It’s crazy to think that 2016 is less than a week away! Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? If you haven’t, don’t panic; just print this list of 16 things everyone MUST do in Kansas in 2016:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Hike the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
The Tallgrass Prairie once covered more than 170 million acres of North America. Sadly, only 4% of that remains today. The good news, however, is that Kansas is home to this rare preserve that is worth exploring.
2. Tour the Kansas Underground Salt Museum: Strataca.
Did you know that there are 15 salt mines in the U.S., but only the Strataca in Hutchinson is open to the public? How cool is that? I'll meet you there!
3. Wander around Mushroom Rock State Park.
Named one of the 8 Wonder of Kansas, Mushroom Rock State Park contains unique rock formations composed through a process of nonuniform erosion and weathering.
4. Attend the Smallville Comic-Con...
After visiting Strataca in Hutch, make plans to get your geek on at the Smallville Comic-Con next summer! If comic books and video games aren't your thing, see #5.
5. ...or the Amelia Earhart Festival.
This Atchison tradition, which honors the legacy of the aviation pioneer with music, carnival rides, food and craft vendors, and more, is another fun and unique festival that everyone should experience! The Sunflower State is home to various festivals throughout the year including Oktoberfest (Hays), Prairie (Salina), and Washunga Days (Council Grove). Check around to find the one nearest you.
6. Enjoy a native ICEE...
The ICEE was invented by a Coffeyville Dairy Queen owner in 1958.
7. ...slice of pizza...
The first Pizza Hut was founded by two Wichita State students in 1958.
8. ...or a Nutter Butter Frozen Custard Cookie.
Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers was founded in Wichita in 2002 and opened its first storefront in Hutchinson two years later.
9. Walk along the Arikaree Breaks.
This stunning "8 Wonders of Kansas" landmark was carved out by water approximately 10,000 years ago, which caused the dramatic 2-3 mile-wide break in the ground.
10. Indulge in FREE chocolate.
The Russell Stover Candies Outlet Store in Abilene is dangerous...not only do they serve up some delicious candy, but they serve up some delicious FREE candy (in the form of samples). I'll eat to that!
11. Take the family to the drive-in.
Last summer, my husband and I took our toddler to the drive-in movie for the first time and had a BLAST! Lucky for us, there are still a handful of drive-in theaters left around Kansas, including Wichita's Starlite Drive-In (pictured).
12. Shop 'til you drop!
Raise your hand if you love getting a good deal! *raises both hands* Seriously, is there anything more fun than going to a flea market? You never know what you're going to find and are almost always guaranteed a great deal!
13. Cheer on the Royals.
Obviously, you'll have to travel to the Missouri side of KC, but it's worth it to cheer on our boys in blue!
14. Live like royalty (for a minute or two).
No need to travel overseas to live like a king, as Kansas is home to several castles. Pictured is the Evah C. Cray Historical Home, which contains elegant fireplaces, Victorian-era furnishings, hand-carved woodwork, and original chandeliers.
15. Get your haunt on.
Go figure that a state as beautiful as Kansas would also be haunted... If you are a fan of the paranormal, make sure to visit one of the many allegedly haunted sites in Kansas. (Pictured is Jackson Park in Atchison, which is said to be haunted by a woman who was found hanging from a tree in the park following her prom.)
16. Plan a diner "tour."
It's a well known fact that some of the best food you will ever taste comes from a diner. Make plans to visit a different Kansas diner every week for an entire year. Your taste buds will thank you!