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The 10 Best Small Towns in Kansas

Here's what you need to know...
  • People like to visit Kansas because of its tall sunflowers, natural resources such as waterfalls and lakes, and other unique attractions
  • Smaller towns in Kansas can also be very impressive and fun places to visit, like Lecompton, Fort Scott, Abilene, and Wilson
  • When venturing out in Kansas via car, take precautionary measures such as vehicle inspections, route planning, liability insurance research, applicable driving laws, and more

Kansas was the 34th state to join the union when its statehood was granted in 1861. However, it was initially inhabited by Native Americans.

The first cities emerged with the railroad stations and military posts made to protect them. A large population that moved was incentivized by the cheap land and the construction of these new railways.

In more recent centuries, Kansas played a crucial role during the Civil War, facilitated desegregation of public institutions, and remains the largest wheat producer in the nation.

Besides rich history, Kansas has plenty of natural resources to go along and is specifically known as the “Sunflower” state due to the large presence of this plant that grows over ten feet easily.

The weather in Kansas is challenging to accurately forecast as its continental climate causes a lot of rainfall mixed with high summer temperatures. Historically, hot summers have been more frequent than cold winters.

Besides the fields that offer amazing landscapes, the state has numerous waterfalls that accompany deep lakes where fishing for various fish types is possible. Hiking can be done through diverse terrains as there are forest-based, hill-like, and mountain-oriented trails.

Besides nature, visitors can enjoy many different attractions. For example, the local barbeque sauce has been elevated to a level of greatness, and restaurants take full advantage of this. Hunting is a common hobby of many locals, as well as supporting state basketball teams that promote fierce rivalry.

Deciding to live in Kansas can be a fruitful choice as the state welcomes newcomers with open, patriotic arms.

If you’re looking to move to or visit Kansas soon, enter your ZIP code above first and compare three to four auto insurance policies before hitting the road!

The 10 Best Small Towns in Kansas

The beauty of Kansas can be further seen through dozens of small towns that tend to be overlooked. Some of the most notable examples are included below.

#10 — Wilson

Population: 757
Must-See: Midland Railroad Hotel, Czech Heritage, and Wilson Lake

Wilson is located in between Kansas City and Colorado, and it is a great stop one can make during their drive on I-70.

Visitors can find accommodations in a historic Midland Railroad Hotel from 1899, as well as visit the Originals Market & Gallery where souvenirs and gifts are for sale.

For those interested in nature, there is a 9,000-acre oasis of the Wilson Lake where fishing, hiking, biking, hunting, and even swimming is possible!

#9 — Galena

Population: 3,100
Must-See: SEK Nature Center and Schermerhorn Park

This town is a little heavier in population count as it is over four times larger than Wilson. Regardless, it still echoes the small-town vibe that the original Route 66, stunning landscapes, and welcoming personalities bring.

One of the main attractions is the Schermerhorn Park that was built during the Great Depression era as a part of the Works Progress Administration. The town won a Champion Community Award in 1995, and visiting it might be a convenient stop while traveling!

#8 — Wamego

Population: 4,715
Must-See: Oz Museum and Winery, Columbian Theatre, and Swogger Art Gallery

The upward trend in population continues with Wamego that had close to 5,000 residents in 2016. The town has its entire collection of Oz-related attractions such as:

  • The museum that offers century-old memorabilia
  • A winery where people can taste “Squished Witch” and “Auntie Em’s Praire Rose”
  • The Oztober Fest which is an annual celebration of the fairy tale

Those uninterested can enjoy hiking on the Oregon Trail, watch productions in the Columbian Theatre built in 1895, or go canoeing in the Riverfront Park.

#7 — Atchinson

Population: 10,679
Must-See: Amelia Earhart Birthplace, Rail Museum, and International Forest of Friendship

Although this may not be a typical “small” town, making a stop in Atchinson can make for a great traveling experience.

It echoes with Amelia Earhart who was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic. One can visit her birthplace which has been turned into a museum, and artist Stan Herd also created earthwork of her that stretches over the hillside of Warnock Lake.

The town also offers a four-year Benedictine College where one can study liberal arts and obtain a degree.

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#6 — Council Grove

Population: 2,100
Must-See: City Lake, Federal Reservoir, and Flint Hills Nature Trail

Council Grove serves as a testament to many Native Americans that used to reside in Kansas. The town tells a story of a Kaw Indian Tribe that resided in the area from 1847 to 1873.

