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Monument Rocks, Kansas Kansas sign wheat field in Kansas
Welcome to the Bigroads ultimate travel guide to Kansas! Hopefully this page and its information helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Kansas.

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Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons


People often joke about Kansas being a boring state, but the truth is that it has many fantastic attractions and a heck of a lot of great natural scenery. There's more great museums that I think anyone would expect, and several geologic wonders lie in the western side of the state. And of course Kansas is home to various Wizard of Oz attractions and the World's Largest Ball of Twine.


Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Kansas? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Kansas, in no particular order:

Enjoy the excellent museums and gardens of Wichita
Stop at some of the Wizard of Oz attractions in the state, including the OZ Museum in Wamego
Visit one of the best space museums in the U.S., the Cosmosphere
See the natural rock formations at Monument Rocks in western Kansas
Mountain bike the famous Switchgrass Trail in Wilson State Park
Explore an old mine at Strataca in Hutchingson
See the World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City
Go hiking, boating, or swimming in Elk City State Park, arguably Kansas's best state park
Wander around Lawrence's lively downtown district, often called "one of the most beautiful main streets in the U.S."
Visit the Mid-America Air Museum, one of the largest and best aviation museums in the country

If I could select only one place to visit in Kansas, I would choose Wichita. There are several excellent museums there, along with some great cycling trails.

Interested in discovering great attractions in other U.S. states? My 10 Great Attractions in Each U.S. State guide covers the best attractions from coast-to-coast. And here is a guide to the best One-Week Vacations in the U.S..


Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Kansas. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Kansas bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Western Kansas
American Easel, The / Giant van Gogh Painting, Goodland - a giant roadside attraction replica of a Van Gogh's painting; 0.5 mile from I-70
Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park - features interesting rock/geologic formations (e.g. Niobrara chalk formations)
Mid-America Air Museum, Liberal - one of the largest aviation museums in the U.S.
Monument Rocks / Chalk Pyramids, Scott City - a geologic wonder and some of Kansas best natural scenery
Mount Sunflower, Weskan - the highpoint of Kansas, which you can drive up to; a small monument makes for a quick and fun photo-op

Central Kansas (including Dodge City and Wichita)
Arkansas River Bike Path, Wichita - an excellent 10-mile rail trail that provides access to many of Wichita's attractions
Barbed Wire Museum, La Crosse - a quirky museum that is probably the only museum of its kind
Blue River Rail Trail - one of the best rail trails in KS; you can connect with the Chief Standing Bear Trail in NE to make a longer journey
Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City - a historical museum focusing on the Old West
Botanica: The Wichita Gardens, Wichita - a beautiful botanical gardens located in Sim Park
Castle Rock Badlands, Quinter - offers some of the best natural scenery in Kansas
Cosmosphere International SciEd Center & Space Museum, Hutchinson - often called "America's best space museum"
Eisenhower Library, Museum & Boyhood Home, Abilene - a good presidential history museum
Exploration Place, Wichita - an excellent science museum
Flint Hills Discovery Center, Manhattan - a great science and culture museum
Fort Larned National Historic Site, Larned - a preserved army fort from the 1860s-1870s with several buildings to explore
Keeper of the Plains, Wichita - a 44-foot steel structure at the confluence of two rivers
Konza Prairie Research Natural Area, Manhattan - some of the best hiking/nature trails in Kansas; great tall grass scenery; bison viewing
Mountain biking the Switchgrass Trail in Wilson State Park, Sylvan Grove - the "undisputed king of Kansas singletrack mountain biking"
Museum of World Treasures, Wichita - features three floors of historical exhibits
Mushroom Rock State Park, Marquette - unique rock formations accessible via a short and easy walk
Nifty Nut House, Wichita - one of the largest nut and candy stores in the U.S.
Old Cowtown Museum, Wichita - a replica of a Wild West town
Rock City, Minneapolis - a privately-owned attraction with unique spherical boulders/rock formations; popular for bouldering
Sedgwick Country Zoo, Wichita - one of the top 25 zoos in the U.S.
Starlite Drive-In, Wichita - an excellent surviving drive-in movie theater
Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays - a museum focusing on paleontology, zoology, and geology; tons of fossils
Strataca, Hutchinson - travel 650 feet below the surface into an old mine
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Strong Township - the last remaining intact prairie lands; several hiking trails and wildlife viewing (bison)
Tanganyika Wildlife Park, Goddard - offers intimate animal attractions
Wildwood Adventure Park, Manhattan - an excellent aerial adventure park in the Flint Hills
Wilson State Park - famous for its 24-mile Switchgrass mtn biking trail; has a rugged shoreline with scenic cliffs; great fishing and kayaking
World's Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City - the world's largest ball of twine; one of the most famous roadside attractions in the U.S.
World's Largest Czech Egg, Wilson - a roadside attraction of a giant egg

