Kansas has received a reputation as being a “boring flyover state” and do you know what? I can see why… but hear me out! If you have only seen the great Sunflower State via I-70, there is a good chance that you were in too big of a hurry to take in the beautiful scenery and to see what our state is REALLY about. Whether you live in Kansas or are an out-of-towner, the following 11 hidden gems are ones that you need to see to understand how special our state truly is:
1. Maxwell Wildlife Refuge (Canton)
Located near McPherson State Fishing Lake, this 2,560-acre sanctuary is home to some of the few remaining wild buffalo herds, as well as elk and other prairie animals. Hop on the tram to see the refuge's beauty for yourself!
2. The Troll (Wichita)
He may be green and terrifying (and he may or may not try to eat you), but the Wichita Troll - who is located underground at 777 W Central Ave - is one of those "WTF" things that everyone should see.
3. Davis Memorial (Hiawatha)
Believe it or not, this intricate sculpture was carved entirely of Italian marble by John Milburn Davis after his wife's passing in 1930. (Dear Husband, I hope you are reading this as I fully expect you to commemorate me in the same way!)
4. Clinton Lake (Lawrence)
Sure, Clinton Lake is great for camping and water sports, but the reason we are talking about it today is because it is truly one of the best spots in the state to catch one of our stunning sunsets...
5. Arikaree Breaks (Cheyenne County)
Why spend all that money traveling to the Grand Canyon when Kansas has an iconic canyon of its own? Welcome to the Arikaree Breaks; the virtually unknown badlands that feature a dramatic 2 1/2 mile break that was created by water some 10,000 years ago.
6. C.W. Parker Carousel Museum (Leavenworth)
Carousels are full of childhood nostalgia and whimsy, which makes this colorful museum (that shows visitors how these rides are made and operated) a fun outing for everyone in the family.
7. Greyhound Hall of Fame (Abilene)
Everyone knows about Abilene's famed Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, but did you know that the town is also home to the equally impressive Greyhound Hall of Fame, which features fascinating displays to peruse and real-life greyhounds to pet and love?
8. Gypsum Hills (Barber County)
Also known as the Red Hills, the Gypsum Hills are a unique area that feature rolling hills, ancient floodplains, canyons, and a distinct rust color that has to be seen firsthand to be appreciated.
9. J.R. Dickerman's Open Range Zoo (Lincoln County)
Don't you just love how talented our natives are? Grassroots artist Jim Dickerman is no exception and shares his larger-than-life visions (including dragons, bugs, and more) with those traveling along the highways of Lincoln County.
10. Dorothy's House & Land of Oz (Liberal)
You have heard of (and have maybe even visited) the impressive Oz Museum in Wamego; now check out the equally fun and vibrant Dorothy's House & Land of Oz, which features fun sets, memorabilia, and even tours offered by Dorothy herself!
11. Drinkwater & Schriver Flour Mill (Cedar Point)
No matter the time of year, this historic and picturesque mill, which once served as a production plant for both corn and wheat flower, is guaranteed to offer you a tranquil afternoon escape.