Situated right in the heart of the United States, Kansas is not only brimming with attractions to entice visitors, but is also perfectly situated as a springboard to the neighboring states of Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

Whatever itinerary you choose for exploring Kansas, you can be assured there will be something of interest for everyone. Here are the best places to visit in Kansas.

1. Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas
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Wichita ticks all the boxes for anyone looking for an action-packed city getaway destination with attractions to suit all ages.

To make things easy for culture-vultures, five of the city’s 33 museums are situated along the banks of the Arkansas River.

Here you can visit Exploration Place, Old Cowtown Museum, and the impressive Wichita Art Museum.

Garden lovers should not miss Botanica (also along the river), which comprises over 18 acres of themed landscaped gardens, while art enthusiasts should time their visit for the final Friday of the month, when art museums and galleries offer free admissions.

Shopaholics can head to the historic Delano District for specialty stores or the two large malls at Towne East Square and Towne West Square.

2. Lawrence, Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas
© Lawrence

Lawrence is waiting to welcome visitors with warm Midwestern hospitality, plenty of attractions, and some great restaurants.

You can learn all about the city’s pioneering history at the Watkins Museum of History, the Black Jack Battlefield Park, and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area in downtown.

While you are in downtown, you can visit the Lawrence Art Center, which hosts regular exhibitions and is home to the Black Box Theater, where you can watch live musical and theatrical productions.

Outdoor enthusiasts can visit the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, the Baker Wetlands Discovery Center, and Clinton State Park, where you can go boating, water-skiing, camping, hiking, and picnicking.

3. Topeka, Kansas

Topeka, Kansas
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Kansas’ state capital Topeka is a vibrant city just about bursting at the seams with attractions for everyone.

You can kick-start your visit at the impressive Kansas Statehouse, which features a very beautiful cupola, before walking in the footsteps of the prairie pioneers at Old Prairie Town on the Ward-Meade Historic Site – you can visit the peaceful Ward-Meade Botanical Garden while you are there.

Motor racing enthusiasts head to Yesterday’s Motorbike Museum and the Evel Knievel Museum (opening 2017) at Topeka Harley-Davidson or watch drag racing at Heartland Park Topeka.

Children can have fun riding the 1908 vintage carousel and the mini-train at Gage Park and get hands-on at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center.

There are plenty of wide-open green spaces where you can go hiking, biking, and nature-watching.

4. Dodge City, Kansas

Dodge City, Kansas
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If you fancy a taste of the real Wild West, you need to put Dodge City on your vacation wish-list.

Here you can watch the thrilling Dodge City Rodeo or get transported back to the 1800s on Main Street in the Boot Hill Museum – if you visit during the summer, you have a good chance of watching a gun fight and seeing some can-can girls in action.

You can get a great overview of Dodge City on the Historic Trolley Tour or do a self-guided walking tour.

The United Wireless Arena hosts regular world-class entertainment and art lovers can visit the Carnegie Arts Center and the Depot Theatre Company.

Outdoor activities include playing golf at the Mariah Hills Golf course or visiting Long Branch Lagoon Aquatics Park and Dodge City Zoo.

5. Places to Visit in Kansas: Cottonwood Falls

Places to Visit in Kansas: Cottonwood Falls
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Cottonwood Falls is small Kansas town located in the Great Plains in the scenic Flint Hills on the banks of the Cottonwood River. For millennia, the area was a home to nomadic Native Americans until, in the 16th century, it was claimed by the Kingdom of France.

In 1762 France ceded it to Spain, then Spain gave it back to France until the United States bought it from France and it became a part of the Kansas Territory.

Today’s Cottonwood Falls has a charming, peaceful downtown dominated by the beautifully restored Chase County courthouse, built in 1873 in the French Renaissance style.

The Flint Hills are home to one of the country’s last large tracts of tallgrass prairie, which once covered the entire Great Plains.

The prairie is protected within the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

The best place to learn about the town’s history is the Chase County Historical Museum.

The Flint Hills Gallery features the works of Judith Mackey, the renowned painter of the Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie.

