Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nine Spots in Kansas You Don't Want to Miss

To many, Kansas is just another fly-over state full of flat green and brown squares. But to me, it is home and full of surprises for the whole family.

Sure we have Dorothy and waving wheat, but there is so much more to this rectangular state in the middle of the country. As someone who grew up there, allow me to be your tour guide to my nine favorite places in the Sunflower State. For each stop, click the heading to see a website with more information.

Clinton Lake State Park and Beach

A beach? In Kansas? Why yes, we have one of those, complete with sand and water. Clinton State Park has campgrounds, walking trails and a lake for boating, fishing and swimming. Parking at the beach is $1 a car, so be sure to start saving your money now!

Clinton State Park is right outside of Lawrence, Kansas, so enjoy this stop along with the "Bonus" stop at the end of this article! The park can be visited anytime, but the best way to optimize this natural resource is in the summer so you can camp, fish and swim!

Pheasant Hunting Trip

Do you, your family or your friends enjoy a down-and-dirty weekend of hunting? Kansas pheasant brings people from all across the country during hunting season. The link above has an expansive list of packages, resorts and resources. Pheasant season generally runs from mid-November through the end of January, but be sure to check online before you book your travel for exact dates. And there are dozens of companies and contacts who will take you on a hunt; find one you like and go from there!

Traveling to Kansas to go pheasant hunting is time sensitive, so do your research and bring warm clothes!

The Topeka Rose Gardens

Formerly named Reinisch Rose Garden and Doran Rock Garden, the Rose Garden lives in the State Capital of Topeka and brings in thousands of admirers a year. Peak bloom is June through August, and the Gardens are an extremely popular wedding venue for local couples.

The Rose Garden can be found in Topeka, Kansas, and the ideal time to smell the roses is mid-Summer.

A Cosmosphere is not unique to Kansas, but my weekend in Space Camp at the Hutchinson Cosmosphere was one of my favorite college experiences! You have the simulators, space food and planetarium to explore, which is fantastic for the kids (and will bring out the inner-kid in you!).

The Cosmosphere is located in Hutchinson and is open year-round. If you have a large group, you can reserve tickets in advance.

Louisburg Cider Mill

After living in Virginia for three years, I have grown accustomed to wineries and breweries being just around the corner. When friends and family visit, we spend at least one day exploring several wineries/breweries/distilleries in the area.

Reminiscing about home (Kansas) has brought forth a wonderful Cider Mill in the rolling plains. Louisburg Cider Mill is known for its Apple Cider, of the non-alcoholic variety, and for its fun, family, Fall activities. For two weekends in late September and early October, you can enjoy Cider Fest, full of corn mazes, hay rides and pumpkins.

The Cider Mill is located in Louisburg, Kansas, and it is a great destination if you are traveling to Kansas in the fall!

Sedgwick County Zoo

Now, there are dozens of fantastic zoos in the US, and I have been to several: San Diego was GIGANTIC; Buffalo, New York, was interesting because it is literally downtown and you can see giraffe faces as you drive by; and Grand Rapids, Michigan, had the funniest prairie dogs I have ever seen. But if you want to see and interact with the most hilarious primates, take a pit stop in Wichita, Kansas.

Everyone has an opinion of the best time of year and time of day to visit a zoo, but a couple of things to keep in mind: animals are active in the early morning, Springtime is busy with school field trips and Wintertime is not always a no-go for a fun day.

Historic Dodge City

This is not a specific spot but rather the entire municipality of Dodge City, Kansas, because it has several activities to choose from. You can visit Boot Hill, an 1870's old West town, attend a Wrangler Pro Rodeo in early August and visit the historic Sante Fe Trail.

One of the greatest amenities of staying in Kansas? You can get a nice hotel room for under $80 per night. Gotta love the Midwest! Since these activities happen year-round, you can visit the Old West any time of year.

Kansas Speedway and The Legends

Into sports and shopping? You will love the Legends!

Kansas Speedway has a NASCAR race in early May every year, and throughout the year they use the track for driving experiences, Spring Cup races and occasionally a concert.

If you are more of a baseball fan, the Kansas City T-Bones may be a fun option the family. For as little as $6.50 a person, you can enjoy an AA game in a great stadium! Time it just right and you may even hit $1 night or Star Wars night.

But wait! Not a NASCAR or baseball fan? Do you enjoy soccer? Sporting KC has a BEAUTIFUL new stadium at The Legends, and an even more enthusiastic fanbase. Take in an MLB soccer game for as little as $15 per person if you plan far enough ahead.

All of these venues are located in The Legends, which is a fun venue in its own right. There are outlet stores, fun restaurants and a Hollywood Casino. Something for everyone!

All of this is located in Kansas City, Kansas, and you can get the most out of this trip by going in the Spring or Summer to coincide with sporting events and good weather (fingers crossed!).

Monument Rocks

If you want to slow it down and enjoy a few hours outdoors, you want to stop by the Monument Rocks. They look like something out of Arizona or New Mexico, but you can see them on your way through the Sunflower State.

Admission is free, and you can walk or drive through them. Visit at sunrise or sunset and you can snag some amazing photos as well. It is off the beaten path in Grinnell, Kansas, but when you find yourself in Western Kansas, do not miss the opportunity to stop by.

BONUS: The Original Rules of Basketball

Want to see the original rules of basketball, handwritten by James Naismith? You are in luck! Early this summer, The DeBruce Center on the University of Kansas campus will open, and you can see them in person!

As a Jayhawk myself, I am TOTALLY biased but if you are a fan of basketball, I think you will appreciate this bonus sight.

Map It Out!

See where your new favorite Kansas sights are by clicking the map. (Map link: )


Morgan Province is a creative freelancer who specializes in writing content for small businesses, creating and facilitating development training and coaching women who live abroad as trailing spouses. To learn more about her current projects, visit the Blog Directory!