A statue along the Trail of Fame in Dodge City, Kansas. Editorial credit: Michael Rosebrock / Shutterstock.com

7 of the Most Walkable Towns in Kansas

Kansas, also known as "The Sunflower State," is truly a gem in the country's heartland. The wind-swept prairies, abundant sunshine, and agricultural prominence make it a special place to visit. Being the leading producer of wheat and grain sorghum in the nation, it's no wonder Kansas is often called the "Breadbasket of America." Since gaining statehood in 1861, Kansas residents have held on to a strong pioneer history deeply tied to the active lifestyles of cultivating crops and building communities. With such pure history on display, the best way to explore this abode is by walking and interacting with the community. Thankfully, within the state, you'll find many small towns offering scenic trails and historic downtown districts to explore. These seven walkable communities will have you lacing up your shoes, soaking in the warm sunshine, and setting off on memorable journeys.


The original Farmers State Bank building in Lindsborg, Kansas.
The original Farmers State Bank building in Lindsborg, Kansas. Editorial credit: Stephanie L Bishop / Shutterstock.com

Lindsborg sits south of Salina in McPherson County and is affectionately known as "Little Sweden" due to its strong Swedish and Nordic roots. The quaint and walkable downtown offers an array of Swedish-themed shops, bakeries, and cultural sites that immerse visitors in the town's rich heritage. Stroll through the Lindsborg Old Mill and Swedish Museum to explore fascinating displays that recount the stories of early settlers. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Birger Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery on N 1st Street, which celebrates the vibrant landscapes of the Swedish painter who made Lindsborg his home. As you wander downtown, you'll encounter over 50 painted Dala horses, each a unique tribute to local artists and the town's creative spirit.

Lindsborg's Scandinavian heritage comes to life during the Svensk Hyllningsfest, a biennial festival that attracts visitors from across the state. Many of the town's residents don Old World costumes during this grand celebration, adding an authentic touch to the festivities. While in town, dine at the Crown and Rye, a popular restaurant on Main Street known for authentic Scandinavian cuisine. Or, walk across the road to Blacksmith Coffee and Roastery, where you can enjoy a superb selection of pour-over coffees and espressos.


The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas.
The quirky Oz Museum along Wamego's main street in Kansas. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com

Wamego enchants visitors with its distinctive tribute to everything related to The Wizard of Oz. Before entering Oz culture, walkers can head into the picturesque main street, full of local shops, cafes, and beautifully preserved historic buildings. Children will enjoy following the "Yellow Brick Road" as it winds through the town and City Park, with its historic Dutch mill and tranquil pond, perfect for leisurely family outings. Those interested in The Wizard of Oz should continue along Lincoln Avenue until they arrive at the OZ Museum. This establishment is a trip into the fictional world, with tons of artifacts, exhibits, and activities related to the franchise.

Wamego's community spirit shines brightly during its numerous festivals and events. The annual Tulip Festival in April transforms the town into a vibrant display of colorful blooms, celebrating the arrival of spring with arts and crafts, live music, and local food vendors. The OZtoberfest, held in the fall, celebrates the town's unique connection to The Wizard of Oz with themed activities, parades, and entertainment for all ages.


Aerial view of downtown Atchison, Kansas.
Aerial view of downtown Atchison and the Missouri River in Kansas.

Atchison, a small community in the northeast corner, sits gracefully along the banks of the Missouri River. The town embraces a healthy lifestyle by designing its infrastructure to help accommodate pedestrian traffic. The Atchison Riverwalk is a trail on the outskirts of town that provides peaceful surroundings with plenty of benches and picnic tables, perfect for family outings. The downtown area is a treasure trove of historic buildings, quaint shops, and inviting cafes.

Atchison also proudly celebrates its connection to Amelia Earhart, the famed aviator born and raised in the town. Her childhood home and birthplace have been converted into a museum, offering visitors a fascinating glimpse into her life and legacy. When it's time to take a break and enjoy a meal, Willie's on Commercial Street is a popular local eatery that serves generous portions at reasonable prices.


Aerial view of downtown Hutchinson, Kansas.
Aerial view of downtown Hutchinson, Kansas.

Hutchinson, Kansas, is a vibrant community that comes alive when the annual Kansas State Fair draws visitors across the state. Even though "fair week" can make the city seem crowded, this dynamic town is known for its extensive network of dedicated bike and walking trails. One of the highlights is the Jim P. Martinez Sunflower Trail, a paved path that stretches through the city from Rice Park in the northwest to Carey Park in the south.

