Commercial Street Mall area of downtown Atchison, Kansas. Image credit dustin77a via Shutterstock

6 Underappreciated Towns to Visit in Kansas

Kansas is well-known for its vast prairies and wide open spaces. But what is less known is that the "Sunflower State" is a great destination for travelers who enjoy smaller, more intimate places. This Midwestern state has countless fun places to visit that tend to fly a little under the radar but offer no end of excellent things to do.

Among these hidden gems are places like Abilene, Lindsborg, Wamego, Atchison, Council Grove, and Paxico, all of which boast their own exciting attractions. If combined as part of a Kansas road trip, these towns will not only provide a refreshing escape from often crowded destinations like Kansas City and Wichita but are guaranteed to give visitors an authentic slice of Americana. Find out more about these six underappreciated towns to visit in Kansas.


The monument of President Eisenhower is in a park located in Abilene, Kansas.
The monument of President Eisenhower is in a park located in Abilene, Kansas. Image credit spoonphol via

A top overlooked community in Kansas, Abilene is home to several important attractions that celebrate the life and achievements of one of the most beloved American Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower. The 34th President of the United States had deep ties to Abilene, which now has the honor of being the location of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home. This extensive complex honors the life and legacy of Eisenhower, with exhibits detailing his presidency, military career, and personal life.

History enthusiasts will also appreciate visiting the Seelye Mansion, an impressive 25-room Georgian-style home built in 1905. This elegant mansion is remarkably well-preserved and features original furnishings as well as early Edison light fixtures (guided tours are available).

Fancy a taste of the Old West? Then spend time in Old Abilene Town, a re-creation of a historic frontier town complete with period buildings, gunfight reenactments, and a working blacksmith shop. The Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad is another must-visit, offering fun scenic train rides through the Kansas countryside aboard vintage railcars pulled by a heritage steam locomotive.


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

Referred to as "Little Sweden USA," Lindsborg is a charming Kansas town that embraces its rich Swedish heritage. One of the town's most notable attractions is the Birger Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery which showcases the works of Birger Sandzén, a renowned Swedish-American artist known for his vibrant landscapes and expressive use of color. The gallery also hosts rotating exhibits featuring various artists and media, enriching the cultural fabric of the town.

Lindsborg's Swedish heritage is also celebrated with two major festivals: the Midsummer Festival, held each June, and Svensk Hyllningsfest. While the midsummer event hosts traditional Swedish music, dancing, and a maypole celebration, the Svensk Hyllningsfest, held every two years in October (odd years, so check back in 2025!), honors the town's founders with parades, folk dancing, and authentic Swedish cuisine. Regardless of when you visit, you will notice the town is adorned with colorful hand-painted Dala horse statues, a symbol of Swedish folk art.


A windmill surrounded by beautiful foliage in Wamego, Kansas.
A windmill surrounded by beautiful foliage in Wamego, Kansas.

While its location just north of the I-70 connecting Kansas City with Denver means it is often overlooked as people fly by, those who do take the time to explore Wamego won’t be disappointed. If you do visit, odds are you are here for this small town’s connection to The Wizard of Oz, a fact that is celebrated at the awesome OZ Museum. In addition to housing an extensive collection of memorabilia related to both the classic film and the original book series by L. Frank Baum, this fun museum features over 2,000 artifacts, including original props, costumes, and first-edition books.

Adjacent to the Oz Museum is the Columbian Theatre, a historic venue that adds to Wamego's cultural allure. Built in 1895, it hosts everything from plays to musicals and concerts. Wamego City Park is another popular spot. Perfect for a leisurely day outdoors, it’s home to the historic Dutch Mill, a picturesque structure built in 1879 that was relocated to the park in the 1920s. There is also a mini-train for the kids, playgrounds, and picnic areas, making it ideal for family outings.


Overlooking downtown Atchison, Kansas.
Overlooking downtown Atchison, Kansas.

Only an hour north of Kansas City, Atchison’s unique historical connections make this often underappreciated town worthy of a day trip. It was here that Amelia Earhart, one of the country’s most famous aviators, was born and raised. Much can be learned about the pioneering pilot at the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. Located in the house where Earhart was born, this fascinating museum provides an intimate look at the life and legacy of the famous aviator with rooms filled with personal artifacts, photographs, and exhibits detailing her groundbreaking flights… and mysterious disappearance.

Atchison also celebrates this deep connection with the Amelia Earhart Festival, held annually on the third weekend of July. This popular event features a mix of activities, including air shows, live music, a carnival, and a spectacular fireworks display over the Missouri River.

Council Grove

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

Situated along the fabled Santa Fe Trail, a 19th-century commercial route connecting Missouri to New Mexico, the small town of Council Grove offers a variety of attractions that highlight its fascinating past. Highlights include the Kaw Mission State Historic Site, a former school for the Kaw (Kansa) tribe children in the mid-19th century that now serves as a museum. Through its interesting exhibits and artifacts, it tells the story of the Kaw people and the early settlers in the area, revealing details of cultural exchanges and the impact of westward expansion.

Another historical gem is the Hays House Restaurant. Established in 1857 by Seth Hays, the great-grandson of Daniel Boone, it is the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Also worthy of a visit is the Last Chance Store, which was built in 1857 and provided supplies to travelers making their way west.


Paxico Historic District, Kansas.
Paxico Historic District, Kansas. Image credit Jcakp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Paxico is one of the smallest communities and most underappreciated towns in Kansas. Home to a modest population of only around 220 souls, this often overlooked gem is worth a visit for its quaint charm and rich history. Well known among antiquers, the town is home to several antique shops, each offering a treasure trove of vintage items, collectibles, and one-of-a-kind pieces, for a delightful journey back in time.

Held each September, the annual Paxico Blues Festival is a great time to visit. One of the states’ best music events, this fun festival features live blues performances from talented local and regional musicians, along with great food and an unforgettable setting. Downtown Paxico is also fun to explore with its well-preserved buildings, and many structures dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

There is little doubt these six of Kansas’s most underappreciated towns Abilene, Lindsborg, Wamego, Atchison, Council Grove, and Paxico, are well worth visiting. Each offers a fascinating blend of history, culture, and charm, including everything from presidential legacies and Swedish heritage to the enchanting world of the Wizard of Oz. Whether exploring historic sites, enjoying local festivals, or simply strolling through picturesque downtowns, visitors are welcomed with warm hospitality and a sense of community in these six underappreciated towns to visit in Kansas.

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