The El Capitan Longhorn Statue is one of the tourist attractions in Dodge City, Kansas. Image credit RaksyBH via Shutterstock

14 Best Small Towns to Visit in Kansas

Kansas is an unassuming gem with a wealth of charm and natural beauty frequently overshadowed by its prominent and more well-known neighbors. The state in the middle of the US is known for its beautiful scenery, rich past, and hospitable locals. Beyond the crowded cities, travelers will find several small towns that perfectly embody the spirit of real America. Although Kansas's expansive prairies are common knowledge, the quaint towns are what make an impression. Tourists will appreciate the enthralling Wild West stories, honor pioneering heroes, delight in delectable cuisine, and cherish the unspoiled natural marvels that adorn the landscapes.

Cottonwood Falls

Horizontal photo of the old downtown area of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas
Old downtown area of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, is a little town that oozes character and heritage, tucked away in the center of the Flint Hills. The magnificent Chase County Courthouse, an outstanding representation of French Renaissance architecture, serves as its focal point. Head over to the Cottonwood River Bridge for stunning views of the river. Travelers can explore the charming stores and art galleries dotting the quaint avenues as they stroll down Main Street. The neighboring Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a haven for nature enthusiasts allowing them to relish the splendor of the prairie.


The house in Abilene, Kansas where President Eisenhower used to live when he was a small boy.
The house in Abilene, Kansas, where President Eisenhower used to live when he was a small boy. Image credit spoonphol via

Abilene is a town with a rich cowboy past where tourists can travel back in time to relive the Old West. Visitors can discover the background of the 34th President of the US by touring the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Visitors must stop by the Seelye Mansion to admire the exquisite architecture, period furnishings and original Edison lighting. The Native American Art Center is a famous location for all art lovers. People can browse the historic saloons, antique stores, and quaint boutiques in the old downtown neighborhood. Abilene exudes a small-town charm that makes for a tranquil getaway.


The original Farmers State Bank building in Lindsborg, Kansas, is now home to City Hall and sports a bright red coat of paint.
Farmers State Bank building in Lindsborg, Kansas, is now home to City Hall.

"Little Sweden, USA," or Lindsborg, is a small community cherishing its Scandinavian heritage. Visitors can admire the vibrant Dala horses spread across the town and represent its Swedish history. The McPherson County Old Mill Museum is a great place to understand the town's past. Travelers can tour galleries exhibiting regional talent, explore the bustling arts scenario, and savor delectable Swedish fare. Don't miss the captivating Midsummer Festival, where tourists can enjoy the local celebrations, dances, and music. The town exudes the ideal European ambiance and charms tourists with its splendor.


Missouri River, a bridge at Leavenworth, Kansas.
Missouri River, a bridge at Leavenworth, Kansas.

With a rich history, the town of Leavenworth provides a beguiling blend of traditional charm and contemporary attractions. One of the earliest operational Army stations in the country, Fort Leavenworth, invites visitors to explore its rich military history. One can take a tranquil walk through the beautiful downtown area dotted with structures from the Victorian era and unique stores. Experience a ride on one of the wonderfully restored carousels at the CW Parker Carousel Museum. Leavenworth has something to offer to everyone with its exciting festivals, fascinating museums, and picturesque riverfront.


Aerial view over downtown city center of Atchison, Kansas
The downtown city center of Atchison, Kansas.

Atchison, situated along the Missouri River's bluffs, is a lovely town full of ghost stories and heritage. Visitors can discover magnificent Victorian residences, including the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum dedicated to the illustrious pilot. One can learn about the town's spooky past by embarking on a ghost tour. Travelers can also explore the area's rich history by visiting the Atchison County Historical Society Museum. A leisurely evening stroll through the quaint town is ideal at Atchinson. It is a place that's bound to captivate and amaze people with its stunning river views, stunning architecture, and eerie folklore.


A shot of the Garden of Eden in Lucas Kansas
Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas.

Head to the "Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas," where imagination has no bounds despite the incredibly low population. Lucas is a peculiar tiny town that honors traditional artwork in every manifestation. Visitors can browse the Grassroots Art Centre to find a wealth of unusual and exclusive art. One can admire the eccentric Garden of Eden's elaborate concrete sculptures made by SP Dinsmoor. Lucas is a must-visit location for art fans and curious tourists because of the town's thriving art scene, delicious restaurants, and welcoming ambiance.

Council Grove

Downtown Council Grove in Kansas.
Downtown Council Grove in Kansas.

In Council Grove, a town with a rich history of the frontier, heritage comes to life. Council Grove serves as a significant stopping point on the storied Santa Fe Trail and provides a window into a bygone era. Visitors can discover the fascinating history of the Kaw people by visiting the Kaw Mission State Historic Site. Travelers can browse the town's lovely downtown, look around at antique stores, and eat at quaint eateries. The Hays House, the oldest continually running eatery west of the Mississippi River, is a must-visit. Council Grove is a village that appeals to adventurers and history buffs, given the picturesque Flint Hills setting and its strong historical ties.

