Buildings along the historic downtown area of Leavenworth, Kansas. Editorial credit: Jon M. Ripperger /

7 Cozy Towns to Visit in Kansas

Admitted to the Union in 1861, Kansas is a historically fascinating and agriculturally rich land that forms an important part of the American Midwest. Also known as the “Sunflower State,” Kansas has a relatively small population of just under three million inhabitants. Still, it is filled with a cultural, historical, and natural allure ideal for any potential road trip. While major cities like Topeka and Wichita will still attract the most attention, Kansas also has several smaller, cozy, and charming towns that showcase the beautiful character of the “Sunflower State.” So come see this Midwestern treasure and spend time in these fabulous cozy towns, where some of the very best of “America’s Heartland” can be appreciated by all ages of travelers.


Historic buildings along Main Street in Abilene, Kansas.
Historic buildings along Main Street in Abilene, Kansas. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

Founded in the 1850s, the town of Abilene is now the seat of Dickinson County, home to a modest population of just under 6,500 inhabitants. This charming historic community located along the Smoky Hill River was once a stop on the famed cattle driver’s route, the Chisholm Trail, and today, a feeling of the Old West is still palpable. Explore the Old Town District and its assortment of 19th and early 20th-century landmarks, including the Seelye Mansion (1905), amongst others listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From there, make sure not to miss a ride on the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad, which truly transports its guests back to the fascinating 1800s. Meanwhile, anyone interested in the nation’s political history should visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library in town. Having grown up in Abilene, this museum celebrates the life and career of Second World War General and 34th President Dwight Eisenhower in a most fascinating and interactive fashion.

Dodge City

Front Street replica at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas.
Replica Wild West buildings in the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas. Editorial credit: RaksyBH /

Dodge City was once a bustling Wild West hotspot for gamblers, cowboys, outlaws, and many other colorful characters. While its “glory days” may be behind it, the town remains a most charming and fun place for anyone in southwest Kansas to discover. Founded in the 1870s and now home to nearly 28,000 residents, this seat of Ford County is a great destination to experience what the 19th century West was all about in a modern setting. Visit the Boot Hill Museum, which offers fascinating insights into the Old West and Dodge City’s importance in the region following the Civil War.

Meanwhile, even just a stroll through the historic downtown is a treat, where an eclectic range of 19th-century storefronts (including saloons) and other preserved buildings create an atmosphere of time travel. Those visiting this year should plan their trip for the Dodge City Days celebration in late July or early August. The event makes for an awesome outing that the entire family can relish, with rodeos, live music, parades, classic car shows, barbecue cookoffs, and more.


The Rawlins County Courthouse.
Front view of the Rawlins County Courthouse in Atwood, Kansas. By Smallbones - Own work, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

With a modern history dating to the 1870s, the town of Atwood is a charming small community ideal for anyone looking for a genuine taste of Midwestern America. It is the seat of Rawlins County in the northwestern corner of the State, home to just over 1,000 residents. Known for its hot summers and mild winter temperatures, spending time outdoors is always popular here. A popular option is the nearby Lake Atwood, where visitors can enjoy fun opportunities for swimming, sailing, fishing, camping, hiking, biking, and even golf. Similarly, family fun awaits at the July Rawlins County Fair, where live music, food vendors, and other entertainment delight all ages. Those looking to stay in town can opt to visit sites like the Rawlins County Courthouse instead.

Fort Scott

A historic U.S. army outpost in Fort Scott, Kansas.
A historic U.S. army outpost in Fort Scott, Kansas. Editorial credit: William Silver /

Named for a general in the War of 1812, the picturesque town of Fort Scott is a great place of natural and historic allure for anyone in southeastern Kansas. The seat of Bourbon County, home to a population of just over 7,500 residents, Fort Scott can trace its modern history to the 1850s. Indeed, guests can continue to marvel at several historic structures and architectural styles at the Fort Scott Historic Site, where many properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From there, visit the Fort Scott National Cemetery, where the tombs of more than 8,000 service men and women rest.

Along with historic tales for history enthusiasts, Fort Scott boasts plenty of outdoor charm for nature lovers. Scenically situated along the Marmaton River and within the Osage Plains, the town experiences hot summers and mild winters, and spending time in nature is always a popular activity. Stop by the 155-acre Gunn Park, where one can enjoy boating, fishing, biking, hiking, and golfing opportunities in a most serene and welcoming ambiance.


The Plaza Theater in downtown Ottawa, Kansas.
The historic Plaza Theater in downtown Ottawa, Kansas. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

The seat of Franklin County, the town of Ottawa (no relation to the Canadian capital), is beautifully situated along the banks of the Marais des Cygnes River. Home to the Ottawa University (1865), this historic town is a great place to enjoy authentic Americana in a warm climate known for its hot summers and cool winters. Spend an afternoon in the downtown historic district and explore several 19th and early 20th-century buildings, including the Plaza 1907 movie theatre, which calls itself the “oldest purpose-built cinema in operation in the world." Amongst other spots of interest include the Old Depot Museum, where spending time along the river is always a popular outing. Add in a fine assortment of local restaurants, shops, galleries, and other businesses, and the charm of this cozy Kansas town surely cannot be beaten.


The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas.
The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

Wamego is home to a modest population of just under 5,000 inhabitants, and its scenic beauty and small-town charm make it a cozy place to visit for anyone in the northeast corner of Kansas. Named for a Native American chief and formally established in the 1860s, the historic allure of Wamego is hard to deny. Visitors can explore several landmarks here that have been included on the National Register of Historic Places. Including the Old Dutch Mill (1879) and the Columbian Theatre (1893), there is indeed a fascinating story waiting to be discovered by guests of all ages.

Outside of local history, one can spend some time at the inviting Wamego City Park; quiet and reflective afternoons can be enjoyed in the public space covering some 12 acres. Finally, amongst Wamego’s most unique attractions is the Oz Museum, where an impressive collection of over 25,000 items lovingly celebrates the books and beloved movie “The Wizard of Oz.” It is an immersive and fun experience for solo travelers and families alike, and it will have guests wondering if they are in Kansas anymore!


Historic buildings lined along a street in downtown Leavenworth, Kansas.
Rustic buildings along the historic downtown area of Leavenworth, Kansas. Editorial credit: Jon M. Ripperger /

Located along the Missouri River, the historic and scenic town of Leavenworth is also known as the “The First City of Kansas.” The town was founded in the 1850s, and today, it is the country seat of Leavenworth County with a bustline population of over 37,000 inhabitants. Guests can enjoy plenty of opportunities to learn about America’s past while taking in wonderful natural scenery. History enthusiasts especially rejoice in town, as it was an important center during the Civil War with a number of fascinating historic landmarks. These include the Frontier Army Museum, the Buffalo Soldier Memorial Monument, and the famed Fort Leavenworth, constructed in 1827. Meanwhile, spending time near the Missouri River is always a popular outing, and residents and guests alike can enjoy scenic walks and bike rides in a warm summer and cool winter climate.


Affectionately known as the “Sunflower State,” the Midwestern hub of Kansas is a great place of discovery, where fascinating history, geographic beauty, and plenty of small-town charm can be found. Although the state's major cities continue to be worthy destinations of discovery, Kansas’ smaller and cozy towns should not be overlooked by any traveler looking for a fun holiday stopover. From the Wild West throwback of Dodge City to the scenic surroundings of Wamego, these and other inviting small Kansas towns are great ways for the solo traveler and whole family to discover the best of the Midwestern USA. So hit the road and come see the great State of Kansas across an exploration of these awesome, cozy, and friendly towns.

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