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Have you been looking for the best family vacations in Kansas? I’ve got you covered!
Kansas is an overlooked destination for family vacations that has so much to offer. On my most recent visit, I toured Southwest Kansas and visited agritourism spots in Northeast Kansas — both were amazing experiences.
I’ve been a travel writer for years, which has given me a lot of insight into how to make the most out of a family trip. I’ve talked to many families who travel and are unsure why they should go to Kansas or what there is to do here. I’m here to tell you that not only is there lots to do, but it’s also an incredibly beautiful and special place perfect for your next family getaway!
From visiting historical monuments like the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum to taking a leisurely drive along the Flint Hills Scenic Byway while stopping at rolling hillsides full of wildflowers, there’s something for everyone in Kansas. Kids will love exploring places like Fossil Creek Park with its dinosaur statues while adults can take advantage of the nightlife and live shows offered by cities like Wichita. No matter what type of vacation experience you’re looking for, there’s something in Kansas just waiting for your whole family!
Wichita is the perfect destination for a family vacation, with plenty of sights and attractions to visit.
Go back in time at Old Cowtown Museum, where you can walk by historical buildings and explore the old west. This accredited museum is home to historic structures dating back to the 1860s and 1870s.
Cowtown’s one-of-a-kind programming shares the incredible journey of Wichita’s transformation – from a frontier settlement to a vibrant cattle town and thriving hub for agriculture and manufacturing.
For a fun day out, explore the Exploration Place Science Museum and learn how science works in everyday life. The museum features interactive exhibits that are perfect for kids of all ages.
The Great Plains Nature Center is an educational center dedicated to teaching about the natural wildlife and ecosystems of Kansas. Take a tour of the trails or attend one of their educational programs to learn more about the local flora and fauna.
Bring the entire family to Sedgwick County Zoo, one of the best zoos in Kansas! With more than 500 animal species from around the world, it’s a great way for kids to learn about animals and explore different habitats. The zoo also offers a variety of educational programs as well as fun activities like feeding giraffes.
The World Treasures Museum in Wichita is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Kansas. The museum features artifacts from different cultures around the world, spanning centuries of fascinating history. They also have interactive exhibits that will teach kids about geography, science, and more.
And don’t forget about Wichita’s famous art scene with its numerous galleries and museums! Whether it’s a day at the zoo or an evening at one of Wichita’s many theaters, there’s something for everyone in Wichita.
Dodge City is one of the best Kansas vacation spots.
Visit the iconic Boot Hill Museum and learn about the history of this Wild West town. Dodge City was part of the Santa Fe Trail.
The museum shares the history of the city becoming a Wild West lawless town where men like Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson helped bring order to the town.
Take the kids to Gunfighter’s Wax Museum for an educational and entertaining experience as they learn about the famous figures of the old west.
When I visited Dodge City, I had the time of my life. From the dinner show at the Long Branch Saloon to the gunfight at Boot Hill Museum, it was an unforgettable experience. And don’t worry, this is still one of the kid-friendly things to do in Kansas
I could feel the wild west spirit come alive as I wandered through the interactive living history exhibits at Boot Hill Museum.
The gunfight was particularly exciting; I could hear guns popping and smell gunpowder in the air! It felt like I had gone back in time to a completely different world.
Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas City, Kansas is a great destination for family vacations. There’s so much to do for everyone – from the interactive exhibits at the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame to the hands-on activities at Science City.
The kids will love getting up close with some of the animals at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead or feeding the ducks at Shawnee Mission Park.
Don’t forget to take in some of Kansas City’s unique history by visiting Powell Gardens, an outdoor museum dedicated to preserving native prairie lands.
Visit Kansas City, KS Strawberry Hill for entertainment and dining options, or explore the art galleries in the historic River Market.
Be sure to check out Zip KC, in nearby Bonner Springs for some exciting ziplining near the Kansas River.
And of course, no visit is complete without a delicious meal from one of KCK’s classic barbecue restaurants!
Overland Park is the perfect destination for family vacations! Overland Park neighbors Kansas City, so these combine these areas for a weekend getaway in Kansas.
