Main Street in the Washunga Days Parade, Council Grove, Kansas. Image credit mark reinstein via Shutterstock

6 Friendliest Towns to Visit in Kansas in 2024

Explore the heartland charm of six uniquely inviting Kansas towns, each offering a blend of rich history, cultural treasures, and warm hospitality. Lindsborg celebrates its Swedish heritage, Abilene showcases its presidential connection, and Wamego enchants visitors with its whimsical Wizard of Oz attractions. Atchison honors aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart, Dodge City spins stories of the Wild West, and Council Grove preserves its Santa Fe Trail legacy amid the scenic Flint Hills. Visitors will glimpse Kansas’s diverse, friendly, and welcoming spirit, with a trip to these must-visit towns in the Sunflower State.


The original Farmers State Bank building in Lindsborg, Kansas.
The original Farmers State Bank building in Lindsborg, Kansas. Image credit Stephanie L Bishop via Shutterstock

Lindsborg is a small 1869 town about 70 miles north of Wichita. Known as "Little Sweden USA," it is famous for its rich Swedish heritage and culture, similar to other towns like Solvang, California—the “Danish Capital of America,” New Glarus; Wisconsin—“America’s Little Switzerland;” and Frankenmuth, Michigan—“Little Bavaria.” The best way to see Lindsborg is to take the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway, the 56-mile-long historical route through the town. Visit Coronado Heights, the southernmost bluff in a series of seven bluffs known as the Smoky Hills, and the stone structure known as the Coronado Heights Castle for a view of the sprawling Kansas prairie.

The streets of downtown Lindsborg are lined with Swedish-inspired shops, restaurants, and cafés like Blacksmith Coffee Shop & Roastery, housed in the town’s oldest building, a former blacksmith shop. A few doors down, head into Indigo Moo'd Ice Cream for ice cream or share a pitcher of beer from the taps at the Öl Stuga (which translates from Swedish into “Ale House”) tavern. Be on the lookout for Dala horses, which are omnipresent. Sweden’s best-known dala icon is a bluntly rounded, tail-free horse symbolizing identity and welcome. The town is renowned for its biennial festival, Svensk Hyllningsfest, celebrated every October in odd-numbered years. The next festival will run from October 17 to 18, 2025.


Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas.
Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas. Image credit Michelangelo DeSantis via Shutterstock

Like the 1960s country song of the same name that reached No. 1 on the Billboard country chart, the small town of Abilene celebrates the folksy charm and simplicity of small-town America. Abilene is in the central part of the state full of flat rolling hills—a seemingly unlikely locale for a world-class museum like the Eisenhower Presential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home. Abilene is No. 3 on USA Today’s 10 Best Historic Small Towns for 2024.

Rich in history with a friendly atmosphere, visitors to Abilene can expect a full day’s worth of activities with a ride on a 100-year-old steam locomotive on the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad, a tour of the late 19th century Seelye Mansion full of furnishings purchased at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and a visit to the Greyhound Hall of Fame Museum, an entire museum devoted to greyhound racing. See the world’s largest belt buckle, which stands 19 feet, 10.5 inches wide, and 13 feet 11.24 inches tall at Eisenhower Park. Finally, head to Old Abilene Town for a taste of the Old West, complete with can-can dancers and gunfights. The town also celebrates Chisholm Trail Days on Augst 30 and 31, 2024, with live music, more can-can dancers, and a Longhorn parade.


Windmill in Wamego City Park.
Windmill in Wamego City Park.

While the setting for L. Frank Baum’s book, The Wonderful World of Oz, was set in the fictional land of Oz; it may well have been set in Wamego thanks to the many attractions and themed events celebrating the story of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Sitting on the shores of the Kansas River, Wamego is a small, welcoming town of less than 5,000 residents. Visitors to town can literally follow a yellow brick road in downtown Wamego to discover places like the OZ Museum, housing more than 2,000 artifacts, including hand-jeweled ruby slippers, a reproduction of the Haunted Forest sign, and illustrations from the 1st edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).