Dodge City

The historic district of Dodge City.
The historic district of Dodge City. Image credit Michael Rosebrock via Shutterstock

Visitors can venture into the Wild West in Dodge City, where tales of lawmen, rebels, and cowboys still ring true. At the engaging displays and living history reenactments-filled Boot Hill Museum, tourists can fully immerse themselves in the community's rich Western past. Visit the renowned Historic Depot Theatre to see a performance or watch an exciting rodeo. Take the Dodge City Trolley across the town to explore the Santa Fe Trail's old buildings and sights. Explore Front Street, an Old West-themed street with saloons, stores, and gunfight displays. Travelers can step back in time by experiencing the real West in Dodge City.

Fort Scott

Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas
Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas.

Fort Scott, a hamlet in southeastern Kansas, takes great pride in maintaining its military heritage. Travelers can go back in time by exploring the beautifully restored Fort Scott National Historic Site. Visitors can consider touring the Gordon Parks Museum, dedicated to the celebrated photographer and director. Tourists must take in the quaint downtown area's boutique stores, art galleries, and restaurants. Fort Scott attracts history buffs and those looking for a tranquil escape with its rich past, natural splendor, and friendly community.


Windmill in Wamego City Park and pink blooming flowers on the trees.
Windmill in Wamego City Park.

Wamego, often known as the "Small Town with Big Adventures," is a pleasant place with something to interest everyone. Visitors can discover the lovely downtown district with its boutiques, antique shops, and specialty businesses. Explore the renowned Oz Museum, devoted to everything "Wizard of Oz." Travelers can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the lovely City Park, the site of the delightful Wamego Tulip Festival. Wamego is a little gem that guarantees a great visit, offering eccentric attractions and outdoor recreation choices.


The Romanesque style Thomas County Courthouse stands near large grain elevators in Colby, Kansas
Thomas County Courthouse stands near large grain elevators in Colby, Kansas.

Colby, a friendly small town in northwestern Kansas, is encircled by huge grasslands and infinite skies. Visitors can learn about the cultural and ecological history of the area at the Prairie Museum of Art and History. Travelers can discover Fike Park and its serene lake, ideal for a lovely picnic or leisurely stroll. When in town, the Pickin' on the Plains Bluegrass Festival, featuring folk music, is undoubtedly a fantastic event to visit. Colby makes a quaint starting point for discovering the delights of northwest Kansas, given its friendly welcome, picturesque surroundings, and accessibility to outdoor experiences.


Downtown Norton, Kansas.
Downtown Norton, Kansas. Image credit melissamn via Shutterstock

Norton, a small community on Kansas' High Plains, takes pride in its natural setting. Travelers can discover Prairie Dog State Park, providing hiking routes, fishing chances, and various animals for wildlife watching. Visitors can explore the distinctive shops and restaurants in Norton's downtown to experience its true charm. Tourists can also visit the Norton County Historical Society Museum to learn about local history while viewing artifacts and exhibitions depicting the town's history. Norton provides a tranquil haven and a friendly welcome, whether people are looking for outdoor experiences or a peek into local culture.


Downtown Hays, Kansas.
Downtown Hays, Kansas. Image credit Ammodramus via Wikimedia Commons

The bustling town of Hays successfully combines its Wild West past with present-day amenities. Visitors can discover the charmingly refurbished historic buildings and diverse selection of boutiques and galleries in downtown Hays. Travelers can also consider uncovering the past of the frontier fort by visiting the Fort Hays State Historic Site. One can attend a live show or art exhibition at the Hays Arts Council to fully experience the community's culture. Hays is a compelling location for everyone promising arts culture, recreational options, and a welcoming environment.


Lecompton, Kansas, contains several historic sites, such as Constitution Hall, that played key roles in the lead up to the Civil War.
Lecompton, Kansas, Constitution Hall. Image credit William Silver via

Lecompton, a little town with significant historical importance, lies tucked away along the Kansas River banks. The town, referred to for being the "Birthplace of the Civil War," played a crucial role in the dispute arising over the question of enslavement in the Kansas Territory. One can understand the volatile years leading up to the Civil War by visiting the Territorial Capital Museum and Constitution Hall State Historic Site, where the territory's legislature met. People can browse the neighborhood stores and cafes as they stroll through the quaint streets surrounded by old houses. Lecompton is an intriguing destination for history buffs and those looking for a peaceful vacation boasting extensive history and serene surroundings.

Small towns in Kansas encourage tourists to take it easy, get lost in their distinct cultures, and enjoy the little things in life. These little villages are sure to win over the hearts of travelers, from the cobblestone streets of Cottonwood Falls to the historical worth of Lecompton. The next time you make travel plans, consider going outside the busy metropolis and exploring Kansas' charming small towns to get a feel for the state's true character.

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