Guest Author - Beth Green
If you’ve ever driven across Kansas on Interstate 70, you’re probably left with the impression that Kansas is a pretty flat, unexciting state. In reality, Kansas is full of fun-filled and interesting attractions, and many of them are free of charge. The following is a partial list of free Kansas attractions.
Abilene, the home of President Eisenhower, features many free attractions. There’s the American Indian Art Center, a gallery & gift shop featuring the work of nationally acclaimed Native American artists; the Bow Studio and Gallery, showcasing handmade items made from Kansas clay; the Fashion Museum, a museum depicting 100 years of style, from 1870-1970; and the Greyhound Hall of Fame, where you can learn about the history of greyhound racing, and pet some of the racing greyhounds that stay at the facility.
Amelia Earhart’s birthplace of Atchison also features many free attractions. View the Amelia Earhart Earthwork, a one acre crop portrait created by famed Kansas crop artist Sam Herd. Visit the Atchison Rail Museum, which is an outdoor collection of vintage rail cars. Lewis & Clark buffs will want to stop at Independence Creek, the site where Lewis & Clark camped on July 4, 1804; and the Lewis & Clark Riverfront Pavilion, located on the Missouri River and featuring interpretive displays and an interactive computer touch screen tracing the adventures of Lewis & Clark in Atchison. Atchison also features the International Forest of Friendship, a living monument to those who have contributed to aviation and space exploration; and St. Benedict’s Abbey Church, one of the area’s many abbeys of Benedictine monks.
The Augusta Historical Museum & CN James Trading Post is the first building in August Kansas. The 1868 CN James log cabin is on the original site.
St. Bridget Catholic Church in Axtell is a Gothic Cathedral over 100 years old; with vaulted ceilings and invisible supports.
In Baldwin City, you can visit Black Jack Park, a park and log cabin near the Black Jack Battlefield.
The Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum features exhibits on the Civil War, pioneer life, and Native Americans; while the Beattie Heritage Museum Archives showcases artifacts of the Guilford Pony Express and Beattie history.
At the Belleville Public Library in Belleville, a WPA art collection, a unique mural; and an historic doll and model collection are exhibited. Also in Belleville is the Republic County Historical Museum, which highlights advances made during the 20th Century. The museum also features exhibits on Native American culture and pioneer settlements.
The Donner Party stopped at Alcove Spring in Blue Rapids while traveling west on the Oregon Trail. Visitors can still see wagon swales on the site. The Blue Rapids Public Library is the oldest library in Kansas, and is still housed in its original building. The Holm Cabin in Blue Rapids is a Swedish-built cabin.
Near Kansas City, Bonner Springs is home to the Wyandotte County Historical Society and Museum. The museum features historical displays & artifacts, an heirloom garden, and a research library.
Santa Fe Trail artifacts and local history can be seen at the Burlingame Schuyler Museum in Burlingame.
The Coffey County Historical Museum, featuring a doll collection, an 1895 church, an 1896 school and a covered wagon, is located in Burlington.
If you’re in the mood for something unusual, stop at Cawker City and view the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, and the twine walk lining Main Street.
More than 600 works of art are on view at the Chanute Art Gallery in Chanute Kansas. Step into the past at the Chanute Historical Society Museum.
Ralph’s Ruts on the Santa Fe Trail in Chase are some of the most well-known swales on the Santa Fe Trail.
Learn about Native American Chief Che-to-pah at the Chetopa Historical Museum in, where else but Chetopa
The Cimarron Historic Hotel in Cimarron is an authentic 1886 Old West Hotel. Also in Cimarron is the Kansas Wheat House Inc., manufacturer of Kansas wheat products.
In Clay Center is the Utility Park & Zoo; and the Clay County Historical Museum, featuring the historical collections of Clay County.
The Clearwater Historical Museum features the history of Clearwater and the Chisholm Trail; while the Clyde Historical Society in Clyde is housed in an old Presbyterian Church which has the oldest pipe organ in the country.
The early aviation history of Coffeyville Kansas is highlighted in the Aviation Heritage Museum; while the Coffeyville Center for the Arts features monthly exhibits by various local and national artists.
This is just the beginning of the free attractions available in Kansas. Be sure to check out future articles for more free things to do in Kansas.