6. Places to Visit in Kansas: Manhattan

Places to Visit in Kansas: Manhattan
© Manhattan

Manhattan offers visitors a great mix of historical, cultural, culinary, and outdoor activities to fill every moment of your visit.

Learn about the city’s history as you tour the Riley Country Historical Museum, Goodnow House Museum, and Wolf House Museum.

The whole family will enjoy a visit to the interactive Flint Hills Discovery Center, Sunset Zoo, and the Lazy T Ranch, which features hayrides and chuck-wagon suppers.

If you are longing to get out into the wide-open prairie, you can head to Tuttle Creek Lake for boating and hiking or go for a walk through the K-State Botanical Gardens.

You can visit the Liquid Art Winery, go zip-lining at the Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park, or try out one of the city’s four golf courses.

More ideas: Lakes in Kansas

7. Salina, Kansas

Salina, Kansas
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Salina is widely known as an artistic hub and is home to a thriving arts community where you can enjoy a variety of museums, concerts, and live theatre performances all year round.

The highlight for art lovers is the First Friday Live Art Walk in Oldtown Salinas, when galleries and studios stay open late to enchant visitors.

However, if you miss First Friday, you can still enjoy public art installations, the Salina Art Center, and the Salina Sculpture Walk in spring.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be pleased to discover over 700 acres of green space offering excellent opportunities for fishing, swimming, hiking, and biking.

Family-friendly attractions include the wonderful Rolling Hills Zoo and the Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park.

8. Places to Visit in Kansas: Olathe

Places to Visit in Kansas: Olathe
© Olathe

Olathe (meaning “beautiful” in the Shawnee Indian language) is situated just 20 miles southwest of Kansas City and can be reached along the historic Oregon-California and Santé Fe Trails, which were once utilized by wagon trains and stagecoaches.

You can learn a bit about the history of the city by visiting the Ensor Park and Museum and the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm, which once provided a welcome watering-hole for up to 600 wagons each week.

Art enthusiasts can take a walking tour of the Downtown Outdoor Sculpture Exhibits, while outdoor enthusiasts will find a great selection of parks and green spaces where you can enjoy walking, hiking, running, and biking.

All the museums and cultural attractions of Kansas City are just at your doorstep.

9. Hutchinson, Kansas

Hutchinson, Kansas
© Hutchinson

Hutchinson has been home to salt mines since the late 1800s and one of the city’s prime attractions is Strataca, where you can take a trip deep below the surface of the Earth to get a glimpse of the working conditions in a real salt mine.

Once you have learnt all about salt mining, it’s time to visit Cosmosphere, a fascinating museum dedicated to tracking America’s Space Program, past and present. For a complete chance of pace, you can go walking, hiking, or fishing in the Dillon Nature Center, visit the Yoder Amish Community for a horse and buggy ride (don’t miss the farmers market every Friday), or take the kids to the Hutchinson Zoo.

More ideas: Best Planetariums in the USA

10. Kansas Attractions: Monument Rocks

Kansas Attractions: Monument Rocks
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Monument Rocks (aka Chalk Pyramids) are a group of interesting rock outcrops situated just off US 83 in western Kansas. Anyone who is remotely interested in geology and fossils should definitely take the 6-mile detour off the highway to see these striking, 70-foot sedimentary shapes that were formed over 80 million years ago, when Kansas was covered by an enormous inland sea.

You can get directions and see some brilliant fossils at the nearby Keystone Gallery, where art and ancient fossils rub shoulders. If you travel a little further on, you will come to the Little Pyramids, where you can take a stroll around the slightly smaller rock formations and possibly even find a fossilized shark tooth.

11. Places to Visit in Kansas: Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area

Places to Visit in Kansas: Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area
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Situated in the heart of the central Kansas prairies, Cheyenne Bottoms is a huge (41,000-acre) natural land sink comprising 15,000 acres of wetlands. Bird watchers and wildlife photographers will be happy to know that Cheyenne Bottoms is directly beneath the narrowest portion of the Central Flyway and is visited by millions of migratory birds each year.

