when driving between Wichita and the Oklahoma state line, you may find yourself on a toll road. (the cost for an ordinary vehicle is only $1.90 as of 2012, unless you are taking it farther than Wichita.)
In the middle of this stretch of road (and also in the middle of the road itself, that is, in a widened portion of the median) is a rest stop. It includes a large fast-food restaurant and also a gas station. Although it is the only gas station on this section of road, the gas price is generally in line with average gas prices in the area.
These photos give an idea of what the rest area is like.
If you have ever wanted to visit a real fort from the heydays of the american west Fort Larned is the the most authentic one. While it will not look like a John Wayne fort it is the actual fort from the period of expansion after the American Civil War.
Generals and Native Leaders met here to negotiate treaties. Attacks on native settlements were launched from here. The west ward trails of emigration and commerce were patrolled from here.
This is the real thing. It will give you a new appreciation for what it must have been like to have been stationed out in the west for a trooper. It's location and condition are still very similar to what you would have seen if you had ridden here on horseback in 1865. So visit here and put those movies into perspective.
Many of the famous figures of the American west came through Fort Larned. From George Custer to the Buffalo Soldiers.
Get off the free way and really see the west as it was.
The Fort Scott National Historic Site is from a period of American history that's not well represented elsewhere. It gives you a chance to see what Americans were up to in the period before the American Civil War.
It is the only installation that the American government ever built to keep the white Americans from migrating west. The administration of Jackson championed the concept of Native removal in order to deal with inter-racial conflict. Basically in the 1840s they drew a line north to south. The land on the west was for Natives (that were forcibly moved from their eastern homes) and the east was for the whites.
This was meant to be a permanent solution to the "Native Problem¨. In reality the policy was very short lived. About 10 years.
This unwalled Fort was the home of Dragoons and Infantry and was constructed by the soldiers themselves. It is extremely well preserved and restored.
Do not miss the following
„« The rare Mountain Howitzer in the building on the NE corner of the site.
„« The wild uniforms in the infantry barracks
„« The military style stable
„« The Sergeant¡¦s Quarters around to the rear of the infantry barracks¡¦
„« Visit the kitchen in the officers' quarters. Try to visit in the morning the light is very nice.
„« There is a very cool bakery on the SE corner.
Try to hit it on one of their special events weekends they shoot off the cannons and have lots of reenactors on site. During the summer they have scheduled guided tours. It is hard to visualize how the place was so I recommend the tour if you have the time
The Garden of Eden
This home of an old American Civil War veteran is one of the finest examples of folk art anywhere in the world. This guy received a double pension from the army and built a concrete rambling sculpture garden around his home. The house itself is constructed of limestone logs on the high plains.
He married late in life a young Bohemian immigrant who had to abandon the home during the great dust bowl years. It was later reoccupied and is now a historic site.
If you drive across Kansas YOU MUST STOP and see this. It is just a short drive off Inter-state 70.
If you watch movies you tend to think that the golden age of the cowboy took place in Montana or Colorado. In reality it was in much of central Kansas.
The most famous of all Cattle Trails crossed through and terminated in Kansas. The wild cowboys burning up their pay in saloons and houses of ill repute took place in Abilene.
As you travel through Kansas you have the chance to see and experience the landscape that formed these men into the American Icon that they became.
Many towns have monuments and small museums. But the real thing to focus on here is the overall feeling of the prairie and the wide open places. I highly recommend at least one night sleeping on the ground outside. At some points you can see ruts in the trail from the actual drives over 130 years ago.
If you really love the cowboys I recommend visiting a ranch for a day or two riding a horse. See my tip on ranches to visit.
Kansas is well represented in some films. There is a lot of misrepresentation also. Many of the movies that are made about events that took place in Kansas a filmed in the American Mountain West.
Here is a list of films that I think capture some of the feel of Kansas. I recommend them to you before you come here. They do a pretty good job of giving you a feel of what Kansas was like in times past. They can “get you in the mood” a bit.
Red River: What cattle drives were like
Dances With Wolves: The beginning of the trip west has a great sequence in a military post and settlers and natives interaction. Many of the most famous massacres of natives and settlers took place in Kansas. Some of the most frontier abductions took place in Kansas
Ride With The Devil: This little known film will give you a good sense of Kansas during the Bleeding Kansas days of the American Civil War.
In Cold Blood: A Gritty 50’s look at Kansas.
The Grapes Of Wrath: The dust bowl is a big part of Kansas history
Any Buster Keeton Film: He is from Kansas there is a Keeton Film Festival each year in Iola, Kansas
Any Louise Brooks Film: Also a Kansas native and very interesting. She was a real trend setter. You often see her signature hair style even today
Kansas has some of the last tall grass prairie. If you visit Kansas you should check it out. It is very accessible by car. It is interesting in all seasons. The spring and summer bring verdant growth and wild flowers. Fall and winter shows bronze mature landscape.
There is a wide range of wildlife much of which is migratory so it is interesting during any season.
It is wide open so bring the proper clothing and a good pair of field glasses are a good idea.
The Grandview Ranch is a working Family owned ranch in the flint hills of Kansas. Jan Jantzen and his family offer you a chance to see what life on a working ranch is like.
