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9 Fun Places to Visit in Kansas

Friday, June 12 2015 8:42 AM
By 360 Administrator
9 Fun Places to Visit in Kansas

The Honda HR-V was made for summer road trips, so we put together a list of Kansas roadside attractions and oddities that are only about a 2-hour drive from Wichita. Check out these ideas for a day trip full of history, adventure, or just plain fun: 

Top Kansas Road Trips

Underground Tunnels and Haunted Hotel Tour
Ellinwood, Kansas
Drive time from Wichita: About 1 hr, 45 min

A short day trip with a bit of history and mystery. Ellinwood’s underground tunnel system dates bake to the late 1800s, and has been home to several businesses, including a barber shop and a bath house of ill repute. For $6 per person, you can tour the tunnels and see the remnants of several long-gone shops. Above ground, you can tour the Historic Wolf Hotel, which was built in 1894 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It’s currently being restored, but tours are available for $6, or you can get a combo tunnel and hotel tour for $10. You can also choose a paranormal tour of the hotel or take in one of their community events, listed on the Wolf Hotel’s Facebook page.

The Big Well and Largest Meteorite
Greensburg, KS
Drive time from Wichita: Just under 2 hours

This is another attraction whose size will boggle your mind. The Big Well is called that for a reason – it’s 32 feet across and 109 feet deep. The most impressive part is that it was dug entirely by hand, back in 1887. Today, it’s the largest hand-dug well in the world. After the town of Greensburg was nearly wiped out by a massive tornado in 2007, the Big Well museum was rebuilt above the well, and a new spiral staircase was installed. While you’re at the museum, you can also see the largest pallasite meteorite that’s ever been found, the 1,000 pound “Space Wanderer.” The museum is open 7 days a week, and admission is $8 or less per person. A family pass is available for $25, which covers 2 adults plus children under 18 with them.

Museums and Excursion Train
Abilene, KS
Drive time from Wichita: About an hour and a half

Abilene is home to a variety of museums, including the Greyhound Hall of Fame, Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum, Kansas Auto Racing Museum, Old Abilene Town, and several historical mansions. The Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad still offers excursion train rides, dinner train rides, and steam train rides. On weekends in May, June and July, Old Abilene features gunfighters and can-can dancers. Most of the museums are located within a four-block radius, so you could spend a day visiting all of them, if you wish.

World’s Largest Ball of Twine
Cawker City, KS
Drive time from Wichita: About 2 and a half hours

Yes it’s real, and yes, it’s in Kansas. The ball of twine was started in 1953, and has grown to 19,873 pounds and more than 7 million feet of twine, as of September 2013. You can call ahead and arrange to add twine yourself, or go during the twine-a-thon held each August, when Cawker City residents and visitors add twine to the ball. While you’re there, follow the twine stripe on the sidewalk to the shops on the town’s main street to see the ball of twine featured in artists’ renderings of famous works of art.

Kansas Underground Salt Museum
Hutchinson, KS
Drive time from Wichita: About an hour

Now known as Strataca, the Kansas Underground Salt Museum will take you on a tour of a salt mine 650 feet below ground. The Carey Salt Company started the mine back in 1923, and part of it is still used today for removing rock salt for treating roads during the winter. The museum offers tours, train rides, and interactive dinner theater, and more. It’s also used by Underground Vaults and Storage to preserve Hollywood movies and memorabilia. Admission prices vary depending on the options you choose. Adult admission ranges from $14 - $19, with discounted admission for seniors, military and children. Children must be at least 4 years old. Plan on about 2 hours for your visit. Calling ahead to reserve your tour is recommended.

Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center
Hutchinson, KS
Drive time from Wichita: About an hour

Even if you went to the Cosmosphere on a school field trip as a child, it’s worth going again. Exhibits and artifacts span the entire history of space exploration, and you can learn about the solar system in the planetarium, catch a film in the dome theater, and watch an interactive presentation in Dr. Goddard’s Lab. Admission price depends on which attractions you wish to see. Discounts are available for children 4-12, seniors and military.

Big Brutus Electric Mining Shovel
West Mineral, KS
Drive time from Wichita: A little over 2 and a half hours

An attraction that will wow young and old alike, Big Brutus is a 16-story (160 foot-tall) electric mining shovel. It’s the largest such shovel currently in existence. This hulking giant can be seen from miles away, but to truly appreciate its massive size, you’ve got to get up close. Big Brutus weight 11 million pounds, has a 150-foot long boom, and has a shovel big enough to fill three railroad cars. It was named a Regional Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. It’s been out of operation since 1974, and was turned into a museum in 1984. Open year round, hours vary by season. Admission $5 – $8 per person, and kids 5 & under are free. There are also spaces available for camping, picnics, and even RV hookups.

Fort Scott National Historic Site
Fort Scott, KS
Drive time from Wichita: A little over 2 and a half hours

Free admission. Open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Summer hours (April – October) are 8 am to 5 pm. Take a self-guided tour, or call ahead to arrange a guided tour of this reconstructed 1840s military fort. Learn about its part in the Civil War, Bleeding Kansas, and Westward Expansion. A junior ranger program is available for kids. Plan to spend at least an hour and a half to tour all the buildings; allow 3 – 4 hours if you’d like time to read the exhibits and participate in the living history activities. Special events are held on weekends, too.

The Big Pool and Lee Richardson Zoo
Garden City, KS
Drive time from Wichita: About 3 and a half hours

Spend a day exploring a swimming. You can visit the Lee Richardson Zoo for free if you walk through; or, you can take a drive-through tour for $10. The zoo is home to hundreds of animals, including lions, kangaroos, giraffes, elephants, leopards, and more. When the temperature starts to heat up, head next door to swim and splash in a pool that’s larger than a football field. With 2.2 million gallons of water, The Big Pool is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas, and it’s big enough to water ski on! There are also 3 slides and a children’s splash pool. Admission to the pool is just $2, or $3 if you want to ride the slides, too.