Kansas, also known as the Sunflower State, is a hidden gem in the heart of America. From its scenic prairies to its vibrant cities, Kansas offers a diverse range of attractions and experiences for visitors of all ages.
Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or the arts, there’s something for everyone in this Midwestern state. In this blog, we’ll explore the 18 best places to visit in Kansas, including historic sites, museums, natural wonders, and cultural hotspots. So get ready for an unforgettable journey through the great state of Kansas!
18. National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial
Situated in Kansas City, the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. It is home to the most extensive collection of World War I artifacts in North America, making it a museum of world treasures. As you step into the museum, you’ll be transported back in time to the Great War era.
The museum offers interactive displays and exhibits that provide a comprehensive understanding of the war and its impact on the world. From the trenches to the home front, you’ll gain insights into the lives of the soldiers and civilians who lived through this historic period.
One of the highlights of the museum is the Liberty Memorial, which offers panoramic views of the city. The memorial’s architecture is awe-inspiring, serving as a tribute to the veterans and their sacrifices during the war.
From the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower, you can soak in the breathtaking vista of Kansas City, spreading out before you. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the world wars, a visit to the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is an educational and moving experience.
17. Union Station
Located in the heart of Kansas City, Union Station is a historic building that is a must-see for visitors. With its stunning architecture and design, Union Station stands as a testament to the city’s rich history.
Originally built in 1914, the station served as a bustling hub for train travel, connecting Kansas City to other parts of the United States. Today, Union Station has been transformed into a vibrant cultural center, offering a range of attractions and activities for all ages.
One of the highlights of Union Station is the Science City Museum, which is a fantastic place for kids and adults alike. With its hands-on exhibits and interactive displays, Science City is the perfect place to ignite curiosity and inspire a love for learning. From exploring the wonders of the natural world to delving into the marvels of technology, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this dynamic museum.
In addition to the museum, Union Station also offers various dining and shopping options, making it a great place to take a break and indulge in some retail therapy. Whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir or a delicious meal, Union Station has you covered. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch one of the special events, exhibitions, or educational programs that are hosted at the station throughout the year. So make sure to add Union Station to your list of must-visit places in Kansas City.
16. Goodland, the perfect name for an ag-themed byway
If you’re looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path destination, then Goodland in western Kansas is a perfect choice. Known as the home of the giant reproduction of Van Gogh’s Sunflower painting, this small town celebrates its agricultural heritage in a big way.
As you drive along the “Ag-themed Byway,” you’ll be treated to stunning views of the vast prairie, punctuated by sunflower fields swaying in the breeze.
The High Plains Museum in Goodland is another must-visit attraction, offering a glimpse into the local history and art of the region. From the pioneer days to the present, the museum showcases the resilience and ingenuity of the people who shaped this part of Kansas. No visit to Goodland would be complete without exploring the public art installations and murals that adorn the city, providing a unique blend of art, history, and rural culture.
15. Fort Scott: Soldiers and more unsung heroes
Located in southeastern Kansas, Fort Scott is a historic city with a rich past. At the heart of the town lies the Fort Scott National Historic Site, which offers a glimpse into the city’s significant role during the Civil War era. Step back in time as you explore the fort’s barracks, parade grounds, and historic buildings.
Guided tours and living history demonstrations bring the fort’s history to life, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the daily lives of the soldiers who once called Fort Scott home.
But Fort Scott is not just about soldiers and battles. The city is also home to the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, which honors positive role models from all walks of life. Through exhibits and educational programs, the center showcases the stories of individuals who have made a difference, often going unnoticed or unrecognized.
It’s a place to celebrate the unsung heroes who have shaped our world, reminding us of the power of courage, compassion, and determination.
14. Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill, Cedar Point
Nestled in the heart of the picturesque Flint Hills, the Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill is a hidden gem that takes you back to the 19th century. This historic mill, located in Cedar Point, offers tours that provide insight into the milling process and the importance of the mill to the local community.
