A while back, my family visited Wichita and had a great weekend. It surpassed expectations. Along the way, we stopped in Lindsborg for lunch and to see, well, a castle. And again, that quick stop exceeded expectations. So, given this trend, I figure, there’s quite a bit in Kansas that’s waiting to be discovered. I’ve begun a Kansas Bucket List in order to collect my thoughts and start making plans to get to know the state better.
If this list inspires you to travel, let me know!
Hike in the Flint Hills
The Flint Hills in eastern Kansas is an expansive, hilly region with rocky soil. It’s a unique region because it contains the densest coverage of intact tallgrass prairie in North America.
You won’t find a lot of farms due to the soil. There are several places to hike in the Flint Hills, including Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge, and Konza Prairie Biological Station.
Make it to Svensk Hyllningsfest
The biennial festival Svensk Hyllningsfest in Lindsborg celebrates the town’s Swedish heritage. My dad’s side of the family is proud of their Swedish ancestry so that’s right up my alley. There’s folk dancing, ethnic music, smorgasbord, and entertainment.
I took the kids to a Tulip Festival in Iowa one spring, and they enjoyed it, so I could see this festival also being good for them.
Add To Your Bucket List: While you’re in Lindsborg, there’s a nearby “castle” that should be on your bucket list! We stopped at the Coronado Heights Park, and my young kids were amazed at the picnic structure there that looks like a small, medieval castle.
It was so memorable, it’s on the 10 Beautiful Midwest Places To Inspire Wonder list!
Pretend to be an astronaut
Hutchinson is home to Cosmosphere, a museum with displays and interactive exhibits like the Liberty Bell 7, the Apollo 13 command module Odyssey, and a version of Mission Control desk kids (and I) can sit at.
So maybe I’m less astronaut than Mission Control, but who’s counting?
Stay at a historic Kansas hotel
Why stay at a run-of-the-mill hotel when you can stay some place memorable in Kansas? Here are a few highly rated historic hotels to consider:
- Historic Wolf Hotel, Ellinwood, Kan.
- LandMark Inn at the Historic Bank of Oberlin, Oberlin, Kan.
- Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, Wichita, Kan.
- Cyrus Hotel, Topeka, Kan.
- Senate Luxury Suites, Topeka, Kan.
Hang with cowpokes
Old Cowtown Museum has been on my wish list to visit ever since I was planning my Wichita vacation. I still haven’t made it, so my dream of having a chuckwagon dinner or watching the 1880s reenacted remains.
I’ll find some similar action at Boot Hill Museum and Front Street in Dodge City.
Experience a cattle drive
There are places in Kansas where you don’t just watch actors re-enact the cowboy experience – you can live it. Some ranches like the Flying W Ranch in Cedar Point let guests experience the cowboy lifestyle with horseback rides, cattle drives, wagon rides and more.
Add To Your Bucket List: Love all kinds of close encounters with animals. Tanganyika Wildlife Park isn’t on my list because I’ve been there, but it’s definitely a worthy bucket list addition for you!
Why? Wildlife encounters there include feeding an okapi, lemur or giraffe!
See the out-of-this-world rocks
Mushroom Rock State Park has some of the oddest rock formations I’ve seen in pictures. Guess what it looks like. I just want to see it in person now.
Selfie in front of the book mural
Book lovers heads up. There’s a beautiful, huge mural on the side of a doctor’s office in Tonganoxie.
Explore Kansas’ Badlands
Yep, Kansas has a Badlands region. In the state’s northwestern corner, a scenic drive, called the Arikaree Breaks Wildlife Drive, takes you through landscape flecked with yuca and prickly pear cactus among the shortgrass prairie.
And a new state park, Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park, has even more picturesque views. Little Jerusalem is slated to open sometime in the summer of 2019. Neither place is what I imagine to be Kansas.
Try unique eats in Kansas
Kansas has plenty of unique food and unique places to eat, I’ve discovered. On my list includes the hidden gem in Beaver, called Mo’s. Pretty much, it’s a microbrewery with a lot of loyal fans (it has a hard-to-come-by 4.9 Google review rating). One newspaper headline called it a piece of “Cheers” on the prairie.
Then there’s Wheatfields in Lawrence, a bakery that gets a lot of attention. It’s made a USA Today list for 10 great US bakeries, and it has been featured on the Food Network and History Channel.
The Stearman Field Bar and Grill at the little Benton Airport made my Wichita Bucket List, but since I didn’t get to visit it when I was in the area last time, I’m including it on this list too so I don’t forget. Why? Where else can you dine that close to planes taking off and landing?
Go to the beer playground
In Overland Park, there’s this place called the Brew Lab, and it’s been nicknamed KC’s playground for craft beer lovers. Since this is a bucket list where time and money don’t matter, I’d go here to learn how to brew beer and then brew myself a big ‘ol batch of it.
If I’m short on time, I’ll just go and have a pint of someone else’s fabulous concoction and a bite to eat while I’m at it.
See pueblo ruins
The northernmost Indian pueblo in the U.S. is found in Kansas. El Cuartelejo Pueblo near Scott City dates back to 1650 to 1750 A.D., and the ruins of the site can still be seen today. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
See a sunflower field
It’s not the Sunflower State for nothing. Word is that peak viewing of sunflowers is in late summer, and a great place to find them is at Grinter’s Sunflower Farm near Lawrence.