Founded back in 1867 as a railroad town, the town of Hays, Kansas first started as an assortment of gambling houses, brothels, and saloons. As for its citizens, they weren’t always the most well behaved, such as the infamous “Wild Bill” Hickok. Fortunately, the town today is much tamer, but visitors and locals alike can still learn about how Hays was “The Wild, Wild Midwest.” Hays is home to historic sites, museums, parks, unique shops, delicious food, and much more. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Sternberg Museum of Natural History
© Sternberg Museum of Natural History
The Sternberg Museum of Natural History offers visitors an opportunity to explore the history of the region prior to the 1800’s. Located on the campus of Fort Hays State University, the museum provides a number of interactive, hands-on exhibits that are particularly fun for kids, such letting children search in the dig pit for “fossils.” Guests can also learn how Kansa at one time was underwater, which left fish-like fossils from when it was covered by an expansive inland sea, and walk into a recreated cave and down a path to the prehistoric garden featuring a variety of animated, life-sized dinosaurs.
3000 Sternberg Dr, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-628-4286
2.Fort Hays State Historic Site, Hays, KS
© Fort Hays State Historic Site
The Fort Hays State Historic Site allows visitors and locals alike to explore the grounds and step back into military history. Established back in 1865, the fort’s main mission was the protection of the construction crews building the Union Pacific Railway, in addition to guarding the mail. Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was a frequent visitor to Fort Hays, as well as Buffalo Bill. Four of the fort’s original buildings still stand today, and there is also a visitors center and a small museum offering more information about the history of Fort Hays and the local area.
1472 US Highway 183 Alt, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-625-6812
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3.Ellis County Historical Society Museum
© Ellis County Historical Society Museum
The Ellis County Historical Society Museum is home to a variety of interesting figures and facts from Ellis County’s past. Visitors can grab a map and take a self-guided tour of the history of Hays, Kansas. Highlights of the museum include where Kelley’s Faro House and Tommy Drum’s Saloon once stood. The Ellis County Historical Society is housed inside of the First Presbyterian Church, which is one of the state’s oldest stone churches. During July, tourists and local residents alike can experience the Wild West Festival, with a possible sighting of “Wild Bill” strolling the city streets.
1111 E 30th St, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-628-2624
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4.Merci Boxcar, Hays, Kansas
© Merci Boxcar
Merci Boxcar is located at the Veterans Memorial Park in Hays, Kansas. The origins of the boxcar date back to February of 1949 when a ship from France arrived in New Jersey to deliver 49 railroad boxcars labeled “Gratitude Train,” with one car for each of the 48 states and one for Washington, D.C. The boxcars were filled with gifts, treasured items, and artwork from the people of France in appreciation and gratitude for the “Friendship Train” sent by the United States in December of 1947. The Kansas boxcar today displays artifacts and memorabilia related to military history.
15th &, Haney Dr, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-625-9681
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5.Northglen Antiques, Hays, Kansas
© Northglen Antiques
Northglen Antiques offers a Scottish connection in the Midwestern town of Hays, offering a source for collectibles, art, antiques, and more directly from Scotland. Visitors will find high quality furniture and antiques, such as display cases, chairs, tables, sideboard, and wardrobes. The one-of-a-kind antique shop also features stained glass, mirrors, crystal, pottery, china tea sets, glassware, and other small items. Open seven days a week, Northglen Antiques hand picks all of the items it sells and offers several Scottish heritage items, including Clan and Celtic merchandise like Clan Books, Celtic Music, Celtic jewelry, kilts, Tartan wear, and more.
2010 Vine St, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-623-4005
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6.Thirstys Brew Pub & Grill, Hays, Kansas
© Thirstys Brew Pub & Grill
Thirsty’s Brew Pub and Grill is a popular spot among locals in Hays for dinner, drinks, and entertainment. The dinner menu of American fare features something for almost everything, including hand-cut and aged steaks like flat iron, sirloin, ribeye, and prime rib. Other options include salads, pasta, chicken, sandwiches, burgers, and seafood. As for drinks, Thirty’s offers signature cocktails, a variety of margarita flavors, craft brews, and twenty beers on tap. When it comes to entertainment, the restaurant has large screen televisions showing several different sports, as well as a game room with an array of choices.
2704 Vine St, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-628-8284
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7.Hickok's Steakhouse, Hays, Kansas
© Hickok's Steakhouse
Hickok's Steakhouse serves excellent steaks, as well as seafood, complimented by an extensive selection of beer and wine from all of the United States, as well as choice from across the world. The locally owned and operated restaurant strives for “plain and simple” quality, offering local Midwestern Angus beef that is “aged to perfection.” The hand cut steaks are carefully selected for guests with the restaurant standing behind every steak served. Hickok's Steakhouse is open Tuesday to Friday from 4:00pm until 9:00pm, Saturdays from 11:00am until 10:00pm, and Sundays from 11:00am until 8:00pm.
3402 Vine St, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-301-2442
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8.Gutierrez Cocina Mexicana, Hays, Kansas
© Gutierrez Cocina Mexicana
Gutierrez Cocina Mexicana invites everyone, both local residents and tourists alike, to experience its own unique “flavor of great Tex-Mex.” The restaurant uses authentic recipes handed down through generations of the Gutierrex Family and has been providing the Hays community with delicious cuisine for more than forty-five years. In addition to the Gutierrez Cocina Mexicana’s own style of traditional Tex-Mex and its local hospitality, the restaurant also serves great hand-shaken margaritas. The family-owned and operated Tex-Mex eatery is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11:30am until 8:30pm and from 11:00am until 9:00pm on Friday and Saturday.
1106 E 27th St, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-625-4402
9.Professor's, Hays, Kansas
The Professor’s in Hays, Kansas is a family owned and operated restaurant that first opened as the Professor Pittewurst Panaceatic Inn in 1976 by Professor Pittewurst, offering a unique atmosphere and amazing sandwiches. These sandwiches have continued to be a local favorite for more than forty years. Professor’s today is now run by the Kensen family and serves a variety of healthy dishes, such as sandwiches, salads, and soups, as well as homegrown mushrooms and raw honey available for sale and used in dishes. The restaurant is open from 11:00am until 2:00pm, Monday through Friday.
521 E 11th St, Hays, KS 67601, Phone: 785-301-2431
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9 Best Things to Do in Hays, Kansas
- Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Photo: Sternberg Museum of Natural History
- Fort Hays State Historic Site, Hays, KS, Photo: Fort Hays State Historic Site
- Ellis County Historical Society Museum, Photo: Ellis County Historical Society Museum
- Merci Boxcar, Hays, Kansas, Photo: Merci Boxcar
- Northglen Antiques, Hays, Kansas, Photo: Northglen Antiques
- Thirstys Brew Pub & Grill, Hays, Kansas, Photo: Thirstys Brew Pub & Grill
- Hickok's Steakhouse, Hays, Kansas, Photo: Hickok's Steakhouse
- Gutierrez Cocina Mexicana, Hays, Kansas, Photo: Gutierrez Cocina Mexicana
- Professor's, Hays, Kansas, Photo: Professor's
- Cover Photo: Max Maximov/stock.adobe.com
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