As you explore the mill’s interior, you’ll discover the fascinating machinery and learn about the challenges faced by the millers of the past. Take a moment to enjoy the picturesque views of the Cottonwood River and the surrounding countryside, as the mill’s setting makes it a great place for photography.
The Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking a unique glimpse into the agricultural history of Kansas.
13. Cottonwood Falls, a Flint Hills gem
Located in the heart of the scenic Flint Hills, the small town of Cottonwood Falls is a true hidden gem. Known for its charming small-town atmosphere and historic courthouse, Cottonwood Falls offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Take a stroll along the main street and admire the well-preserved architecture, filled with small shops, galleries, and local craft stores.
Explore the natural beauty of the Flint Hills with scenic drives, hiking trails, and birdwatching opportunities. The nearby Chase County State Lake is a great spot for fishing or enjoying a picnic by the water.
Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of the town, and don’t forget to visit the river running through the heart of the town, ideal for relaxing and soaking in the beauty of the surroundings. Cottonwood Falls is the perfect place to experience the charm of the Flint Hills region and enjoy a slower pace of life.
Known as the “Cultural Capital of Kansas,” Lawrence is a vibrant city with a rich arts scene and historic charm. As the home of the University of Kansas, Lawrence exudes a youthful energy and a lively atmosphere. Start your visit by exploring the historic Massachusetts Street, the main drag of downtown Lawrence. Here, you’ll find a plethora of unique shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, all contributing to the city’s vibrant spirit.
For history and culture enthusiasts, Lawrence offers a variety of museums and galleries to explore. The Natural History Museum showcases the region’s natural wonders, while the Spencer Museum of Art houses an impressive collection of international artworks. With its beautiful campus grounds, the University of Kansas itself is also worth a visit, offering architectural marvels and outdoor sculptures.
11. Lindsborg, more Swedish than Sweden
Step into the town of Lindsborg, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Sweden itself. Known as “Little Sweden,” Lindsborg embraces its Swedish heritage with open arms. The town’s quaint shops are filled with traditional Swedish crafts, gifts, and souvenirs, perfect for bringing home a piece of the town’s charm.
Indulge in the flavors of authentic Swedish cuisine at local restaurants and bakeries, where you can savor dishes like Swedish meatballs, lefse, and krumkake.
Immerse yourself in the town’s rich Swedish heritage and cultural traditions. One of the highlights of Lindsborg is the annual Svensk Hyllningsfest, a lively celebration of Swedish culture that features traditional music, dancing, food, and crafts.
This biennial festival attracts visitors from near and far, offering a chance to experience the vibrant customs of Sweden right here in the heartland of America. Lindsborg is a little slice of Sweden in the heart of Kansas, making it a must-visit destination for those interested in exploring the state’s diverse cultural heritage.
10. Fort Scott National Historic Site
Fort Scott National Historic Site, located in Fort Scott, Kansas, is a treasure trove of history waiting to be explored. Step foot inside this national historic site, and you’ll be transported back to the 19th century, a time of westward expansion and the clash between cultures.
The site preserves 20 historic structures within the fort complex, including the fort’s barracks, parade grounds, and officer’s quarters. Guided tours and living history demonstrations bring the fort’s past to life, allowing visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the people and events that shaped the region.
Apart from the fort, the site also offers the opportunity to explore the surrounding prairie, which provides a scenic backdrop to the historic buildings. As you wander the trails, you’ll learn about the role of Fort Scott in securing the western frontier and its significance in the history of the United States. Fort Scott National Historic Site is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and those looking to immerse themselves in the stories of the past.
9. American Jazz Museum
Immerse yourself in the vibrant history of jazz at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. Located in the historic 18th & Vine District, the museum celebrates the rich legacy of jazz and its legendary musicians.
Explore the interactive exhibits, filled with artifacts, memorabilia, and audiovisual displays that highlight the evolution of jazz from its early roots to the modern era.
At the museum, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the sounds of live jazz performances and concerts, showcasing the talent of local and national jazz artists. Engage in educational programs and workshops, where you can learn about the art of jazz, its improvisational nature, and its influence on American music and society.
