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16 Things to Do in Kansas & Best Places to Visit

16 Things to Do in Kansas & Best Places to Visit

Kansas is a landlocked state in the Midwest, known for its natural beauty, seemingly endless prairies, and rolling hills. While most people automatically think of Dorothy’s famous line from the Wizard of Oz, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” Kansas is much more than a movie reference. There are many fun things to do in Kansas, whether traveling with a group, visiting with kids, or taking a couples trip!

If you’re looking for family-friendly places in Kansas, there are several world-class interactive museums, zoos, and beautiful state parks. Kids will LOVE the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, especially if you have any budding astronauts. And you can dress your kids in their finest cowboy or cowgirl attire when visiting the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, where you can explore the historic jail, saloon, and church.

And if you’re traveling without young ones, there are fun things to do all over the state! For example, you can eat some delicious Kansas City-style barbecue in Kansas City, visit the Evel Knieval Museum in Topeka, explore the nearly 20 acres of gardens at Botanica in Wichita, or catch a NASCAR race at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

Regardless of who you’re traveling with, there are many fun things to do in Kansas! Trying to plan which Kansas tourist attractions to put on your itinerary? We’ve got you covered!

Kansas City Indoor Skydiving
1. Kansas City Indoor Skydiving Admission with 2 Flights & Personalized Certificate Top Recommendation

Looking for a unique and thrilling experience in Kansas City? Look no further than indoor skydiving at iFLY Kansas City! No previous experience is necessary – after a private training session with your instructor, you're all set to enter the vertical wind tunnel and hover for two 60-second sessions. This is an unforgettable experience that's perfect for thrill-seekers and adventure-lovers. And there's no need to worry about the price tag – indoor skydiving is a fraction of the cost of jumping out of a plane!

Strawberry Hill and Downtown KCK Hike
2. Strawberry Hill and Downtown KCK Hike

Looking for an urban hiking adventure that will take you off the beaten path? Then look no further than Kansas City's Strawberry Hill neighborhood. With your guide leading the way, you'll cross 30+ sights over 4-5 miles, from gorgeous river views to Indigenous burial grounds to downtown's vivid street murals. This is a great way to get to know KCK's most colorful district, while also getting some great photo ops and learning a thing or two about the area's rich history. And the best part is that it all starts with an easy meetup with your guide at Splitlog Coffee.

Wichita Scavenger Hunt
3. Wichita Scavenger Hunt: Wichita, To The Arkansas River

Looking for a fun and interactive way to explore Wichita, Kansas? Then look no further than the Wichita Scavenger Hunt: Wichita, To The Arkansas River. Using this app-based game as your guide, you'll visit Wichita landmarks while learning all about the city's culture and history. With no minimum age requirement, this scavenger hunt is fun for all ages. Throughout the game, you'll answer trivia questions and solve challenges for points. At the end of the game, the team with the most points will be declared the winner. S

TLDR

  • Most significant landmark – Monument Rocks Natural Landmark
  • Best park – Wilson State Park
  • Best free activity – Kansas State Capitol Building
  • Best activity for kids – Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
  • Best activity for adults – Kansas Speedway
  • Best Kansas City BBQ – Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
  • Best nightlife – Revolution Lounge
  • Best all-around accommodationCourtyard by Marriott Wichita at Old Town

Best & Fun Things to do in Kansas

1. Monument Rocks Natural Landmark

Monument Rocks Natural Landmark
Brian W. Schaller, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: Lewis, KS 67748

Known as one of the “Eight Wonders of Kansas,” Monument Rocks are interesting rock outcroppings in western Kansas. The site is also designated as a National Natural Landmark, the first of its type in Kansas.

The rock outcroppings and Chalk Pyramids are located in Gove County, near US-83. When you first see them, you might think you’re “not in Kansas anymore,” as the sedimentary formations look straight from Utah. But don’t worry, you ARE in Kansas!

These incredible formations were formed over 80 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. Because the limestone is quite soft, small changes in the outcroppings occur over time.

Visitors to Monument Rocks will enjoy seeing fossils among the giant chalk monoliths, also called the Chalk Pyramids. Monument Rocks is one of the top natural attractions in Kansas, and you’re sure to be wowed by its natural beauty!

Want to stay nearby before another day of sightseeing? Rest your head at the highly-rated Best Western El-Quartelejo Inn & Suites with free parking and breakfast!

2. Cosmosphere

Address: 1100 N Plum St, Hutchinson, KS 67501

As the winner of the “Best for Geeks” Editors’ Choice Award, the Cosmosphere is easily one of the most incredible museums in Kansas for all ages. And you don’t have to be a self-proclaimed “geek” to enjoy any part of the museum! 