Some stop briefly to rest, but others will mate and breed in the wetlands. The onsite Kansas Wetlands Education Center has some great exhibits and can give you a driving tour map and birding checklist. You can walk to the observation platform, where naturalists are on hand to answer your questions, drive through the preserve, or book a guided tour.

12. Places to Visit Near Me: Sedgwick County Park

Places to Visit Near Me: Sedgwick County Park
© Sedgwick County Park

Sedgwick County Park is a large and lovely outdoor recreational area situated in northwest Wichita just west of Wichita Zoo. You can pack a picnic basket and come and spend a few hours or an entire day enjoying all the facilities. If you enjoy fishing, you can try to catch your supper (or, preferably, practice some catch-and-release techniques) on the four lakes, where children can have fun feeding the ducks and geese.

Hikers and bikers can set off to explore over 4 miles of paved trails through open areas and woodlands filled with wildlife. Other facilities you can enjoy include barbecue grills, open and closed picnic shelters, tennis and volley ball courts, and children’s playgrounds.

13. KS Places to Visit: Arkansas River Trail for Couples

KS Places to Visit: Arkansas River Trail for Couples
© Arkansas River Trail

The Arkansas River Trail in Kansas is situated along a 10-mile stretch of the Big Arkansas River in Wichita. You can walk, jog, or cycle the paved trail that runs mainly along the southwest bank of the river, with two separate paths along the west bank.

Along the way, you can stop to admire the Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot tall statue of an Indian warrior, who stands guard over the confluence of the Little Arkansas and Big Arkansas rivers. If you time your walk correctly, you can watch the evening “Ring of Fire” light show. The trail also offers beautiful sunset views and you can easily access museums, the stadium, the ice rink, and the Wichita Zoo from the trail.

14. Deep Creek Waterfall at Pillsbury Crossing

Deep Creek Waterfall at Pillsbury Crossing
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You can find the Deep Creek Waterfall in the Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area, just 7 miles southeast of Manhattan, Kansas. Although the waterfall is just 5 feet high, it can stretch to an impressive width of 60 feet when the river is flowing strongly.

Besides bringing a picnic to enjoy surrounded by the beautiful scenery, you can also explore the area on foot along a short hiking trail. When the water levels are good, you can canoe and kayak along the stream or have a go at fishing – Pillsbury Crossing is one of the few areas where spotted bass can be found and channel cat-fishing is rumored to be good both upstream and downstream of the waterfall.

15. Romantic Places to Visit: Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, KS

Romantic Places to Visit: Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, KS
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Covering over 300 acres dedicated to the preservation and showcasing of no less than eight natural ecosystems, the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a source of inspiration to all nature lovers and garden enthusiasts.

You can easily spend a day in the park admiring the many themed gardens, which include a 1-acre replica of Monet’s garden, a delightful water garden, and the Legacy Garden, which is filled with plants traditionally found around Kansas homesteads. There are picnic shelters, a café, and over 5 miles of hiking paths for the energetically inclined. Children can have hours of fun exploring the Children’s Discovery Garden and the magical Train Garden, which features a miniature railway.

16. Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill, Cedar Point

Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill, Cedar Point
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The historical Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill is a focal point in the small hamlet of Cedar Point in Chase County, Kansas. The mill has an interesting history – in 1867 it started life as a wooden sawmill on the banks of the Cottonwood River, where a log dam had been constructed to power the water wheel. In 1870 it was decided to use the mill to grind wheat for local bakeries, and construction of the current three-story stone structure commenced in 1875.

The mill was in use as a grist mill until 1941 and was later used to grind animal feed before it was abandoned around 1961. Currently, it is not safe to enter the building but plans are underway to restore it to its former glory.

17. Kanopolis State Park, Kansas

Kanopolis State Park, Kansas
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Nestled in the scenic Smoky Hills just 33 miles southwest of Salina, the Kanopolis State Park offers visitors an enormous playground for just about every kind of outdoor activity. You can pack a picnic and come and enjoy the facilities as a day-visitor or bring along your tent or RV to enjoy the park for a few days – there are both primitive and serviced campsites spread over several campgrounds.

