You can earn a master’s degree in Kansas culture by exploring this region’s wide and impressive range of rural and urban experiences. Go on field trips to natural habitats for up-close studies in biology and zoology. Take multiple-choice taste tests in gastronomy and mixology. Learn about avian flyways and aviation marvels. Journey deep underground and soar to great heights. Immerse yourself in agritourism at Elderslie Farm and other country retreats. And get history lessons on busy street corners and quiet roads.
Bartlett ArboretumBack to Top of List
Escape to a 15-acre paradise of trees, trails and tranquility, 25 miles south of Wichita. Robin Macy, a founding member of the Dixie Chicks (now The Chicks), tends the secret garden, which bursts with a colorful spectrum of 40,000 tulips in mid-April.
Carry A. Nation HomeBack to Top of List
Carry Nation took an ax and gave a tavern 40 whacks. Actually, the temperance queen used a hatchet (like Lizzie Borden, reportedly) that’s on display here, along with a sign reading, “Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours.”
CosmosphereBack to Top of List
The Space Race relaunches as the largest combined collection of U.S. and Russian space artifacts. Kansas’ only Smithsonian-affiliated museum boasts a flown craft from the first three human-carrying space programs—Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
Maxwell Wildlife RefugeBack to Top of List
Come face to face with a bison herd as you cross the prairie in a tram. Tours (reservations required) give an eyeful of native wildflowers and grasses, too, plus glimpses of white-tailed deer and other wildlife. See plains elk November through March.
Quivira National Wildlife RefugeBack to Top of List
Spot rare whooping cranes and other majestic birds at this haven for migratory waterfowl in the Central Flyway. A unique combination of salt marsh and sand prairie provides feathered friends food, cover and a place to rest.
StratacaBack to Top of List
It’s not just another day in the salt mines. A 6-ton hoist drops you 650 feet down through a frozen aquifer and layers of rock to a museum in a former section of a salt mine. Explore detailed underground exhibits and learn about the types of things stored underground, including movie memorabilia.
Tanganyika Wildlife ParkBack to Top of List
A giant water-spewing giraffe replica greets visitors to Tanganyika Falls, the zoo’s new animal-themed splash park. See a real water-spewing giraffe, too—a 14-inch tongue coats your fingers with slobber when you feed one of the gentle giants.
WichitaBack to Top of List
For decades, Wichita has built a reputation on aviation. Today it soars with discoveries along and near the Arkansas River. Case in point: Botanica, The Wichita Gardens, a 20-acre plant paradise. More than 4,000 species fill themed areas like the Shakespeare Garden, which bursts with blossoms referenced by the Bard. All the (natural) world’s a stage at Great Plains Nature Center’s live animal exhibits. Trails lead through woodlands, wetlands and prairie at adjacent Chisholm Creek Park.
Maintaining a vigil over the prairie is Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot-high steel sculpture by Blackbear Bosin at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers. For 15 minutes each night, fire drums light the tribute to Native Americans. Long before any people, giant sea creatures swam Kansas’ prehistoric waters. See their fossilized skeletons at the Museum of World Treasures, a mix of shrunken heads, mummies, dinosaurs, presidents and wars. Meet Logan the Tylosaurus, who patrolled the Western Inland sea, and Xiphactinus, a predatory fish.
Cowboys patrol Main Street at Old Cowtown Museum, where staged gunfights break out daily. Yes, frontier life got wild in the 1860s and 1870s, the era re-created at this living-history site. See 54 original or replica structures, plus interpreters who take you back in time.
If rescue animals tug at your heartstrings, you’ll adore the elephants at Sedgwick County Zoo. The six pachyderms from Swaziland occupy the third-largest elephant habitat in the U.S. In all, the zoo houses nearly 400 animal species. Among 10,000 works at the Wichita Art Museum, look for Kansas Cornfield, a 1933 painting by one of the state’s most famous artists, John Steuart Curry.
LindsborgBack to Top of List
Visitors from Scandinavia say Lindsborg feels more Swedish than Sweden with all of its traditional festivities. Get the lay of the land from atop Coronado Heights, a 300-foot-tall bluff
with a castle-like stone shelter. Then feast like royalty at Crown and Rye, a bar and restaurant serving Swedish dishes such as Köttbullar (meatballs with egg noodles in a beef cream sauce).
Another Swedish tradition is the Dala horse, inspiration for a herd of Wild Dala Horses found around Lindsborg. To locate the creatively painted wooden creatures, grab a guide in town or online. If you like the look, take home a personalized Dala-shape house sign from Hemslöjd, a Swedish gift shop.
Celebrate one famed local artist at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, named for the painter and printmaker who studied in Stockholm before coming to Lindsborg in 1894 to teach. The gallery displays his works and those of active contemporary artists. It’s a small world, and Jim Richardson has photographed a lot of it for National Geographic. His wife, Kathy, designs jewelry. They share their work at Small World Gallery, where you can shop for cards, posters, prints, earrings, necklaces and books.
Uncover more incredible sights, tastes and sounds across the state in the 2022 Official Kansas Travel Guide.