The Sunflower State is best known for being on the I-70, but once you get off the interstate, you’ll be mesmerized by all the iconic sceneries and human-made attractions that make the state special. For the best kansas road trips, there’s a diverse range of places that you can include on your route. Contrary to what others say, there are detour-worthy destinations in the state that might just surprise you or take your breath away—whichever comes first.
Your next journey to Kansas will be more special if you take the drive to some of the best scenic spots in the area. Here are some of the stopovers you need to discover while exploring the state and special roadside attractions in Kansas. If you have a frugal budget, then check out our dedicated sampling of pocket-friendly activities in Kansas.
Don’t let the Sunflower season pass; quickly find out the best road trip destinations in Kansas through the below slides.
- 1 Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve – One of the Best Kansas Road Trips
- 2 Castle Rock
- 3 Mount Sunflower
- 4 Eisenhower Presidential Center
- 5 Milford State Park
- 6 Stull
- 7 Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum
- 8 OZ Museum
- 9 Kansas Originals
- 10 Monument Rocks
- 11 Little Jerusalem
- 12 Ready to witness what are the roadside attractions in Kansas you?
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve – One of the Best Kansas Road Trips
If you are planning for the best Kansas road trips, all the scenic attractions in nature do not miss. Get a spectacular view of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, one of the world’s last remaining tallgrass prairies that is home to grazing bison. The 11,000-acre area boasts 40 miles of trails that will show you a unique piece of what the old days looked like. The small section survived the 19th-century plowing to give way to progress and is now protected by the government.
It’s ideal for visiting the area in the fall when the grass goes above your height, making you feel delightfully lost in the beauty of nature. The prairie hosts different activities throughout the year, including Junior Ranger programs that help kids appreciate the environment a little more.
Considered as a geological anomaly, the Castle Rock is more than a freestanding spire above the western badlands. It features towers of limestone and shale pillars, with rich historical lore to back up its grandeur. This landmark nestled along the Smoky Hills Trail was named by the survey team sent to investigate the area in 1865.
The route sits on private land, so if you’re planning the best kansas road trips, showing respect for the property is highly recommended. Here you’ll see the route that took passenger, mail, and freight across Colorado via the Butterfield Overland Dispatch in the 19th century. It was also violently defended by the Cheyenne and Arapaho from encroachers, but ultimately became obsolete with the invention of railroads.
Your trip is incomplete if you miss Mount Sunflower from the list of best Kansas road trips. It’s on the far west of the state and only a few paces away from Colorado, but it’s a great drive to see the 4,039 feet elevation up close. It’s also the highest point in the entire state. It’s more hilly than mountainous, which makes it a better Kansas homage than a hike.
The Mount Sunflower lies on the 19th-century homestead of Edward and Elizabeth Harold, but is now accessible to the public, welcoming tourists and visitors year-round. At the pinnacle, you can see a pretty sunflower sculpture as a fitting adornment, which is made from scraps of the metal railway.
Eisenhower Presidential Center
The regality of the Eisenhower Presidential Center will greet you once you set foot in its halls. It is dedicated to Dwight D. Eisenhower, former US president and World War II’s Supreme Commander of
the Allied Forces assigned in Europe. You can tour his modest boyhood home and see the dense museum filled with artifacts of the late president’s life.
Located in Abilene, this Kansas stopover holds interactive exhibits that display Eisenhower’s presidency from 1953-1961. It’s where you can check out the original script of his 1961 landmark speech where he gave warning on the ‘military-industrial complex’. When you’re done touring the museum, you can also head to the Brookville Hotel for some family-style meals that will satisfy your palate.
Milford State Park
The Milford State Park sits outside Junction City and features the Milford Reservoir, the largest lake in Kansas, spanning 15, 709 acres. If you’re into hiking, the Eagle Ridge Trail stretches for 80 miles and is blessed with a prairie landscape tinged with wildflowers. The park has eight campgrounds complete with water and electric hook-ups. You can hold events and have a nice, intimate outdoor adventure with loved ones while you’re here.
