A lively street in Kansas City, Kansas. Editorial credit: Allen.G / Shutterstock.com

7 of the Most Hospitable Small Towns in Kansas

Better known as the ‘Sunflower State,’ Kansas is one of the most hospitable states in the American Midwest. This state embodies Southern charm with its sweeping prairies and cowboy culture. Apart from the popular big cities like Wichita, several small towns are teeming with natural beauty, friendly residents, and lots to do. For example, Atchison is imbued with fascinating heritage, while visitors adore the delicious waffles in Lindsborg. Moreover, avid travelers looking for their next vacation spot should consider this state as they are bound to be welcomed with open arms. If Kansas is the next stop on your travel itinerary, be sure to visit these seven most hospitable towns.


The Commercial Street Mall in Atchison, Kansas.
The Commercial Street Mall in Atchison, Kansas. Editorial credit: dustin77a / Shutterstock.com

Atchison, on the banks of the Missouri River, was once home to Amelia Earhart - the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Founded in 1854, the town boasts beautiful Victorian architecture, with 20+ buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To explore local history, four museums excel: The Atchison Rail Museum, Evah C. Cray Historical Home Museum, the Atchison County Historical Society Museum, and the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. From exhibits on the town’s railroad past to Amelia Earhart’s story, they are a treat for history lovers.

Surprisingly, Atchison also has a spooky history and is considered Kansas’s most haunted town. Brave travelers and paranormal aficionados have flocked to the town for years to explore some of its haunted dwellings. For example, the 1884 Gargoyle Home and Jackson Park exude an air of horror backed by ominous tales. The town even hosts several spooky events from September to early November.

If you prefer to stick to the land of the living, there is plenty to see and do. The Atchison State Fishing Lake and Warnock Lake are great spots to fish and camp. In addition, there are at least seven parks where visitors go to walk, picnic, hike, and enjoy being outdoors in the sun.


A vibrant building in Lindsborg, Kansas.
The bright red City Hall in Lindsborg, Kansas. Editorial credit: Stephanie L Bishop / Shutterstock.com

Lindsborg, a town in McPherson County, is called ‘Little Sweden’ for its vibrant culture. In 1869, Swedish immigrants settled the land, and the town resonates with Swedish culture even today. The locals still hold fast to the original values of the town - culture, religion, community, farming, learning, and business. To this end, tourists are drawn in by various facets, one being the delicious waffles. The town even celebrates Våffeldagen, a.k.a International Waffle Day, on March 25th annually. Visitors and residents dress in waffle-y clothes and eat waffles all day. 

Apart from Våffeldagen, the town also hosts Lindsborg in Bloom, to which all are welcome! It’s a festival inspired by the 60s and hippie culture. Most visitors get dressed up in hippy-inspired attire and spend the day eating delicious treats, getting groovy, and exploring the street stalls. Food trucks aplenty line the streets, musicians gather to play live music, and face painters and henna artists adorn feat goers with funky artwork.

Lindsborg is well-known for its eclectic mix of Swedish art and handicrafts. It was once home to Birger Sandzén, a Swedish-born artist who moved to America and created almost 3,000 paintings now on display at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery. The hand-carved Dala horses, painted in myriad colors, are also famous around this town. Head to Hemslöjd to watch the artists paint them.


The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas.
The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. By NendoShisu (talk) 20:52, 16 March 2008 (UTC) - self-made, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

Nothing says hospitality more than Wamego’s annual Tulip Festival. Held in April, thousands of visitors from all over the country and world flock to this small town to smell the flowers, take in their vibrant colors, and explore over 150 vendor stalls. Even if you miss out on the event, the town exudes positive vibes, with quirky attractions for company.

Interestingly, Wamego intertwines with the Wizard of Oz, offering several sites and fun Oz experiences. One such experience is Toto’s Around Town, a collection of 18 Toto statues around Wamego, each painted by a local Kansas Artist. From searching through alleys to meeting friendly locals, they offer a unique experience in town. After the search, Oz enthusiasts can stop by the Oz Museum, home to the world’s most extensive collection of Oz memorabilia. There’s even an Oz Winery, and each fall, the town hosts an OztoberFest to celebrate the fairy tale.

Another notable site to see in Wamego is the City Park. It encompasses 15 acres of land with a windmill, The Wamego Historical Museum, and the Prairie Town Museum, a collection of buildings from the 1800s. The park also houses a tennis court, playground, horseshoe pits, fishing pond, and swimming pool. Furthermore, nature enthusiasts have various options, such as canoeing down the Kansas River, visiting the Wamego Aquatic Center, or biking/hiking down Horse’s Head Trail. 

