Kansas is nicknamed “The Sunflower State,” “The Wheat State,” and “The Breadbasket of the World.” In Kansas, rural and urban come together in a fascinating mix. From the bright lights of Kansas City and Wichita to the star-strewn skies above the Flint Hills, beautiful Kansas will captivate you.
Journey across Kansas’s endless horizons with the fascinating handbook, 100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die.
Sing “Home on the Range” at the cabin where the song was born and watch the buffalo roam at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge. You’ll never forget the glorious sound of thousands of cranes singing at Cheyenne Bottoms. Soar above the skies in Wichita, the Air Capital of the World, and with Amelia Earhart in Atchison. Find out why you like Ike at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene. Adventurous cyclists should grind gravel during Emporia’s 200-mile bicycle race or ride across the state for two weeks during Biking Across Kansas in June. Discover natural wonders like Monument Rocks, giant marine fossils, and the Arikaree Breaks, the Canyons of Kansas.
Local author Roxie Yonkey is your navigator from Route 66 to the Santa Fe Trail, ready to show the ropes to locals and visitors alike. Whether you’ve never trod the Road to Oz, or whether Kansas is your No Place Like Home, you need this guidebook.
100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die is available wherever books are sold.
About the Author
Local author and award-winning travel writer, Roxie Yonkey, has lived in and written about Kansas for more than 30 years and has traveled extensively throughout the state. Roxie is the Chief Exploration Officer of RoxieontheRoad. As the blog’s name implies, she loves road tripping on roads less traveled. Sometimes she travels solo and sometimes with her husband Eric. Whether solo or together, they find fun and adventure wherever they travel.
Scheduled Area Events for 100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die
Thursday, October 21 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Gella’s Diner & Lb Brewing
117 E 11th Street
Hays, KS 67601
Free and open to the public
Presentation and Book Signing
Saturday, November 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Paisley Pear
1100 Main Street
Hays, KS 67601
Free and open to the public
Sunday, December 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Russell Specialty Books and Gifts
623 N Maple
Russell, KS 67665
Free and open to the public
TALKING POINTS FROM THE BOOK:
- If you visited every attraction included in the book, you would see 421 locations in 76 of Kansas’s 105 counties.
- Dwight Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart, George Washington Carver, Melissa Etheridge, Martina McBride, the Buffalo Soldiers, Buffalo Bill Cody, Walter P. Chrysler, Gordon Parks, Hattie McDaniel, and James Naismith called Kansas home. Legends Outlets in Kansas City honors many famous Kansans. In the book, we explore their Kansas connections.
- Fall means music at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield. On September’s third weekend, contestants from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries descend on Winfield to perform and to compete in eight different international, national, and regional contests.
- You may not think of mining when you think of Kansas. But you should. Southeast Kansas mined coal, lead, and zinc. Hutchinson still mines salt. Climb into Big Brutus’s cab in West Mineral to feel the power of strip mining. The gashes Brutus created are now a wildlife area. At Strataca, The Underground Salt Museum, in Hutchinson, descend 650 feet into a salt mine. The mine’s security and controlled temperatures provide the perfect environment for secure storage. You’ll enjoy seeing some of the movie artifacts on display.
- What does mining have to do with fried chicken? Find out in Pittsburg, where fried chicken is king. A mine accident disabled Annie Pichler’s husband. She started serving fried chicken dinners to support their family. Soon Mary Zerngast’s husband suffered the same fate, and Zerngast followed Pichler’s example. Chicken Annie’s Original and Chicken Mary’s restaurants are almost side-by-side on Pittsburg’s 600th Ave. Crawford County has even more chicken restaurants. Try them all before you decide which one you favor.
- When Dorothy returned to Kansas, her house landed in Liberal, where you can tour it and see Oz artifacts. Diagonally across the state, Wamego’s Oz Museum displays a treasure trove of Oz memorabilia from L. Frank Baum’s earliest work to Wicked. Walk the Yellow Brick Road, eat at Toto’s TacOz, and taste Oz-themed wines at the Oz Winery. Between Liberal and Wamego, find the Wicked Witch on her bike and a Winged Monkey in Jim Dickerman’s Open Range Zoo.
- A tornado whisked Dorothy safely to the Land of Oz. Tornadoes have strange effects, but, unlike Dorothy’s experience, riding in one usually is a bad experience. Tornadoes visited the tiny town of Codell on the same day for three consecutive years, May 20, 1916, 1917, and 1918. On May 4, 2007, an EF-5 tornado leveled Greensburg. The twister was the first measured under the Enhanced Fujita scale. Visit the Big Well Museum to see artifacts from the tornado and to take the stairs into the World’s Largest Hand-Dug Well.
- From 1881 to 1948, Kansas officially was a dry state. Bootleggers evaded the law, including the owner of the North Star Steakhouse, Topeka. He hid his booze in a tree house, and Topeka police never caught him. Eventually, Kansas City cops caught him, and he was the last person they arrested for bootlegging.