Hutchinson's downtown area has recently been revitalized and is now a bustling hub of activity. It includes a mix of retail shops, restaurants, and galleries. The streets are pedestrian-friendly, clean, and well-lit, and the city has embraced an art-deco vibe, with almost forty murals that add vibrant splashes of color to almost every corner. As you stroll downtown, you can visit one of the two local breweries, Salt City and Sandhills, which offer craft beers for tasting within walking distance of the train station.

Even though they are not close to downtown, the Cosmosphere is an excellent aerospace museum, and Strataca is an old salt mine museum where visitors venture some 650 feet underground. Both attractions should be on your list of things to see if you visit Hutchinson.


Buildings along Commercial Street in Emporia, Kansas.
Rustic brick buildings along the vibrant Commercial Street in Emporia, Kansas. Editorial credit: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

As one of the most walkable quaint towns in the state, Emporia is a small college town perfect for exploring on foot. The Emporia State University campus sits towards the north end of town, with wide sidewalks and ample green spaces. An excellent 1.7-mile loop hiking/biking trail near the university is perfect for outdoor adventurers and famous for morning runs. In addition, the city embraces the energy of many residents, with over 18 municipal parks scattered throughout the town.

As you might expect in a college community, the downtown area can be quite lively with its many shops, restaurants, and bars. The William Allen White Historical or the Emporia Granada Theatre, a beautifully restored venue that hosts concerts and community events, is easily accessible. An essential stop is the Emporia Arts Center, which regularly hosts art exhibits and is a central focal point for the town's creative community.

To get away from the hustle and bustle, Peter Pan Park, with its picturesque lake, offers a nice moment of serenity. Additionally, the David Traylor Zoo, situated within Soden's Grove Park, is a short walk from downtown and provides a delightful opportunity to see various animals in a beautifully landscaped setting.


Aerial view of the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, Kansas.
Aerial view of the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, Kansas.

Manhattan is "The Little Apple" because this community succeeds in combining the ambiance of a small town with the amenities of a larger city. The downtown area (aka "Aggieville") is a bustling hub filled with locally-owned shops, diverse dining options, and cultural venues, all within walking distance. The city's commitment to pedestrian traffic is evident in its well-maintained sidewalks and ample green spaces. The Manhattan Linear Trail, a popular 9-mile pathway, winds through the city, offering residents a popular route for walking, jogging, or cycling.

The summer months offer plenty of attractions, including the Arts in the Park Summer Concert Series every Friday during June and July. The weekly farmers' market in downtown Manhattan is a local gathering spot. Here, people can purchase fresh produce and enjoy live entertainment. Manhattan is also home to Kansas State University, with its beautiful campus providing a pleasant atmosphere for students to enjoy. If you need a place to dine, try Bourbon and Baker, which, as its name suggests, offers a selection of stiff bourbons and small plates for patrons who love to socialize with friends after a long day.

Dodge City

Replica historic storefronts in the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas.
Replica historic storefronts in the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas. Editorial credit: RaksyBH / Shutterstock.com

Dodge City has a reputation of its own for lovers of the Old West. Visitors can easily explore iconic landmarks such as the Boot Hill Museum, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the city's storied past, and the Dodge City Trail of Fame, featuring bronze sidewalk medallions that honor famous figures from the Old West. The city's commitment to walkability is also evident in its well-maintained parks and recreational areas, which provide scenic and safe routes for walking and jogging. A relatively new addition is the Gunsmoke Trail, which seeks to connect Legends Park in the north to Wright Park in the south. While it is still a work in progress, the city has shown excellent commitment to improving the walkability of its community.

The annual Dodge City Days, a 12-day celebration of the city's cowboy heritage, draws thousands of visitors who enjoy parades, rodeos, and street fairs. Just a few steps from the Boot Hill Museum is a historic downtown district, which, in recent years, has been experiencing a bit of a revival. As you walk through this Old West cattle town, dine at Central Station Bar and Grill, which serves good food with a retro sports bar atmosphere.

Final Thoughts

These seven towns exemplify the best of Kansas, offering a mix of historical significance, cultural richness, and unique experiences. Whether following the yellow brick road in Wamego, taking a historical tour in Atchison, or exploring the Old West heritage of Dodge City, each visit promises new experiences and the joy of discovering the hidden treasures of the Sunflower State. So, lace up your walking shoes and get going.

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