25 Famous Landmarks in Kansas Not to Miss

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Sideview of a skyline and a round concrete building with a blue roof
Kansas has many cities full of various interesting landmarks, like Wichita

If you are wondering what Kansas is famous for, you've come to the right place! Kansas is famous for its role as a gateway to the West and for its "Bleeding Kansas" era that served as a proving ground for the Civil War that consumed the nation soon after.

Kansas was also the eastern edge of a vast prairie that expanded for millions of acres to the Rocky Mountains and into Canada before its conversion to farmland. Parts of this tallgrass prairie ecosystem are protected in Kansas, along with other hidden gems and natural wonders.

If you want to learn more about Kansas, keep reading to find 25 famous landmarks in Kansas!

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25 Famous Kansas Landmarks

Kansas Landmarks Map

A map of Kansas landmarks. Use the map to explore all of the points of interest.

Black Jack Battlefield & Nature Park is one of the most famous landmarks in Kansas

Black Jack Battlefield & Nature Park

Prior to the American Civil War, the conflict known as Bleeding Kansas raged through the 1850s. With the issue of slavery set to be decided by popular vote, proslavery and antislavery settlers and soldiers flooded the territory in support of their causes.

At the Battle of Black Jack, the famous abolitionist John Brown fought and won for the side of antislavery. Today the battlefield is preserved to remember its significance in American history.

Clinton State Park is a great place to kayak, hike trails, and see wildlife

Clinton State Park

Clinton State Park in Lawrence occupies 1,500 acres on the north shore of Clinton Lake. It's renowned for its fishing opportunities, its diverse array of native bird species, and the music events and festivals that it commonly hosts.

Add to this a hiking and biking trail system and an extensive neighboring wildlife area, and it's not hard to see why this is one of the most famous places to visit in Kansas.

Constitution Hall was built in 1857 and is owned by the Kansas Historical Society

Constitution Hall State Historic Site

In 1857, this historic building in Lecompton was home to a pro-slavery territorial legislature that had to be disbanded by the US Congress. They determined that the elections had been fraudulent and buoyed by "border ruffians" from Missouri who crossed into Kansas only to vote.

An anti-slavery government took its place and decided to move the assembly to the more friendly free-state region of Lawrence. Today, the Kansas Historical Society preserves Lecompton Constitution Hall as part of the state's complicated and often violent past.

Learn about the 34th US president at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum memorializes the life and service of the 34th US president in his hometown of Abilene, Kansas.

History enthusiasts come from around the world to take advantage of the library's staggering 26 million pages of historical records. The museum on site pays homage to the nation's only 5-star general to also ascend to its highest civilian office.

Fort Larned is a 19th-century army outpost that features history and nature trails

Fort Larned National Historic Site

Fort Larned is one of the most impressive national historic landmarks in Kansas, boasting an authentically preserved army outpost from the 19th century.

The fort's sturdy, sandstone construction has allowed its main buildings to stand the test of time. Not everything has survived, though, so a history and nature trail takes visitors through the surrounding expanse. It gives an idea of what one of the most historic sites in Kansas might have looked like as a bustling frontier outpost.

Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site

Before the telephone or even the telegraph, the Pony Express was the fastest way to send important messages across North America.

In addition to being a tavern and store, Hollenberg ranch house served as a waystation for Pony Express riders along the Oregon-California Trail. The original building still stands, with a visitor center and interpretive exhibits to help people learn about the rich history of one of the country's most unique national landmarks.

Kansas Museum of History

The Kansas Museum of History in Topeka spans from prehistoric times into the 20th century. You can learn how groups like the Cheyenne and Arapaho encountered and later resisted European and American settlement of the region before ceding the land in an 1861 treaty.

The Civil War, transportation, and even the history of fast food are featured at this museum, making it one of the most interesting Kansas sights to see.

Looking up at a capitol building with columns and a black dome
Kansas State Capitol has a 300 feet tall dome, making it taller than the US Capitol

Kansas State Capitol

Topeka has been the capital of Kansas since it became a state in 1861. The Kansas State Capitol, completed in 1903, is the seat of its legislative and executive branches of government.