You can go hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding along more than 30 miles of trails or launch your boat at the marina and enjoy excellent fishing on the 3,500-acre Kanopolis Reservoir. Other activities include hunting and wildlife watching.

18. Places to Visit in Kansas: Lake Scott State Park

Places to Visit in Kansas: Lake Scott State Park
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Situated 14 miles north of Scott City in western Kansas, Lake Scott State Park is definitely a must-see destination for visitors. Here you can enjoy a large variety of outdoor pursuits as well as explore some of the best archeological sites in the state, against a backdrop of impressive scenery, dotted with natural springs, towering rock outcrops, and deeply carved gorges.

Hikers, bikers, and equestrians can enjoy several trails or you can rent a canoe or paddleboat to enjoy the lake. There is great wildlife watching all over the park and you can spend some time visiting the remains of the northern-most Native American pueblo – El Cuartelejo, which is a National Historic Landmark.

19. Places to Visit in Kansas: Cheney State Park

Places to Visit in Kansas: Cheney State Park
© Cheney State Park

Situated 20 miles west of Wichita, the 1,900-acre Cheney State Park has long been a popular destination for all outdoor enthusiasts. The park is spread out along the shores of the Cheney Reservoir, which is one of the premier sailing lakes in the USA.

The park offers two marinas where you can launch your boat – either to go sailing or fishing – and there are also four designated swimming areas on the lake. You can bring along your tent or RV – there are over 400 serviced campsites that can be reserved in advance. Giefer Creek and Spring Creek Nature Trails offer good wildlife viewing and there is also a 5-mile trail for walking, hiking, or biking.

20. KS Places to Visit: Wilson State Park

KS Places to Visit: Wilson State Park
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Scenically nestled in the heart of the Smoky Hills, Wilson State Park beckons all nature lovers to come and play in one of the most beautiful state parks in the country. You can have the time of your life enjoying water sports on the lake – canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, skiing, windsurfing and sailing are all popular here, and there are two swimming beaches.

The lake has crystal-clear water that is also great for scuba divers. There are five campgrounds with serviced campsites where you can pitch a tent or park an RV to get really close to nature. You can go hiking along several challenging trails or opt for a short and easy nature walk. Seasonal hunting is allowed and there is good wildlife watching all year round. More unique places to visit

More ideas: Things to Do in Kansas City, KS

21. Veterans’ Memorial Park, Kansas

Veterans’ Memorial Park, Kansas
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Dedicated to those brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their country and their freedom, Veterans’ Memorial Park is situated on the east bank of the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita. You can access the park from the Wichita Riverwalk and take a quiet stroll down the winding riverside paths that will lead you to each of the park’s seven memorials.

There are benches for quiet reflection and at the end of your walk you can see the memorial to the USS Wichita, which received 13 battle stars for service during World War II. Once you have paid your respects to the veterans, you can continue a short distance along the Riverwalk to the famous Keeper of the Plains statue.

22. Geary County State Park, Kansas

Geary County State Park, Kansas
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Situated south of Junction City, Geary State Fishing Lake and the surrounding Geary Country State Park provide an excellent recreation area for all fishermen and wildlife enthusiasts. The 99-acre lake has a boat ramp where you can launch your own craft and is well stocked with several varieties of fish to provide you with some great fishing opportunities.

The lake is also an important stopover area for migrating water birds, so bird watching is especially good. The lake is surrounded by public hunting land and there are primitive campsites for those who would like to get back to nature. You can take a hike to the 35-foot Geary Lake Falls (only active in spring or after heavy rains).

23. Flint Hills, Kansas

Flint Hills, Kansas
© Flint Hills

Extending from Marshall County in the north to Cowley County in the south, the Flint Hills were formed by the erosion of limestone and shale during the Permian over 240 million years ago, when the entire area was covered by ocean. Today these rolling hills are covered in native prairie grassland and form one of the last remaining tall-grass prairies in the country.