Located just northwest of Wichita in Hutchinson, this interactive space center is fun for people of all ages. Whether you get the All-Access Mission Pass or purchase single attraction tickets, you will have an out-of-this-world time!

The Hall of Space Museum is the main attraction, with galleries ranging from the Apollo to the X-plane. These galleries have the most extensive collection of American and Russian space artifacts worldwide. Visitors can see the Odyssey command module from Apollo 13, an atomic warhead from the Cold War, rocket engines from the X-15 program, and Germany’s V-1 and V-2 rockets. 

If you have time, it’s worth adding the Carey Digital Dome Theatre pass, where you can see documentaries such as Serengeti or Wings Over Water in 4K. Also, visit Mars or see Night Sky Live with a show in the Justice Planetarium. As part of the planetarium show, you’ll also visit Dr. Goddard’s Lab, an interactive science show with occasional explosions!  

This space museum, formerly known as the Kansas Cosmosphere, is easily one of the top things to do in Kansas with kids, and for good reason! The space center is one of only three museums to show spacecraft flown from three early-manned space programs, including Liberty Bell 7, Gemini 10, and Apollo 13.

Traveling with a large family? Stay in comfort in this 3-bedroom home with space for 12 family members. Just a few minutes away from Hutchinson!

See Related: Most Beautiful Valleys in the US

3. Coronado Heights Castle

Coronado Heights Castle
Swampyank, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: Walking Trail, Falun, KS 67442

Northwest of Lindsborg is Coronado Heights, the hill where Francisco Vásquez de Coronado allegedly gave up on his mission to find the “Seven Cities of Gold” and decided to return to Mexico. This legend (or is it?) began with a local professor’s discovery of a mysterious Spanish coin in 1881. When rusty chainmail was discovered soon after, the tale was seemingly confirmed.

As the story goes, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado explored over 4,000 miles with hundreds of Spanish soldiers, hoping to find these ancient sites of riches. And when he didn’t find any of the “Cities of Gold,” he left for Mexico.

Many believe this story may be rooted in truth, while others doubt its authenticity. Regardless, the Coronado Heights Castle is a small stone castle built in the 1930s to commemorate Coronado’s epic quest.

Visitors to Coronado Heights Park will enjoy the spectacular view from the scenic overlook. You can also picnic at many stone picnic tables near the castle. And if you bring your mountain bike, you can enjoy a 3-mile trail around the park’s base. So, regardless of the authenticity of Coronado’s travels, Coronado Heights is worth a visit for the views alone!

See Related: Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit

 4. Museum of World Treasures

Museum of World Treasures Exhibit
John P Salvatore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 835 E 1st St N, Wichita, KS 67202

Located in Old Town Wichita, the Museum of World Treasures is just as it sounds- an incredible collection of world treasures! Opened just over 20 years ago, the three-story museum is home to many unique artifacts from ancient civilizations to the founding of America.

On the first floor, visitors can see everything from a genuine shrunken head (eek!) and mummies to Logan the Tylosaurus and Ivan the T-Rex. You can also see a timeline of Roman coins and a Buddha collection.

As you walk upstairs, you’ll love the uniform display and weaponry of the military through the years, with a trench replica to better understand trench warfare. The Military Galleries begin with the Founding of America and include the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. And The Hall of Presidents consists of the signature of each US president.

The museum’s top floor is the favorite for kids, with Ivan’s Playhouse. Children can make art at the coloring station, build on the Lego wall, or play on the stage. And, outside the playhouse, they can see a Gatling gun from the Old West! You can also enjoy a scavenger hunt on your visit to Wichita.

Since Old Town Wichita is such a cool place to stay, check out the Courtyard by Marriott Wichita at Old Town, which is steps away from everything! And, if you’re staying in Old Town, dance the night away at the nearby Revolution Lounge!

5. Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Address: 701 Amidon St, Wichita, KS 67203

Located in downtown Wichita, Botanica, the Wichita Gardens is easily one of the top tourist attractions in Kansas. However, please don’t assume it’s only for garden lovers, as the 17-acre botanical gardens are perfect for all ages!

Kids will love the Downing Children’s Garden, where they can experience the magic of childhood. A stage offers live family-friendly performances and concerts, while the Zerbe Family Sleeping Troll Hill is AMAZING for kids to climb and roll down the hill of the “troll’s back.”

There are also large board games like checkers, Jenga, and a marble maze. Older kids will soon be able to enjoy the Koch Carousel Gardens, where a 50-foot tower and slide are in the works, as well as a zip line!

