RVing is all about exploring new places, meeting new faces, getting out into the great outdoors, and making memories to last a lifetime. Every state in the U.S. offers many hidden gems that are just waiting to be discovered.
There’s no place like home when you are in Kansas. The Sunflower State is known for its vast, open plains and cities like Wichita and Topeka. But nothing compares to RVing in the small towns of Kansas. Each town has its own charm and appeal and offers an experience you won’t find anywhere else. They are worth at least an overnight stay on your RV travels through the official Geographical Center of the 48 States.
Located at the intersection of U.S. Route 24 and K-99, Wamego, Kansas, is approximately 14 miles east of Manhattan and about 42 miles northwest of Topeka. Wamego is a mixture of entertainment, outdoor fun, and history.
The Wizard of Oz is particularly popular here. The Oz Museum, which houses over 1,000 artifacts and film props, was founded in April 2004 and led to several other Oz-themed businesses. These include the Oz Winery and Toto’s Tacoz. The Yellow Brick Road sits almost directly across the street from the museum. Plus, every year, on the first weekend of October, Wamego holds its OZtoberFEST, an Oktoberfest-type celebration with plenty of Oz influence.
Another entertainment landmark is the Columbian Theatre. Now the venue for various productions from Broadway musicals to concerts, this two-story limestone building was home to vaudeville in the early 1900s.
If you want a break from the showbiz scene, you can head on over to the 15-acre Wamego City Park. A fixture of the park is the Dutch Mill, a 19th-century stone windmill. The Wamego Historical Museum and Prairie Town Village are also found in the park. This collection of buildings is a time capsule of Wamego’s past. The City Park also includes a swimming pool, tennis courts, playground, and fishing pond. With the Kansas River to the south of the city and natural parks nearby, Wamego offers many outdoor sports like fishing, hunting, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, and more.
Dodge City, located in southwest Kansas, is riddled with historical sites, museums, and landmarks that date back to the Native Americans who lived off the land and its buffalo. The Santa Fe Trail brought settlers over, eventually establishing the frontier town. Many of the settlers were gamblers, gunslingers, and cattlemen.
The area portrays the city’s colorful culture at the Boot Hill Museum and its accompanying exhibits. Boot Hill Museum has over 20,000 artifacts on display, including more than 200 original guns. The museum’s largest exhibit, Front Street, is a partial reconstruction of downtown Dodge City. Travel in time, back to the dusty streets of the 1870’s and 1880’s, with gunfight reenactments and Western-themed tourist attractions, shops, and restaurants. Visitors can take a trolley tour of Dodge City’s historic sites or wander around exploring via the Dodge City Trail of Fame walking tour.
One of the best times to visit Dodge City is during Dodge City Days. This annual event, which celebrates the city’s unique western heritage, begins at the end of July and continues its festivities for 10 days. Several RV parks are located in and around Dodge City, like Gunsmoke RV Park and Dodge City KOA. During the summer, sites can fill up fast, so it’s a good idea to book early to get the heck into Dodge.
Known as “Little Sweden USA” because of the influx of Swedish settlers in 1869, Lindsborg’s heritage is evident in its architecture, culture, food, and events. The Dala horse, a Swedish wooden horse, was even appointed as the town mascot. Visitors will be sure to spot many of these carefully painted and carved out statues throughout the town, as community members place them everywhere to keep with tradition.
Much of Lindsborg’s past is preserved in The Old Mill Museum. Made up of a series of historical buildings, the museum gives visitors a bit of insight into the town and its people from 1870 through 1910. Many special events occur throughout the year. Lindsborg’s signature celebration is the Svensk Hyllningsfest, a local Swedish-inspired festival dating back to 1941 that happens every other year in October.
Venture just northwest of Lindsborg to Coronado Heights Castle for a slight change in cultural and historical pace. Yes, there is a castle in the middle of Kansas. This stone shelter sits atop a sandstone bluff approximately 300 feet high. Near this location, supposedly, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado gave up his search for the seven cities of gold and returned to Mexico. Regardless if this is true or not, the summit has spectacular views for miles, including wildflowers blooming in the spring and summer.
Atchison is a quaint town located alongside the Missouri River, about an hour northeast of Topeka. The town draws in many architecture-enthusiasts with its numerous stunning Victorian-style homes and buildings.
Atchison also attracts paranormal enthusiasts as the town has been dubbed “the most haunted town in Kansas.” This is, in most part, due to its early settlement history. The Haunted Atchison season runs from September through Early-November and lures amateur and committed ghost hunters near and far. Haunted tours range from mystery dinners and spiritual readings to walking through cemeteries.
On a less spooky note but slightly on the same wavelength, Atchison is also the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. Her childhood home, which her grandfather constructed in the 1860s, is now a museum devoted to the renowned aviator. Every July, there is the Amelia Earhart Festival, where residents continue to pay tribute to her brave legacy.
Today’s Home on the Range
Of course, there are so many more nooks and crannies to explore in Kansas. This list barely scratches the surface of a state rich in history, culture, scenery, and industrial and technological development. As you map out your RV itinerary this year, consider Kansas as a stop along your journey. For even more places to visit in the midwestern state, visit their website, Travel Kansas.
About The Author: Levi Henley
Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years. They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time. They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats. They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com
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