Kansas, a state made famous by a timeless 1930s classic about a girl, her little dog named Toto, and the Wicked Witch of the West. While The Wizard of Oz may have inspired quite a few curious travelers to visit the state, still many people remain unaware of the true extent of amazing sites and history this Midwestern oasis has to offer.
So, we are on a mission to give Kansas the recognition it deserves, starting with this list of surreal places you really won't believe exist. I hope you are ready because by the time you have reached the end of this article you will be wishing you could just click your ruby red slippers together three times and transport to each of these absolutely amazing spots.
Where: Monument Rocks, Oakley
Often referred to as "Chalk Pyramids," these towering rock formations aren't just a cool place to take amazing #travel photos at. They are a testament to what many parts of America were like millions of years ago — an ocean. This formation is speculated to have been a Cretaceous Period Western Interior Seaway, once separating the East and West of North America.
Old Abilene Town
Where: SE 5th St., Abilene
Two words: Wild West. Old Abilene Town is a Wild West-themed town with everything you could hope for, including a saloon, (staged) gunfights, and costumes to match. This is what Red Dead has been preparing you for.
Geary County Falls
Where: Geary County State Lake, Lyon
This picture-perfect waterfall is located in Lyon, offering visitors a perfect place to relax and cool off during the warmer months of the year. In fact, it is such a spectacular site any time of the year that it alone never fails to draw thousands of spectators to the park. We give this a 10/10 and say it's totally worth any distance of travel.
Where: 1200 SW Orleans St, Topeka
Situated directly across from the infamous hate organization, the Westboro Baptist Church, lies a much more vibrant and welcoming sight — the Equality House. This house, painted in rainbow colors to support the LBGTQ minority, spectators and supporters alike are encouraged to stop by for a visit and picture!
World's Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Largest Things
Where: 214 South Main, Lucas
Wow, okay so that was a mouthful, right? The World's Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Largest Things is exactly as it sounds, the world's largest collection of the smallest versions of large things. Any further explanation needed?
Giant Van Gogh Painting
Where: 1998 Cherry Ave, Goodland
Museums are so out of date — giant roadside replicas are totally going to take over. Okay, maybe not, but this giant Van Gogh painting is nothing short of exciting all the same. I mean seriously, even if you aren't a fine art connoisseur you can definitely still appreciate this beauty.
Where: 4124 NE Brier Road, Topeka
It doesn't get much more 'Murican than Truckhenge. This eclectic art arrangement consists of several vehicles that have definitely seen better days on the road but on the flip side have never been so appreciated.
Strataca, The Kansas Underground Salt Museum
Where: 3650 E Ave G, Hutchinson
A salt mine may not sound impressive, but after hearing that its 65-stories underground things start to get pretty interesting. It's just a bonus that some of the veins run all the way to New Mexico and that there is a 250-million-year-old salt crystal harboring a living bacterium discovered in 1998 here. Did I mention that besides being a tourist trap the mine is also used to store government records and thousands of Hollywood films including, you guessed it, The Wizard of Oz! Imagine that.
Where: 100 Konza Prairie Ln, Manhattan
There is a ton of breathtaking nature to behold in this Midwestern state, but the Konza Prairie is truly in a league of its own. With over 3,000 hectares of native tallgrass, this preserve also harbors a ton of local wildlife, including a herd of bison. No matter how many times you visit this wildlife oasis it never gets boring.
Coronado Heights Castle
Where: Coronado Heights Park, Lindsborg
Who doesn't think castles are just the coolest thing since sliced bread? I know I do! Not only does the Coronado Heights Castle look pretty amazing, but it also has an interesting story to go along with it. It was built in the 1930s as part of a public works project, dedicated to the memory of Spanish conquistador, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his search for gold in the 1500s. While Coronado may never have found his riches, he certainly still managed to strike it big in the heart of these locals.
The Big Well
Where: The Big Well, Greensburg
America's largest hand-dug well is right here in good ol' Kansas. Construction on the well began in 1887 — long before Bobcat machines were around. Crews of men did all the back-breaking work by hand starting at sunrise and not quitting until sunset. It took a long time but eventually, the well was completed and impressively has withstood the test of time over the past century. The well is a whopping 32 feet wide and 109 feet deep.
The Garden of Eden
Where: 305 E 2nd St, Lucas
A concrete cabin surrounded by a myriad of other concrete structures and sculptures; it's truly no wonder the eccentric home is named one of the “Eight Wonders of Kansas Art.” The Garden of Eden is the brainchild of artist, mason, Civil War veteran, and political activist Samuel Dinsmoor. His work on the cabin started in 1904 and continued until his very last days. His body is still on site in the self-built mausoleum and encased in a glass coffin.
Mushroom Rock State Park
Where: 200 Horsethief Rd, Brookville
Did someone say mushroom-shaped rocks? That's right — and they are all natural too! These almost unreal looking formations are the result of thousands of years worth of erosion to the soft rock (the stem) while the harder rock on top remained relatively untouched, thus producing a mushroom head appearance. Nature is just spectacular, isn't it?
WaKeeney North Pole
Where: 100-198 block of Main Street, WaKeeney
Christmas only comes once a year, unless you're in WaKeeney, also known as the Christmas City of the High Plains — then it's Christmas all year. A little section of the downtown area called the "North Pole" is constantly decorated for Christmas year round. And you thought Christmas music in November was bad.
1950s All-Electric House
Where: 8788 Metcalf Ave, Overland Park
Ahh, the 1950s were the good old days... Or so I have been told, and judging by the innocence of the futuristic qualities in this 1950s model home, it seems likely. The home was built to include nearly all of the latest technology at the time, like a painting that moves at a press of a button, revealing the TV, or the fridge that opens with a foot pedestal. Oh, the nostalgia.
Where: Mount Sunflower, Weskan
Standing 4,039 feet above sea level is an adorable little sign in an otherwise bare field marking the very tallest spot in Kansas. Mount Sunflower is a beloved roadside attraction, especially for those who set out to visit record-setting spots. At the very least, it's a good way to prove you were actually at the tallest spot!
They Also Ran Gallery
Where: 105 W Main St, Norton
This is an entire gallery dedicated to losers! Literally. The entire gallery is filled with names and faces of all those who had run for the presidency and lost throughout the years. As depressing as that may seem, though they may not have gone down in history as one of the United State's presidents, thanks to this gallery they definitely have not been forgotten. For better or for worse.
Where: 121 S Main St, Lucas
Checking out all the great art in the area can definitely work up the need to go, and what's more appropriate than to relieve yourself at a world-renowned artsy bathroom shaped like a massive toilet? Nothing. So next time you need to make a pitstop, make sure you do your business at perhaps the best-bejeweled restroom you will ever have the pleasure to go in.
Geographical Center of the United States
Until the rising sea levels decide to engulf more of North America's coastal regions, the Geographical Center of the United States is located right here in Lebanon. So you might not be the center of the universe, but at least you can be in the center of the United States, and that is still pretty dang cool.
The Sculptures of M.T. Liggett
Where: South Ave. and Elm St., Mullinville
An array of political sculptures line the side of South Avenue in Mullinville, reminding passersby of the crazy lifestyle the creator M.T. Liggett had. Within the lineup, you will find sculptures of his six ex-wives, one of a three-breasted French prostitute he claims to have had relations with, women and men in politics, and even his dog - to name a short few. Things get pretty interesting if you stare long enough.