If you don’t have kids in tow, you’ll appreciate the extensive gardens, like the Rose Garden, the Wildflower Meadow, the Shakespeare Garden, or the Chinese Garden of Friendship. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, consider one of their Garden Tours or a personalized golf cart tour!

Whether you have a green thumb or don’t know a thing about plants, The Wichita Gardens is one of the best things to see in Kansas!

Want to stay nearby on the border of Old Town and Delano? Look no further than the highly-rated Home2 Suites, just a 5-minute drive from the gardens.

See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November

6. Kansas State Capitol

Address: SW 8th & SW Van Buren St, Topeka, KS 66612

Located in Topeka, the Kansas State Capitol is the office of the state legislators and governor. Built-in 1903, it is almost twenty feet taller than the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC!

The Visitor Center is the place to head for information, exhibits on local history, and the gift shop. While visitors are more than welcome to take a self-guided tour around the Kansas State Capitol and Capitol Square, there are also guided historic tours highlighting architectural and Kansas history. Of course, one of the most spectacular experiences is the Dome Tour, where you climb almost 300 narrow, spiral, and steep stairs to reach the top!

Visitors will be surprised at the gorgeous murals throughout the building, the dome, the beautiful stained glass windows, and the original Cage elevator. You can also visit the Capitol grounds and see the Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower statues and a replica of the Statue of Liberty.

If you’re hoping to learn a little about Kansas history and see beautiful architecture, make sure to put the Kansas State Capitol on your list!

7. Kansas Speedway

Kansas Speedway
Balaji, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 400 Speedway Blvd, Kansas City, KS 66111

Located near Kansas City, the Kansas Speedway is a NASCAR-owned and operated race track. This 1.5-mile tri-oval track hosts two NASCAR race weekends every year.

Not only does the Kansas Speedway offer general admission tickets, but they offer premium options such as individual suites, VIP tailgating, and a pre-race pass. And if you want to hear real-time audio from the drivers and crew, you can rent a scanner!

Also, the Richard Petty Driving Experience and Kansas Speedway reached an agreement where visitors to the racetrack can experience being behind the wheel of a race car. SO COOL!

Not only can you have fun at the races, but there is also a casino at the racetrack! Overlooking the second turn, the Hollywood Casino includes restaurants, nightclubs, and more. The casino is a top attraction with over 2,000 slot machines, 25 poker tables, and 60 table games. Whether you’re a fan of fast cars or not, a trip to Kansas Speedway is one of the most fun things to do in Kansas!

See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

8. Boot Hill Museum

Boot Hill Museum Architecture
RaksyBH / Shutterstock.com

Address: 500 W Wyatt Earp Blvd, Dodge City, KS 67801

Located in Dodge City, the Boot Hill Museum is the perfect place to take the kids for a Wild West experience! With more than 20,000 artifacts and 200 original guns, the museum highlights Dodge City’s time as the “Queen of the Cowtowns.” 

You might know the phrase, “Get outta Dodge,” but you probably don’t know its origin. In the old show Gunsmoke, the heroes always told the villains, “Get outta Dodge!” when they wanted the bad guys to leave Dodge City. 

Visitors to the Boot Hill Museum will see early Dodge City depicted along Front Street. The city’s history dates back to the Native Americans and their dependence on the buffalo, but it didn’t become “Dodge City” until the Santa Fe Trail brought European settlers. It didn’t take long to become a center of commerce and a frontier town on the prairie. 

The town’s glory days are depicted with activities and animated displays for all ages. You can enjoy homemade fudge from the General Store, order a Sarsaparilla from the bar (like a homemade root beer), or shop at the Gift Shop. A trip to Boot Hill is easily one of the best things to do in Kansas!

9. Sedgwick County Zoo

Gorilla Village in Sedgwick County Zoo
Patrick Pelletier, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 5555 W Zoo Blvd, Wichita, KS 67212

Visitors to the Sedgwick County Zoo are in for a real treat! As one of the top attractions in Kansas, the zoo is an accredited wildlife park for all ages.

Kids will enjoy riding the Safari Express train around the property and seeing behind-the-scenes views. All ages will love the touch tank, Stingray Cove, the zoo’s newest exhibit. Not only can you touch a stingray, but you can also pet a small shark! Fin-tastic!

The zoo has many animals, such as orangutans, chimpanzees, kookaburras, elephants, gorillas, bears, and penguins. Sign up for a special encounter with an animal for an experience you’ll never forget! Hand feed a rhinoceros, say hi to the Humboldt penguins, pet the horses and donkeys, or feed an elephant!

