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33 Fun Things to Do in Kansas

33 Fun Things to Do in Kansas

My friend Sara and I have been influencers for the Big Kansas Road Trip twice, where we met so many people that we’ve stayed in close contact with, and then most recently did another two-week-long adventure through Kansas Highway 36. Here are 33 fun things to do in Kansas that I’ve experienced and enjoyed on my many visits.

melody-pittman-on-vintage-car

Did You Know? I love any chance I get to sing praises for the state of Kansas. I fell in love with the Sunflower State on my first visit to Wichita, which then led me through the Flint Hills, to Topeka, and then Manhattan. A second trip took me to Kansas City, which I’ve visited quite a few times, and then for a 16-day road trip across I-70. Talk about fun!

1. See the Limestone Statues (Hays)

Local artist Pete Felten has been super busy producing the unique limestone sculptures found throughout Hays, Kansas. The sheer attention to detail in these mesmerizing pieces is unbelievable. You can see 20+ of the sculptor’s works around town or visit his Stone Gallery professional studio.

pete-felten-sculpture-in-hays-kansas

2. Visit Moon Marble Company

The Moon Marble Company in Bonner Springs, Kansas, has produced riveting color combinations and creative marbles since 1997. You can watch them being designed on the spot and shop the impressive gift shop. 

>>Check store hours as demonstrations were cancelled due to COVID.

moon-marble-collection

3. Visit a Gorgeous Winery

Shiloh Vineyard in WaKeeney is home to a fantastic selection of wines, a tasting room, and an event space. Wine types range from reds and whites to fruits and dessert wines, but if you are feeling adventurous, try a flight. Owners Kirk and Treva are friendly and wonderful to chat with as you sip delicious wines in their gorgeous tasting room. Flights are $8, or samples are $5.

shiloh-vineyard-table-setting-for-tasting

4. Witness Monument Rocks

When you arrive at Monument Rocks Chalk Pyramids, you may forget that you are in Kansas and picture yourself somewhere exotic, requiring a passport stamp. Monument Rocks is unbelievable. You start seeing it as you drive up to the property and are in awe of the sheer size (70 feet tall) of these enormous sedimentary formations and rock outcroppings.

You’ll find this special place four miles east of US83 and 25 miles south of Oakley.

Fun Fact: Monument Rocks were the first Kansas attraction chosen in 1968 by the US Dept. of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark.

monument-rocks-oakley-ks

5. Get Some Finger-Licking’ Good Grub

JC’s Bbq and Grill in Junction City is a tasty place to sink your teeth into a full or half slab rib platter, burgers, and sandwiches. Pair your meats with delicious sides like baked beans, loaded potato salad, or sweet potato fries. Don’t forget the dipping sauces and dessert.

jcs-ribs-baked-beans-corn-dishes

6. Dine at Erin’s Fresh Food Truck

Chef Erin offers her culinary delights at Erin’s Food Truck in Sharon Springs, Kansas. The scratch-made menu changes often, but know that whatever you order is sure to be delicious. Order the homemade pop tarts if they are available. So freaking good.

Erin also has a full service restaurant next door, Towns End Tavern, for a more traditional dining experience. Though I haven’t eaten there yet, I’ve heard nothing but marvelous compliments.

towns-end-tavern-kansas

7. See the Cathedral of the Plains

Saint Fidelis Basilica is a thing of beauty, actually on the level of many stately historic European churches. Found in Victoria, Kansas, just a hop, skip and jump off Kansas I-70, the more commonly known Cathedral of the Plains is a great place to stop and stretch your legs while admiring the stunning 1911 architecture. The two towers reach 141 feet tall.

cathedral-of-the-plains-kansas

8. Ride the Abilene Railroad

Bring the family for a fun 10½-mile eastbound ride through beautiful farmland and the Smoky Hill River Valley aboard the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad. The heritage train with a 100-year-old wooden coach dining car runs May through October and is a great way to soak up the scenery and get some good photos. 

