Members of the Local 4 H club ride their horses on Main Street in the Washunga Days Parade in Council Grove, Kansas. Image credit mark reinstein via Shutterstock

6 of the Most Overlooked Towns in Kansas

While the state is well known as home to Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, a collection of vistas, tall grass prairies, and endless horizons bless Kansas with a diverse and unforgettable landscape. While there is much to see and explore in the great outdoors, such as the Flint Hills and the Sedgwick County Zoo, Kansas also houses an electric community. Sports games play an integral role in the culture of the area, from big basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse to cheering on local teams in smaller arenas. The Sunflower State also hosts a plethora of festivals, perfect for foodies, music-lovers, and more.

Whatever visitors may be looking to explore, Kansas's most overlooked small towns share a glimpse into the heart that makes up the state, from its vibrant communities to its awe-inducing natural beauty.


Super Moon Rising Near Coronado Heights Castle
Moon near Coronado Heights Castle, Lindsborg, Kansas.

Lindsborg is Kansas's Little Sweden, with roots running deep through Swedish, Nordic, Scandinavian, and German heritages. Travelers may experience history and beauty all at once, touring historic landmarks and buildings such as the 1904 Swedish Pavilion, Presser Hall, built in 1929, and the town's City Hall, built in 1887 as Farmers State Bank. The town is also part of the Smoky Valley, and is just 10 minutes from Coronado Heights Castle, located uphill with a lookout point over the town. For a delightful road trip, traverse along the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway.

Lindsborg hosts several annual events, such as the Annual Midwest Art Exhibition, Lindsborg in Bloom, and the Midsummer's Festival. A visit to town during the Annual Chocolate Lovers Affair and Art Auction in February is a must, with the opportunity to indulge in locally made treats and marvel at carefully crafted chocolate art and sculptures.


Red historic mansion in Abilene, Kansas
Red historic mansion in Abilene, Kansas. Image credit Sabrina Janelle Gordon via Shutterstock

The town of Abilene overflows with Western history, as it came to life when the first cattle drive came from Texas in 1867. Visitors will now find the World's Largest Belt Buckle monument, standing almost 14 feet tall, as well as the picturesque Chisholm Trail, once the cattle trail where many cowboys once rode. Other unique monuments include the 15-foot Abilene Cowboy and the 28-foot Big Spur. Drive along the Eisenhower Barn Quilt Trail and revel in the quiet of the countryside, alongside beautifully built barns decorated with colorful quilts.

Explore the area's culture further with a trip to murals such as that of Wild Bill Hicock or Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as the Great Plains Theatre. President Eisenhower's life and legacy also live on through the town, well documented as the town in which he grew up, which is also home to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. There is also an 11-foot statue of the General and 34th President of the United States.

Cottonwood Falls

The old downtown area of Cottonwood Falls.
The old downtown area of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

Cottonwood Falls sits along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway, as well as the remarkable Cottonwood Falls River. With a population of around 800, it is also one of the best-kept secrets in Kansas. The historic downtown district houses Chase County Courthouse, the oldest courthouse in Kansas still in use, and is the ideal destination for an afternoon stroll admiring the 19th-century architecture and local shops.

Delve further into the town's history with a visit to Chase County Historical Society Museum, Roniger Memorial Museum, and Cavalry Historic Barn, created entirely of native limestone. Be sure to admire the natural scenery of Swope City Park and Campground, Chase Falls Lake, or the Cottonwood River itself.

Dodge City

The Boot Hill Historical Museum in Dodge City, Kansas.
The Boot Hill Historical Museum in Dodge City, Kansas. Image credit RaksyBH via

Dodge City is a legendary destination in Kansas, located on the banks of the Arkansas River, which is the fifth-longest river in the US. The town embodies the Old West, easily discoverable with a step back in time into the Boot Hill Museum, which preserves artifacts of Dodge City's past, or the nearby Gunfighters Wax Museum, bringing famous cowboys such as Wyatt Earp, Sitting Bull, and Jesse James to life.

For an especially delightful trip, attend one of the annual Roundup Rodeo showcases, or visit the Boot Hill Casino and Resort or Raceway Park. For a taste of some locally made goods, check out Dodge City Brewing, a craft-brewery, or the Dodge City Farmers Market during the summer months. Golfing is popular among outdoor enthusiasts, as are biking and walking paths, and the Long Branch Lagoon Aquatics Park, open in the summer.

Council Grove

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

Council Grove considers itself the "Main Street of the Flint Hills," situated in the heart of Flint Hills, with plenty of local events and happenings that make it the place to be. The town overflows with historic sites, such as the Kaw Mission State Historic Site and Last Chance Store Museums on the Santa Fe Trail, and the Farmers and Drovers Bank.

Opportunities for outdoor recreation abound, including the Council Grove Marina, where many boat, fish, and kayak, as well as the 1.24-mile Pioneer Trail or the picturesque Council Grove Federal Reservoir. Hop aboard the Council Grove Trail Trolley and enjoy a historic tour through town, or head out on foot and discover the local lore yourself, visiting the downtown district and hot spots such as Hays House 1857, Post Office Oak, or Terwilliger Home.

Fort Scott

View of Fort Scott building in Fort Scott, Kansas.
Fort Scott building in Fort Scott, Kansas. Image credit William Silver via Shutterstock

Fort Scott sits between the grasslands and the Marmaton River, recognized for its outdoor living, though it was once a tactical position during the American Civil War. Fort Scott acted as the last defense on the Kansas-Missouri border, a history discoverable with a trip to Fort Scott National Historic Site, which is fully open during the warmer months, and typically only the grounds open in winter. Other historical attractions include the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, Gordon Parks Museum, and Historic Downtown Fort Scott Walking Tour. Travelers may dive further into the town's culture and visit during annual events such as Fort Scott Veterans Celebration, Bourbon County Fair. and Pioneer Harvest Fiesta.

Check out locations such as Gunn Park Trails and Kansas Rocks Recreation Park for mountain biking, hiking, and exploring. Plus, Fort Scott is only 95 miles away from Kansas City, offering easy access to the state's hotspot as well as a cozy, charming stay in the overlooked small town.

Enjoy a Trip to Kansas!

While Kansas is chock full of natural wonders and exciting festivals and events, as well as a lively community, some of its most overlooked towns deserve a visit. Each spot is rich with things to do and see, ranging from the family-friendly Long Branch Lagoon Aquatics Park in Dodge City to a tour through President Eisenhower's Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene. No matter the destination, Kansas's small towns offer a trip unlike any other, boasting their own carefully decorated monuments, scenic byways, and local markets.

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