Dorothy had it right when she clicked the heels of her ruby red shoes and wished to return home to Kansas. This quintessential Midwestern state defines the rural, agricultural breadbasket region of America, and regularly surprises first-time visitors with its range of historic, cultural, and natural attractions. Find out for yourself what lies beneath the horizon of corn fields in Kansas.
Things to do in Kansas run the gamut from unique natural attractions to legendary highlights of early pioneering America. Experience the Wild West in historic Dodge City or soak up the endless horizons of Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve. It’s a breeze to jump between the outdoors and history, as towns like Lawrence have incredible antique downtowns just outside of recreation areas for biking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and hunting.
By all accounts, traveling around Kansas is a great deal. Hotel rates are lower than those of most other states and the folks here are genuinely friendly to visitors. You won’t find many luxury resorts or spas, but the indulgent barbecue and fried chicken is among the best on the planet. If it’s a humble, salt of the earth Midwest experience you’re after, then Kansas is the perfect destination.
With so few major cities of note to work with in Kansas, most trips involve moving from site to site. You’ll certainly want to see Dodge City and the Dickinson County Heritage Center to learn more about the pioneer prairie life of the 1800s. The world’s last great swath of tall grass and natural prairie is here as well, in Flint Hills, a surreal place that seems surpassed by the development of America.
To enjoy all this special scenery you will have to rent a car. Even in the few Kansan cities, public transport is not much use to the average tourist, and the real beauty of this state lies in its gentle rolling roads and unknown rural towns along the way. Kansas is a great place for a road trip and to try to see the state any other way you will be sorely disappointed (or frustrated).
- Stroll Front Street in Dodge City and picture Wyatt Earp standing in front of the original saloon keeping an eye on the town
- Walk through the sea of green at Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve, the last untouched swath of original prairie in North America
- Café-hop in Lawrence’s 19th-century downtown district, one of the best-preserved and largest in America
- Relive the life of prairie pioneers at living museums like Old CowTown and Dickinson County’s Heritage Center
- Bike or hike a stretch of the original Santa Fe, Chisholm, or Oregon trails
- Fish for big bluegill in a secret pond tucked into the folds of the prairie
- Learn more about Kansas’ rich Native American heritage in the museums of Wichita