The historic building's dome stretches skyward to over 300 feet, making it taller than the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. Guided and self-guided tours of the dome and grounds are available through their Visitor Center.

Fort Leavenworth was built in 1827 and now houses a park, museum, and more

Fort Leavenworth

Found on the banks of the Missouri River just outside of Kansas City, Fort Leavenworth is the state's oldest permanent settlement. It was built in 1827, making it one of the oldest active army posts in the United States.

Visitors are welcome to visit the historic Kansas landmark, with a museum, a monument to Buffalo soldiers, and even an 18-hole golf course on-site.

The Buffalo Soldiers Monument is dedicated to African American soldiers

Buffalo Soldiers Monument

The Buffalo Soldiers Monument at Fort Leavenworth is one of the most important historical landmarks in Kansas. This monument is for the Black soldiers, referred to as Buffalo Soldiers, who were enlisted in the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments following emancipation.

The site honors their role in the history of the American West as they built remote forts, protected both wagon trains and railroad workers, and installed telegraph lines across desolate terrain.

Looking at a herd of white and brown bison grazing on grass in winter
Lake Scott State Park is one of the surprising Kansas landmarks with amazing wildlife

Lake Scott State Park

Tucked away in a canyon on the western prairie, Lake Scott State Park is one of the most surprising Kansas state landmarks. The lake itself fills about 100 acres, with over a thousand acres of woods, natural springs, and bluffs surrounding it.

In addition to going fishing and hiking, visitors can explore El Cuartelejo, a well-preserved Native American pueblo and National Historic Landmark encompassed by the park.

Marais des Cygnes Massacre State Historic Site marks the place of an 1850s massacre

Marais des Cygnes Massacre State Historic Site

In many ways, the Bleeding Kansas conflict of the 1850s set the tone for the violence of the American Civil War that was to come a decade later.

The Marais des Cygnes Massacre State Historic Site marks the site of the gruesome incident where pro-slavery forces captured and gunned down eleven anti-slavery "free-staters" for supporting an abolitionist government.

Learn about the Union victory in Kansas at Mine Creek Battlefield State Historic Site

Mine Creek Civil War Battlefield State Historic Site

The Union victory at Mine Creek came in September 1864 after months of harassment from a Confederate force attempting to recruit and pillage supplies. It marked the beginning of the end of the war in the West, and the Confederate army retreated until their surrender in April 1865.

The Visitor Center at this famous place in Kansas brings the thunderous cavalry battle to life, along with the interpretive exhibits found throughout the battlefield.

Kansas is home to the largest ball of twine in the world

The World's Largest Ball of Twine

Perhaps the most commonly cited (and even most commonly mocked) of American roadside attractions is Cawker City's "World's Largest Ball of Twine." It may stand in as the prime example of useless world records, but the residents of Cawker City at least get to have fun with it.

Every August, a twine-a-thon is held where they and visitors expand the sphere of cordage, helping them to have an edge against a similar attraction in Minnesota.

Nicodemus is where a group of freed enslaved persons formed a community in the 1880s

Nicodemus National Historic Site

The town of Nicodemus was founded after the American Civil War when a Black minister named Reverend W.H. Smith formed the Nicodemus Town Company.

He encouraged African-Americans and formerly enslaved people to move to Kansas to create a place where they could form Black self-government. By the 1880s, the town reached about 700 residents, and it's preserved for visitors today as a National Historic Site.

Santa Fe Trail Remains

Before the advent of railroads, the Santa Fe Trail was the primary route for traders and troops heading westward into Mexico from the American frontier.

With over 500 miles of the trail falling within the borders of Kansas, the National Register of Historic Places logs the remnants of many trading posts, battlegrounds, burial sites, and wagon tracks along the discontinued route. This makes it one of the largest collections of Kansas historical landmarks on this list.

