Perhaps best known as being the setting for The Wizard of Oz and Little House on the Prairie, Kansas is characterized by its sprawling wheat fields that have made the state a veritable ‘breadbasket.’
The geographical heartland of the US, the state sits in the path of ‘Tornado Alley,’ making it a prime spot for twister and thunderstorm spotting. More palatable lashings of BBQ sauce can be enjoyed when tucking into genuine Kansas City BBQ. However, the bison that can be seen roaming free in Western Kansas and the Flint Hills, the largest segment of true tall grass prairie remaining in the US, don't end up on any table.
Topeka, the unattractive capital, boasts the Kansas Museum of History and the Kansas State Capitol, dating back to 1866. Geography fans won’t want to miss the stone monument just northwest of Lebanon on the northern border of Iowa - the geographical midpoint of the USA.
As harvester of most of the nation’s wheat, visitors will get their fill of barren scenery reminiscent of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. However, the northeast offers a bit of variation in the form of green hills, woods and lakes, and is more heavily visited than other parts of the state.
Annual powwows in the state’s northwestern reserves aren’t to be missed is you want to experience the Indian heritage of Kansas. Heritage of a different kind can be found southwest of Independence in the form of the Little House on the Prairie historical site – a major attraction, for Kansas anyway.
Wild West heritage is best seen in Dodge City, where cowboys can still be seen roaming the streets, or Wichita, where the old frontier days are recreated at the Old Cowtown Museum. The lawlessness that once ruled these parts is long gone, but you can still find some traditional drinking dens where tales of gunslingers are shared.
Abilene has seen better days but still draws the occasional tourist with its one-time reputation for unruliness. The gunfights have been replaced with mock performances, but visitors would do better to check out former US President Dwight Eisenhower’s childhood home and grave.