Eastern Kansas (including Kansas City and Topeka)
Big Brutus, West Mineral - see a retired, gigantic piece of mining equipment
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Topeka - a site/museum commemorating the end of racial segregation in public schools
Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead, Overland Park - a half-farm, half-amusement park with farm animals
Downtown Lawrence / Massachusetts Street - an attractive tourist district with many boutique shops and restaurants
Elk City State Park, Independence - limestone bluffs; boating, camping, swimming; hiking trails; probably the premier state park in Kansas
Equality House, Topeka - a rainbow-colored house located across the street from the (uber-conservative) Westboro Baptist Church
Evel Knievel Museum, Topeka - a museum honoring the famous motorcycle daredevil
Fort Scott National Historic Site, Fort Scott - features 20 historic structures of a 19th century fort
Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail - an excellent 26-mile paved rail trail from Leawood, Kansas to Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas Speedway, Kansas City - a famous NASCAR track
Kansas State Capitol Building, Topeka - one of the most impressive U.S. state capitol buildings
New Theatre, Overland Park - a dinner-theater venue featuring Broadway musicals & comedies
Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, Overland Park - impressive gardens
Oz Museum, Wamego - features tons of Wizard of OZ memorabilia
Prairie Spirit Trail State Park - a 51-mile linear park for walkers and bicyclists; travels between Iola and Ottawa, Kansas
Safari Zoological Park, Caney - a private zoo with up-close-and-personal animal encounters
Zip KC, Bonner Springs - offers awesome zip-lining adventures

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Kansas? If so, please email me at

Discover 5-star attractions in neighboring states using these state guides:  CO  |  MO  |  NE  |  OK


These towns and cities in Kansas are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Lawrence - an artsy medium-sized city with a lively downtown district; has "one of the most beautiful main streets in the U.S."
Lindsborg - an art-loving small town known as "Little Sweden USA"; the downtown area is full of art galleries, shops, and restaurants
Topeka - a medium-sized city with several good museums and strong Civil Rights history
Wichita - a alrge city with several excellent museums, art galleries, performing arts venues, and other attractions

My favorite city in Kansas is Wichita - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 1-2 nights there

My favorite small town in Kansas is Lindsborg.

I haven't visited Dodge City yet, and so I'm not sure if I should add it to my list of interesting towns/cities in Kansas or not.

Read my Favorite Places in the U.S. Guide to find new and interesting towns and cities across the country.


Here are some things that Kansas is famous or well known for:

aircraft manufacturing
beef cattle
oil wells
prairies / tallgrass prairies
state in the center of the U.S.
Wizard of Oz

Visit my What is Each U.S. State Famous For? guide to explore the unique characteristics of other states.


There are currently no national parks, national monuments, or national forests in Kansas, but there are many other federally-managed parks and properties in the state, including:

National Wildlife Refuges
Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge
Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge
Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks
Brown vs. Board of Education National Historical Park
California National Historic Trail
Cimarron National Grassland
Fort Larned National Historic Site
Fort Scott National Historic Site
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
Nicodemus National Historic Site
Oregon National Historic Trail
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

For more information on Kansas's national parks, visit the Kansas page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all of America's national parks, explore my U.S. National Parks Guide.