A pathway surrounded by brown grass under a partly cloudy sky
Tallgrass Praire National Preserve was established in 1996 to protect 11,000 acres

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Kansas today is largely associated with farmland, but it was once part of a vast North American tallgrass prairie covering over 170 million acres.

In 1996, the Tallgrass Praire National Preserve was established to protect the 11,000 acres that remain within the state's borders. Visitors can learn about the diverse vegetation, wildflowers, and critters that still depend on this diminishing ecosystem.

Despite looking older, Coronado Heights Castle was built in the 1930s

Coronado Heights Castle

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was a 16th-century Spanish conquistador famously obsessed with finding the Seven Cities of Gold. Less famously, he gave up on this voyage upon reaching what's now Lindsborg, Kansas.

No slight to this lovely spot; his disillusionment likely speaks more to the two years of fruitless wandering than anything else. In the 1930s, the WPA built a limestone castle and picnic area on a grassy promontory named after the explorer.

Wagon Bed Spring

For 19th-century travelers along the Santa Fe Trail through Kansas, seeing Wagon Bed Spring materialize out of the prairie meant nothing short of survival.

It marked the end of the 60-mile waterless stretch called the Jornada, and many perished before setting eyes on it. A wagon bed was put into the ground near Lower Cimarron Spring to help the clean, crisp water bubble up through the soil, and a replica can be found at the approximate site today.

Fort Scott played an important role in the Civil War

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Fort Scott is one of the most historical places in Kansas and has played a crucial role in American history. The former frontier garrison is now run by the National Park Service and is open to the public most days of the year.

Its buildings and grounds have been well-preserved to help visitors learn about its historical role, and this National Historic Landmark protects five acres of restored tallgrass prairie.

The Oz Museum celebrates The Wizard of Oz, which was set in Kansas

Oz Museum

If you're traveling through Kansas, click your heels three times and head to the Oz Museum in Wamego, about forty miles west of Topeka.

Its exhibits focus primarily on the memorabilia from the 1939 Judy Garland film. They also include artifacts from a silent version starring Laurel and Hardy and 1978's "The Wiz" starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.

Wide chalk formations in an open field under a partly cloudy sky
Monument Rocks are 70-foot tall and open to the public during the day

Monument Rocks

These 80 million-year-old chalk formations in Gove County are among the natural Kansas monuments you shouldn't miss on your trip to the Jayhawk State.

The buttes and arches were formed during the time of the dinosaurs and are resultingly rich in ancient fossils. Despite being found on private land, the 70-foot tall formations are open to the public during daylight hours.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is home to over 86,000 unique objects collected from around the world. Some toys include a Jackie Robinson doll from 1950, a G.I. Joe from 1954, and a Buck Rogers Space Pistol from 1934.

The Miniature collection is equally eclectic and expansive, with tiny replicas of Louis XV's study in Versailles, a Dutch harpsichord, and dueling pistols.

The Geographic Center of the Contiguous United States

While it may not be anything overly special to look at, the Geographic Center of the Contiguous United States is a cool spot to check off your bucket list.

It's found about 3 miles northwest of Lebanon, and a guest book at the modest monument invites visitors to sign and tell the story of what brought them there.

Equality House

Painted in the Pride flag colors, the Equality House in Shawnee County is located across the street from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.

Its choice of location and design are direct responses to the dangerous rhetoric used by the hate group toward the LGBTQ+ community. Visitors can learn how they and their parent group, Planting Peace, combat different forms of hate across America and worldwide.

Conclusion

Today, travelers tend to associate Kansas with the American heartland, full of farmland, small towns, and roadside attractions. This may be accurate, but it's also incomplete.

This list of 25 famous landmarks in Kansas shows a unique natural beauty and a history full of conflict and triumph that should inspire a more careful consideration of this state on your next trip!

This article was edited by Loredana Elena.

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Written by Andrew Sayles

atsayles WRITER Traveler, teacher, and blogger currently based in Oregon. I have lived in 5 countries, traveled to 60, and crisscrossed the continental US an unhealthy number of times.


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