Kansas is known for its wide, open plains and modest cities like Topeka, both of which can be downright picturesque, but there's nothing quite like holidaying in the state's small towns. 

    From the Wild West lore of Abilene to the scenic natural wonders of Cottonwood Falls, each town has its own style of charm and appeal. Solidifying unique experiences you won't find anywhere else, take a road trip across the Sunflower State and stop by these must-visit small towns in Kansas. 

    1

    Abilene

    Visit a fun Old West town

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Abilene is a fun Old West-style town in Kansas that's charming and features a rich history. Famous for being the hometown of President Eisenhower, you can explore his childhood home – it's part of a larger complex that includes a presidential library and museum.

    Additionally, you can see the impressive architecture of the past at the Seelye Mansion, or visit the American Indian Art Centre if you're interested in native culture. The art centre displays an array of different works crafted by artists from quite a few tribes.

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    photo by The All-Nite Images (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    2

    Atchison

    Explore the birthplace of Amelia Earhart

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    The quaint town of Atchison is right along the Missouri River, about 55 miles northeast of Topeka. If you're interested in architecture, you can see several Victorian-style homes and buildings, such as the Santa Fe Depot, St. Benedict’s Abbey, and Benedictine College.

    Atchison is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, and that fact is celebrated every year with the Amelia Earhart Festival. The town is widely considered to be the most haunted town in all of Kansas. If you're feeling brave, you can embark on a ghost tour or get a spiritual reading. Regardless, the brick streets certainly have a unique ambiance after dark, so a stroll through town after the sun goes down is always worthwhile.

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    photo by Tim Kiser (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    3

    Cottonwood Falls

    Find urban and countryside fun alike

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    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    You'll find Cottonwood Falls in the Flint Hills, where you can explore impressive natural landscapes and a bustling city centre area in equal measure. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is nearby, offering numerous hiking trails that let you explore the natural plains and spot wildlife like bison. 

    The city centre area is packed with historical buildings, many of which are made from native limestone mined from the local region. Amongst the buildings, you'll find fun shops and restaurants offering crafts and clothes and delicious, comforting American fare, respectively.

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    photo by Ichabod (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    4

    Council Grove

    Enjoy a welcoming small town known for its restaurants

    • Families
    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Photo

    Council Grove is a fun little town in Kansas that offers all the conveniences of a big city while still holding onto that small-town charm. The city centre area is booming with fun shops and restaurants that have been around since the 19th century. Amongst the most popular is the Hays House Restaurant, which dates back to 1857. 

    Historic sites can be found around Council Grove as well, like the Kaw Mission State Historic Site and Museum. Even the town's post office has a long history – it has an impressive mural that's rather Instagrammable. 

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    photo by Douglas Kulp (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    Dodge City

    Also known as the 'Wickedest Little City in America'

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Dodge City was established in 1872 and has earned a fairly endearing nickname in all that time, 'The Wickedest Little City in America.' The nickname came from the cowboys and gamblers who moved into the town in its early days.

    Today, the town's modern community is welcoming and embraces the nickname as more of a joke than anything else. You can explore much of this history by checking out attractions like the Boot Hill Museum and the Dodge City Trolley.

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    6

    Fort Scott

    See a town seemingly transported from the past

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The first thing you'll probably notice in Fort Scott is the impressive architecture – appearing as you'd expect an old western town to look, complemented by brick streets. The shops even offer relics of the past, as antiquing is particularly popular. 

    Of course, the star of the town is the Fort Scott National Historic Site, where you'll find 20 buildings dating back to the 19th century. You can even see time-appropriate furnishings showcased by numerous exhibitions. Taking a stroll in the historic district is like stepping back in time.

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    photo by Brandonrush (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Leavenworth

    Explore Kansas's first city

    • Families
    • History
    • Food

    Leavenworth is the first city ever established in Kansas, making it an excellent place to explore the state's history. Dating back to 1854, this town is packed full of fascinating history, impressive architecture, and delicious eateries that the whole family can enjoy. 

    Don't forget to check out Fort Leavenworth – it's the oldest active fort west of the Mississippi. While most original settlements have since grown to be sprawling metropolises, Leavenworth managed to hold onto its small-town charm. It's on the west bank of the Missouri River, about 61.5 miles northeast of Topeka. 

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    photo by Melissa Bower (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    Lindsborg

    Immerse yourself in Swedish culture

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Food

    Lindsborg offers an experience that's not only unique amongst Kansas small towns, but also across the USA. Known as 'Little Sweden', the town sports a remarkably Swedish atmosphere in its architecture, culture, food, and events. This is thanks to the massive influx of Swedish settlers back in 1869. 

    The Old Mill Museum is the best place in town to explore its history, but you can see the Swedish influence while strolling the streets. When planning your trip, you might want to consider visiting in October to take part in Svensk Hyllningsfest, a local Swedish-inspired festival dating back to 1941.

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    photo by Anry skyhead (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Lucas

    Visit the 'Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas'

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    Lucas may be a relatively small community, but you'll still find plenty of adventure waiting for you. Its Post Rock limestone buildings and quirky art make this town stand out amongst the rest of Kansas. 

    Lucas is frequently considered to be the 'Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas.' The Grassroots Arts Centre is especially appealing, as you'll find impressive folk art crafted by local residents. The S.P. Dinsmoor's Garden of Eden is a peculiar location, with 200 concrete sculptures surrounding a log cabin.

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    photo by Kim Newell (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Wamego

    See a performance in this artsy town

    • Families
    • History
    • Nightlife

    Ever since its inception, Wamego has been geared towards entertainment. The town's landmark is the Columbian Theatre, which frequently hosts exciting performances of different genres. The Wizard of Oz is particularly popular here – you can even see over 1,000 artefacts and film props at the Oz Museum. 

    Stop by the Oz Winery to taste award-winning wines inspired by the famous musical. Outdoor lovers can visit the 15-acre Wamego City Park, which has tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and a 19th-century stone windmill.

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