The 10 Most Picturesque Small Towns In Kansas

Kansas is a beautiful state in the United States, boasting tranquility yet excitement, along with a rich history and culture that makes it worth the visit. The area is brimming with gorgeous monuments and tourist attractions, including the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Boot Hill in Dodge City, and the Evel Knievel Museum. That said, there are many scenic small towns that might just steal your heart.

Kansas sits in the midwestern US, bordered by Nebraska to the north, Missouri to the east, Oklahoma to the south, and Colorado to the west. Though landlocked, the state offers easy access to some of the most popular states to visit, and there are also numerous rivers, state parks, and national preserves in the area. Planning your next visit to the sunflower state? Learn all about the top ten most picturesque small towns in Kansas so you can decide where you are heading next.

Cottonwood Falls

Horizontal photo of the old downtown area of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas with the courthouse at the end of the street
Old downtown area of ​​Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, with the courthouse at the end of the street.

Cottonwood Falls sits along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway, offering access to the largest tall grass prairies left in the world. The scenic overlook site provides a panoramic view of the surrounding area. The downtown area boasts an eclectic collection of historic brick buildings, as well as the oldest courthouse west of Mississippi

The Chase Lake Falls and Chase State Fishing Lake run through the town. Take a 0.8-mile hike through the trails and enjoy the flowing waters, hop in your boat, and head out on a fishing excursion, and do not forget to bring your binoculars and keep an eye out for birds and wildlife. If you would like to extend your stay, visit the Swope Park Campground or one of the many independently-owned hotels and inns.


A mesmerizing view of a beautiful Missouri river, a bridge at Leavenworth Kansas
A mesmerizing view of a beautiful Missouri River and a bridge at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Situated on the west bank of the Missouri River, Leavenworth holds a place in history as it is the site of Fort Leavenworth. Located along the beautiful Frontier Military Scenic Byway, Fort Leavenworth is a US army installation that became a pillar for immigrants and soldiers during the country's expansion.

Steeped in history, Leavenworth is home to the Frontier Army Museum, which documents the town's story from 1827 to 1917. While the exhibits rotate, you will find a permanent exhibit dedicated to when Lewis and Clark passed through the area. Local attractions also include the Carroll Mansion, the Historical Wayside Tour, and Leavenworth Landing Park, the ideal spot for hiking and picnicking. Do not forget to check out the many different restaurants and boutiques in the area!


A shot of the Garden of Eden in Lucas Kansas with blue sky and white clouds on Memorial Day.
A shot of the Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas with blue sky and white clouds. Image credit Robert D Brozek via Shutterstock

Known as the "Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas," Lucas sits in the Smoky Hills region of the Great Plains. Composed of limestone, sandstone, and chalk, the Smoky Hills create a unique, picturesque landscape. Another spot to behold is right at the entrance of the town, where you will find the World’s Largest Souvenir Travel Plate.

Wilson Lake is nearby and Wolf Creek flows through Lucas, offering plenty of swimming, fishing, and boating opportunities for outdoor adventurists. Earning a spot on the National Register of Historic Places is the Garden of Eden, which displays concrete buildings created during the Civil War, and the log cabin and home of Veteran SP Dinsmoor. Another scene you cannot miss is along the Post Rock Scenic Byway, where there are four faces carved into the limestone.

Fort Scott

Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas.

Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas.

A popular spot for camping and fishing, Fort Scott is home to a rich history, including the Fort Scott National Historic Site, which held a major role during the Civil War patrolling the Kansas Missouri border. An hour and a half away from Kansas City, Fort Scott is the ideal place to go for a quiet getaway from the busy city life.

The Lavender Patch is a beautiful tourist destination, offering a photo-worthy view of purple fields, as well as lavender bouquets, wreaths, oils, and more. There are also different festivals and celebrations throughout the year, including Pioneer Harvest Fiesta and the Bourbon County Fair. If you are on the hunt for some outdoor adventure, traverse through the Gunn Park Trails or Kansas Rocks Recreation Park.


Downtown streets of the small rural Kansas town of Norton
Downtown streets of the small rural Kansas town of Norton. Image credit melissamn via Shutterstock

Norton is well known for its small-town essence, boasting numerous family-run restaurants, boutiques, and year-round events. Popular spots include the Norton Historic Theatre, which offers film showings six days a week, the Norton Elmwood Park Speedway, and the Remington Statue Collection, which captures the spirit of Frederick Remington.