They burn their prairie off on a regular basis to manage the Grandview Ranch. They have openings for you to help and or observe the burn. It is a fun and exciting event.
There is a campfire meal and live music afterwards. It makes for a unique and memorable adventure.
They also have a wide range of other ranch activities that you can arrange to take part in.
See and climb around in a huge steam shovel. There a many old mines in southeastern Kansas. One of the remnants of that time is a huge steam shovel. It is like a great ship stranded out on the prairie. It is a novelty at least and a grand adventure if you have some imagination.
I thought it would be lame but we took some kids there and they went nuts. My nephews ask to go every time they come to visit.
Do not forget to stop at Josie’s Restaurant in Scammon for dinner on your way out.
Site of the world's largest hand dug well, Greensburg, Kansas. The well is 109 feet deep, 32 feet wide, and was completed in 1888. The only digging tools were a shovel and a pick. Until 1932 this well provided Greensburg's water supply, and in 1939 became a tourist attraction, complete with the obligatory tacky roadside signs.
If you want to pay a few bucks you can go inside the enclosure, even descend the 105 steps to the bottom of the well. Another "attraction" at the site is a 1000 pound pallasite meteorite. Greensburg must have been the bullseye of some kind of target shoot, as area farmers have dug up numerous meteorites over recent decades.
This is an absolute "Must Do" when you come to Wichita. The Sedgwick County Zoo is considered one of the best in the nation, right up there with the San Diego Zoo. I can't remember if it's better than San Diego's Zoo, comparable or better, but take my word for it, you don't want to miss this attraction. You will spend about 4 hours going through the Zoo and that's if you don't take any breaks to chomp on a yummy snack or partake in a refreshing drink. I highly recommend taking a break as it is a long walk if you don't. Of course there is the train for those who prefer not to walk, but if you choose this method your at the mercy of someone else's time schedule. Some of the exhibit's you will see are the reptile exhibit, the not to be missed and most recent addition to our zoo "The Downing Gorrilla Forrest", the Asia exhibt, the Austriala exhibt...which btw, happens to be my favorite with all the kangroo's and kola bears, you'll see lions, tigers, jaguars, zebra's giraffes, hippos, I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. This is a not to be missed happening place. One for the entire family and I promise no one will get bored! They even have a petting zoo for the kids. Oh, did I mention that they are open 364 days a year & that includes Christmas Day. Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for Senior Citizens and $4.50 for kids.
Beginning in 1860 the Pony Express operated like a giant relay race between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast. Along the Oregon Trail, through Forts Laramie and Bridger, around the Great Salt Lake, riders carried the mail through a wilderness infested with hostile tribes. Their mounts were Indian ponies, nearly 500 altogether, kept in relay stations 15 miles apart.
The Hollenberg or Cottonwood Ranch House , built in 1857, is said to be the only original and unaltered Pony Express Station still in existence. At every few stations, like this one, a new rider took over. Day and night, summer and winter, over sun-baked plains and icy mountain trails, the schedule was maintained. After only 18 months, and with a remarkable record of only one mail loss, the Pony Express was replaced by the trans-continental telegraph line. A brief but romantic page of American history became the victim of modern technology.
Near the Hollenberg Station is a new Visitor Center with interpretative exhibits, operated by the Kansas State Historical Site. It is also a part of the Pony Express National Historic Trail, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Wed. - Sat. 10-5
Closed Mon. - Tues. and all major holidays.
Abilene, Kansas, was home to Dwight David Eisenhower during his formative years from age 8 until he entered the United State Military Academy at West Point. Among the Eisenhower related attractions in Abilene is the home in which he lived, and in which his parents lived until their deaths. It is open to the public, no entry fee.
Eisenhower was 34th president of the USA and the commander of the Allied forces in Europe in WWII.
I recommend this museum as a great stop for families with small children. The most popular feature is a giant diorama (said to be the largest of its kind in the world) which features the plants and animals of the North American continent, arranged by zone from arctic tundra to rain forest. Kids love it, as do their older siblings and parents.
There is more to the Natural History Museum than the diorama, such as the skeleton of a mosasaur, a giant lizard which once swam the oceans where Kansas is now, and Comanche - the 7th Cavalry horse which survived the Battle of Big Horn.
The museum is located within the extraordinary Dyche Hall, a neo-Romanesque building listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It is on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped four nights at Kaw Point in what is now the West Bottoms area of Kansas City, Kansas. This site is the confluence of the Missouri and Kaw (Kansas) Rivers. Captain Clark wrote that "the Countrey about the mouth of this river is verry fine," and the explorers recommended a fort be built there at some future time. (Obviously they were not aware of the periodic floods that inundate this area.)
The skyline of the other Kansas City in the state of Missouri can be see behind the explorer silhouette, and on the opposite side of the two rivers. Visitors can take advantage of several walking trails, and view historic memorials.
Service was outstanding from front desk to the maintenance man who went out of his way to say good...more
2300 W. 6th Street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66049, United States
Good for: Families
I only stayed here once. It is stale and not many people usually stay here. It is the anchor hotel...more