Take Your Pick
Abilene, KS
President and General Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum - The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is made up of five main parts, a Visitor Center, a Museum, a Library, his Boyhood Home, and a Place for Meditation (Mamie and Dwight's final resting place). Start the tour with a 23 minute video on Eisenhower's life and then enjoy the rest of your self-guided tour of the grounds. Dwight D Eisenhower was a West Point Graduate who later became a Five Star General during WWII and then became the 34th President of the United States from 1953-1961. One of his greatest achievements was the creation of the Interstate Highway System, where today you will still see his name and emblematic five stars along its many routes.
Atchison, KS
Home of a Flying Legend
Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum - The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum is dedicated to the most famous female aviator in the world. It is housed in the 1861 woodframe cottage where she was born (1897) and grew up in. You can tour the entire house containing paintings, keepsakes, and some original furniture. Amelia Earhart's most notable accomplishments include being one of the first women to receive a pilot's license, setting a female world altitude record and becoming the first woman to make a transatlantic solo flight. But her final flight and mysterious disappearance is what keeps her legend alive today. On July 2, 1937 in an attempt to circumnavigate the world, Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared without a trace near Howland Island in the South Pacific.
Cawker City, KS
One Big Ball of Twine
World's Largest Ball of Twine - The World's Largest Ball of Twine was started by Frank Stoeber in 1953 and currently measures 7,801,766 feet and weighs 17,886 lbs. For a time the record was held by a fellow twine roller in Darwin, Minnesota, but the entire town of Cawker City pitched in and wrapped this behemoth back to the lead. The sign in front of the ball states the twine rollers philosophy "Thrift + Patience = Success". The is also a very accurate weather station.
Coffeyville, KS
Playing Possum with the Daltons
Dalton Defenders Museum - The Dalton Gang attempted to rob two banks at the same time in broad daylight in Coffeyville, Kansas on October 5, 1892. The Dalton Defenders Museum is dedicated to the citizens who lost their lives making sure they didn't succeed. Eight people died that day, four of the five Dalton Gang members, three townspeople, and the town Marshall. Inside the museum you will find the horse drawn hearse that carried the Dalton Gang, an 1800s store facade, and an assortment of guns and pictures. Outside you can retrace the final steps of the gang and see where each man fell.
Cottonwood Falls, KS
On the Kansas Prairie
Tallgrass Prairie - The Tallgrass Prairie as an intricate ecosystem of plants and animals that the National Park Service set aside as a National Preserve. At one time the Tallgrass Prairie covered more than 140 million acres in North America and now only a fraction of that number exists. On the Prairie you can take a bus tour of the Flint Hills area to see the historic homes or take in the "backcountry", fish in one of the three ponds on the preserve, set out on a hiking expedition, or kick back and enjoy the panoramic views of the of the wide-open prairie.
Dodge City, KS
Wickedest Little City in America
Boot Hill Museum and Front Street - The biggest attraction in Dodge City is the Boot Hill Museum and Front Street. The museum hosts a reconstruction of 1876 Dodge City where you can catch a stagecoach and be entertained with authentic looking gun-fights. In the late 1800s Dodge City was a lawless town where buffalo hunters, booze, gambling, and guns made for a deadly mix. This prompted a need for a make-shift burial place called the Boot Hill Cemetery. The museum is located on the grounds of the cemetery, where as you might expect most of the deceased where buried with their boots on. Later, with the help of Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp, things started to settle down in Wickedest Little City in America. They told the bad guys to "Git outta Dodge".
Ellis, KS
Chrysler Boyhood Home
Walter P Chrysler Boyhood Home - The Walter Percy Chrysler Boyhood Home and Museum is an interesting place to learn the history of one of the big three automakers. Walter held high ranking positions at the Buick Corporation and the Willis Overland Company before becoming CEO of Maxwell and Chalmers Motor Company (which later changed its name to the Chrysler Company). The home, built in 1889, is a traditional 19th century design, and a small museum behind it contains personal items of Walter's life.
Hutchinson, KS
Mr Smith in the Salt Mine
Kansas Underground Salt Museum - The Kansas Underground Salt Museum is one of the highlights of the state. 280 million years ago this area was covered by an inland sea which depostited about 400 feet of salt from its briney waters. Today you can take an elevator down 650 feet, hop a tram, and take a guided tour to view these deposits. On the tour you'll discover how the mining is done and have the opportunity to pick up your own salt crystals. The mine stays a constant 68 degrees with a 40 percent relative humidity, which is a perfect environment to store documents and films. Several of the large film producers use the mine for just that. In the underground museum there are several displays with movie memorabilia donated by the studios.
Hutchinson, KS
See the Apollo 13 Command Module
Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center - You will be surprised at the large collection of space related artifacts at the Cosmosphere and Space Center. It has the largest collection of Russian space artifacts this side of Moscow and has all three flown early-manned spacecrafts of NASA. The collection includes the Apollo 13 command module "Odyssey", the Gemini X capsule and the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft. Everywhere you turn is a rocket, space shuttle, or other space craft. In addition to the exhibits are an IMAX Theater and planetarium.
Larned, KS
Costumed Interpreters at Fort Larned
Fort Larned National Historic Site - Originally built in 1860, Fort Larned was considered the "Guardian of the Santa Fe Trail". The Santa Fe Trail stretched from the Missouri River near Independence, MO to Santa Fe, NM and was a vital throughway merchants and gold seekers during the Gold Rush. Because the heavy influx of people disrupted the Native Americans, prompting attacks, and because all the travelers needed supplies, Fort Larned was created to help with both problems. Visiting Fort Larned today you will find a remarkable clean and well preserved fort with reenactments and a surprising number of volunteers dressed in costumes.