Take a stroll through the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, where you can soak up some sun while admiring the beautiful gardens and sculptures.
End the day with a delicious dinner at one of Overland Park’s cozy restaurants or spend some time browsing around Town Center Plaza.
Topeka is the Sunflower State’s capital. It’s the perfect place to visit as you can hit several of the state’s natural attractions with Topeka as your home base.
There are tons of attractions to explore, such as the Combat Air Museum, the Topeka Zoo, and Lake Shawnee.
Have some fun in the sun at Reinisch Rose Garden or take a walk through the Potwin Historical District.
The Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site is also a must-see when visiting Topeka. This site commemorates the landmark civil rights case that forever changed America’s education system.
Don’t forget to explore Gage Park, where you can take a ride on the historic carousel or enjoy delicious food and live music.
While in Topeka, you can easily take a day trip to Clinton State Park, Eisenhower State Park, or the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills.
Flint Hills and Manhattan
Manhattan, Kansas, also known as the Little Apple is another great destination for a family vacation.
With its charming downtown and historic buildings, Manhattan and Junction City can serve as your base for exploring the Flint Hills.
You can take a tour of the Flint Hills Discovery Center and its interactive exhibits, or explore the Tuttle Creek State Park with its many trails and nature activities. And don’t forget to try the delicious food at Aggieville’s restaurants and bars for a true taste of Manhattan!
The Flint Hills are a stunning area of rolling hills and prairies that make for the perfect Kansas vacation destination.
Families can explore the trails or drop a fishing line in Milford Lake, one of the largest lakes in Kansas, where they can catch bass, walleye, and catfish.
Other activities include horseback riding at Wolf River Ranch, canoeing down the Neosho River, or visiting the Kaw Mission State Historic Site to learn about Kansas’ Native American history.
Nearby Wamego is home to the Wizard of Oz Museum and a replica of Dorothy’s house. This is not the only place in Kanas claiming to be the home of the famed fictional character.
If you want to see the ranch life in person, you can take one of the Kansas family retreats at a real ranch such as the Red Buffalo ranch.
Abilene, Kansas is a great destination for families looking to have an educational vacation.
The Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad offers train rides that will take families on a scenic tour of the Flint Hills of Kansas and the Greyhound Hall of Fame.
The Heritage Center of Dickinson County is a great place to learn about the area’s history and cultural heritage.
If you’re feeling smart, take a day trip to the Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum.
The Abilene Zoo offers families an opportunity to explore the wildlife of Kansas up close.
The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains provides nature trails, gardens, and education programs for visitors looking to experience Kansas’ diverse ecosystems.
🤩 Where to stay in Abilene
Garden City & Greensburg
Garden City has plenty of family-friendly activities for tourists looking to have a fun and educational vacation.
Take a stroll through the Lee Richardson Zoo and marvel at the animals from around the globe. The zoo offers free admission and it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy some downtime strolling through the beautifully landscaped gardens.
For a bit of excitement, visit Buffalo Dunes Golf Course to challenge yourself on 18 holes of mini-golf.
Families can also check out Finney County Historical Museum and the True Crime Exhibit to learn more about Garden City’s rich culture.
And don’t forget to spend some time at Logston Lake, which offers plenty of activities like swimming, fishing, and kayaking.
Garden City is home to many cultures and s a great place to eat cuisines from around the world.
Nearby Greensburg is worth a stop on your way to Garden City. Stop at the Big Well Museum and learn not only about the world’s largest hand-dug well, but also about the city’s revitalization after a devastating EF5 tornado devastated the town. Greensburg is rebuilding with an emphasis on clean, green energy.
Independence is another great place to visit with the family.
Fans of the Little House on the Prairie series will recognize Independence as the home of the Ingalls family. The family moved from their little house in the big woods of Wisconsin to wagon trail lands of Independence Kansas where Pa build their Little House on the Prairie.
Visit the Little House on the Prairie Museum and explore life in this frontier town.
Visiting the Little House site is an excellent opportunity to talk about the controversy of whether or not that land belonged to the family and their view of the natives that were living on the land before their arrival.