Other attractions include over 25 historic landmarks where hiking and sight-seeing is tourists’ and residents’ main hobby.

#5 — Lindsborg

Population: 3,338
Must-See: Messiah Festival and Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery

Unlike the previous destinations, this town is most notable for its many festivals. Thousands of people come out for the most famous event of the year called the Messiah Festival.

It is organized on the campus of Bethany College where one can attend concerts, enjoy good food, and interact with others. Another festival is the Svensk Hyllningsfest, a Swedish tribute organized every other year.

#4 — Lecompton

Population: 638
Must-See: Constitutional Hall, Leamer Store, Rowena Park

Riddled with street signs that carry names of early-day officials and founders on bricked walkways, Lecompton is a perfect example of a small town with an empowering culture.

It is home to one of the oldest wooden buildings in Kansas, the Constitution Hall, that has been declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

A notable event from Lecompton’s history is the 1916 fire that destroyed the majority of the town’s wood-based infrastructure, which has since been rebuilt with brick.

#3 — Fort Scott

Population: 7,773
Must-See: Gunn Park, Beaux Arts Center, and Fort Wise Pumpkin Festival

Fort Scott distinguishes itself with aquatic centers, cinemas, recreation parks, libraries, historic sites, and more. It possesses many elements of a large metropolitan area all packed into a small town.

Visitors can take a short 88-mile trip from Kansas City to Fort Scott. Similar to the previous town, the town experienced a fire in 2005 when some Victoria-era buildings were burned down.

#2 — Cottonwood Falls

Population: 869
Must-See: Chase Lake Falls, Chase County Historical Museum, Burnley Memorial Library, and Flint Hills Scenic Byway

As mentioned before, Kansas has many waterfalls that come alive during the rainy months.

Cottonwood Falls provides the perfect example — Chase Lake Falls that offer a vertical drop of 40 feet.

People can also enjoy museums that give insight into the history of Kansas, go hiking or hunting, and rent entire parks. When in Cottonwood Falls, make sure to explore the nearby Flint Hills Scenic Byway, which is considered one of the eight wonders of Kansas.

#1 — Abilene

Population: 6,469
Must-See: Museum District, Great Plains Theatre, and Excursion Train

As a top pick on the list, President Eisenhower’s birthplace Abilene provides an opportunity to visit mansions, enjoy Native American tribal art, or take on a train excursion.

There are six museums that have been rated with five stars where people can learn about the history of the town, President Eisenhower, Smoky Valley Railroad, and so on.

WPA also operated within this area where they built a professional theatre and limestone structures.

Driving in Kansas

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Visiting from another state will require one to drive anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. It is essential then to ensure that the vehicle is in proper condition is one of the most important pre-trip actions on the agenda.

Remember as well since every state is different, you must educate yourselves on the applicable laws, insurance thresholds, and liability principles in Kansas.

For example, the state is a no-fault state which means that most of the collision damages are covered by personal insurance.

The driver that might have caused the wreck will not be unconditionally responsible for property damages, although personal injuries can be claimed through a lawsuit.

Kansas’ laws also require one a $25,000 minimum coverage for bodily injury per person, maxing out at $50,000 for multiple people. $25,000 minimum coverage for property damages is needed as well.

Given the nature of the state’s fault-laws, one will need to have a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) that has the following minimums:

  • $4,500 per person for medical costs
  • $900 per month for a year of disability and loss of income
  • $25 per day for in-home services
  • $2,000 for funeral expenses
  • $4,500 for rehabilitation costs

People can then still be properly treated even though there was no consideration as to which party caused the accident.

Another insurance option for travel is to obtain an uninsured or underinsured policy. This policy will enable people who visit Kansas and get hit by a driver who lacks a proper insurance policy to recover their damages.

Since personal injury will often go through the guilty party, even in a no-fault state, there is no way to assume if the party one gets into an accident with will have them covered.

That’s where uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage comes in; uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps one pay for their expenses when the other driver fails to do so.

Ultimately, visiting the Sunflower State is a fun and adventurous experience. People are able to enjoy the small-town vibe that breathes friendliness and welcoming spirit, besides hiking, hunting, sight-seeing, swimming, and dozens of more activities that Kansas has to offer!

If you’d like to visit Kansas soon but want to be properly covered first, enter your ZIP code below and start comparison shopping today!

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