Lebanon, KS
The Middle of the USA
Geographical Center of the Contiguous U.S. - Let's say you are a government agency with unlimited funds and are assigned to find the Geographical Center of the Contiguous U.S. How do you do it? You spend $1 on a piece of cardboard and make a cutout of the U.S., then spend a penny on a pin and attempt to balance the aforementioned cutout on the pin. Where it balances is the center of the U.S. Well it balanced near Lebanon Kansas and that's where you can find a marker, a small church and a sign stating you can buy souvenirs. Now the next 30 years you can think of ways to spend the rest of those unlimited funds. Woo hoo!!!
Liberal, KS
The Whole Oz Gang
Dorothy's House - While visiting Kansas you have to drop in at Dorothy's House from the "Wizard of Oz". It is a small wooden structure built in 1907 completely furnished and decorated to look like Dorothy Gale's flying house. While there you also have to recite at least one or two of the following quotes: "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."; "A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others."; "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."; "Follow the yellow brick road"; "Put 'em up, put 'em up!"; or "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
Meade, KS
A Front and Tunnel Entrance
Dalton Gang Hideout - Eva Dalton, sister to Dalton Gang members Emmett, Bob, and Grat lived in Meade, Kansas with her husband John Whipple. Both Eva and John were business owners and respected citizens of the community. But as the infamy of her brothers exploits grew, a jaundice eye was cast their way, forcing them to quietly leave town and abandon their home. After their departure, a tunnel was discovered leading from the house to the barn 95 feet below. The tunnel allowed the outlaw brothers unfettered access to and from the house. The tunnel has been reconstructed and a museum built in the barn that now serves as a visitor center.
Minneapolis, KS
Rocks of Rock City
Rock City - Rock City is an acre field of roughly 200 sandstone concretions formed millions of years ago. What's a concretion you ask? In this case, it is sandstone cemented together by calcium carbonate (from an inland sea which covered this area). After being cemented together, wind and water eroded the area around the rocks, leaving a boulder playground behind. It's fun to run around the formations, play hide-and-go-seek and generally monkey around.
Scott City, KS
Monument Rocks with Monkey
Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark - Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark, sometimes called the Chalk Pyramids, was formed over 80 million years ago when an ocean covered this area. Shell fish, sharks, bony fish and reptiles sank to the bottom of their watery grave forming an under-sea mountain of calcium rich deposits. After the seas receded the result was an exposed stratified out-cropping (that's fancy monkey talk for layered rocks). Anyway, this is a beautiful area for photos and for finding ancient critters in the rocks.
Topeka, KS
The Capitol of Oz
State Capitol Building - It took 37 years to completely finish the Kansas State Capitol Building and each part was constructed at different times. From 1866 to 1873 the east wing was built, from 1879 to 1881 the west wing was built and from 1884-1906 the center portion was built. While here, take the extra time for the "Dome Tour", it's worth it. You take an elevator to the 5th floor and then climb 296 steps to the top of the dome. Along the way you will see the elaborately designed inner and outer domes, the 22 foot tall Kansa warrior atop the dome, as well as a grand view of Topeka.
Topeka, KS
Ending Segregation in Public Schools
Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site - One of four segregated schools in the 1950s, Monroe Elementary School was chosen as the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. During that time, African American elementary students were bused from all over the city to one of the four segregated schools, even though there were "white" schools closer. After a complaint was filed by the NAACP, the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The court found that "Segregation has a detrimental effect upon colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law". It was at that point "separate but equal" schools were eliminated.
Victoria, KS
St Fidelis Church
Cathedral of the Plains - One of the tallest buildings on the Kansas Plains, the Cathedral of the Plains stands 141 feet tall and is formed in the shape of a cross. Built between 1908 and 1911, the exterior is constructed of locally quarried limestone and was built entirely without lifts or power tools. The folks who erected this majestic cathedral were a rough a rugged breed, Volga-Germans straight from the Steppes of Russia. Throughout the town you will see the Russian influence in various statues and other architecture.
West Mineral, KS
Sure Makes the Grader Look Small
Big Brutus - Big Brutus is a giant electric earth moving shovel, standing 65 feet tall and weighing 11 million pounds that could grab 150 tons of coal in a single scoop. This monstrous piece of machinery operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from 1963 to 1974, till it became too costly to operate. The last month of operation the electric bill was over $27,000. That's not monkey feed. You can visit the retired giant as he slumbers on the Kansan plains. A museum and visitor center display photos and descriptions of the former heavy weight during its glory days.
Wichita, KS
Keeper of the Plains
Keeper of the Plains - Created in 1974, the Keeper of the Plains has become the symbol of Wichita. The 44 foot tall Keeper stands atop a 30 foot rock pedestal, and weighs roughly 5 tons. Each night he over-sees the "ring of fire" that is lit beneath his rust colored metal feet. The area around the structure is equally impressive with the rippling waters of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers, the beautifully designed cable-stay pedestrian bridges, and the abundance of walking trails. Located in the museum district with the popular Old Cowtown Museum, the informative Mid-America All Indian Center and Museum, the Keeper of the Plains can be proud of his surroundings.