The Flint Hills National Scenic Byway will lead you through this surprising and intriguing sea of grass and introduce you to several of the little pioneer towns along the route. You can get all the info you need at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, where you can watch a multimedia presentation that explains the origin of this very special ecosystem.

The 25 Best Places to Visit in Kansas near me today according to local experts are:

More Ideas: Kansas Cosmosphere

The Kansas Cosmosphere, located in Hutchinson, Kansas, a small town in the plains of the Midwest. Surrounded by cattle pastures and cornfields, the Cosmosphere is a welcoming silver-roofed museum, offset by a genuine Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle and a Gemini-Titan II rocket. Patty Carey had a vision in 1962. The Cosmosphere founder wanted to create a public planetarium, and did so by setting up a borrowed planetarium projector inside of the Poultry Building located on the Kansas State Fairgrounds. It was one of the first established in the Midwest.


In 1966, Hutchinson Community College offered Carey a new home for the planetarium on its campus. To better suit its new resident, the college built a more modern, larger science center.

As the planetarium grew in popularity, the board of directors, along with Patty, discussed an expansion campaign that would allow for the creation and development of a space and science center worthy of international acclaim.

The new, thirty-five thousand square-foot facility opened in 1980 and consisted of the planetarium, new classrooms for additional school programs, an exhibit gallery, and a one of the first of its kind IMAX Dome Theater.

The cosmosphere expanded again in 1997, growing to a one hundred five thousand square foot facility, which displayed an authentic SR-71 Blackbird in its lobby. A year later, the Kansas Cosmosphere was identified as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, establishing a long-term relationship with the National Air & Space Museum.

Another major renovation was announced in 2014, as the museum continues to search for and find new ways to provide interactive education for science, along with its various collections of artifacts. These endeavors continue today as the Kansas Cosmosphere seeks to engage visitors in stimulating and educating exhibits and displays.

Offering hours of excitement, education, and artifacts, the Kansas Cosmosphere is fun for the entire family. Even though the museum sits a reasonable distance off the beaten path, it is worth the detour to explore the many exhibits and displays the Kansas Cosmosphere has to offer.


The Kansas Cosmosphere is a place without limitations. Curiosity is free to run amuck, and excitement is encouraged. Visitors to the Cosmosphere are invited to learn and explore the incredible history of those who came before and continue to inspire us.

Justice Planetarium- The Justice Planetarium is a cutting-edge, dual projector experience that will engage both your mind and senses. This exhibit is part of the Our Universe display and will provide entertainment and education for visitors of all ages.

Hall of Space- The Hall of Space exhibit is touted as the most extensive collection of space artifacts consisting of both the United States and the Russian space programs in the world. It tells the incredible story of both country’s race to space, and nothing like it can be viewed anywhere else on the planet.

Dr. Goddard’s Lab- Considered to be the father of modern Rocketry, Dr. Robert Goddard of Goddard’s lab offers a trip back to the 1930s. This interactive exhibit provides a fantastic show including some explosive surprises. Live demonstrations are used to show visitors the history of rocketry.


The Kansas Cosmosphere offers many educational programs designed to meet science standards for the current generation along with Common Core. Many packages for educational trips include curriculum focused opportunities with interactive experiences.

Children show a natural tendency toward science as they examine, experiment and explore their surroundings from a young age. The Kansas Cosmosphere seeks to nurture and encourage this interest in the sciences by providing a fun-filled experience for the whole family.

Applied science displays and activities are available for children ranging from two to twelve, and strives to inspire young minds to continue to stay engaged and keep learning. Asking questions and exploring are keys to staying interested in young minds.

Museum Shop

The Kansas Cosmosphere museum shop offers great options for gifts and souvenirs to take home. Items range from space suits to jackets to drinkware and more. Whether it’s a poster signed by an astronaut or a pair of socks adorned with the Milky Way galaxy, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect item for your collection.


Space exploration can build up an appetite, so the Kansas Cosmosphere offers a few options to stop in and grab a bite to eat while taking a load off.