The American Jazz Museum is a testament to the cultural impact of jazz and an ode to the musicians who have shaped this iconic American genre.
8. Monument Rocks
Prepare to be amazed by the beauty of Monument Rocks, a hidden treasure nestled in the Kansas Badlands. Also known as the Chalk Pyramids, these towering rock formations rise from the prairie, creating a surreal and otherworldly landscape. As you explore the site, you’ll discover fossilized remains of ancient sea creatures, providing a fascinating glimpse into the region’s geological history.
The unique rock formations, sculpted over millions of years, are a true wonder of Kansas. The stark contrast of the white chalk against the vibrant blue sky creates a mesmerizing scene that’s a photographer’s dream.
Capture stunning photographs of the natural wonder of Monument Rocks, and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding prairie landscape. A visit to Monument Rocks is a reminder of the incredible forces of nature that have shaped the Kansas landscape over time.
Embark on a space-themed adventure at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson. This world-class museum boasts the largest collection of American space artifacts outside the Smithsonian, allowing visitors to witness the wonders of space up close.
From the original command module of the Apollo 13 mission to space suits worn by astronauts, the Cosmosphere offers a comprehensive look at the history of space exploration.
Explore the interactive exhibits, and dive into the fascinating world of science, technology, and space travel. Engage in hands-on activities, attend presentations, and watch live demonstrations that showcase the ingenuity and innovation of the space industry. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is a must-visit for space enthusiasts, providing a captivating journey through the wonders of the cosmos.
Immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Lindsborg, also known as “Little Sweden.” This charming town embraces its Swedish roots, offering visitors a unique experience in the heart of Kansas.
As you wander the streets of Lindsborg, you’ll be captivated by the town’s Swedish-style architecture and ambiance. Quaint shops are filled with traditional Swedish crafts, gifts, and souvenirs, providing the perfect opportunity to bring home a piece of the town’s charm.
Indulge in authentic Swedish cuisine at the local restaurants and bakeries, where you can savor dishes that reflect the town’s Swedish heritage. The town’s rich cultural traditions come alive during the annual Svensk Hyllningsfest, a lively celebration of Swedish culture that features music, dancing, food, and crafts. A visit to Lindsborg is like stepping into a little slice of Sweden, right here in the heart of the Sunflower State.
As the largest city in Kansas, Wichita offers a vibrant mix of culture, history, and outdoor beauty. Known as the “Air Capital of the World,” Wichita has a rich aviation history, which is showcased at the Kansas Aviation Museum. Explore the museum’s exhibits, featuring historic aircraft and artifacts, and learn about the city’s contributions to the world of aviation.
Downtown Wichita’s Old Town district is a historic neighborhood that has been revitalized into a hub of entertainment, with a bustling nightlife scene, unique shops, and a diverse selection of dining options. Don’t miss the iconic Keeper of the Plains statue, which stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers, celebrating the Native American heritage of the region.
From beautiful parks and gardens to world-class museums, Wichita offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring the great outdoors or immersing yourself in the city’s vibrant arts scene, Wichita will not disappoint.
4. Eisenhower Presidential Library
Delve into the life and legacy of one of America’s most esteemed leaders, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene. Explore the museum’s exhibits, offering insights into Eisenhower’s military and presidential career, including artifacts, photographs, and personal mementos.
As you walk through the museum, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs of Eisenhower’s life, and his enduring impact on the nation.
In addition to the museum, the library complex includes the place where Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower are buried. Take a guided tour of the museum, library, and the Eisenhower boyhood home, where you can learn about the small-town roots of this influential leader.
Reflect on the contributions of Dwight D. Eisenhower to the nation and the world, and gain a newfound appreciation for his leadership and legacy.
3. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Experience the beauty of the tallgrass prairie at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a stunning natural preserve located in the heart of the Flint Hills. This preserve is the last remaining tallgrass prairie in the world, offering visitors a glimpse into the unique ecosystem that once covered much of the Midwest.