Independence is also home to the Kansas Celebrity Hall of Fame. Visitors can spend the day learning about some of the most famous citizens from both Kansas and around the country.
With exhibits featuring everyone from Dwight Eisenhower to Amelia Earhart, there’s sure to be something interesting for everyone in your family to explore!
Visiting Lawrence, KS for a family vacation is an amazing way to explore the Midwest prairie. With its unique cultural attractions and historical landmarks, Lawrence is sure to offer something for everyone in the family.
Home to the University of Kansas, Lawrence has been rated one of the top coolest towns in the US, one of the Quirkiest cities, and has one of the most authentic main streets.
Take a walk through downtown’s historic streets and admire the stunning architecture of buildings like the Watkins Museum of History.
For those looking to experience the full breadth of Kansas’ culture and history, there’s no better place than The Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area which showcases stories from the Underground Railroad and more.
Nearby Clinton Lake is a popular spot to camp and hike, with over 50 miles of trails.
And don’t forget to grab a bite at local favorites like 715 Restaurant & Bar or Free State Brewing Company for delicious food and drinks! Lawrence has something for everyone in your family to enjoy!
Fort Scott is a popular Kansas destination for families, largely due to Fort Scott National Historic Site. This spot commemorates the battles of the Civil War and sees thousands of visitors each year.
Fort Scott also offers a vibrant downtown area full of shops, restaurants, galleries, and more.
There are plenty of attractions to check out here including Fort Scott National Cemetery, Fort Scott Historic Sites & Museums, and First Presbyterian Church to name a few.
For those looking for a unique outdoor experience, take a drive to Gunn Park. This beautiful park is great for picnics and has plenty of trails for hikers and bikers alike. Be sure to check out the historic gun batteries while you’re there!
Finally, don’t miss out on the chance to explore Fort Scott’s rich history at its many museums and galleries. From the Old Jail Museum to the National Guard Museum, there is something for everyone here.
No matter your interests, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Fort Scott! Make sure to add this unique city to your must-visit list.
If you’re looking for Kansas weekend getaway ideas, A family vacation to Liberal, Kansas offers plenty to do and explore.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Dorothy’s house and the Land of Oz. Dorothy’s House, built in 1907, has been carefully restored to recreate the iconic house from The Wizard of Oz. Explore the Yellow Brick Road, and immerse yourself in 5,000 square feet of animated entertainment in the enchanting Land of Oz.
Visit the Coronado Museum for a look into Comanche and Kiowa cultures. And visit the Seward County Historical Museum to learn about Liberal’s history.
Experience nightlife at The Hideout and be sure to sample some of the city’s specialty dishes like the Prairie Dog or Fried Bologna Sandwich!
If you’re looking for indoor fun, check out Mid-America Air Museum to learn about aviation history and explore its amazing collection of aircraft.
After all that adventuring, grab a bite at one of the area’s many restaurants such as The Depot Restaurant & Saloon or El Matador Mexican Restaurant to refuel before heading home!
Oakley Kansas is a great place to visit with the family for a fun-filled vacation.
Oakley is the perfect base to explore Little Jerusalem State Park and Monument Rocks, two of the most iconic Kansas attractions for families.
A breathtaking collection of chalk formations, I felt like these rocks rose out of nowhere. Situated in the middle of endless miles of fields, badlands are a stunning sight to see.
What are badlands? Badlands are a type of landscape that is characterized by steep slopes, sheer cliffs, and dry terrain.
Take some time to explore the High Plains Museum, which honors the area’s rich Native American history.
While you’re in the area, visit Lake Scott and the Battle of the Punished Women monument.
In western Kansas, you can spot bison herds in unique white, golden, and multi colors. If you’re near Historic Lake Scott State Park, just 13 miles north of Scott City, swing by the Lake Scott Ranger station office to catch a glimpse of these majestic pure white creatures.
For more bison sightings, head to Smoky Valley Ranch near Oakley. And where there are bison, there are usually prairie dogs. Don’t forget to explore the awesome year-round hiking trails there too!
