Groups traveling through Kansas have a choice of countless attractions. Here is just a sampling of Sunflower State favorites:
In the northwest corner of Kansas, Cooper Barn at the Prairie Museum of Art & History in Colby, is the state’s largest barn and was voted one of the 8 Architectural Wonders of Kansas. Antique agricultural artifacts shed light on the history of Kansas farm life. A sod house, one-room school, country church and 1930s farmstead are also part of the complex. The new Colby Aquatic Park has a lazy river, family slide, lap pool and speed slide, plus an area for group parties.
Nearby Oakley presents tour groups with great photo ops at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center, a regional visitor center that features one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Art − a twice life-size bronze sculpture of a buffalo being hunted by a rifle-toting horseback rider, “Buffalo Bill.” In downtown Oakley visitors can read signs about the story behind the sculpture and take pictures in the Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull cut-outs. Also in Oakley is Monument Rocks, one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas. Some of the rock formations, known as “chalk pyramids,” are more than 50 feet tall.
Dodge City’s Wild West heritage comes to life during Dodge City Days (July 26-Aug. 4, 2013). The 10-day celebration hosts more than 50 events like the Dodge City Days Rodeo, the crowning of Miss Rodeo Kansas and a classic car show. Boot Hill Museum is a world-famous attraction with historical exhibits that portray life in the 1870s and 1880s. Watch gunfights between the good guys and bad guys, and stroll down the boardwalk and visit Boot Hill Cemetery. There’s gaming action at Boot Hill Casino & Resort, a popular group attraction that opened in 2009.
Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal is one of the country’s largest aviation museums and home to more than 100 aircraft, including the smallest ever Air Force One used by President Eisenhower. Guided tours are available. The Dorothy House and Land of Oz is a part of the Seward County Historical Museum. Dorothy’s House, built in 1907, has been restored to replicate the house in the movie The Wizard of Oz. The Land of Oz consists of 5,000 square feet of animated entertainment with good/bad witches, talking munchkins, Dorothy and other characters from the movie.
Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure in Salina offers both a museum and a zoo where group travelers can get face-to-face with over 100 species of wildlife, including camels, monkeys and rhinos. Animatronic robots narrate stories about the delicate balance of life, and a 3-D movie theater provides a 360-degree virtual experience.
Flint Hills Discovery Center is a tribute to the tallgrass prairie and Flint Hills that surround the city of Manhattan. Exhibits depict settlers’ encounters with the rich land. Blue Earth Plaza, adjacent to the center, provides a place for visitors to picnic. Tuttle Creek State Park is located only a few miles north of Manhattan and the dam and reservoir sitting on the northern edge of Flint Hills. The lake offers over 12,000 acres of water with 100 miles of wooded shoreline.
Topeka, the state capital, has much to offer tour groups. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site helps visitors gain an understanding of the role this Supreme Court decision played in the civil rights movement. The interactive museum is located in the former Monroe Elementary School. At the Kansas Museum of History visitors can view a covered wagon ready for a trip on the Oregon Trail, a Cheyenne tipi and 1950s diner. Tours at the Kansas State Capitol include the House and Senate chambers and the background behind John Steuert Curry’s murals. Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site is an 1800s village with a Victorian mansion, log cabin and other buildings.
In the Kansas City area, Merriam offers a number of group-friendly shopping stops. Strawberry Hill Povitica Co., for example, offers tours of its bakery for groups of 10 to 60. Visitors can watch bakers create the Eastern European dessert favorite, a yeast-raised dough rolled around a variety of fillings (like English walnut, poppy seed and apple cinnamon). Then they can try all of the povitica flavors made that day and purchase a loaf or two to take home.