Most people don’t consider Kansas a very adventurous place to visit. Some even think a visit to the state might be dull. However, this place has proven to us time and time again that it is anything but. In fact, we’ve even gone so far as to compile a pretty long Kansas bucket list, and we suggest you do the same!
If you’re not sure where to start when creating your Kansas state travel list, you’ve come to the right place. In this article we will discuss our very favorite places to visit in this super fun state so you can get ideas for your own travel bucket list.
What is a Bucket List?
Unsure what a bucket list actually is? Let’s take a minute to explain this.
A bucket list is a collection of experiences you’d like to have before you kick the bucket. It might include places to visit, people to see, foods to eat, or any number of other things.
Most people keep one long bucket list that covers every part of their lives. However, we think it’s much easier to keep several smaller lists. We like to split these lists up based on places we intend to travel, and have been making one for each state.
Below is our Kansas bucket list. Hopefully it works as inspiration so you can create a must-do Kansas travel list of your own.
— Bucket List Vacations: Kansas’ National Parks —
Some of our favorite bucket list ideas come in the form of national parks sites. You see, our National Parks Service does an excellent job of creating and maintaining parks, historic sites, preserves, and more, and every single one is well worth visiting and exploring.
Be sure to add these Kansas NPS sites to your Kansas bucket list.
#1. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
In the summer of 1950, 13 parents attempted to enroll their children in their neighborhood schools. These children were refused admission based on their race. The parents filed suit against the Topeka Board of Education, a move that would alter history. Visit this historic site to learn more about the case and the history of segregation in America.
#2. Fort Larned National Historic Site
An authentic army post from the 1860s, Fort Larned is incredibly well preserved and the perfect place to dive into history. It’s located along the Santa Fe Trail and shares the history of the Indian Wars time period with all who visit.
#3. Fort Scott National Historic Site
Another historic fort that provides a wealth of information to visitors is Fort Scott. This site tells a collection of stories about a historic chain of events that happened in the area between the years 1842 and 1873, and is an excellent history lesson.
#4. Nicodemus National Historic Site
During the post-Civil War reconstruction period, a number of formerly enslaved African Americans left Kentucky and headed west to Kansas. Here, they built the Black settlement of Nicodemus. Today, this site represents the involvement of African Americans in the westward expansion.
#5. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
There was a time when tallgrass prairie covered 170 million acres in North America. Sadly, less than 4% of this beautiful and amazing ecosystem remains. This preserve protects one of the last remaining remnants of the once enormous tallgrass prairie.
#6. National Historic Trails
In addition to historic sites and the preserve, Kansas also has a number of historic trails running through it. Each of these is interesting in its own way, and we definitely recommend visiting and walking in the steps of history.
The National Historic Trails of Kansas include:
- Santa Fe National Historic Trail
- Pony Express National Historic Trail
- Oregon National Historic Trail
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
- California National Historic Trail
— More Kansas Bucket List Experiences —
Of course, the attractions mentioned above are far from the only things to see and do in the Sunflower State. In fact, there are so many options, you might just find you have a hard time choosing which ones are most important to you.
Here are some of the best of the best.
#7. Climb Mt. Sunflower
We all know Kansas is a pretty flat place. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the highest point in Kansas might be called a mountain, but actually isn’t a mountain at all—just a small mound in the middle of a very flat plain. Still, it’s fun to visit Mt. Sunflower, sign the guestbook, and take a photo or two.
#8. Stroll Through the Oz Museum
In the minds of some, The Wizard of Oz is what put Kansas on the map. Therefore, it only makes sense that this classic story would have a whole museum dedicated to it. This museum touches on the book series and all of the movie adaptations, so you can really dive deep into the fictional universe.
#9. Visit the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum
Carousels have a surprisingly interesting history. Go back to when the carousel was one of the most thrilling attractions at a carnival and learn the history behind this well-loved attraction. You’ll even get to peek at what is quite likely the oldest working carousel in the country!
#10. Pick Flowers at Grinter’s Sunflower Farm
Kansas is called the Sunflower State for a reason. Visit Grinter Farms in the late summer or early fall to see why. This place is home to some of the most amazing sunflower fields in the state, and visitors are invited to wander the field and pick their own sunflowers to take home.
#11. Stay at Hedrick’s Exotic Animal Farm Bed and Breakfast
Are you an animal lover? If so, you’ll love this bizarre bed-and-breakfast where you can step outside and see giraffes, camels, and a number of other friendly animals.
#12. Step Back in Time at Old Cowtown Museum
Every wish you could visit the Wild West when it was still…well, wild? The Old Cowtown Museum lets you do just that. This open-air living history museum features a recreated Old West town with interpreters available to answer questions and provide information on the day-to-day lives of the people who lived during this time.
