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7 Most Underrated Towns In Kansas

Known as the “Sunflower State”, Kansas is a key component of the Midwestern United States, filled with unique history and special natural surroundings. Long inhabited by Native American peoples, Kansas’ growth in the 19th century was crucial to the expansion of the burgeoning nation of America. Today this agriculturally rich State is a beautiful place to explore for people of all ages and interests. Indeed an exploration of some of Kansas’ towns reveal a special type of American beauty and charm, that will surely create positive and lasting memories for all who visit “America’s Heartland”.

Fort Scott

Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas
Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas

Seat of Bourbon County, the 7,552 residents who call Fort Scott home can all attest that this small town is full of picturesque beauty and fascinating history. Situated along the Marmaton River, the town was founded in the 1850s and maintains a number of historic buildings, many built in a Victorian style. Indeed even just a casual stroll through Fort Scott’s downtown reveals many beautiful brick buildings, antique designs, and authentic historic storefronts. Visit the Fort Scott Historic Site and its assortment of restored and reconstructed 19th century buildings and get a direct encounter with the State’s past.

Meanwhile the outdoor lover will certainly appreciate the 155 acre Gunn Park, where golfing, fishing, boating, biking, and jogging can all be enjoyed. In a serene and quiet atmosphere, a relaxing afternoon with nature makes any time spent here a most sought after activity.


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.

Celebrated for its large Scandinavian ethnic communities, in particular Swedish, the town of Lindsborg is affectionately known as “Little Sweden USA”. Founded by Swedish immigrants in the 1860s, today the modern town of just under 4,000 residents maintains a most special and alluring Northern European atmosphere. Stroll by the brightly coloured Wild Dala wooden horse sculptures, an assortment of beautifully painted Scandinavian style homes, and spend time at the Swedish Pavilion from the 1904 World’s Fair for some truly special cultural experiences.

Old Water Mill, Lindsborg Ks
Old Water Mill, Lindsborg Kansas

In addition an afternoon at the Old Mill Museum is a fascinating and informative place for the whole family, where art, history and ethnic cuisine are all highlighted. And of course being in a culturally rich town like Lindsborg means that great restaurants are never far away, and where Scandinavian favorites are always ready to be sampled.


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

Seat of the same named County, the town of Atchison was founded back in the 1850s, and today is home to a modest population of nearly 11,000 residents. Situated on the western banks of the Missouri River and near the border with the State of Missouri, Atchison is a charming locale with hot summers and mild winters. Known as the birthplace of famed aviator Amelia Earhart, visitors can explore her Birthplace Museum stunningly located in a cottage along the River bank built in 1861. In addition to this fascinating building, many others in Atchison also reflect unique Victorian style architecture and a leisurely stroll or even a trolley ride through the downtown will bring any visitor back in time.

Meanwhile spending time along the Missouri River is always delightful where many trails and quaint surroundings make an excursion here memorable. And with a number of great boutique stores, local restaurants, and welcoming hospitality, Atchison always serves up a healthy dose of small town Americana.


The business buildings downtown on a cloudy day
The business buildings downtown on a cloudy day

Situated on the banks of the Marais des Cygnes River, the town of Ottawa was founded in 1865 and serves as the seat of Franklin County. Home to a population of 12,625 inhabitants and site of Ottawa University (1865), this charming Kansas locale is a great snapshot of midwestern small town life. Visit the Old Depot Museum and its insightful displays on the growth of not only the town along the river but of the Kansas territory prior to its admission to the Union in 1861.

A historic church on a cloudy autumn day, via Sabrina Janelle Gordon /
A historic church on a cloudy autumn day, via Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

Meanwhile a casual stroll through the historic downtown offers authentic views of 19th century edifices including the Plaza 1907 movie theatre built in that year and purported to be the oldest of its kind in the entire world! And of course as with many small towns, an assortment of quality local restaurants, charming store fronts, and friendly residents, Ottawa ensures that all who visit will leave with a positive experience.

Dodge City

Water tower in downtown afternoon dodge city Kansas.
Water tower in downtown Dodge City Kansas.

Dodge City is a true hub of America’s famed “Wild West”, and visitors can find plenty of attractions that harken back to the days of the American Frontier. Founded in 1872 and now home to a population of just under 28,000, during the foundational years of Dodge City many gamblers, cowboys, and outlaws filled out the landscape. Indeed a number of heritage buildings, museums, and landmarks can all be found here, ideal for the history loving tourist.

Visit the Boot Hill Museum, take a trolley of the historic downtown, grab a bite to eat and drink at local saloon (where costumed attendants await), or tour some of the gravesites at the Boot Hill Cemetery. In addition in the summertime the famed Dodge City Days is always a fun experience, where a rodeo, a parade, music concerts, barbecue cookoffs, car shows, and more occupy the town for ten days.


The house where President Eisenhower used to live in, via spoonphol /
The house where President Eisenhower used to live in, via spoonphol /

The hometown of former President and Second World War General Dwight Eisenhower, the town of Abilene is a most modest place with a population of just over 6,000 people. Founded in the 1850s and seat of Dickinson County, Abilene is situated at the end point of the historic Chisholm Trail that was popular for cattle drivers. As an Old West town tourists can enjoy many historic landmarks, including saloons and other 19th century storefront in the Old Town District.

Meanwhile at the Seelye Mansion (1905) catch a glimpse of the lavish life at the turn of the century, while a ride on the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad brings visitors back in time in a most charming way. And of course visiting the Eisenhower Presidential Library is a most fascinating and insightful place that highlights the life and contributions of America’s 34th President at home and abroad in the Allied war effort.


Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas
Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas

The charming town of Wamego is full of intrigue and picturesque beauty, ideal for a weekend trip. Home to a population of just under 5,000 residents, Wamego was first established in the 1860s and visitors can continue to discover a number of fascinating historic landmarks. These include the Columbian Theatre (1895), the stone Dutch Mill constructed in 1879, and the beautiful Wamego City Park.

And for the film history lover, a stop to the Oz Museum is a must. Here over 25,000 items related to the film and books of “The Wizard of Oz” are on display, giving visitors special insight into the development of this most famous American work of fiction. And of course with numerous tasty local restaurants, charming boutique shops, and welcoming hospitality, even just a casual stroll through Wamego will surely leave one with a smile.

One of the Midwestern United States’ most prominent places, the State of Kansas is a welcoming place for anyone looking for unique history and special natural wonders. A key part of America’s growth in the 19th century, many stories of the famed Old West originated in Kansas, and its wonderful towns each reveal a story waiting to be discovered. From the cowboy town of Dodge City to the Scandinavian flavor of Lindsborg, and more, these Kansas towns will surely satisfy the young and old and all who want to get better acquainted with America’s past and Midwest beauty.

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