Kansas City skyline panorama. Panoramic image of the Kansas City downtown district

5 Most Charming River Towns in Kansas

Lying in the midwest, the US state of Kansas is famous for its oil wells, wheat, and homage to the timeless classic, The Wizard of Oz. Additionally, several of America's rivers flow through the Sunflower State, which include the Kansas River and the expansive Missouri River. Besides delivering fresh water and being a home to an abundance of wildlife, many charming Kansas towns are situated along these rivers.


Aerial view over downtown city center of Atchison Kansas in mid morning light
Aerial view over downtown city center of Atchison, Kansas

Situated in Atchison County, Atchison overlooks the Missouri River in northeastern Kansas, bordering Missouri. Home to over 10,800 residents, Atchison is known as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. In fact, Atchison pays tribute to the female American aviator by hosting the Amelia Earhart Festival annually. Otherwise, Atchison is a favorite destination among paranormal aficionados, due to its reputation as being one of the "most haunted" town in Kansas, due to its collection of mysterious landmarks and inexplicable urban legends. 


colorful orange fall foliage at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA
Beautiful fall foliage at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Situated along the west banks of the Missouri River, Leavenworth is the most populous town in all of Leavenworth County. Nicknamed "The First City of Kansas", Leavenworth was the state's first city, incorporated in 1854. Today, its tourism centers around its storied past, offering historic attractions like the Caroll Mansion, the early 20th-century Parker Carousel Museum, and the Chapel of the Veterans. Leavenworth also boasts a range of shopping boutiques and kid-friendly attractions.


A Windmill in Wamego City Park
A Windmill in Wamego City Park

Overlooking the Kansas River, Pottawatomie County's Wamego is a "small town with big experiences". Home to over 4,800 residents, Wamego prides itself as a quaint town vibrant with attractions dedicated to the Wizard of OzVisitors can easily follow the Yellow Brick Road at the entrance, which will lead them right into the town. Furthermore, fans of the timeless movie will love exploring Wamego, which is home to the Oz Museum, a Oz-themed winery, and 18 Toto statues (which are sprawled across the town). Alternatively, other attractions that make this small town so charming include the Columbian Theatre, hiking paths at the Oregon Trail, and the Swogger Art Gallery.

Clay Center

Clay County Courthouse
Clay County Courthouse

Situated between US Highway 24 and Kansas Highway 15, Clay Center also runs through the Republican River. Upon entering the town, visitors will be greeted with an intricate geese sculpture, "The Spirit of the Wild Things". Additionally, visitors will also notice a handful of murals installed across Clay Center, which depict local artistic talent and the economic importance of agriculture to the town. Otherwise, Clay Center boasts an expansive golf course and country club, a town zoo, aquatic park, and the historic County Clay Museum. 


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

Nicknamed "Little Sweden", Lindsborg was originally founded in 1869 by settlers from Värmland, Sweden. To this day, this charming town pays tribute to its Swedish roots, from its local attractions like the 1904 Swedish Pavilion or the Lindsborg Old Mill and Swedish Heritage Museum. Additionally, Lindsborg hosts notable events like Våffeldagen (International Waffle Day) and Svensk Hyllingsfest, a fall festival that only takes place during odd-numbered years. However, visitors of Lindsborg often admire their Wild Dalas, which are whittled wooden sculptures of tail-free horses, bright with a rainbow of colors!

These river towns are worth a visit, each with its own unique traits while emanating hospitable Kansas charm. From the town of Lindsborg to the streets of Atchison, these river towns are as diverse and storied than their bustling city counterparts.

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