- One hundred eight years after Kansas went dry, Free State Brewing Co. opened in Lawrence, the first legal brewery in Kansas since 1880. One of Free State’s brews, Ad Astra Ale, gets its name from the state’s motto, Ad Astra per Aspera. Kansans abbreviate the motto to “Ad Astra.” Celebrate the motto by hoisting an Ad Astra Ale at Ad Astra Food & Drink in Strong City. Kansas now has over 60 breweries, about 40 wineries, and several distilleries.
- James Naismith invented basketball in Springfield, Mass., but he came to the University of Kansas to coach the sport in 1898. He stayed in Lawrence until he died in 1938. He lived long enough to distribute the medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, where the United States won gold. Ironically, Naismith is the only KU coach to have a losing record, 55-60. The program he founded has won 12 national titles. In 2010. David Booth bought the Original Rules of Basketball. He donated them to his alma mater, and they are now enshrined at KU. See some Pie Top basketball shoes at the Original Pizza Hut Museum in Wichita. Pizza Hut commissioned them as a marketing stunt for March Madness in 2017 and 2018.
- How many times have you heard that Kansas is flat? Don’t believe it. Climb to the trail summits at the Konza Prairie Natural Area in Manhattan and look around you. You’ll see 360 degrees of the Flint Hills. West of Salina, the northernmost of seven sandstone bluffs arise. The southernmost bluff is called Coronado Heights. Coronado probably climbed the bluff to search for the Seven Cities of Gold. They didn’t exist. Explore the Canyons of Kansas in the Arikaree Breaks at the state’s northwest corner. Strange rock formations dot the landscape near the Smoky Hill River in Western Kansas. See the most dramatic ones at Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park, Monument Rocks, Castle Rock and its Badlands.
- The Santa Fe Trail celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2021. Five hundred of the trail’s 900 miles crossed Kansas. The trail’s Mahaffie Stage Stop & Farm in Olathe still offers stagecoach rides and other living history activities. Council Grove’s Hays House opened in 1857. Imagine teamsters drinking away a hard day on the trail in the basement bar. Stop at Council Grove’s visitor center for a guide to the numerous trail sites in town. Ride the trail on the Flint Hills Trail State Park, a 117-mile rail-to-trail project. Climb the spiral staircase in the Pawnee Rock State Historic Site’s pavilion for a gorgeous view. Pawnee Rock was the trail’s halfway mark. The trail’s Dry Route was the shortest and most dangerous way to Santa Fe. Climb the Point of Rocks near Elkhart, where the trail exited Kansas. Before you go, picnic at Middle Spring.
- You know about Kansas City barbecue, and the city has numerous wonderful barbecue joints. But did you know about Kansas City’s tacos? You must travel the KCK Taco Trail, where 50-plus taquerias serve every variety of taco ever invented – and they are all delicious. Still longing for spicy flavors? Head to Spicin Foods’s factory store and buy private label brands for a fraction of their prices in grocery stores.
- Kansas skies attracted aviation geniuses who created companies like Beechcraft, Cessna, and Boeing. The Kansas Aviation Museum at the original Wichita Municipal Airport will introduce you to those famous names, and some that weren’t so famous. Bomber production and training in Kansas helped win World War II. See Doc, a B-29 built in Wichita, at his hangar near the current Wichita airport. Numerous cities across the state hosted military airfields, including Great Bend. Honor aviators in training at the Great Bend Airport before you attend the races at SCRA Dragstrip on a converted runway. In Goodland, two men patented the first helicopter. Unfortunately, they were unable to solve the problem of torque before they ran out of funds. See a replica helicopter at the High Plains Museum.
- Kansas Territory suffered the Civil War’s prelude, Bleeding Kansas. The tug-of-war between those who wanted the state to be free or slaveholdings spawned the tragic conflict that split the nation. John Brown earned fame – or infamy – for defending Osawatomie. The territory had a succession of capitals, some supported by free state settlers, and some supported by slave state settlers. Lecompton became the official territorial capital, while Topeka opposed it. After the Southern Senators left Washington when their states seceded, Kansas became a state on Jan. 29, 1861, with Topeka as the capital.
- Linda Brown’s father Oliver tried to enroll her in Sumner Elementary. When the principal denied her enrollment, the Browns joined a lawsuit. Oliver Brown became the lead plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court overturned segregation. Monroe Elementary, where Black students attended, is now the Brown v. Board National Historic Site. Learn more about the African-American experience in Kansas at the Kansas African-American Museum, Wichita. Students integrated the lunch counter at the Dockum Pharmacy. A commemorative sculpture stands nearby. After Reconstruction, the Exodusters fled Jim Crow laws. See how they rebuilt their lives in freedom at the Nicodemus National Historic Site.