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Das Kansas State Capitol, Bild: Paul Brady Photography / shutterstock

Kansas – The Middle of the USA

The state of Kansas is understood as the center of the USA and is at the same time a fundamental part of the folklore around such American classics as the cowboy. The sprawling Great Plains still tell of the sheer incomprehensible size of the USA and if you want to understand the United States, you will definitely have to stop in Kansas. It is also above all this nature that attracts most vacationers to Kansas. Larger cities are the rarity here, but it is very easy to see why the Native Americans were almost all settled in this region of the states.

The folklore around Kansas

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in Kansas
Bison in the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, Image: Ricardo Reitmeyer / shutterstock

If you take a look at typical American stories, you will notice that many of them are closely connected to Kansas. There are, for example, the cowboys, who today are mainly associated with Texas , but actually had their origins in Kansas for years. The farm from The Wizard of Oz was also in Kansas. This is probably because every child has some connection to the state, which is so typical of the image of the USA that many people have. Above all, however, Kansas is now the Sunflower State. The sprawling sunflower fields are a quintessential sight of the Great Plains and have given Kansas one of many nicknames.

By the way, Kansas is also the country of the German-speaking minority in the USA. Many emigrants settled here after 1857. Previously, this was not possible, as it was a state that was assigned exclusively to the indigenous peoples after they had been expelled from other parts of the national territory. Since then, however, a very special culture has developed here and the traces of the “Indians” can still be found everywhere in the state. In addition, there are some reserves where the indigenous people can now live according to their own rights and often offer tourists a guided tour and talk about the fate of their people.

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Top attractions in the state of Kansas

Santa Fe Trail Kansas
Out and about on the Santa Fe Trail, Image: Jacob Boomsma / shutterstock

From historic trade routes with a close connection to the Wild West to untouched prairies, the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in the USA, Kansas has a lot to offer. It should be mentioned here that you should always rent your own car for the exploration tour. Although Topeka is a huge urban region, the expansion of public infrastructure, especially in traffic in Kansas, is rather rare. This is not least due to the sheer size of the state, where you can also travel for a few hours by car until you reach your next destination.

The Santa Fe Trail is one of the last testimonies of the journey to the West. During Kansas City when the gateway to the west was considered, the merchant wagons moved here towards the west coast and not only had to be protected from attacks by the natives, but one or the other trading post was created, which can still be visited today if you follow this path yourself. A visit to Fort Larned, where one of the most important meetings between the natives and the new Americans took place, also fits in with this.

Even though the state borders the Rocky Mountains, it is relatively flat. Hiking and mountain bikers will therefore get their money’s worth less here. But it is mainly hikers who find the vast prairies a great way to discover this almost forgotten form of nature in the United States.

Cities, culture and other sights in Kansas

The Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, Kansas
The Keeper of the Plains in Wichita, Image: KSwinicki / shutterstock

A visit to Topeka is of course an absolute must, even if it is only to take in the historic parts of the city. This is where life in the state began, and the historic State Capitol alone is worth a visit. Above all, however, you can discover some museums here, which show, for example, the eventful history of the state in connection with the tornadoes. Kansas is one of the most tornado-stricken parts of the USA and the destruction of natural phenomena is sometimes immense.

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Even though Topeka is the capital of the state, Wichita is the actual urban center. Here you will not only find the international airport and thus the gateway to a visit to Kansas, but also an interesting division of the city. The Wild West meets the modern aircraft industry that has become so important to Kansas. Great restaurants and very hearty and home-style cuisine can be found in the restaurants, with the city’s excellent steakhouses in particular deserving of a special mention.

Last but not least, Hutchinson should also be mentioned. The slightly smaller city, for example, is home to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and is therefore one of the most beautiful and interesting museums when it comes to space travel and the history associated with it in the USA. All in all, this state is an excellent way to switch between natural spectacle and urban region and experience and explore a wide variety of things.