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Kansas Staycation: 7 Fun Things to Do While Staying Close to Home

Image: Kansas Staycation: 7 Fun Things to Do While Staying Close to Home
Entrance to the Hall of Space museum at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Monday, 23 Feb 2015 11:32 PM

Abraham Lincoln once said, "If I went west, I think I would go to Kansas." This state has a treasure of historical adventure and flat-out fun destinations that make it a perfect spot for a family vacation or staycation. It is the home of the Wild West, Wyatt Earp, Boot Hill and Buffalo Bill Cody.

It is where the fight between slave and free first got bloody and where Americans found trails headed west to Oregon, California and Santa Fe. It is where Amelia Earhart first dreamed of expanding her horizons on the banks overlooking the Missouri River and where a man the world would later call Ike developed the fortitude to save the world.

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Here are seven great places for a family staycation in Kansas:

1. Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson: Did you ever wonder what actually happened to the ill-fated Apollo 13? It ended up in Kansas. The Kansas Cosmosphere has more space artifacts than any museum in the country outside the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The complex includes science demonstrations and an IMAX theater along with excellent galleries that track the space race. While in Hutchinson, also make time to visit the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. This unique experience allows visitors to travel 600 feet underground to the salt mines.

2. Wichita Museum district: Wichita has a museum district that includes many great stops for a weekend of family vacation or staycation. Tops on the list include Exploration Place, a science center built on the Arkansas River and the nearby Old Cowtown Museum which allow visitors to travel back in time with dusty roads, historic houses and re-enactors on duty. They also have a gorgeous botanical garden, Botanica that has a large, fanciful children's garden with musical instruments, a large tree-house and places to crawl explore and play.

3. Dodge City: This is the place the West became wild. This was where the terminus of the railroad allowed cowboys to load up their cattle headed to eastern markets. After being on the trail for weeks driving unruly bovine up from Texas, the cowboys let loose. See dancing girls reenacting the era in the saloon and catch a gunfight on the street at the Boot Hill Musuem. If you can schedule your trip around the Dodge City Days annual festival, you can catch a rodeo and experience how modern cowboys still ply their trade. For an off-beat but interesting museum, don't miss the combination Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame and Gunfighters Wax Museum.

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4. The Kansas Capitol Dome Tours: The state recently completed a decade long renovation of the state capitol building in Topeka. Visitors can climb 296 steps to the top of the dome and go to an outside viewing area. It is a real "wow" experience. Also, in Topeka there's the Kansas History Museum for a perspective on how Kansas fits into the story of the Nation.

5. Lucas, Kansas: This town puts the "Awe" in the land of "Oz." It is the home of the Grassroots Art Museum and one of the most unusual public restrooms in the country. Here you can view one man's version of the Garden of Eden and see him encrypted in his final resting place. The entire town is a tribute to the eclectic and odd creations of people who just started making art out of whatever medium they found handy.

6. Fort Larned: No family vacation or staycation to Kansas would be complete without a visit to one of the Western Forts that helped define this place. Fort Larned is a national historic site that is beautifully preserved. It tells the story of the development of the frontier and gives kids plenty of space to run.

7. Monument RocksKansas also has a treasure trove of geological and paleontological sites. Monument Rocks is a must-see in Kansas. It's an amazing experience, where visitors can see the remnant chalk formations left behind from a time when all of Kansas was under the waters of the Primordial Sea. To learn more about this story and see the famous "fish within a fish" visit the Sternberg Museum.

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Abraham Lincoln once said, "If I went west, I think I would go to Kansas." This state has a treasure of historical adventure and flat-out fun destinations that make it a perfect spot for a family vacation or staycation.
Kansas Staycation, Family, Travel, Fun
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2015-32-23
Monday, 23 Feb 2015 11:32 PM
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