Driving through Kansas: Destinations along the way
By Allison Fitts & Lillian Robinson
Whether you are a Midwesterner who has taken a ski trip to Colorado or a Mountain West transplant who goes home back east for the holidays, chances are you have driven through the great state of Kansas along Interstate 70. For those of you who have made the drive (and even if you haven’t), it has a reputation of being “boring.” While it may not be the final destination for many of you, we are here to tell you that there are some amazing pit stops worth your time while driving through Kansas in your campervan rental or car. Follow our east to west journey through Kansas below, including fun stops for every hour of the drive through the Sunflower State!
START: Kansas City, Kansas
Joe’s Kansas City BBQ
Both sides of the border in Kansas City are known for their BBQ. Missouri has fan favorites like Arthur Bryant’s and Gates, but the Kansas-side of town has our favorite spot: Joe’s Kansas City. Formerly known as “Oklahoma Joe’s” and inconspicuously housed inside of a gas station, Joe’s is the pinnacle of Kansas City BBQ. We recommend getting the Z-Man sandwich with extra pickles. There’s a vegetarian version, too!
Hour 2: Kansas City to Topeka
Kansas State Capital
As the second-tallest building in Kansas, the state capital rises up from the plains in a colossal fashion and defines Topeka’s skyline. Pop in for a quick free tour of the building on weekdays and learn all about Kansas history.
Hour 3: Topeka to Wamego
While the state capital taught you about factual Kansas history, this next stop will teach you about the state’s most famous fictional history. The Oz Museum commemorates the book, movie and pop-pop-culture zeitgeist that is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Look out for other Oz-themed places in Wamego, including Toto’s Tacoz and Oz Winery.
Hour 4: Wamego to Salina
Blue Skye Brewery & Eats
When driving down I-70, Salina might not look like more than a few gas stations, but drive 5 minutes south of the interstate and you’ll find a quaint little main drag. Along that stretch, Blue Skye Brewery & Eats is a fixture. The hip brewpub serves up everything from pizza to burgers alongside their impressive menu of freshly brewed beers.
Hour 5: Salina to Wilson
World’s Largest Czech Egg
Who would have thought the world’s largest Czech egg would exist in the middle of Kansas? Done up in a traditional Czech pattern, this huge egg stands at 20 feet tall! All are welcome to take a couple-minute break from their drive to see this free attraction.
Hour 6: Wilson to Hays
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Smack dab in the middle of Kansas is one of the best natural history museums around. Stop in to learn about dinosaurs that were once native to the area, see geological specimens unlike any other you’ve seen before, and discover the 100,000+ piece botanical collection, all under one roof.
Hour 7: Hays to Oakley
Okay – full disclosure, this stop is a bit more than off-the-beaten-path. To view these unique chalk arches, you will need to drive a half hour south of I-70 and Oakley. It is so worth it, though, to experience these arches and buttes that are designated as both a National Natural Landmark and a world heritage site.
Hour 8: Oakley to Goodland
Giant Van Gogh Painting
Fancy yourself an art critic? Then you must pull off to explore Goodland and its seemingly random Van Gogh replica. Standing several stories tall, these beautifully painted sunflowers on giant canvas are simultaneously beautiful and laughable.
FINAL STRETCH: Kanorado, Kansas
Colorful Colorado Sign
You made it! After a multitude of roadside oddities, memorable meals, and Kansas history lessons, we hope you enjoyed driving through this “boring” state as much as we do. Welcome to colorful Colorado!