Kansas has nearly 30 state parks. Many would agree that these represent Kansas's finest state parks:

Flagship / Premier State Parks:
Elk City State Park - limestone bluffs; boating, camping, swimming; lots of hiking trails; most would say it's the premier state park in Kansas
Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park - interesting rock formations/geologic features (e.g. Niobrara chalk formations)
Mushroom Rock State Park - otherworldly rock formations that you wouldn't expect to see in Kansas
Wilson State Park - famous 24-mile Switchgrass mountain biking trail; rugged shoreline with scenic cliffs; great fishing and kayaking; camping

Other Notable State Parks:
Cheney State Park - some of the best boating, fishing, and swimming in the state
Kanapolis State Park - sandstone bluffs; lots of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails
Lake Scott State Park - natural springs, canyons, craggy bluffs, and archaeological sites; camping, swimming, hiking, fishing and more

Find the best state parks across the country using my Top 100 State Parks in the U.S. guide.


Kansas has a surprising amount of natural waterfalls, although many are considered seasonal. Some of the best waterfalls in Kansas include:

Chautauqua Falls in Sedan
Cowley Falls in Parkerfield
Geary Lake Falls in Geary State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area, Junction City
Prather Creek Falls (aka Chase Lake Falls) in Cottonwood Falls
Rock Creek Falls in Fort Scott
Santa Fe Lake Falls in Augusta

For a listing of all known waterfalls in Kansas, visit the World Waterfall Database or the excellent website of Mickey Shannon.

Chase more waterfalls across the country with my Best Waterfalls in the U.S. guide.


Here is a list of the best scenic drives in Kansas:

Flint Hills National Scenic Byway - a 47-mile paved route from Council Grove to Cassoday featuring beautiful tallgrass prairies

The 77-mile Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway in central Kansas may also be noteworthy, but I haven't driven it yet. There are also a few interesting attractions along the 102-mile Western Vistas Historic Byway in western Kansas (e.g. Monument Rocks), but in general it's not all that scenic.

Discover great scenic drives across the country with my Best Scenic Drives in the U.S. guide.


Here is a list of some of the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in Kansas:

Blue River Rail Trail - northeastern Kansas
Prairie Spirit Trail State Park - eastern Kansas; often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail - eastern Kansas; often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Kansas, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.


Kansas currently doesn't have any notable amusement parks. There are a few indoor water parks and small aquatic parks, but nothing I would say is nationally substantial. However, Kansas City, MO is very close and there's a few amusement parks there (or near there).


Kansas has many excellent museums - probably more than you'd expect. The best museums in Kansas include:

Western Kansas
Mid-America Air Museum, Liberal
OZ Museum, Liberal

Central Kansas (including Dodge City and Wichita)
Barbed Wire Museum, La Crosse
Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City
Cosmosphere International SciEd Center & Space Museum, Hutchinson
Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum, Abilene
Exploration Place, Wichita
Flint Hills Discovery Center, Manhattan
Museum of World Treasures, Wichita
Old Cowtown Museum, Wichita
Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays
Strataca, Hutchinson
Wichita Art Museum, Wichita

Eastern Kansas (including Kansas City and Topeka)
Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, Atchison
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Topeka
Evel Knievel Museum, Topeka


Kansas has some interesting hiking trails, but in full disclosure there's not all that much that is of national significance. Here are some of the best day hikes in the state:

Western Kansas
Castle Rock
Life on the Rocks Trail, Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

Central Kansas (including Dodge City and Wichita)
Kanopolis Lake State Park trails
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve trails

Eastern Kansas (including Kansas City and Topeka)

Elk River Hiking Trail
Konza Prairie Preserve (e.g. Godwin Hill Loop)
Table Mound Trail, Elk City State Park

The highpoint of Kansas is Mount Sunflower (4,039'). You can drive right to the spot on a long gravel road, and so no hiking is required.

To find more hikes in Kansas or to learn more about the hikes I've listed above, I recommend purchasing hiking guidebooks on Amazon (or from your local retailer). Another option is using AllTrails, but you have to be very careful when using that website as its information is sometimes wrong or incomplete. Published hiking guidebooks will likely always be significantly better than the information you find online.