As you can see, Sara and I are sometimes more interested in anyone with a uniform or costume.

abilene-smoky-valley-railroad

9. Admire Keeper of the Plains

Keeper of the Plains is an absolutely amazing art installment in the heart of Wichita, Kansas. The 44-foot tall steel sculpture, created by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin, looks to the sun with his arms raised on top of an elevated rock perch at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers. Around him, fire pots are lit each night at sundown and burn for about 15 minutes.

Thousands of people come out to this sacred site nightly for the ceremony, including street vendors, entertainers, and more. 

keeper-of-the-plains-dusk

10. Enjoy a Beer at LB Brewing

LB Brewing is the backbone of Hays. Serving Gella’s Diner pub grub, tasty appetizers, gourmet burgers, and classic entrees, this award-winning microbrewery is also an excellent place to have a good, cold beer and listen to music. My favorite eats are the Beer Cheddar or Green Bean, Potato, & Dumpling Soups paired with an oatmeal stout. Don’t miss the seasonal beer menu, too. 

How lucky was I to run into and meet A Thousand Horses on my visit there?

meeting-a-thousand-horses-in-hays-kansas

11. Visit the Oz Museum: One of the Super Fun Things to Do in Kansas

Wamego, Kansas, is home to the fabulous Oz Museum on Kansas Hwy 99. No place can compete with the enormous collection of Wizard of Oz merchandise and memorabilia housed here. Admission is $9 for adults/$7 for children, and you are free to wander the space filled with 2,000 Oz artifacts, memorabilia, exhibits, and the Oz Museum store. 

oz-museum-kansas

Treasures you will find inside are the doors and windows from a munchkin house (used in the film The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz), props from the Broadway musical Wicked, original movie posters and rare autographs by original actors playing Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. There is even a Woozy Doll made by author L. Frank Baum.

dorothy-display-at-oz-museum

12. Learn About Historic LeCompton

The town of Lecompton, founded on a 640-acre Wyandotte Indian land claim, has so much history, and the docents at Historic Lecompton are happy to share it with anyone who walks through the door. The museum is fun to browse, even self-guided, with scads of memorabilia, documents, collectibles, period clothing, and more. 

Try to schedule your visit around the “Birthplace of the Civil War, Where Slavery Began to Die.” reenactment, a powerful presentation that really makes you think.

territorial capital museum Lecompton

13. Visit A One-Of-A-Kind Cemetery

The Mount Hope Cemetery in Hiawatha is one of the most unique I’ve ever been to—and I do quite a bit of cemetery travel. The Davis Memorial is an intricate tomb costing between $250,000 and $500,000 in the 1930s when John M. Davis commissioned the work and imported the Italian marble. Keep in mind, this was during the Great Depression.

The finished product featured 11 life-size figures depicting he and wife Sarah at various stages in their life, and was built after her death. A 50-ton canopy tops the massive piece which has been on Ripley’s Believe It or Not and was an 8 Wonders of Kansas finalist. The legend is that Mr. Davis spent his wealth on this rather than leave it to his wife’s family.

davis-memorial-gravesite

14. Explore Milford Nature Center

Milford Nature Center is a treasure trove of family-fun and hands-on exhibits in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Raptors, eagles, and a bobcat display are outdoors, while inside has native animal furs for touching, turtles, snakes, and a prairie dog. The Butterfly House Exhibit is open from late May through early October, and there is a fun children’s playground.

15. See the Eisenhower Park Rose Garden

Abilene is home to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum, but also a lesser-known free attraction, the Eisenhower Park Rose Garden. The grounds overflow with vibrant rose blooms and a picturesque fountain in the garden’s center. It is a nice place to come to appreciate nature or the calm setting. 

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eisenhower-rose-garden

16. Go to Mount Sunflower

Mount Sunflower is the highest natural point in the state of Kansas. You may want to consider visiting in a 4WD, as it is steep (4039 ft) and often muddy. But, once you are at the top, you can see miles and miles of beautiful scenery. Farmlands and golden grasses shine in the sunlight.