Wander the streets looking for "Totos Around Town,"—an exhibit of creative Toto statues; stop for a Tin Man Burrito at Toto’s TacOZ, then visit the Oz Winery for a tasting flight or buy a bottle of Drunken Munchkin or Flying Monkey to take home as a souvenir.

On October 5, 2024, Wamego celebrates Oztoberfest with a street party featuring an OZ Costume Contest, Outdoor OZ Market, Munchkinland, and more. Finally, take a break from all things Oz to see the beautifully restored 1890s Columbian Theater, which owns the most extensive collection of decorative arts from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the “Columbian Exhibition.”


Aerial view of downtown Atchison, Kansas.
Overlooking downtown Atchison, Kansas.

On the banks of the mighty Missouri, Atchison is a town renowned for its historic charm and Victorian-era architecture. It is also the birthplace of the trailblazing aviator Amelia Earhart, whose Lockheed 10-E Electra may have recently been discovered at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. A guided or self-guided tour of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum and the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum is a must-see for aviation enthusiasts.

From July 19 to 20, 2024, Atchison hosts the "Amelia Earhart Festival" in front of her childhood home: a "Concert in the Sky"—named by USA Today’s 10 Best Places to See Fireworks in 2024.

Other landmarks to visit in Atchison include the International Forest of Friendship, a living, growing memorial to those involved in aviation and space exploration. The forest consists of a walkway embedded with plaques honoring aviators and explorers from all 50 US states and over 35 countries, as well as an Astronaut’s Memorial honoring ten astronauts who lost their lives in space. To see an example of the opulence of the Victorian era, tour the 25-room Evah C. Cray Historical Home Museum, built in 1882 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dodge City

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

Dodge City is known as a legendary frontier town of the Wild West. It has several attractions that highlight its connection to all things cowboy, like the Boot Hill Museum, built on the original site of the Boot Hill Cemetery. Visitors can explore over 60,000 artifacts, including photographs, documents, and exhibits like an extensive gun collection. Stroll along the historic Front Street and visit the Saratoga and Alhambra Saloons, as well as the old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Walk along the Trail of Fame and see bronze statues honoring famous figures from Dodge City's history, including Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Swagger into the Gunfighters Wax Museum to take selfies with life-size wax figures of Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill, Miss Kitty, and many more. Historic trolley tours of the town are also offered several times a day, which takes visitors on a trip back to the 1870s.

Dodge City celebrates Dodge City Days from July 27 to August 6, 2024, with a 10-day festival celebrating the city’s great Western heritage. The celebration welcomes over 100,000 visitors annually and has grown into an international event with a parade, a professional rodeo, a BBQ festival, live music, and a KidFest.

Council Grove

Washunga Days Parade in Council Grove, Kansas.
Washunga Days Parade in Council Grove, Kansas. Image credit mark reinstein via Shutterstock

Council Grove, with a population of around 2,200, was a vital Santa Fe Trail town for many traders and pioneers. It is located along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway, a picturesque route where visitors can glimpse where the West begins. Enjoy breathtaking views of rolling hills covered in Tallgrass Prairie, a unique ecosystem primarily found in the Flint Hills, where only 4% of the world’s tallgrass prairie remains. Stop in along the byway at Hays House 1857 Restaurant and Tavern, a restaurant and trading post on the Sante Fe Trail founded by the frontiersman Daniel Boone’s great-grandson. Another landmark to see is The Cottage House and Motel, built in 1867, which was once a three-room cottage and blacksmith shop, then a boarding house.

Council Grove is a history lover’s paradise. The Kaw Mission State Historic Site is a landmark of a school established in 1851 by the Methodist Church to home and school Kaw Native American children. Nearby, visitors can view the oldest commercial building in town, the Last Chance Store, so named because it was the last opportunity for travelers to purchase supplies en route to Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Make 2024 the year to explore Kansas' friendly towns, from Swedish culture and Wizard of Oz whimsy to Wild West history and Victorian charm. Travel along scenic byways and attend vibrant festivals, as visitors will soon realize "there is no place like Kansas when you click your heels and come home."

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