#13. Learn at the National Orphan Train Complex
The orphan trains that ran from the 1850s through the 1920s were life-changing for many, and even helped shape our country in some ways. Oddly enough, many people don’t even know about this piece of our country’s history. Visit the National Orphan Train Complex to hear the stories of the people who traveled on these trains.
#14. Discover Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum
Did you know the famous Amelia Earhart grew up in Kansas? She did, and her childhood home is still standing and open to visitors. The home has been turned into a museum about the amazing woman, and is an awesome place to learn something new.
#15. Snap a Photo at the World’s Largest Hand-Painted Egg
Located in Wilson, the “Czech capital of Kansas,” the World’s Largest Hand-Painted Czech Egg certainly is an interesting thing to stop in and see. While you’re at it, be sure to explore the rest of the town and learn a little about Czech culture.
#16. Go Underground at Strataca
Ever wonder how salt gets to the table? Strataca, aka the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, takes guests underground to learn how salt mining was done many years ago in this old salt cave. You can even take home a chunk of salt for yourself!
#17. See the The Santa Fe Trail Wagon Ruts
Believe it or not, it’s still possible to see the ruts of the wagons that once traveled the Santa Fe Trail on a journey westward. Visit the Santa Fe Trail Wagon Ruts site and imagine what it must have been like to be on such a long and difficult journey.
#18. Admire the Art of Lucas, KS
Lucas is one of the most interesting small towns we’ve ever visited. It’s chock-full of amazing and odd artwork that we just can’t get enough of. The Garden of Eden, for instance, is an incredible sculpture that tells a new story with every piece, and was created by one man. Meanwhile, the Grassroots Art Center is a place where untrained artists of all ages are invited to display their works.
Other incredible Kansas bucket list worthy spots include Florence Deeble’s Rock Garden that represents various scenes from her travels, the mosaic-filled “Bowl Plaza” restroom, the tiny town built from rocks known as Miller’s Park, and the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things.
#19. Search for Lindsborg Wild Dala Horses
Lindsborg is an adorable little town that takes pride in its Swedish roots, holding festivals throughout the year to carry on cultural traditions. They’ve also decorated their town with beautiful dala horses as a nod to their Swedish culture. Find all of them and take a photo with each one.
#20. Explore Coronado Heights
While you’re in Lindsborg, be sure to stop in at the nearby Coronado Heights. This tiny castle is in the middle of nowhere and has a fairytale vibe that we just adore. Take a picnic to enjoy while you’re there, or just do a little exploring.
#21. Giggle at the Elk Falls Outhouse Decorating Competition
Elk Falls is a “ghost town that is still living,” with a population of under 100 people. That said, there are still reasons to visit. Here, you can see an awesome iron bridge and a beautiful waterfall. However, the best attraction in this town is the annual outhouse decorating competition that happens in the fall. Plan your visit to this tiny town during the competition for a lot of giggles.
#22. Check Out Truckhenge
Most works of art are created out of passion. Truckhenge was created because a man wanted to keep his old trucks. When the city told him he’d have to pick them up, he picked them up and buried their back ends in the ground. This created a work of art much like the better known Carhenge.
#23. Grab a Toy at Moon Marble Company
Everyone loves a good toy store, and Moon Marke Company is one of the best. Not only do they sell a wide variety of good old-fashioned toys, they also make marbles in-house. In fact, you can watch one being made right before your eyes!
#24. Gaze at Monument Rocks
This gorgeous natural wonder features some incredible rock formations that change each year as the wind and rain continue to erode them. Right now, the formations stand about 70 feet tall and are striking against the blue Kansas sky.
#25. Climb at Rock City Park
A strange sight to see, Rock City Park is home to a number of sandstone boulders which are all oddly spherical in shape, making them quite unique. Visitors are welcome to climb on the boulders, and we recommend you do just that. Be sure to snap a few photos as well!
#26. Stand Under a Mushroom Rock
Mushroom Rock State Park is also home to some of the sandstone boulders mentioned above. That said, these are different in that they haven’t completely separated from their host stone. This creates an odd mushroom-shaped rock that you can actually stand beneath. This is another of those oddities you’ll want to make sure to photograph.
#27. Go Wild at Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory
Big cats are some seriously amazing creatures. Learn about these awesome animals and help keep them safe by paying a visit to the Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory. Admission fees fund the place and ensure these cats live healthy lives.
#28. Find Bison at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
Want to see some bison in their natural habitat? Look no further than the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge. This beautiful natural area is chock-full of bison, as well as some lovely views.
As you can see, there is a lot to see and do in the Sunflower State, and we recommend you get right to it. Another thing we recommend? Seeing the state via RV. This allows you to move easily from one awesome spot to another, staying comfortable the entire time.
Don’t have an RV of your own? Our Kansas RV rentals ought to do the trick! Choose one you like, create a Kansas bucket list, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!