Not long ago, Kansas was the easternmost state of the Wild West. It was here that the frontier began, and here that explorers were born and raised. Kansas’ small towns hold many secrets and surprises that you’ll love to learn! Make this year’s vacation your best yet when you experience beautiful small town Kansas. Here are ten of the loveliest small towns in this Midwestern state!
This small Kansas town was born as a stage coach stop in 1857. However, it wasn’t until three years later than the town received its name. “Abilene” is a Biblical word that means “city of the plains.” This name was appropriate for a town in the middle of the Kansas prairie. The town shifted from a stagecoach stop to a railroad town in 1867 with the advent of the Kansas Pacific Railway. Since then, it has been home to notable residents such as President Eisenhower. If the historic significance of the town doesn’t draw you, the interesting architecture, museums and theater are sure to!
Atchison is most famous for being the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. If you visit in July, you’ll be able to experience the town’s Amelia Earhart festival! Of course, there is plenty to do all year round. If you want to experience Amelia mania at any time of year, you can visit her childhood home, which was constructed by her grandfather in the 1860s. Other attractions include the Atchison Country Historical Society Museum and the Atchison Rail Museum. Be sure to check out the many historic homes, as well!
Long before European settlers found the location of Hays, it was an important convergence of Arapaho, Kiowa, and Pawnee territory. Today, this town is one of the most significant in Kansas. It’s a college town, and it is home to some of the best cultural institutions in the state. Hays is the location of Fort Hays State University, North Central Kansas Technical College, and the Kansas State University agricultural research center. It also features American and German cultural events at various institutions and around the holidays.
Cottonwood Falls is home to about a thousand citizens. This small town is a beautiful place to visit and enjoy! Here, you will find five National Register of Historic Places listings, including the Cottonwood River Bridge and four historic buildings. The scenery of the town is perfectly charming! The regal old courthouse looks down the street of the historic business district, and the natural environs of the town are lush and wild.
This small Kansas town isn’t very far from Topeka. In fact, it’s the perfect day trip from Kansas’ capital city! Naturally, it is a popular place for city people to tour for a taste of the small town life. If you visit, you’ll find a well-manicured community with welcoming businesses and beautiful places to stroll along the river. You can also take a walk through the historic district, where you can see interesting sights like the Post Office Oak, which once served as the community mail box!
This town is named after the famous Fort Dodge, which isn’t too far from the community. In its heyday, Dodge City was a wild frontier town that went down in infamy! Equally infamous were some of the residents of the city—including Wyatt Earp, who later died in Arizona in the Gunfight at OK Corral. Today, visitors are drawn to the Wild West reputation of the town, which lives on through such attractions as the Boot Hill Museum.
If you want a taste of Sweden on the American continent, then you should definitely visit Lindsborg! This town is known as “Little Sweden” for its cultural roots. Even today, it celebrates a biennial Svensk Hyllningsfest (which celebrates Swedish pioneers) and Swedish architecture. The beautiful little European-style community is a memorable place to spend a weekend! It’s also one of the most Instagrammable places in Kansas.
Under 400 people live in charming Lucas! However, it’s a great place for urbanite visitors to go and get away from the fast pace of city life. This place is dedicated to creating and preserving beautiful folk art. You won’t be able to resist taking a piece or two home with you! The best time to visit Lucas is the Saturday before Labor Day Weekend, when the annual Adams Apple Festival is held. If you attend this festival, you’ll get to experience the Scottish Highland Games, an art show, a fun run, and more!
This small Kansas town was named after a Potawatomi Native American chief. However, the town is not known for historical figures, but fantasy characters! The most famous attraction in the community is the Wizard of Oz museum, which inspired the creation of several Oz-themed businesses in the area. Whether you love riding bikes on the Yellow Brick Road, scarfing down tacos, or tasting wine, there’s a brightly-colored Oz-themed attraction for you in Wamego!
This town was named for a United States fort that was in use from 1842 to 1853. The community that grew up around this fort has been through a lot in its two centuries of existence, but it survived the mayhem of the Civil War, devastating fires, and political turmoil. Today, it has emerged as a lovely and quiet historic town where you can enjoy the beauty of nature alongside charming Victorian buildings.