Kansas only offers a few backpacking opportunities. Here are the only trails/places that I know of:

Elk River Trail, Elk City State Park - southeastern Kansas; 15 miles one-way; this is the premier backpacking trip in Kansas
Woodridge Park - eastern Kansas near Topeka

If you know of any other backpacking opportunities in Kansas, please let me know!


Kansas offers a few excellent adventures, including these classics:

ATV/ORV-ing in Kansas Badlands Off Road Park
ATV/ORV-ing in Syracuse Sand Dunes Park
ATV/ORV-ing in Tuttle Creek ORV Area
Backpacking the 15-mile Elk River Trail
Bouldering at Rock City
Canoeing/kayaking the Kansas River (also called "the Kaw") - multi-day trips are possible
Canoeing/kayaking the Walnut River
Cycling the Arkansas River Bike Path - 100% paved
Cycling the Blue River Rail Trail - mix of paved and unpaved
Cycling the Flint Hills Nature Trail - some sections are still under development, but one day this trail should be 118 miles long
Cycling the Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail - 100% paved
Cycling the Prairie Spirit Trail - mix of paved and unpaved
Horseback riding in Clinton State Park
Horseback riding in El Dorado State Park
Horseback riding at Hillsdale State Park in Paola
Jet skiing in Cedar Bluff State Park / Cedar Bluff Reservoir
Mountain biking in Clinton State Park
Mountain biking in Wilson State Park (e.g. the famous Switchgrass Trail)
Mountain biking the Lawrence River Trails
Skydiving in Derby
Windsurfing/sailing in Cheney State Park / Cheney Reservoir


For offbeat and unique Kansas attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

If you are visiting Kansas, you might as well also visit Kansas City in Missouri since it's right over the border. Kansas City is one of my favorite cities in the Central region of the U.S., and not just because of their world-famous BBQ (although that is certainly part of it).


Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Kansas:

chili con carne
Kansas City-style ribs
Kansas dirt cake

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Kansas (or any other U.S. state), visit the website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each U.S. state, explore my Road Trip Food guide.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Kansas (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.


Here is some helpful key information about Kansas:

State Capital:

Major Airports:
Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (ICT); take note that you can also fly into Kansas City, Missouri and then drive into Kansas

Largest Cities:
Wichita (400,564), Overland Park (202,012), Kansas City (158,771), Olathe (144,374), Topeka (126,409), Lawrence (96,392)

Primary U.S. Interstates:
I-35, I-70

State Highpoint:
Mount Sunflower (4,039') in the town of Weskan in northwestern Kansas; a long drive on a gravel road is required to reach the top (no hiking required)

Professional Sports Teams:
None (although Kansas City just over the border in Missouri has some)

Funny or Unique Town/City Names:
Liberal and Ransom

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.

Monument Rocks, Kansas
Monument Rocks, Kansas

sign in Kansas
sign in Kansas

one of thousands of wheat fields in Kansas
one of thousands of wheat fields in Kansas

Monument Rocks, Kansas
Monument Rocks, Kansas

Rock City, Kansas
Rock City, Kansas

Konza Prairie Research Natural Area in Manhattan, Kansas
Konza Prairie Research Natural Area in Manhattan, Kansas

cool sign (and great burgers) in Kansas
cool sign (and great burgers) in Kansas


In addition to the information found on my website, I personally recommend purchasing these road trip/travel-related guidebooks. Click on any link to read reviews and/or purchase these books on (affiliate).

Fodor's Bucket List USA (1st edition; 2021)
Moon USA State by State (1st edition; 2021)
Your Guide to the National Parks (3rd edition; 2022)
Road Trip USA (9th edition; 2021)


Did you enjoy this state travel guide? If so, here are links to more of my comprehensive U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama Maryland Oregon
Arizona Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Arkansas Michigan Rhode Island
California Minnesota South Carolina
Colorado Mississippi South Dakota
Connecticut Missouri Tennessee
Delaware Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Utah
Georgia Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico Washington DC
Iowa New York West Virginia
Kansas North Carolina Wisconsin
Kentucky North Dakota Wyoming
Louisiana Ohio  
Maine Oklahoma  

As an Amazon Associates affiliate, this website contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any products after clicking any link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I only endorse products that I have personally used or those that come highly recommended by trusted peers.

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