Kansas is the heartland of America - literally. The state's Smith County is the exact center of the 48 contiguous states. It's played a role in the presidency (Abilene's Dwight Eisenhower), aviation (Amelia Earhart hails from Atchison), movies (silent star Buster Keaton and "Gone with the Wind"' Hattie McDaniel were Kansans) - and even music, with a rock band named for the state.
Dorothy may have enjoyed her time "over the rainbow," but she was glad to get back home to the Sunflower State - and here are 20 reasons why.
The famous aviatrix was born in this humble abode in 1897. It's now been turned into a museum documenting her life and barrier-breaking career. (Atchison)
Since 1962, this fun and interesting space museum has captivated visitors. There are many unusual exhibits, including the actual command module used by Apollo 13 ("Houston, we have a problem.") (Hutchinson)
Thirty glorious gardens feature everything from a beautiful Chinese-themed "Garden of Friendship" to the Butterfly Garden. It's a favorite destination for locals during the spring. (Wichita)
This particular ecosystem is one of the most interesting features of the Kansas landscape. Explore it via trails that encompass these prairie grasses, wildflower vistas and more. (Strong City)
Located in the terminal of Wichita's former municipal airport (where lots of flight testing took place during WWII), this historic museum features plenty of cool planes to explore. You can also use simulators and climb up into the old control tower.
Fans of the iconic movie will want to make a stop here to learn more about it. There's lots of memorabilia and opportunities for photo ops. Just watch out for flying monkeys. (Wamego)
These intriguing chalk and clay formations are out in the middle of nowhere; some visitors have even described it as a Stonehenge of the prairie. As you explore, keep your eye open for wildlife, including antelope, jackrabbits and more. (Oakley)
It's a massive salt mine/museum that sits 65 stories beneath the ground. There's a tram tour to explore fascinating displays, including a 250 million year old salt crystal. And even though visitors can't access it, the mine stores critical treasures like the master prints of Hollywood films like "Gone With the Wind." (Hutchinson)
Dodge City was pretty wild and woolly back in the day. Explore unique collections of Wild West memorabilia dating from the 1870s onwards. There are over 60,000 displays.
There are plenty of spots for swimming, sailing, fishing and other water activities. Camping is also a big favorite on its 1,900 acres. (Cheney)
Knights of old come to the heartland in this popular fall event. There are costumed re-enactors, highland games, sword fights, magicians and more. (Wichita)
The brutal 1959 murder of the Clutter family inspired Truman Capote's novel. The spirit of teenage daughter Nancy also reportedly haunts the home. Although its private property, do a drive-by around Halloween. (Holcomb)
In the early days of Wichita, over a million longhorns were herded through its streets. The museum, located on the Old Chisholm Trail, captures this rowdy era.
Soldiers themselves built this fort, which was originally meant to prevent white settlers from migrating West into Native American territory. It's a relic from a fascinating chapter in our nation's history.
Hard to believe that the Pony Express was only around for 18 months. This way station served as a stop for riders, as well as other travellers on their way west. (Hanover)
This eclectic museum packs a lot into a small space - everything from dinosaurs to mummies to artifacts from European royalty and more. (Wichita)
It's one of the most beautiful and interesting statehouses in the nation - it's even been used in movies. Take a tour to explore the stunning architecture and history. (Topeka)
Housed at the University of Kansas, this exceptional museum holds some of the most significant pieces of medieval and East Asian artwork anywhere in the world. (Lawrence)
One of the most significant events in the Civil Rights movement (which ended legal segregation in public schools) gets its due at this site, which features many interactive exhibits. (Topeka)
Get to know "the man from Abilene" at his childhood home. There are thousands of artifacts, tracing his role in WWII, his presidency and more. It's also the final resting place for he and wife Mamie. (Abilene)