Kansas Has What You’re Looking For

A wealth of entertainment options calls to residents, visitors.

Sporting events, shopping, science—whatever your interests, you’ll find new depths of experience in Kansas. Whether you’re new to the state, just visiting, or a long-time resident, the range of exciting, intriguing, and educational opportunities is limited only by your imagination.

Far from being just another flyover state, Kansas is teeming with attractions you won’t find anywhere else.

Take sporting events, for one. The state has two universities that are members of the Big XII athletic conference, competing against other NCAA schools in a range of sports. Despite being among the smallest institutions in that conference, both play at championship levels in basketball and football.

Museums your thing? The Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson has a collection of space artifacts from both the U.S. and the former Soviet Union that rival the famed Smithsonian in quality and depth. There’s a presidential museum in Abilene and a tribute to the world’s most famous female aviator in her hometown of Atchison.

Looking for truly unique experiences? There’s nothing—anywhere in the world—quite like Big Brutus, the long-retired steam shovel that carved out the coal-mining strip pits of southeast Kansas and now towers over the landscape as a roadside attraction. Let’s not forget, this state is also home to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine (in Cawker City) and World’s Largest Hand-Dug Well (in Greensburg).

Don’t let the endless miles of summer wheat fool you: There’s a lot to do out there. Here are a few of the highlights:

Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence
At least once in their lives, college basketball fans must take in a game in this venerable cathedral of college basketball. The 16,300 fans who pack it for virtually every game make for one of the most intimidating venues in America. In fact, they set a Guinness record for the loudest college arena in 2017 when the crowd uncorked a roar that was 130.4 decibels. The Jayhawks have lived up to that by winning 87 percent of their home games since Allen opened in 1954. Considered one of the nation’s premier basketball programs, KU validated that claim by winning the NCAA tournament in 2022. It carried a No. 1 seed into the 2023 NCAA Tournament after winning the regular-season conference championship. 
• Tickets: Season tickets start at $500 but require an additional donation to the Williams Education Fund on a sliding scale, depending on seating. Individual-game tickets can be purchased through third-party vendors 
• 1651 Naismith Dr., Lawrence, KS 66044
• www.kuathletics.com 
• 785.864.8200

Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan
Take it from Pete Carroll, now head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. The former Southern Cal coach once brought his 11th-ranked Trojans to K-State’s home field, and when he left with a 27-20 loss, he called that venue “the most intimidating fans that we have ever played against.’’ The second-smallest school (by enrollment) in the Big XII packs a pretty powerful punch, especially when it gets to play in front of nearly 52,000 fans on Saturdays in the fall. It’s an experience not to be missed if you’re into college football. The Wildcats have rewarded their faithful with conference championships in 2003, 2012, and again just this past season.
• Tickets: Season and individual-game tickets are available through the athletic office website, with packages for 2023 home games starting at $200 or through third-party vendors for single games 
• 2201 Kimball Ave., Manhattan, KS 66502 
• www.kstatesports.com
• 800.221.2287

Botanica, Wichita
Botanica, the Wichita Gardens should top the list of tourist sites for any horticulturalists. It’s 30 themed gardens appeal to Green Thumbs of all ages, and the center is open year-round. Educational and entertainment assets like the Downing Children’s Garden, the Monster Woods, and Botanica’s treehouse help keep the little ones engaged. You can see flora from across the world and through the centuries with exhibits like the Elizabethan display in the Shakespeare Garden, home to but a few more than 4,000 plant species on display.
• Tickets: Adults $10, Seniors/Youth/Military $8, Children 2 and younger are free
• 316.264.0448

Legends Outlets, Kansas City
The day it opened in 2006, The Legends made Wyandotte County the top tourist destination in Kansas. Its collection of retail shops, theaters, nightspots, and restaurants flipped the script on lifestyle center attractions in the Midwest. Most of the shopping has been converted to outlet-mall models, drawing in consumers from well outside the four-state area. It’s part of the $1.2 billion Village West development that sprawls over 1,500 acres, including stadiums for both pro soccer and car racing.
• 1843 Village West Pkwy., Kansas City, KS 66111
• www.legendsshopping.com
• 913.788.3700

Kansas Speedway, Kansas City
Owned and operated by NASCAR, the Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval track racing venue in western Wyandotte County’s Village West entertainment district. It hosts two annual NASCAR events—this year, the AdventHealth 400 in May, and Hollywood Casino 400 in September, among other events. The track opened in 2001 and seats 48,000. 
• Tickets: Single-event adult tickets start at $54
• 400 Speedway Blvd., Kansas City
• www.kansasspeedway.com 
• 866.460.7223

Cosmosphere, Hutchinson
Incredible artifacts from real space flights can be found in this unique attraction not far from Wichita. Among those: the very capsule that brought home the three-man crew from the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. Roughly 150,000 people each year follow the layout’s two tracks that chronologically trace the U.S.-Soviet space race, dating back to the end of World War II, but that exhibit is just one piece of a fascinating set of experiences. 
• Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
• Tickets: $26.50 for adults, $17.50 for children 4-12, $23.50 for seniors. Ages 3 and under are free
• 1100 N Plum St, Hutchinson, KS 67501
• www.cosmo.org
• 800.397.0330

Exploration Place, Wichita
Your kids will take over scheduling for the day when they set foot into this children’s museum on the banks of the Arkansas River in Downtown Wichita. In the Air Capital of the World, you can expect exhibits that will speak to the city’s role in aviation history, but there are also displays and activities featuring geography, meteorology, and the history of Kansas and its people. 
• Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., daily, except for Thursdays, when it’s open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 
• Tickets: All-access passes run $17.50 for those older than 12 ($15 for seniors) and $12 for ages 3-11 
• 300 N. McLean Blvd., Wichita, Kansas 67203 
• www.exploration.org
• 316.660.0600

Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita
Zoologically inclined donors, including the iconic Koch family, have helped Wichita assemble a world-class zoo that rivals those of many major metropolitan areas. The walk-through exhibits like the rain forest make you part of the experience, bringing you face to face with the creatures that inhabit the space. More than 3,000 animals from 400 species take you across Africa, Asia, North America, South America, and Australia. The recent addition of penguins even gives you some of the flavors of Antarctica. 
• Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
• Tickets: Book online and get $2 off the gate prices of $22 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $17 for children ages 3-11
• 5555 W. Zoo Blvd., Wichita, KS 67212
• www.scz.org
• 316.660.9453