Nestled within the Midwest of the United States, Kansas has a lot going for it! It’s a state that’s filled with gorgeous expanses of nature, vistas and fair few cities, too. That being said, it’s also a pretty large state, taking hours to drive across. This makes it totally essential to plan how and when you’re going to visit all the best things to do in Kansas that are dotted all across the state.
Now, Kansas might not always be the most obvious choice of places in the US to visit; but don’t let its rurality fool you, there’s a heap of stunning spots to visit that I’m almost certain you’ll love.
So, to make things a little easier, I’ve popped over some firm favourites that you can easily include on a trip to Kansas, or during a wider road trip around the US.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Kansas. Have an epic time exploring the Midwest!
1.) Castle Rock
Perched in the Smoky Hills area of Kansas, Castle Rock is a towering pillar that’s well worth seeing when in Gove County.
Now, the rocks are totally stunning to see around the badlands here, but beware, the roads can be treacherous to get here. It’s a dirt road (for around 10-15 miles) and there’s a heap of potholes, steep verges and holes to manoeuvre around; trust me, avoid if you have a low car.
Oh, and make sure you have lots of gas and supplies, there’s nothing else around the area.
Lawrence is a pretty young and fun place to stop in Kansas!
You see, this college town is a great place to visit the Spencer Museum of Art, catch a Jayhawks game and explore the Watkins Museum of history, too.
Though, don’t fret if you’re not into your museums; there’s so much more to see. After a stroll through downtown Lawrence (mainly, Massachusetts Street), stop by 715 Restaurant that serves up some of the best meatballs in the city. Trust me, it’s one of the best things to do in Kansas if you love pasta as much as me!
3.) Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve
Perched within the Flint Hills, Tall Grass Prairie is the only National Park system that highlights and protects this unique prairie ecosystem. It’s totally unspoilt and one of the best things to do in Kansas if you love the tranquil outdoors.
The preserve itself has a heap of trails to walk and enjoy the unique landscape. One of the best trails to follow is the Scenic Overlook Trail, though, you must be careful around the bison in this area. Never approach them or go near them. Also, be sure to check the weather forecast (here) before you set off. After all, no one likes a careless hiker.
Though, if walking isn’t your thing, bus tours are available.
Visiting Wichita is easily one of the best things to do in Kansas if you want a buzzing city life. You see, it’s the biggest city in the state and has a heap of places to explore and experience for a short weekend trip.
After parking up, make sure to check out the Keeper of the Plains that stands proudly in the city, visit Exploration Place (with its hundreds of exhibitions) and pop into the Art Museum, too.
Afterwards, head on over to Botanica, the stunning Wichita Gardens. Honestly, Botanica gives you the chance to step away from the prairie scene take your pick of over 20 themed gardens.
Oh yeah, and for a tasty brunch, pop into Doo-Dah Diner that serves up some yummy banana bread french toast.
Snuggled between Junction City and Salina, Abilene is a tiny city that you’ll likely drive through on your trip further west (or east).
Now, although you don’t need to spend longer than a few hours here, it’s a great place to stretch your legs and take a break from driving the plains.
Once here, check out the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Located in the small town of Abilene, the museum walks you through the life and achievements of Eisenhower and highlight U.S. history.
Afterwards, pop over to spot the Lebold Mansion and the stunning Seelye Mansion that’s over 100 years old.
6.) Cheyenne Bottoms State Wildlife Area
Trust me when I say, Kansas is much more than rolling prairies! You see, it also has vital wetlands that support migratory shorebirds, too.
Cheyenne Bottoms is a 41,000-acre wetland (the largest in the country) in central Kansas. It is a great place to explore and observe the many bird species find refuge in the area. It’s one of the best things to do in Kansas if you love birdwatching. Though, you might wanna give this one a miss if wildlife isn’t your jam.
7.) Dodge City
A visit to Kansas just isn’t complete without heading to Dodge City, is it?
Grab your cowboy hat and boots and head to the city is known for its unique frontier, cowboy vibes. Complete with the famous Boot Hill museum showcasing the frontier life of the Wild West, this city is a cowboy capital you can’t miss.
Being the capital city of Kansas State, Topeka is one of the larger cities to explore when travelling through the state.
Not only is it the capital, but it has a heap of spots to visit, too. For instance, the Kansas Museum of History is a must-see with exhibits from the 1950s and a variety exploring Native American history, too
Oh yeah, and Topeka is home to one of the most socially historic sites in the United States, Monroe Elementary School. This is the school at the centre of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision to end segregation in the United States and a must-visit stop in Topeka. Once here, explore the museum and the history of the civil rights movement in this site. A powerful must-see place to reflect.
Also, make sure to check out the Capital Building and stop off at the Evel Knievel Museum, too. It’s a blast.
Also, for some of the best ribs, head on over to Rowhouse where they’ll serve you up some of the best locally sourced and fresh food from around Kansas.
Yes, there’s a city of Manhattan in Kansas!
Not too far from Turtle Creek Lake, stopping off in Manhattan is one of the best things to do in Kansas after exploring the nearby prairies.
After arriving, pop into the Flint Hills Discovery Center, take a stroll through the town and pop into Bourbon & Baker for their fried chicken and waffles. Delicious.
Around an hours drive from Kansas City, Ottawa is a relatively small little place that’s perfect for an afternoon visit.
Make sure to see the Old Depot Museum, stroll through Forest Park and visit Smoked Creations for some grub. their BBQ is amazing, with their whole slab of St Louis Cut Spareribs being the best. Honestly, if you’re hungry, it’s one of the best things to do in Kansas; the portions are fit for a giant!