If you’re looking for the unusual, the unbelievable and the downright strange, Kansas has what you’re seeking. Exploring unusual places is a nice change from the norm, and we are here to help you out. Here are the 15 best unusual attractions in the state.
Travel to the far northeast tip of Kansas and you will find Four-State Lookout near White Cloud, Kansas. There are not many places in the “lower 48” states where you can stand in one spot and see the landscapes of four states: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, all at once. North of White Cloud, Kansas, off State Highway 7, you will find a viewing platform, perched high atop a plateau, that overlooks the Missouri River and the Missouri River Valley. On a clear day, the view is incredible.
Words will never describe the feeling, a person experiences when standing face to face with “Big Brutus.” This steel machine is an awesome 160 feet-tall, 11 million-pound, electric mining shovel. Retired now and used as a permanent museum piece. Big Brutus is said to be the second largest mining shovel in the world. Don’t worry, you can’t miss it.
A local farmer, Frank Stoeber, began winding sisal twine in 1953 and both locals and visitors continue the winding to this day. At last recording, the ball of twine is close to 7,974,454 feet of twine, rolled into a gigantic ball and growing. Visitors can record their names after winding a piece of twin to the never-ending ball.
Commissioned Native American artist Blackbear Bosin created the 44-feet, steel warrior statue, known as the Keeper of the Plains. Today this magnificent statue stands on the banks where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers meet in downtown Wichita. An extraordinary tribute to area Native American tribes who continue to celebrate this sacred site, and Bosin’s, Keeper of the Plains, warrior keeps “a watchful eye” over the city.
Monument Rocks were designated as the first natural landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior. They were created over the last 80 million years from exposed limestone. The site was once covered by an inland sea that has long since dried up. Erosion from weather and elements have left a magnificent site. Located on private land, south of Oakley, visitors should respect the land so graciously shared by the current landowners who allow visitors annually.
Looking for a sandy spot in Kansas, check out the southwest part of the state. Outside of Syracuse you will find acres and acres of sand. Come experience the low-rolling dunes, the hills to climb over and many bladed paths to follow and explore. Bring your family and friends, load up the all-terrain vehicles and enjoy a day at the Sand Dunes.
Spend hours at Prairie Dog State Park watching the black-tailed prairie dogs, that inhabit this captivating park. Visit the Norton Wildlife Area, the Sibelius Reservoir and the on-site 19th century buildings that offer outdoor enthusiasts a spectacular place to spend a day, or a weekend.
This year step out of your box and zip across Kansas by reserving your zip line tour. Adventure seekers can choose from several packages, nighttime or daytime and the views are guaranteed to give those who dare to zip lots of breathtaking vistas from a bird’s eye view.
If you are a lover of the historic accounts writer Laura Ingalls Wilder penned or have a love of American history, you must visit the Little House on The Prairie Museum, southwest of Independence, Kansas. The nonprofit museum caretakers have created an authentic reproduction of the original home-site of the Charles Ingalls family homestead. Once visitors are on site it’s quite easy to imagine, Laura, Carrie & Grace and their amazing childhood adventures of living in early America.
Today visitors will not have to cross the Neosho River in a covered wagon, like many early pioneers, but stroll along scenic paved walking trails or bicycle along a scenic paved path known as the Neosho Riverwalk at Council Grove, Kansas. The Riverwalk trails are built near the Madonna of the Trail statue, the Guardian of the Grove statue, the Kaw Mission State historic site, the running Neosho River and the historic Santa Fe Trail crossings. The unique planning of the Riverwalk allows visitors to enter from many points throughout the city.
Since opening in 1980, this facility has been encouraging youth and adults to pursue science exploration through hands on experiences, mind boggling-interactive school programs and world class collections of exploration artifacts. The Cosmosphere is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. Find time this year to experience the “out of this world” unusual adventures at Hutchinson’s Cosmosphere.
There are many places to “get your kicks” on the famous Route 66. One unique place is the Kansas 13-mile stretch of the iconic “Mother Road,” which takes visitors through the distinctive town of Galena, Kansas. An original mining town, rich in history and worth the drive. Visit the Litch Historical and Mining Museum, named after local historian, Howard “Pappy” Litch, located in the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Lines train depot. Next meander over to the Howard “Pappy” Litch Memorial Park on Main Street. The park is the site of a famous Route 66 Federal weigh station and home of an official Route 66 Roadside Attraction.
Visit the new Evil Knievel Museum inside the historic Harley Davidson building in Topeka, Kansas. Re-live the historic jumps and look over oodles of Evil’s personal possessions. Walk through the incredible life of this American legend and see many of his jump motorcycles on display, including his first Harley Davidson. Born Robert Craig Knievel, he is also noted in the McGuinness World Book of Records for enduring the most broken bones in a lifetime, 433. He died at the age of 69 in 2007, gone but not forgotten. The museum is set to open this year.
Another unexpected and unusual site to see in Kansas is Coronado Heights near Lindsborg. Named for the Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, it is one of seven sandstone bluffs that make up the Smoky Valley. Today’s explorers will find a sandstone shelter that resembles a castle, constructed by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in 1936 at the top of the hill. Once visitors reach the 300-foot hilltop, the views are forever and some of Kansas’ most impressive fields, wildflowers, natural foliage add to these magnificent vistas. Paths and trails allow visitors to explore the area just as Coronado did in the 1500s.
The Cloud County Stained Glass Tour in Glasco, Kansas, might be one of the few stained-glass tours in the nation. A small community filled with rich history and unique stained glass pictorials in both contemporary and traditional designs. Walkable tours are held annually and open to the public. But visitor passing through town are encouraged to call ahead and gracious community members will schedule a tour.