In the Sunflower State, there is a seemingly endless expanse of plains and prairie. With vast, open skies and an abundance of farm land harvesting crops like wheat, this middle-of-the-country state is something to experience all year-round. In the winter, make sure you bundle up to take in the spectacular breadth of space. Go hunting, take a candlelight tour, or head inside to a local art gallery. Kansas will not disappoint you with these 14 best winter activities to do in the state.
Winter months are the best times to view bald eagles in Kansas. A great place to spot America's national bird is at the Chaplin Nature Center in Arkansas City. Learn about the bald eagle's winter migration to this rural Kansas site along the Arkansas River. September through May monthly programs are ongoing, like the opportunity to build an owl nest to attract screech owls to your backyard, or take a field trip to many interesting places in the 230-acre preserve, and even participate in a night hike to look and listen for nocturnal creatures.
Plan on spending some time indoors this winter? Then check out the wide range of hands-on activities offered at the Manhattan Art Center in Manhattan, Kansas. The MAC offers classes and workshops for youth and adults in the performing and visual arts. A children's theater is available for kids to watch or audition for an upcoming performance. Adults can also participate in the performing arts or enroll in a class or workshop in mixed media collage, bookbinding, encaustic drawing, oil painting, and more. Art exhibits are always ongoing and upcoming so there is something for everyone.
Timber Creek Wildlife Adventures is a great place for hunters and fishermen. The farm and ranch is family owned and operated, and located in the southern part of the historic Flint Hills near Atlanta. Guided tours provide a vast countryside for sportsman to hunt deer, turkey, quail, dove and squirrel on 1,900 acres of rolling hills, creek bottoms and fields. Guided fishing tours offer fisherman the opportunity to fish a watershed lake and many farm ponds. The Bunkhouse and RV-camping sites are also available throughout the season.
When it seems the winter is endless, visit the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum is Chanute. Explore the amazing life of two Kansas natives, who are some of the first known people to set up camp in the most exotic remote areas of Kenya, the Congo, Borneo and the Solomon and Hebrides Islands. Their multiple trips and safaris are famous and recorded in the couple's photographs, journals and films, and include some of the first known recordings of African wild game animals in their original habitats. The museum houses a rare collection of this romantic, adventurous couple's films, photographs, manuscripts, articles, books, and personal belongings. The History Channel's Traveler website has named the museum one of the "Top 10 Historic Sites for Valentine's Day" that "captures romance, American-style."
Make sure to set aside some time to visit Elkhart, Kansas and take the Sea of Glass Auto Tour, through the Cimarron National Grassland. The self-guided automobile tour is a scenic drive through portions of the historic Santa Fe Trail marked by limestone posts and visible wagon wheel ruts. At the Cimarron Recreation Area, visitors can use picnic areas, and set out on hiking and horseback trails which access fishing ponds. Besides the rich history of this river valley, the vistas are breathtaking and the sunsets are stunning.
In the northwest part of Kansas, hunters will enjoy spending time at the Saline River Hunting Lodge in WaKeeney this winter. This hunting lodge offers a world-class trailing experience with acres of land to hunt a trophy deer, or wild quail and pheasant. Looking for a little different hunt? Try hunting a coyote. Then relax and spend the night at the Saline River Hunting Lodge Bed & Breakfast. There is even a stable for your horses.
Let the cold weather bring out your creative side with a trip to, On the Pot, in Salina. The brainchild of two entrepreneur sisters who decided to switch professions and have some fun. This place offers kids and adults time to pull up a chair, check into their artistic sides and have a blast. Besides painting, pottery visitors can also learn the craft of glass fusing. A must-experience for everyone.
This winter experience the American West and the winter holidays at the Prairie Rose Chuck Wagon Supper in Benton. More than a meal, visitors will spend four hours of entertainment and an all-you-can-eat meal without spending a fortune. Entertainment includes a stage show featuring the world-famous Prairie Rose Rangers, wagon rides, free movies and popcorn, and much, much more. The shows are family-friendly, perfect for young and older crowds. This is the very best in western hospitality.
Cross-country skiers will enjoy the Flint Hills Nature Trails near Herrington this winter. Rail-trails, short for railroad trails, make ideal cross-country skiing trails because railroads were built relatively straight with gentle grades. Some of the trails are plowed of snow during the winter, but some are left as they are for snow-sport use. Before you head out, always check recent snowfall and cross-country trail conditions. You might get lucky enough to have a trail all to yourself.
Landon Arena in The Expocentre in Topeka is home to the Topeka Roadrunners ice hockey team and various events. But in the winter, public ice skating is open to everyone. Ice skaters can bring their own skates or rent, either figure skates or hockey skates, on a first-come basis. Skating sessions are two hours long and include a 10-minute intermission for ice resurfacing. And for the advance skater, skate sharpening is also available during each session. Remember to take a twirl on the ice this winter.
Over 100 costumed re-enactors will interpret important events in our nation's history in December during the annual Fort Scott Candlelight Tour in historic Fort Scott, Kansas. The history of Fort Scott is one of conflicts, the Native American removal, westward expansion, the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. Relive 19th century history as Fort Scott comes to life by candlelight and commemorates the National Park System turning 100 years-old.
If watching the latest movie is a favorite winter past time, the best place to watch the newest movies in Kansas is at the oldest theater: The Plaza Cinema in Ottawa. It is said to be the oldest operating cinema in America today. A movie ticket will also give you entrance to The Plaza Cinema Museum, located inside the movie theater. The museum is home to an impressive collection of movie props, costumes, scripts, posters, and signed memorabilia. Come early and stay late.
Winter's holiday season would not be complete without viewing holiday lights. The Trail of Lights in Great Bend will not disappoint visitors. Shining bright light displays are scattered over throughout the city. Visitors will love the Twelve Days of Christmas at Veteran's Park, Wild Lights at Brit Spaugh Park and the Lafayette Lights at Jack Kilby Square. But don't leave until you've ice skated and visited Santa's House.