Aside from the stunning scenery, the Milford State Park is also popular among tourists who love to fish. The lake is home to a diverse species, including the walleye, white bass, catfish, crappie, smallmouth, and largemouth bass. The wildlife on the park’s west side is also outstanding, with a bald eagle flying over during the winter.
Are you up for an unusual adventure while in Kansas? You can try visiting Stull, a small, quiet town in Douglas County, Kansas. It only has a handful of buildings and residents, but if the legend is to be believed, the town’s cemetery belongs to the ‘Seven Gateways to Hell’. It’s creepy to hear, but travelers looking for quirks in Kansas will find this location to be worth driving by.
Legend has it that somewhere within the city lies hidden steps descending to the netherworld. They say it’s nearly impossible to trace, and only opens during the Spring Equinox and Halloween. It’s one stopover you might want if you’re fascinated by the occult.
Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum
Amelia Earhart has made her mark in history as the first female to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a solo flight. If you’re her big fan, or just curious to know her story, her childhood home is now known as the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum on the 223 North Terrace Street of Atchison, Kansas. The museum remains the most tangible association with the famous woman pilot herself.
The museum is a National Historic Site and is visited by thousands of tourists annually. It houses several artifacts, including a vintage portrait of her grandmother. It’s owned by the Ninety-Nines, the international organization for female aviators which Amelia Earhart served as inaugural president. It’s a great place that will serve as an inspiration for women who dream big and achieve success through grit and determination.
Another detour you can include on your Kansas itinerary is the OZ Museum, which takes you to the world of Dorothy Gale and the Wizard of Oz. It’s an empowering story that’s fascinating for both kids and adults, with endearing characters that teach people about believing in oneself.
The museum is home to all things OZ, serving a unique experience that brings people across the globe to Wamego, Kansas. It is the exclusive site where the earliest OZ Parker Brothers board games and Baum books are on display. There are more than 2,000 artifacts in the museum and is a legacy that the small town and the rest of the state cherish dearly.
The Kansas Originals Market & Gallery is a worthy pitstop for the best Kansas road trips because it’s where you can get to meet the identity of the locale. From arts and crafts to gifts and delicacies, you can find everything Kansas here. It’s at the junction of K-232 and I-70 exit 206, right at the Post Rock Scenic Byway.
Exceptional art made of wood and limestone are on display in the Kansas Originals Market & Gallery, and these items are well-appreciated by foreigners and travelers from other states. It opened in 1991 and is still going strong today, exhibiting food items, paintings, and sculptures that show the uniqueness of Kansan art and culture.
The wide, prairie-like flatland is decorated by striped Monument Rocks, the 80-feet high geological formations found about twenty-five miles south of Oakley, Kansas. They are also called Chalk Pyramids, granted by the chalky characteristic of limestone. It is said that these rock outcroppings were caused by sea bed erosion some 80 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.
Like the badlands of Castle Rock, Monument Rocks is nestled on private land, but the owners allow the public to visit during daylight. If you’re planning on putting this in your best Kansas road trips, you should come early because staying after dark is strictly prohibited. You should also pick up your trash to maintain its beauty and cleanliness for other visitors, too.
The Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is the 28th state park that got its name from the ‘ancient walls’ that look like Jerusalem’s walled city from afar. It is a chalk formation that is the most dramatic Niobrara geological formation. It features the largest Great Plains wild buckwheat population and is home to several species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Evidence of Kansas having an aquatic past is depicted in this area as remnants of flying and swimming reptiles living some 85 million years ago have been discovered here. Today, the park has two permanent trails for hiking enthusiasts, with some towering over 100 feet on top of the Smoky Hill River. The natural beauty of the state is vividly on display in this area and begs to be experienced by road trip lovers like you.
Ready to witness what are the roadside attractions in Kansas you?
Wherever the roads lead you in Kansas, always make sure that you and your car are ready for the scenic byways that you’ll be passing through on your journey. Check your gauges and bring necessities. May you have the best time of your life in the Sunflower State!