Road Tripper Story Starters
BEAUTIFUL SCENIC BYWAYS, HISTORIC HIGHWAYS, AND THE BEST OF SMALL TOWN KANSAS
Kansas is home to 12 byways; nine scenic, two of which are National Scenic Byways and three designated historic byways. In addition to being beautiful drives, the byways each have a fascinating history and an abundance of activities to enjoy. Each offers travelers an opportunity to experience a small portion of Kansas' unique landscape or to follow the route of an historic military trail.
Before the days of interstate highways, travelers wanting to drive cross-country followed fabled Route 66. Many travelers are surprised to learn that the "Main Street of America" passes through the southeastern corner of Kansas. Although Route 66 through Kansas is only 13.2 miles, the flavor of the route is still alive in the three small towns along the way - Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs. Although interstates have created a faster way to travel cross-country, Route 66 is still a popular route for travelers ready to experience a little small-town nostalgia.
AGRITOURISM - IT'S THE REAL DEAL IN KANSAS
Outside its bustling urban centers, Kansas is woven with the rich fabric of rural life, and authentic agritourism abounds. At Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch in Overbrook, families can step back in time and imagine what settlers traveling westward on the Santa Fe Trail experienced. Bison thrived for thousands of years on the native prairie grasses, and bison are back to stay, thanks in large part to family-owned ranches like this one. The Cowboy Way Ranch in the beautiful Flint Hills is a 1,000 acre working cattle ranch that offers visitors a once in a life time experience...the spring prairie renewal pasture burn. As the burn starts in the evening you personally take part in dragging fire and watching the hills light up as the night falls and the sun sets. Few attractions in Crawford County match the genuine, down-home appeal of the Hickory Creek Farms Agritourism Attraction. Special Family Fun Days on the farm in the fall include a corn maze, critter corral, hayrack rides, Hickory Creek Express, pumpkin catapult and live duck races.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED IN KANSAS
There are a number of unique family attractions in Kansas that offer pleasant surprises to visitors willing to travel off the main highways. Here are just a few examples. Strataca in Hutchinson allows you to travel 650' below the Kansas prairie to experience an active salt mine and the only underground salt museum in the western hemisphere. Cheyenne Bottoms (the largest inland marsh in the United States), and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge near Great Bend, are major stopovers for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, including pelicans, sandhill cranes, plovers, and thousands of ducks and geese. Kansas was once a great inland sea, and the remains of giant sea creatures are still being uncovered. Dig up your own fossils on a guided tour with an experienced archeologist near Scott City. And the Garden of Eden in Lucas is a monument to individualism. Characters from the Bible are carved out of native rock and cement. You have to see it to believe it.
Every spring, Kansas gardeners get ready for the growing season. Before perusing gardening catalogs, eager gardeners should visit one of the state's arboretums for great landscaping ideas about native and adaptable plants that thrive in the state's climate.Themed gardens, prairie gardens, and gardens representing the extreme environments of the desert and the tropics are a few of the gardens open to the public. Some of the most beautiful gardens can be experienced during private garden tours. The most impressive and dramatic of all the private gardens is the Binkley Gardens. This 3-acre garden features over 35,000 tulips and 12,000 daffodils. Historic neighborhoods in Topeka and Fort Scott also offer tours of their special private gardens.
The way to get a great taste of Kansas' grassroots art scene is to visit the epicenter of it - Lucas, Kan. It's a great weekend road trip destination. Grassroots art is made by people with no formal training, using everyday materials in an extraordinary way. Grassroots artists are visionaries who reshape their environments around themselves, perhaps making themselves part of the artwork. Kansas ranks third in the number of grassroots art sites in the U.S. (after Wisconsin and California), and Lucas is the Kansas capital of it.