While there are a lot of zoos in the US, few have an extensive list of animals, like Sedgwick County Zoo. Not only that, but their personal encounters make this zoo one of the best things to do in Kansas!

See Related: Best Family Vacation Spots in the World

10. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Scenery
Mattgaus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 2480B KS-177, Strong City, KS 66869

Located in the Flint Hills region north of Strong City, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve protects the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Once covering almost 200 million acres of North America, the prairies are nearly all farmland today. However, around six million acres are still intact, most of which are in the Flint Hills.

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was established in 1996 and, since then, has been a destination for wildlife sightings, solitude, wildflowers, beautiful scenery, and scenic vistas. The preserve also includes a one-room schoolhouse and a historic ranch.

Visitors to the preserve can enjoy the three hiking trails, which are all relatively short. Or you can take a self-guided tour of the 19th Century National Historic Site, Spring Hill Ranch. A trip to the Visitor Center will teach you more about tallgrass prairie land, or you can see prairie wildlife on the Scenic Overlook Trail.

11. Flint Hills Discovery Center

Flint Hills Discovery Center
Xerxes2004, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 315 S 3rd St, Manhattan, KS 66502

Located in the city of Manhattan (Kansas, not New York!), The Flint Hills Discovery Center is a destination for guests of all ages. The science and culture museum is in a 35,000-square-foot building with over 10,000 square feet of interactive exhibits.

Not only are there exhibits, but you can also experience the Kansas Flint Hills area with the show “Tallgrass Prairie: Tides of Time” playing at the Horizon Ranch Flint Hills Immersive Experience Theater. This theater will let you feel the wind through your hair and see a prairie fire up close.

If you’ve already seen the short film and exhibits at the Discovery Center, you should explore the outdoor areas. The Prairie Garden Terrace is a rooftop space where you can see wildflowers and enjoy stunning views.

Or you can head to the Prairie Garden Trail, which goes around the back of the Flint Hills Discovery Center. There are informational signs along the trail which feature Flint Hills flora and fauna.

A Flint Hills Discovery Center trip is one of the best Kansas activities, whether you’re 5 or 95! 

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the Midwest

12. Wilson State Park

Wilson State Park
Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 3 State Park Road, Sylvan Grove, KS 67481

Often thought of as Kansas’ most beautiful state park, Wilson State Park is located in Sylvan Grove, the heart of the Smoky Hills. There are two main areas – Hell Creek and Otoe- within the 945 acres of the park.

Visitors to the park have many opportunities for camping, hiking, hunting, and water recreation, such as swimming, fishing, and boating. If you’re a photographer, you’ll love the local wildlife, such as pheasants, furbearers, bobwhite quail, deer, and songbirds.

One of the most popular parts of the park is Wilson Reservoir, with a rugged shoreline with rocky outcroppings and scenic cliffs. Visitors to the park often fish for white or striped bass in this excellent angling location.

There are a few hiking trails at this state park. If you’re looking for a short hike, take the one-mile loop on the Cedar Trail in the Otoe area.

For one of the best views of the Wilson Reservoir and the Kansas Prairie, take the Dakota Trail. Or, if you’re looking for a challenging mountain biking trail, the 24.5-mile Switchgrass Bike Trail is for you!

A trip to Wilson State Park is a must for nature lovers, whether looking for wildlife, renting a boat, hiking, camping, fishing, or mountain biking. It’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Kansas!

13. Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum

Address: 200 S E 4th St, Abilene, KS 67410

Most Abilene, Kansas, residents would likely agree with former President Eisenhower’s quote that he came “from the very heart of America.” The 34th president grew up in this small town; Today, visitors can tour his boyhood home and the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.

As the only 5-star general to become President, Eisenhower was famous for keeping the United States at peace during the Cold War and ending the Korean War. Before entering the museum, you can stop at the bronze statue of Eisenhower with his famous “Eisenhower jacket” from WWII.

The museum is over 25,000 square feet, with innovative and interactive exhibits to engage all ages! Current exhibits include Eisenhower’s early life, his time during WWII, his wife Mamie Eisenhower, his time as President, and a farewell. The Presidential Library houses an extensive collection of 26 million pages of historical papers and records, along with over 70,000 artifacts and 335,000 photographs.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

14. OZ Museum

OZ Museum
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 511 Lincoln Ave, Wamego, KS 66547

The fans of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion will enjoy visiting the unique OZ Museum. Located in Wamego, the OZ Museum is one of the best things to do in Kansas for all things related to the Wizard of Oz.