Cosmosphere Cafe and Concession Stand

The Kansas Cosmosphere Cafe and Concession Stand offers an opportunity to grab a snack or a meal while visiting. Guests can sit down for a burger and fries, or just grab a bite to enjoy while watching a movie in the Carey Digital Dome Theater.

Kansas Cosmosphere 1100 N Plum St, Hutchinson, KS 67501

More Ideas: Museum of World Treasures

The Museum of World Treasures in Wichita is a fascinating museum of world history and ancient treasures from around the world, including the remnants of ancient civilizations, Egyptian mummies, bones of long-lost creatures, and items from the battlefields of World Wars.

Located in the heart of Wichita, the Museum boasts a diverse collection of unique objects representing many different fields of interest and a wide range of subjects from history to geology.

Founded in 2001 by Dr. Jon and Lorna Kardatzke, the Museum of World Treasures aims to provide an informative gateway to the past that inspires, entertains and educates visitors, as well as encourage lifelong learning. The Museum does this through an array of diverse and interactive exhibits and displays, including specimens from the Age of the Dinosaur, a section of the Berlin Wall, Egyptian mummies and signatures from all of the Presidents of the United States. Located in the renowned ‘Farm & Art Market’ building, a converted former paper warehouse in Wichita’s famous Old Town, the Museum is surrounded by a vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, cafés and other entertainment and is one of the town’s most popular attractions.

The Museum of World Treasures features a diverse collection of unique objects representing a diverse range of subjects and fields of interest from history to geology in an array of informative exhibits.

‘Ivan the T-Rex’ is the Museum’s most popular exhibition, which has been at the Museum for over eight years. The exhibit features a 38-foot model of a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, including original fossilized bones. Found in the Hell Creek Formation in Harding County in South Dakota, the rock which bore the bones of Ivan the T-Rex also contained bones from Ankylosaurus, Edmontosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, and Triceratops.

‘Form & Function: Making a Living in the Cenozoic’ is a new exhibit that explores the extent of ice coverage around the globe during the Ice Age and life during this difficult time. The display covers three different locations and time periods and the animals that lived in them, namely the Ice Age, the North American Woodland, and the Green River formation. Visitors can view fossils of fish and mammals, some of which are 50 million years old.

‘Transcend: Religious and Royal Art of Asia’ explores the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism across the Asian and iconography used in religious sculpture, showcasing various art and artifacts from various Asian royal dynasties, such as Indonesia’s Majapahit Kingdom.

‘Creating the Crown’ explores European royalty from its beginnings in the Dark Ages through the Medieval and Renaissance periods to today. The exhibit delves into the royal families of the world and major cultural events surrounding these times in history.

‘Romancing the West’ is a fun show that takes a look at how the ‘Old Wild West’ has been romanticized by the media and what western expansion and life on the frontier and was really like there at the time.

‘Treasures from the Grave’ displays an array of objects from Latin and South America, including a case of objects from the original treasure hunters of our time – the Spanish conquistadors. The exhibit examines the value and meaning of pre-Hispanic goods that were buried with famous people and the magnificent artistry of these pieces. Hands-on displays in this exhibit include a magnetic map, an interactive Mayan calendar, and a touch-and-feel display of various objects.

The Museum of World Treasures offers a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages, ranging from Youth Programs and Field Trips for Children to Family Nights, Internships and Homeschool Family Days. The Museum also has an Education Resource Center where visitors can enjoy workshops, classes, and lectures.

Family Nights are offered on the first Thursday evening of every month from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, while homeschool families and friends can enjoy Homeschool Family Days throughout the year. Internships are offered to scholars and students for a range of positions, including Education Program Facilitators, Exhibits Researcher and Sign Writers, Graphic Designers, Collections Assistants, and Student Rotating Gallery Curators.

The Museum of World Treasures is located at the Wichita Public Schools on 835 E 1st St N. in Wichita. Guided tours of the Museum are available, and the Museum can be rented for special occasions such as weddings, receptions, and other celebrations. The Museum of World Treasures hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including a Renaissance Celebration, Coffee with the Curator, Fantastic Fridays, Week of Heroes, and Lecture Series.

