The Sunflower State
Kansas is in the Great Plains region of the U.S., meaning visitors will find vast fields, grasslands and farming throughout the state. Historical sites and tourist attractions in Kansas, such as the Chisholm Trail and Dodge City, won’t disappoint visitors interested in American history and the Old West. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the 24 state parks in Kansas and activities like camping, hiking, fishing, horseback riding and biking. In sports, college athletic programs from the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University are popular sporting events. Cultural attractions in Kansas include art galleries, museums, performing arts venues and local festivals, and fans of the Wizard of Oz will love the Oz Museum in Wamego. Visitors can find other cultural and historical sites in the Kansas state guide below, or by visiting www.travelks.com.
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Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City. Photo by Lithistman.
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City tells the story of the Old West through exhibits, live reenactments and educational programs. The museum displays thousands of artifacts, photographs and documents from the 1870s to today, and visitors can see two live reenactments of life in Dodge City, including a gunfight, during the summer (late May to early September) at the museum.
The Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka is an important site in the history of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. The Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education ended segregation in public schools. Today, visitors can learn about the decision and the people involved in the events surrounding the case.
The Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum in Abilene features exhibits and information about the childhood, life, military career and presidency of the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Visitors can also see the boyhood home of Eisenhower, the library, visitor’s center and Eisenhower’s final resting place.
Fort Larned National Historic Site is one of the best-preserved forts from the mid-19th century. Fort Larned was originally built in 1860 to protect the Santa Fe Trail from Indian attacks. Today, the fort features live historical reenactments, weapons demonstrations, a museum, guided tours and special events to celebrate the history of Fort Larned.
Learn about the state’s colorful past at the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka, the capital of Kansas. The museum contains many historical objects and exhibits like a Santa Fe locomotive, a covered wagon, 1950s diner and Native American artifacts.
The Mid-America All-Indian Center in Wichita is a cultural center, museum and event space that celebrates Native American heritage. Exhibits include traditional artifacts, contemporary artwork and historical displays about the life of a Plains Indian. Cultural events are also held at the center, like powwows and festivals.
- Catch a Ghost Tours of Kansas
- Flying W Ranch Horseback Riding
- Haunted Atchison Trolley Tours
- River City Trolley Tours
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to experience the U.S. and its culture.
Art Museums & Performing Art Centers
- 5.4.7 Arts Center, Greensburg
- Allen Lambe House Museum, Wichita
- ARTSConnect Topeka, Topeka
- Coutts Memorial Museum of Art, El Dorado
- Lincoln Art Center, Lincoln
- Manhattan Arts Center, Manhattan
- Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Manhattan
- Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University, Topeka
- Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park
- The Orpheum Theatre, Wichita
- Salina Art Center, Salina
- Spencer Art Museum, Lawrence
- Topeka Performing Arts Center, Topeka
- Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita
- Wichita Art Museum, Wichita
- The Wichita Center for the Arts, Wichita
- William Inge Center for the Arts, Independence
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
The Sporting Kansas City MLS soccer team is the first and only top-level professional sports team in Kansas. Many Kansas residents support the nearby teams in Kansas City, Missouri, including:
Other professional and minor league sports teams include:
- Kansas City T-Bones (baseball)
- Topeka RoadRunners (hockey)
- Wichita Thunder (hockey)
- Wichita Wingnuts (baseball)
College sports games are a great way to watch American sports without paying the high prices at professional stadiums. Popular college sports teams in Kansas include:
- Kansas Jayhawks, University of Kansas
- Kansas State Wildcats, Kansas State University
- Wichita State Shockers, Wichita State University
The Kansas Speedway in Kansas City hosts NASCAR and ARCA races along with events like music festivals.
A walking trail in the Konza Prairie. Photo by Edwin Olson.
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
Cedar Bluff Reservoir, State Park, and Wildlife Area features camping, cabins, volleyball, basketball, biking, swimming, fishing, boating and hiking. The nearby Threshing Machine Canyon is the former site of a Native American attack on a wagon train in 1867 and has many historic carvings from the late 19th century.
The Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita features information on the animals and plant life from the Great Plains region of the United States. Visitors can learn about Kansas’ natural resources at the center and the surrounding Chisholm Creek Park nature trails.
Outdoor activities at Lake Scott State Park include camping, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and wildlife viewing. The park is located in Scott City in western Kansas.
Monument Rocks, located 25 miles south of Oakley, are a series of chalk pyramids reaching up to 70 feet in height. The rocks are a National Natural Landmark and can be visited by car.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
Immigrants, such as German, Swedish, Danish, Czech, Mexican and Southeast Asian groups, have made their mark on many aspects of Kansas’ cuisine, but food in Kansas also has many similarities to other dishes in the Midwest and across the United States. Kansas is also in the Grain Belt and produces a large amount of wheat along with cattle, sheep, hogs and soybeans.
Find a local Kansas farmers’ market for fresh fruit and vegetables and handmade goods from local vendors.
- Big Blue BBQ, Marysville, June
- Fiesta Mexicana, Topeka, July
- Cornstock, Garnett, September
- Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff, Wichita, September
For a unique and local perspective on American culture, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
The Kansas Silent Film Festival in Topeka celebrates the silent film genre. Films are shown with live musical accompaniment over three days in February and often include special events and introductions.
In May, the William Inge Theatre Festival features performances, workshops, discussions and readings in playwright William Inge’s hometown of Independence.
Wichita Riverfest is held for a week in late May/early June and includes food, live music and activities like a zip line, parade, cultural events, family activities and more.
Country Stampede is a large four-day country music and camping festival in Manhattan, KS. Musicians perform on multiple stages and attendees can also enjoy food, camping and fun activities.
The Kansas State Fair is a large event held each September in Hutchinson, KS. The fair has live music, entertainment, cooking competitions, agricultural shows, car races, arts and crafts, food and carnival rides, and attracts over 300,000 people over the weeklong event.
The Greater Kansas City Japan Festival in October celebrates Japanese culture each year in Overland Park. Live music, dancing, cultural events, food, workshops and martial arts demonstrations are some of the activities available at the one-day festival.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
Kansas Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Kansas participants include:
- Craigslist - Kansas
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
Public Transit Systems
Visit the American Public Transportation Association website for a complete list of public transportation options in Kansas communities, such as:
Greyhound operates bus services in Kansas and to surrounding states.
Participants in Kansas can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
Emergency Management Agencies
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- Kansas FEMA updates: @femaregion7
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
Search for a volunteer opportunity based on your location, skill, time commitment and interest by visiting Volunteer Kansas.
The Harvesters Community Food Network asks volunteers to help for as little as one hour in their Kansas City or Topeka locations. Many types of opportunities are available for volunteers of all skill levels.
Volunteers can also help out at the Kansas Food Bank in Wichita and sort donations, assist in the office and help with other tasks.