Council Grove

A parade in Council Grove, Kansas.
Mounted Color Guard marching during a parade in Council Grove, Kansas. Editorial credit: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

Council Grove rests in the Flint Hills of Kansas and is home to just 2,100 residents, all ready to welcome guests to their quaint community. Most visitors first stop at the Visitors Bureau to pick up maps and information on the local sights. Shops and establishments line Main Street, with friendly owners waiting to welcome you. Among these, the residents of Council Grove are especially proud of the Neosho Riverwalk Amphitheatre, where the town regularly hosts musicals, concerts, and plays, among other things. 

This small town has roughly 25 historical sites, as it used to be an important stop along the Santa Fe Trail. To learn more about the town’s past, visit the Post Office Oak Museum, which showcases local stories in a rustic stone building from 1864.

The Neosho Riverwalk and Flint Hills Nature Trail are two attractions nature lovers won’t want to miss. The riverwalk offers a stunning route along the river, dotted with native plants, grasses, and hundreds of wildflowers. Flint Hills Nature Trails gives visitors a chance to explore a tallgrass prairie on horseback, bike, or foot. Similarly, the nearby Council Grove Federal Reservoir and Council Grove City Lake enamor campers, boaters, and fishermen.


Main Street in Abilene, Kansas.
Main Street with historical buildings in Abilene, Kansas. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com

Abilene, the county seat of Dickinson County, is a common name for the best small towns to visit in Kansas. Once home to former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, there’s never a dull day in Abilene with its museums, excellent dining, unique shopping experience, and re-enactments of the Wild West.

History enthusiasts can visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, one of the town's best attractions. It is an insight into the past, from learning about the president’s early life to touring his presidential library. Seelye Mansion, named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas, is also located in Abilene. It exudes an ancient vibe; most of the furniture is from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

Continue the historical journey in Abilene with a ride on the 100-year-old steam engine down the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad, accompanied by a delicious meal onboard. Meanwhile, kids can opt for the C.W. Parker Carousel, which is said to be the oldest operational carousel in this small town.

While historical sights may steal the limelight, a holiday to Abilene would not be complete without a visit to Big Spur, Eisenhower Park and Rose Garden, Greyhound Hall of Fame Museum, and the Great Plains Theatre. Whether it is enjoying the natural charm of Kansas or learning about greyhound racing, the opportunities are limitless.


Photo of the Courthouse in Hiawatha, Kansas.
The courthouse in Hiawatha, Kansas. Editorial credit: jstillma / Shutterstock.com

Hiawatha is an alluring town known as the ‘City of Maples’ for its vibrant scenery. Most people visit during fall as the town transforms and the maple trees shift to beautiful shades of red and gold. Hand in hand with the view is a friendly atmosphere that welcomes visitors with open arms. The best showcase of local hospitality is the array of events held in town. For example, the Halloween Frolic is a parade of costumes and trick-or-treating during the spooky holiday. Similarly, the Highway 36 Treasure Hunt is an enormous yard sale of fun treasures, perfect for visitors who want an exciting souvenir.

There's no need to fret if you miss out on the events. Instead, begin your trip with a visit to the Davis Memorial, which was featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The Memorial is in Mount Hope Cemetery and was created by John Milburn Davis for his wife. It consists of life-size statues made from Italian marble.

The town is ripe with excellent accommodations, retail shops, and year-round attractions like the AG Museum, Brown County Historical Society Museum, Hiawatha Aquatic Park, Country Club Golf Course, and Hiawatha City Lake/Park. Thus, there are various options, each catering to a different type of tourist.

Cottonwood Falls

A view of the downtown area with the courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.
The downtown area and courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

Cottonwood Falls is a small, welcoming ranching community located in Flint Hills. The town is quaint, peaceful, and has a rich history. The downtown district is a shopping hub, with its old brick buildings and streets, and is home to Kansas’s oldest courthouse - Chase County Courthouse.

With a population of only 900, Cottonwood boasts a plethora of chic restaurants, antique shops, and art galleries. When visiting, be sure to check out Roniger Memorial Museum and Chase County Historical Society & Museum to learn more about the town.

Located just eight minutes away from Cottonwood Falls is the Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve. Visitors can hike around the Prairie, view the resident herd of bison, and take in the reserve's natural beauty. Other fun things include camping at Swope Park or enjoying a day at Chase Lake Falls.

From Atchison to Cottonwood Falls, these charming towns are worth visiting when you travel to Kansas. Each one offers something unique for visitors, from outdoor activities to annual festivals, great food to welcoming residents. Moreover, smiling faces abound from the moment you arrive, always ready to help out. To truly experience the hospitality of Kansas, be sure to visit any or all of the towns above.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 7 of the Most Hospitable Small Towns in Kansas

More in Places