Lace-up your hiking boots or hop on a bike to explore the scenic trails that wind through the prairie, immersing yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the undulating hills and the swaying prairie grasses.
As you traverse the preserve, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this place home, including the majestic bison that roam the prairie. Attend educational programs and events, which highlight the importance of prairie conservation and the role of the Flint Hills in preserving North America’s prairie heritage.
The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a true natural wonder, transporting visitors to a time when the prairie stretched as far as the eye could see.
2. Leavenworth, the first city in Kansas and Freedom’s outpost
Situated on the banks of the Missouri River, Leavenworth is the first city in Kansas, known for its rich history and Victorian architecture. The city’s most prominent landmark is Fort Leavenworth, the oldest active military fort in the United States.
The fort has served as a training center, a national cemetery, and a historic site, preserving the stories of the soldiers who were stationed there over the years. Visit the Buffalo Soldier Monument, which honors the African American soldiers who served in the western frontier during the 19th century.
In addition to its historic sites, Leavenworth offers diverse dining options, boutique shopping experiences, and a calendar full of festivals and cultural events. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking to explore a small city with a big personality, Leavenworth has something to offer everyone.
1. Concordia, the Orphan Train Town
Step back in time to the late 1800s and explore the history of the Orphan Train movement in Concordia. Known as the “Orphan Train Town,” Concordia was one of the many stops along the route of the Orphan Trains, which transported thousands of orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children from the crowded cities of the East Coast to the Midwest. Visit the National Orphan Train Complex, a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the Orphan Train riders and their stories.
As you wander through the museum, you’ll learn about the challenges faced by these children and the impact of the Orphan Train movement on the communities that welcomed them.
Concordia also offers the historic Brown Grand Theatre, which showcases the town’s commitment to the arts, and the Cloud County Historical Society Museum, which provides further insights into the town’s past. For a peaceful and serene environment, visit Concordia, where the legacy of the Orphan Train riders is embraced and celebrated.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some must-see destinations in Kansas?
Experience the breathtaking views of the Flint Hills, with its tallgrass prairie and stunning sunsets. Explore the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, home to bison, hiking trails, and vibrant wildflowers. Immerse yourself in history and architecture at the Kansas State Capitol building in Topeka. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s remarkable life and achievements.
Are there any unique or lesser-known attractions worth visiting in Kansas?
Places to visit in Kansas, Kansas offers several hidden gems that are worth a visit. Experience the stunning beauty of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, explore the wonders of space at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, and marvel at the architectural masterpiece of the Cathedral of the Plains in Victoria. There’s so much to discover in Kansas!
What is the best time of year to visit these locations?
Places to visit in Kansas, The best time to visit these locations in Kansas depends on the activities you plan to do. Spring offers wildflower viewing and outdoor activities, while summer is ideal for water sports and festivals. Fall brings beautiful foliage and harvest festivals, and winter provides opportunities for skiing and indoor attractions.
Are there any family-friendly activities available at these destinations?
Places to visit in Kansas, Many of the destinations on this list offer family-friendly activities that cater to all ages. From the interactive exhibits at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center to the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, there are plenty of options for families to enjoy. Be sure to visit each destination’s website or contact them directly for more information on family-friendly activities.
Places to visit in Kansas, Kansas offers a diverse range of attractions that cater to various interests. From the historical significance of the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial to the vibrant art scene in Lawrence, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you’re exploring the unique ag-themed byway in Goodland or immersing yourself in the Swedish culture of Lindsborg, each destination has its charm.
Don’t miss out on the natural beauty of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve or the educational experience at the Cosmosphere. Plan your visit to Kansas and discover the hidden gems that await you. Make memories with your loved ones and create unforgettable experiences. Start exploring the best places to visit in Kansas today!
Ferona Jose is a passionate travel writer and blogger at Travelistia. She has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her writing focuses on cheap travel destinations, travel experiences, cultural insights, and travel hacks.