days. The big city views anchored by a down-home southern culture make Wichita a unique place to travel. All the while, Wichita remains a hub for the arts and film — you can catch their local films at the Tallgrass Film Festival, annually. The city is cut down the center by the scenic Arkansas River, offering beauty, recreation, tranquility, and sustenance for the locals. Plus, it’s the original home to your favorite burger patty and the most popular pan pizza known nationwide, Wichita is a food lover’s dream. Being the largest city in Kansas, there are lots to see and do throughout the town and the surrounding area.
Who doesn’t love a quaint college town? Hays, Kansas might seem laid back and relaxed now, but it was once considered part of the wild west. According to the town’s history, “Hays was a wild and lawless town, filled with saloons and dance halls.” Ever heard of Buffalo Bill? You can thank Hays for that — believe it or not, he was a buffalo hunter from Hays, Kansas. While many of the saloons of the past are no more, you can still find large numbers of craft breweries and trendy restaurants if you want to eat and drink like a local. Whether beating the heat at Hay’s Aquatic Park or learning a little more about the local regional history at Sternberg Museum of Natural History, you’ll never run short of things to do any time of the year.
Someone tell Dorothy we are still in Kansas after all. Even though it’s the capital, many people don’t know much about Topeka, Kansas. We’re just in a relatively small town called Topeka. Topeka, Kansas was first put on the map by various things historically — including Brown vs. the Board of Education. More recently, Topeka garnered attention when Google switched names with the city for a day and the city was temporarily named Google, Kansas. This town has a sense of humor! Running alongside the Kansas River, Topeka is a scenic city in the heart of the state. The name Topeka means “land where we dug potatoes,” so one can imagine agriculture is at the heart of what this city thrives on. Besides the various river activities, there are plenty of tourist attractions to pass the time any season. Whether you want to check out the local art scene at the Great Mural Wall or you’d like to take a creepy tour of the abandoned insane asylum in the fall, you’ll never run out of fun things to do here.
Junction City, Kansas is the best of both worlds. It’s the perfect blend of a small-town and big city. There are many big-city amenities to be enjoyed without sacrificing the kindness and caring approach of a small town. Junction City is just the place to show travelers there is a whole lot more than the Midwest in Kansas! Here, you can enjoy more than just sports, flatlands and barbecue (although, who can really deny the draw of a sweet and tangy Kansas style barbecue?). Head over to the scenic Milford Lake State Park for a day of outdoor recreation, like kayaking or fishing, and a night of camping.
Where to Go and Stay
Although hints of that charming, small-town appeal are there, Wichita is a great place to visit if you prefer a bit of action. The city is home to Sedgwick County Zoo, which happens to be the seventh-largest in the entire country. Art enthusiasts can enjoy thousands of exhibits at the Wichita Art Museum and the Ulrich Museum of Art. Why not spend date night at the Wichita Symphony Orchestra or the circa-1928 Crown Uptown Theatre? There are dozens of excellent hotels and motels in the heart of the city. Whether you prefer a more budget-conscious stay or a luxury experience, you’ll find just the place in Wichita.
If you’re a history buff, book a bus ticket to Kansas and head straight for Hays. During its earliest years, the city looked like something out of a Wild West film. It was heavily populated with dance halls and saloons, and the streets were, indeed, “wild” — crimes were common and at one point the city was known largely as one of the state’s most violent. This tough reputation faded into obscurity as the town welcomed Volga German settlers during the middle of the 19th century. You can learn more about this fascinating background at the Fort Hays State Historic Site, or by taking a self-guided walking tour downtown. Don’t miss the historic markers that recognize the likes of General George Armstrong Custer and William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
Traveling with the family? Check out Topeka, where you can easily enjoy a little bit of everything during your stay. The North Topeka Arts District offers live music, art exhibits, food, and shopping galore on Friday nights. The mini-train at Gage Park takes visitors on a mile-long journey as the engineer provides an engaging history lesson about the park. For nightlife enthusiasts, the city offers everything from live music venues to karaoke cafes to comedy clubs.
If you favor a more relaxed vibe for your crew, head to Salina, where family-friendly activities abound. Enjoy a visit to the 60-acre Rolling Hills Zoo, or treat the kids to a day at Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park or Jumpin’ Joe’s Family Fun Center. After you’re done walking around, stop by Sunset Park for a picnic and a stroll through the beautiful on-site botanical gardens.
Chances are you’ll quickly appreciate just how welcoming Kansas is when you arrive in Junction City. It’s known for its hospitality and simplicity, and although it’s smaller than the major cities, it’s not without its highlights. Among the most noteworthy is C.L. Hoover Opera House, which opened in 1898.