There is a mailbox for signing and leaving a memento, and you don’t want to miss taking a swing at a golf ball, which is a tradition.

mt-sunflower-golfing

17. Stay in a Themed Hotel

Chateau Avalon in KCK (Kansas City, Kansas) is a boutique hotel with 24 themed rooms. You are in for a treat when you check in to these originals with a capital O accommodations situated on 28 wooded acres. Choose between luxury, adventure, or classic rooms. The room themes are Tuscany, Roman Dynasty, Mayan Rainforest, New York Penthouse, and Havana, to name a few.

Chateau Avalon has an onsite spa and lounge, but the outdoor patio is my favorite place at the property. 

chateau-avalon-kansas-city

18. Play at Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park

Manhattan has a fantastic family-friendly offering at Wildwood Adventure Park, an 80-acre park minutes from downtown. Experience seven thrilling free-fall finish zip lines, or race a friend on the two tandem zips. The wooded property is an excellent escape from the norm, and you will appreciate the adrenaline rush as you enjoy one of the best outdoor attractions in the state. 

For even more thrills, Wildwood Outdoor Adventures Park has a two-mile obstacle trail run with monkey bars, hurdles, an 8-foot wall, and much more to really challenge the great outdoorsman. This is easily one of the most fun things to do in Kansas that I’ve witnessed.

wildwood-outdoor-adventure

19. Nosh at Varsity Donuts

More my speed, in Manhattan, Kansas, is Varsity Donuts, a local institution. The shop is an Instagrammer’s dream, with a great floor, spaces, beautiful sweet treats, and excellent branding. Varsity Donuts taste every bit as good as they smell and look. My favorite flavors are Thin Mint, Maple Bacon, and Party Girl.

pistachio-varsity-donuts

20. Smith County Higley Cabin 

Though the beauty of the attraction’s site is well worth the drive, the real popularity is because the Higley Cabin belonged to the creator of “Home on the Range,” originally a poem.

Higley built the log cabin near Smith Center, Kansas, in 1875. Allow time for the short hike around the property, with educational signs displayed all around, depicting the story of this unique offering. 

higley-cabin

21. Learn About Fred Harvey

Though currently under restoration, you can someday soon learn a lot about the life and career of Fred Harvey in a museum of the same name in Leavenworth, Kansas. This man was responsible for elevating the dining experience, first on trains, to the fine dining special touches we love and look forward to today. 

Harvey was vital in many of the National Park hotel restaurants, sprucing up luxury train travel, recruiting young women to work at his restaurants in the New Frontier from around the country, and his best-known accomplishment, The Harvey House (and Girls).

Fun Fact: Learn more about The Harvey Girls in the film starring none other than Judy Garland.

fred-harvey-house-kansas

22. Find Deliciousness at Bourbon & Baker Restaurant

And since we are discussing Manhattan, enjoy a fantastic dining experience, with stunning restaurant decor, at Bourbon & Baker. While the food is excellent, the restaurant also offers wines on tap and a considerable bourbon menu. There are so many foods to recommend, as I tried a bunch, but my favorites were the chicken & waffles, deviled eggs, and the smoked chicken and poblano cheese dip. 

deviled-eggs-bourbon-and-baker

The Fried Bologna (3) Slider Stack is a fun menu item with grilled German bologna, dijon aïoli, white cheddar, and homemade pickles. It is yummy!

bourbon-and-baker-decor

23. Check Out Incredible Bikes

The St. Francis Motorcycle Museum is a walk through history, 115 years to be exact, with a treasure trove of all things two-wheeled. I’ve toured many a vehicle museum in the country, and this is one of the best. The St. Francis Motorcycle Museum has nearly 150 vintage cycles with brands ranging from Indian, Harley-Davidson, Excelsior, Thor, and Flanders.

There are also some unique pieces that you have to see to believe!

st-francis-motorcycle-museum-kansas

24. Swim at the Colby Aquatic Park

Kansas is lucky to have great water attractions in so many towns. That is the case in Colby, where the Colby Aquatic Park offers a swimming pool, aqua park, and exercise classes for only $5 per day or a 10-day punch for $25. 

25. Explore the Kansas Ag Museum

Bonner Springs offers the super cool National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame. This memorial to farming is a collection, indoors and out, of fascinating tools, exhibits, collections, and living history displays. The museum hosts several family-friendly events, including Barnyard Babies, Amaizing Sweet Corn Glean-a-thon and Sweet Corn Festival, and International Lineman’s Rodeo.