The Keith Sebelius Reservoir offers approximately 2,500 acres of water and is the perfect place for hunting and fishing, not to mention enjoying breathtaking sunsets. Extend your stay at the Prairie Dog State Park, by booking one of the camping sites or cabins. There are also walking trails and beach areas for a relaxing reconnection with nature, as well as playgrounds, pavilions, basketball courts, and volleyball courts for family fun.


Beautiful rustic landscapes of small towns, Greensburg, Kansas
The beautiful rustic landscape of Greensburg, Kansas. Image credit Cassidy Havice via Shutterstock

Home to the world's largest hand-dug well, Greensburg is a model "green town." After a tornado in May 2007, the city was rebuilt with a focus on staying green. All of its electricity comes from a small wind farm, it uses rainwater for irrigation, and the buildings are energy efficient.

The town's efforts to remain green are attractive, but the distinct history is just as appealing. The Big Well Museum offers access to the hand-dug well, along with a number of exhibits and the story of the 2007 tornado. The 5.4.7 Arts Center is another great space to take in the beauty of different exhibits, and the performing arts, and even take a few classes yourself.


View of the Commercial Street Mall area of downtown Atchison, Kansas
Downtown Atchison, Kansas.

Situated along the Missouri River, Atchison is about 70 miles northeast of the capital city of Topeka. The town is well-loved for its historic charm. Atchison was the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, so be sure to take in her legacy at the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum or the Amelia Earhart Festival.

The riverside setting is the ideal spot for numerous different events and festivals, such as the Muddy River Music Festival, as well as haunted seasonal events, and Christmas markets. There are many lakes and parks worth the visit, including Atchison State Fishing Lake, Warnock Lake, and Riverfront Park. There are plenty of camping, fishing, swimming, and picnicking opportunities for an adventure-filled outdoor getaway.


Windmill in Wamego City Park
Wamego City Park.

Wamego sits atop the Kansas River, offering breathtaking scenery, rich culture, and an enchanting downtown area. Find yourself transported into the world of the Wizard of Oz with a visit to the Oz Museum, or get a taste of live theater at the Columbian Theater. There are more Oz-themed attractions, as well: walk the Yellow Brick Road and snap a photo, and do not forget to search for the 18 hidden Totos around the town.

The town of Wamego is a thriving hub of events, with festivals and celebrations year-round, including the Tulip Festival, Fourth of July Celebration, and OZtoberfest. If you would like to see historic buildings, check out the Wamego Historical Museum and Prairie Village, or canoe around the Riverfront Park if you want a taste of the great outdoors.

Council Grove

Members of the Fort Riley Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard outfitted in the uniforms and equipment of the Civil War ride in the Washunga Days Parade, Council Grove, Kansas
Washunga Days Parade through Council Grove, Kansas. Image credit mark reinstein via Shutterstock

Home to over 25 historic sites, Council Grove boasts endless opportunities for an exciting vacation. Some of the historic sites include the Madonna of the Trail, Neosho Riverwalk, and Memorial Heritage Park. You can also hike to the Old Bell Monument or Hermit's Cave, which are unique stone structures.

The scenery is something to revel in, with picturesque flowing lakes, rolling hills, and enchanting grasslands. Enjoy camping and fishing at the Federal Reservoir or Council Grove City Lake, or hike along the trails of Flint Hills Trail State Park. During your visit, do not forget to check out the town's many restaurants and boutiques, for one-of-a-kind finds and meals.


The house where President Eisenhower used to live when it was a little boy is now the attraction for people to come and visit, Abilene, Kansas
The childhood home of President Eisenhower in Abilene, Kansas. Image credit spoonphol via Shutterstock

The hometown of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Abilene earns the title of one of the friendliest small US towns. On your first day, explore President Eisenhower's life at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, where you can tour his childhood home, visit his statue, and hear his story.

After that, check out popular attractions such as the Great Plains Theater, Big Spur, and a variety of different photo-worthy murals. Journey into the Old West by riding the 100-year-old Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad, pay a visit to the Old Town, and have a gander at the World's Largest Belt Buckle. Do not forget to check out the various museums and heritage centers to learn all there is to know about the town!

Immerse Yourself in Small-Town Charm

Kansas is home to plenty of history, culture, and beauty, which all create a unique and eclectic, picturesque landscape. The small towns of Kansas are ideal for a nature-filled getaway, though they also boast easy access to the excitement of city life. From camping and fishing to enchanting museums and scenic state parks, there is something for everyone in these small towns. Once you have visited one, you will want to cross them all off your bucket list!