If your family is looking for a bit of adventure, why not take a horseback ride through the western Kansas prairie?
Syracuse and Coolidge
Syracuse and nearby Coolidge is the perfect spot for family weekend getaways in Kansas vacation.
Syracuse is fun if you visit the Syracuse Sand Dunes. This privately owned property is open for visitors who wish to take dune buggies and other off-road vehicles up and down the dunes. Trust me, it’s a lot of fun!
In Coolidge, I’d recommend staying at the Trail’s End Bed & Breakfast. This end-of-the-line location is just minutes from the Kansas and Colorado border. The Bed & Breakfast is quaint rooms and cabins with wonderful hospitality.
It’s said that this area was famous as cowboys would stop here before crossing cattle from Kansas to Colorado or vice versa. Working girls would ride out on horseback, naked, to meet the men. In fact, there’s still a law on the books in this small town that no woman can ride on a horse naked.
You may also remember Coolidge as the home of Cousin Eddie from the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies. In the original, as the Griswolds traveled cross country to get to Wally World, they stop in Coolidge, Kansas to visit Cousin Eddie. In Coolidge, you can stop and take a picture with the mural dedicated to our favorite family member.
Visiting Hutchinson Kansas with the family is an excellent way to enjoy the sites and sounds of a small, unique town.
One great thing to explore is Hutchinson’s Coolidge Park, where you can take advantage of its open green spaces for picnicking or playing sports.
The Yoder Amish community in Hutchinson is a great stop for families to visit and explore. Tourists can take guided tours of the community, learning more about the lifestyle closely-knit Amish community and even enjoy traditional Amish meals prepared by locals.
Finally, check out The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center – this interactive museum offers interactive exhibits that are engaging and educational for all ages.
Lindsborg is a charming little town just south of Hutchinson that offers plenty of activities and sights for family travelers.
Adventures start at the Valkommen Trail, a self-guided tour that takes visitors through the city’s Swedish history.
The Holmberg Art Park in downtown Lindsborg is the perfect spot for picnics and outdoor exploring. It features sculptures by renowned Scandinavian artists and other works of art.
The Swedish Festival held in Lindsborg each June celebrates the culture with traditional music, dancing, food, parades, and more.
The holiday season brings out welcoming decorations throughout the city, including its iconic Christmas Street decorated with lights and festive decorations.
Bonus Route 66 Stops
Route 66 in Kansas is dotted with small towns that inspired the movie Cars.
Galena, for example, was a stop on the original Mother Road and its Main Street has been immortalized in countless photos and movies as an ideal image of small-town America.
Visitors can explore restored ’50s-era gas stations and storefronts, making it one of the best places for families to learn about the history behind this iconic highway.
Baxter Springs, located in the southeast corner of Kansas, is an iconic stop along historic Route 66. This small town has been featured in several movies, including Disney Pixar’s Cars. The Baxter Springs General Store was the inspiration for Flo’s V8 Cafe and Sprintin’ Seals Service Station from the movie.
This general store was originally built in 1889 and is a great place to explore and learn about the history of Route 66. Visitors can also experience first-hand the unique roadside attractions that made this famous highway so popular, such as Molly’s Rock Shop, the Totem Pole Park, and Coleman Theatre.
Start in either Kansas City or Wichita, rent your vehicle of choice, and take a drive on the “Mother Road”. The open road and wind in your hair will make it a unique journey across the country that you won’t forget. Renting a convertible for your journey along Route 66 is sure to make your trip extra special!
Best Time to Visit Kansas
Visiting Kansas is a great choice for families looking to have an exciting vacation!
Summer is the prime time to visit Dodge City, as there are many family-friendly activities that visitors can enjoy.
There are also plenty of attractions and sights in nearby cities like Abilene and Wichita.
The weather is usually warm and sunny during this time – perfect for spending days outdoors!
You’ll also find an array of festivals and events happening throughout the summer months that families will love. Whether you’re interested in museums, concerts, or outdoor activities, Kansas has something for everyone in the summertime!
In the spring and fall months, Kansas is still a great place for family vacations. The weather is milder and perfect for outdoor activities or just enjoying the beautiful scenery.