835 E 1st St. in Old Town, Wichita, KS 67202, Phone: 316-263-1311

More Ideas: Fort Scott

In 1842, Fort Scott was constructed to protect the Permanent Indian Frontier. Soldiers stationed at Fort Scott attempted to maintain peaceable relations between the settlers in the area and the nearby American Indian Tribes. Prior to 1840, many Native American tribes were displaced in the Kansas territory and living among white settlers and other Native American tribes native to the region. Due to Manifest Destiny, many American settlers were moving west and into Native American territory. Military forts were established from Fort Snelling in Minnesota all the way down to Fort Jessup in Louisiana. Fort Scott was geographically situated in the middle of this line of forts.

Military presence in the area served two purposes. The first was to maintain relations between white settlers and Native Americans. The second was to keep the peace between the various Native American tribes living in the area. In 1850, after the California Gold Rush, relations between the United States and Native Americans dissipated and the American government abandoned their efforts to protect Native Americans.


Dragoon Expeditions - In the 1840’s, Dragoon soldiers from Fort Scott conducted expeditions escorting parties across the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, explored unmapped territories, and maintained relations with Plains Indians.

Bleeding Kansas - In 1853, the military abandoned Fort Scott and their efforts in the area. The buildings were sold at auction and became the center of a growing town. During this time, Fort Scott found itself in the middle of the “Bleeding Kansas” era. Pro-slavers, free-staters, and abolitionists fought for what each believed to be the just cause. The buildings in Fort Scott were largely taken over by pro-slavers. The free state forces waged a campaign in Fort Scott against all who opposed them. It was a time of great turmoil followed by several bloody incidences.

Civil War - Following the “Bleeding Kansas” years came the Civil War. The U.S Army returned to Fort Scott and established headquarters at the old frontier military post. The Union Army occupied the buildings of Fort Scott and 40 miles of fortifications around Fort Scott. By the early 1860’s, Fort Scott would become the largest and strongest military point south of Fort Leavenworth. The Quartermaster Supply Depot, General Hospital, and two-story military prison made Fort Scott a key location for Union troops during the Civil War. The summer of 1865 saw an end to the Civil War and military presence at Fort Scott. The government buildings and military surplus were sold and the soldiers vacated the town.

Railroad Expansion - In the years following the Civil War, railroad expansion surged in the West. Railroad companies fought to be the first to build a railroad through Indian territory south of Fort Scott. Settlers in Fort Scott banned against the railroads as a response to the prospect of losing their lands. They waged violence against the railroad workers and military presence was seen once again in Fort Scott. The soldiers in Fort Scott were sent to keep the peace between the railroad company and the settlers, but the influence of the railroad tycoon, James Joy, in the US government was seen with the protection of the railroad workers over the settlers. The railroad line eventually made it through Indian territory and served as an economic boost to Fort Scott. It provided the town with ties to the east and made Fort Scott a center for trade in southeast Kansas.


The historical site of Fort Scott has 11 original buildings and 30 historically furnished rooms that are open to the public. The Infantry Barracks contains exhibits about the military presence in Fort Scott from the frontier days through the Civil War era. The Dragoon Barracks Museum tells of the expeditions led in the frontier days of the 1840’s. The Wilson-Goodlander house contains exhibits of the site’s construction. The Fort Scott Visitor Center is located in the former military hospital that later served as a school for African Americans. It is open year-round. Restrooms and a book store are available at the Visitor’s Center.


Curriculum materials are available about Fort Scott. Field trips, guided tours, and guest speakers are provided to help students gain a better understanding of Fort Scott and its significance to American history. A junior program is available for younger and older children. Participants complete activities throughout Fort Scott and its historical sites to complete the Junior Ranger program. The Trailblazer Program is a summer day camp available to children ages 9-12. Participants engage in a series of activities over the course of five days that encourages the mission of the National Park Service.

Old Ft. blvd, Fort Scott, KS, Phone: 620-223-0310