The concept of the Wizard of Oz began much earlier than the movie, with L. Frank Baum’s children’s book in 1900. When the movie came out in 1939, it didn’t receive a great response initially. However, according to the Library of Congress, it’s the most-watched film in history!

The museum is perfect for all ages, but it might be more enjoyable if you’ve seen the classic movie. There are exhibits about the movie actors from the 1939 film, but there are also first edition L. Frank Baum books and collectible pieces.

Some popular artifacts include hand-jeweled ruby slippers, hand-painted character masks, original movie posters, movie production notes, and a yellow brick from Baum’s grade school.

You will likely be thinking of this song as you walk through the museum:

Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road.
Follow the rainbow over the stream,
Follow the fellow who follows a dream,
Follow, follow, follow, follow,
Follow the yellow brick road.

The OZ Museum is like a magical world with the largest collection of OZ artifacts, so when you visit Kansas, don’t forget to put this museum on your itinerary!

15. Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead

Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead Entrance
Paulmcdonald, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 13800 Switzer Rd, Overland Park, KS 66221

If you visit Kansas with kids, you must put the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead on your to-do list! This Overland Park farmstead is unlike any other typical farm, with more than enough activities to spend all day here!

This farm takes visitors back to the days of frontier life. Visitors to the farm can see a Kanza Indian encampment, visit more than 200 farm animals, look at a one-room schoolhouse, go fishing at the pond, learn about growing a vegetable garden, mine for treasure, learn how to milk a cow, and MORE!

If you want to learn more about history, stop by Ben’s Bank, where you can see antique machines, typewriters, and even a cannonball safe! Or head to John’s Blacksmith Shop, where a real-life blacksmith demonstrates how to make horseshoes and bridles. There’s even a barbershop where visitors can see haircutting artifacts from the early 1900s!

Younger kids will enjoy it all, but they’ll especially love the playground, the slides in the Barn, and the pedal tractor track! And in case you haven’t brought food, stop by the Farmhouse Concessions for food, and remember a trip to the ice cream parlor when you’re done!

This family-friendly attraction is one of the top things to do in Kansas, without a doubt! And if you’ve worked up an appetite after spending a few hours at the farmstead, head to Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que for some true Kansas City barbeque!

See Related: Best Midwest Festivals Worth Traveling To

16. Evel Knievel Museum

Evel Knievel Museum
Valder137, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 2047 SW Topeka Blvd, Topeka, KS 66612

Whether you’re a daredevil or not, a trip to the Evel Knievel Museum is a super fun addition to your Kansas itinerary! The two-story museum is over 13,000 square feet and has the most extensive collection of Evel Knievel memorabilia. Located in the Historic Harley-Davidson in Topeka, the museum has almost everything related to the famous daredevil!

Some people may wonder why an Evel Knievel Museum is in Topeka, Kansas since he was born in Montana. The simple answer is that his iconic Mack Truck was restored in Topeka. In fact, “Big Red” is the centerpiece of the first floor, with a video showing its restoration and history.

The museum highlights the motorcycle jumps he attempted, and some include videos. They also show a skeleton with some of the jumps, noting Knievel’s injuries due to the jump. For context, they show almost 170 jumps over 25 years!

Knievel suffered hundreds of injuries from bone fractures and other wounds. As a result, he spent a lot of time between his daredevil jumps in the hospital or a wheelchair.

Visitors will see Knievel’s licensed items on the second floor, such as lunch boxes, games, toys, slot machines, and bicycles!

FAQ

What are the best places to visit in Kansas with kids?

If you’re an animal lover, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Sedgwick County Zoo, one of the region’s best zoos. And one of the most fun activities for families is the Kansas Cosmosphere, which houses the world’s largest collection of Russian space artifacts! And, for a day of absolutely fun learning, make sure to stop by the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead to see the farm animals!

Is Kansas worth visiting?

Absolutely! Kansas has a lot to offer visitors of all ages, whether you’re looking to tour Kansas City BBQ joints, see the Jayhawks play at the University of Kansas campus, visit one of the many awesome zoos, or stop by the Wichita Gardens for an incredibly wonderful experience. You can’t go wrong with a trip to one of the best Kansas attractions, the Cosmosphere, a museum dedicated to space exploration.

What is Kansas known for?

Kansas is known as the Sunflower State, with its vast prairies (the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, for example) and natural beauty such as the Monument Rocks. Many people associate Kansas with the Wild West, grass-fed beef, the Wizard of Oz, and some of the best slow-smoked bar-b-que.

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