The museum is open for self-guided tours Thursday through Saturday, 10 AM to 2 PM. There is no admission fee, but a $5 donation is appreciated.

kansas-city-agriculture-museum

26. Indulge in Russell Stover

The Russell Stover’s Candy Store in Abilene offers discounted merchandise, a Custom Build-A-Box of your favorite chocolates (by the piece), freshly brewed coffee, and an ice cream parlor. Who can say no to a chocolate-covered marshmallow Easter bunny or peppermint bar Snowman? My friend Sara and I skipped the candies for a fattening hot fudge sundae. 

Diabetic? No worries. Russell Stover’s has lots of sugar-free candies.

russell-stover-ice-cream-shop

27. Taste Fabulous BBQ at Joe’s (Kansas City)

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que is a game-changer—highly popular and with some original dishes. My favorite is the famous Z-Man sandwich with slow-roasted brisket and provolone on a Kaiser roll. The potato salad and bbq beans are both yummy. Here’s a tip: arrive early as the wait is long daily. 

joes-kansas-city-bbq

28. Wander the Prairie Museum of Art & History

I so enjoyed exploring the Prairie Museum of Art & History in Colby. It is chock full of “everything but the kitchen sink.” Also, a repository for the Thomas County Historical Society, the museum’s collections range from paintings and artwork to a fascinating doll collection and some of the most original glassware I’ve seen in the country. 

Besides the thousands of items inside the museum, there are also noteworthy outdoor buildings. These all share a look at the pioneer’s lives who settled in Western Kansas. Amongst the buildings are a sod house, a one-room schoolhouse, and the Cooper Barn, the largest in the state. The Cooper Barn was previously voted one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas Architecture.

prairie-museum-of-art-glassware-collection

29. Drink Wine at Liquid Art Winery & Estate

Another Manhattan, Kansas, treasure is the gorgeous Liquid Art Winery & Estate, also a popular wedding venue with 360-degree views. The attraction produces wine and Dave & Dani Craft Cider for the indoor and outdoor tasting room, plus offers a double-sided fireplace, bocce ball court, and tiered patios with ultimate views of the stunning Flint Hills.

Pair your wine, cider, or flight with a sweet or savory pizza or charcuterie board.

liquid-art-wine-tasting

30. Black Squirrels on Parade

Marysville, Kansas, is home to black squirrels, a genetic variation of the Eastern Grey Squirrel. If you even mention Marysville to anyone who has been there, they will immediately strike up a conversation about the black squirrels, which are cute as can be.

black-squirrel-in-marysville

A fun play on the rare squirrels in the town is with the Black Squirrels on Parade, the official mascot. The nearly 50 fiberglass sculptures are 5 feet tall and artistically painted and decorated. You can make a scavenger hunt of finding them around town and snap up pictures along the way. 

My personal favorites include Frida, Dewey, and Road Warrior, but they are all super cute.

black-squirrels-on-parade-art-installments

31. The Garden of Isis

The Garden of Isis has been a freakishly weird but uber-cool Kansas attraction for years. Visual artist Mri-Pilar has used a vivid imagination and creative streak to build a five-room art gallery from trash, treasures, and many recycled materials. Parts range from doll bodies and heads to kitchen utensils, machinery, and lots of bling.

Admission to the Garden of Isis is included with your Grassroots Art Center ticket. Prices are $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 6 to 12.

garden-of-isis-creations

32. See Madonna on the Trail

Stop in Council Bluffs to see the Madonna on the Trail, the only one in Kansas. The statue is one in a series of 12 identical monuments created to honor the spirit of the pioneer women commissioned by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. The 12 monuments are in each state that the National Old Trails Road passed.

madonna-on-the-trail-statue-in-council-grove-

The They Also Ran Gallery is a unique museum that plays a tongue-in-cheek look at the losing Presidential candidates. It is located on the second floor of the First State Bank in Norton. Stop by and ask for a tour of the free and most interesting attraction.

they-also-ran-gallery

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