The temperatures are still warm enough to take advantage of the various attractions and events in cities like Abilene and Wichita, making it a great choice for families.
With plenty of accommodation options ranging from bed & breakfasts to resorts, you’re sure to find something that fits your family’s needs.
Plus, many attractions are open year-round so you won’t miss out on any sightseeing opportunities. So if you want to enjoy some fresh air with your family in an exciting destination, Kansas in the spring or fall is a great option!
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Where to stay in Kansas
1. Abilene: A small town famed for its preserved Victorian architecture, Abilene is a great choice for families looking to explore the local area. With comfortable accommodations and a range of attractions nearby, it’s an ideal spot to stay in Kansas.
2. Wichita: The largest city in Kansas, Wichita is home to a plethora of activities and experiences tailored towards family travelers, from museums and parks to theatres and galleries. There are plenty of hotels to choose from as well.
3. Garden City: Garden City is known as the ‘Home of Friendliness’ due to its vibrant atmosphere and friendly locals. Ideal for outdoor adventurers, there are numerous camping spots and outdoor activities on offer here. It also offers a range of lodging options that cater to family travelers.
Getting Around Kansas
Traveling around Kansas is a breeze. If you’re looking to do some sightseeing, driving is the best way to go – there are plenty of routes that will take you through the state’s stunning countryside and its major cities.
Major highways like I-70, I-35, and US-50 make it easy to get around Kansas quickly while scenic byways like Highway 24, Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway, and the Flint Hills Scenic Byway offer a more leisurely route. With so many options available, visitors to Kansas won’t have any trouble finding their way around!
Ironically, according to the Moon Guides Road Trip USA guide, the best road trips through Kanas include the Loneliest Road (US 83) and the Road to Nowhere (US 50).
Highlights on these road trips through Kansas include:
- Monument Rocks – while this is in the Kanas plains with no water in sight, this was once an ocean floor. Search for fossils and sharks’ teeth here.
- Lake Scott State Park – see the site of a Pueblo home, the furthest east record of the Pueblo Indians.
- Sandsage Bison Ranger and Wildlife area, just outside of Garden City
- Liberal, the unofficial home of Dorothy, and an annual OzFest in October.
- Santa Fe Trail Tracks – you can still view the ruts the wagon trails left just outside of Dodge City
- Kinsley – the Midway across America small town.
- Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve – an important look at the native grasses that once covered the midwestern plains.
Q: What activities are available on family vacations to Kansas?
A: Families can enjoy a variety of activities while vacationing in Kansas. Popular attractions include Monument Rocks, Lake Scott State Park, Sandsage Bison Ranger and Wildlife Area, Liberal (the unofficial home of Dorothy and site of OzFest), Santa Fe Trail Tracks (where you can view the wagon ruts outside of Dodge City), Kinsley (the Midway Across America small town), and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
Q: Are there any kid-friendly attractions in Kansas?
A: Absolutely! Families with children will find plenty to do in Kansas. Liberal offers an iconic look at The Wizard of Oz through their annual OzFest, and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is home to fascinating wildlife that kids can learn about.
Q: Is there anything special about Monument Rocks?
A: Monument Rocks is a unique place located within the Kansas plains without any water in sight – but it was once an ocean floor! Visitors who venture here can search for fossils and sharks teeth. Monument Rocks is also known for its beautiful chalk formations, earning it the title of one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas. Visitors can walk around and explore this unique historical place.
Final Thoughts: Family Vacation Ideas in Kansas
There are many exciting and unique activities awaiting families in Kansas, from exploring Monument Rocks to visiting the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and learning about its fascinating wildlife.
Kansas is also a great place for road trips, with plenty of interesting stops along the way. No matter what you’re looking for on your family vacation – adventure, relaxation, or something in between – you can find it in Kansas.
So why not book your family’s next vacation to the heartland of America? With so much to explore and experience, these Kansas vacation ideas and family getaways will provide memories that last a lifetime. And if you have any questions about planning your trip or would like some advice on things to do, feel free to leave us a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!