Kansas is a gorgeous state with many beautiful small towns scattered throughout. The state is known as the Wheat State, named so in 2000 due to the state’s high wheat production and milling, and with all these wheat farms it comes as no surprise that the state is filled with small towns.
Kansas attracts tourists, family travelers, cyclists, adventure seekers, history buffs, foodies, and more each year who want to check out the beautiful landscape of the rolling hills and gorgeous sunsets. Some people are even searching for a place to live in the lovely Wheat State.
The small towns of Kansas have a heritage that is steeped in history and are each beautiful with a lot to offer in their own ways. Below is our detailed list of the 30 most beautiful small towns in Kansas for you to check out.
Table of Contents
- 1. Coffeyville
- 2. Lecompton
- 3. Abilene
- 4. Colby
- 5. St. Marys
- 6. Atchison
- 7. Cottonwood Falls
- 8. Atwood
- 9. Norton
- 10. Council Grove
- 11. Dodge City
- 12. Fort Scott
- 13. Leavenworth
- 14. Lindsborg
- 15. Lucas
- 16. Marysville
- 17. Wilson
- 18. Hays
- 19. Paola
- 20. Chanute
- 21. Garden City
- 22. Manhattan
- 23. Wamego
- 24. Victoria
- 25. Larned
- 26. Norcatur
- 27. North Newton
- 28. Bel Aire
- 29. McPherson
- 30. Douglass
Coffeyville boasts fun places to visit, including the Brown Mansion and the Midland Theater. If you love the outdoors, you can also camp at the pretty Walter Johnson Park Camping Area.
This city has a rich history that dates back to the middle of the 1800s when a group of bandits called the Dalton boys were terrorizing small towns that were nearby to Coffeyville. They were robbing banks, individual citizens, and small shops, but the people of Coffeyville were having none of it.
The members of the town organized a shootout with the Dalton boys and subsequently shot and killed them. In Kansas, this small town is known as the “town that stopped the Daltons.” There is even an exhibit about the incident at the Dalton Defenders Museum.
With a population of just over 600, Lecompton is the location where the Civil War started as well as the town where slavery began to end. Lecompton offers several historical sites you can visit to learn more about the area as well as the Civil War.
While visiting Lecompton, many tourists like to visit the Territorial Capital Museum and the Constitution Hall.
Abilene is situated at the end of the historic Chisholm Trail, making it an Old Western Town with plenty of history to learn about – it’s also the hometown of President Eisenhower. You can get a taste of the Wild West while visiting the local saloons in Old Town Abilene, complete with gunfight reenactments and cancan dancers.
Visitors also like to visit the amazing Seelve Mansion, which features 25 rooms as well as the Eisenhower Presidential Library and the American Indian Art Center.
Nestled in beautiful Kansas plains, Colby is surrounded by rolling fields of wind-blown grass and boasts the Prairie Museum of Art and History.
You can relax in this lovely small town while listening to some incredible music by bluegrass musicians that play at Pickin’ on the Plains every year. If you want to garner some sweet deals while shopping, the Southwind Antique Mall is the place to go while visiting Colby.
5. St. Marys
St. Marys is located in both Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee counties and has a population of nearly 3,000. It is home to the beautiful Saint Mary’s Academy and College as well as the historic Indian Pay Station and Museum.
This city is peppered with great attractions, like parks that visitors can use for children to play in, the Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library from where visitors can borrow books. If reading is not your style, you can visit the city’s golf course or head to the big city of Topeka, which is only 20 minutes up the road.
Atchison is well-known since it is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. It is a beautiful, picturesque town situated near the Missouri River in the northeastern part of the state and was once a very popular transportation center in the 1800s.
The streets are lined with gorgeous Victorian-style homes, which visitors can check out while taking a trolley tour of the town along the brick streets. It is dubbed the “most haunted town in Kansas” since many people believe the older homes and buildings are haunted. It has become a hotspot for spiritual readings, mystery dinners, and paranormal events. This beautiful town also hosts the Amelia Earhart Festival every year.
7. Cottonwood Falls
Cottonwood Falls is nestled in the heart of the Flint Hills and features quaint little shops and restaurants throughout the downtown area. A guided tour is offered of the famous Chase County Courthouse, constructed using native limestone from Flint Hills and considered a Second Empire-style architectural gem in the midst of brick-paved streets.
Cottonwood Falls is also home to the Tallgrass Nature Preserve that offers plenty of hiking on five different trails as well as an 1881 historic ranch house.
Located along the gorgeous Beaver Creek in the northwestern portion of Kansas, the small town of Atwood features Lake Atwood – the place to go for hiking, fishing, camping, and more. The town hosts annual barbecue festivals, restored car shows, and an amazing Fourth of July celebration every year.
The small town of Norton, Kansas, is located near the border of Nebraska and boasts amazing landscapes as well as historic attractions. There are plenty of opportunities for fishing, camping, and water sports at both the Sebelius Reservoir and the Prairie Dog State Park.
Visitors can also catch a motorcycle race at the Norton Motor Cross Track and visit the Norton Theatre – a cinema that offers two new releases almost nightly.
10. Council Grove
Council Grove is a historic town that is situated on the Santa Fe Trail. Visitors can check out the unique shops and restaurants, especially the historic Hays House Restaurant that opened in 1857. There are also tours available at the Kaw Mission State Historic Site and Museum as well as a former boy’s school that was built in 1851 by the Kaw American Indian Tribe.
11. Dodge City
Dodge city, like Council Grove, is located on the Santa Fe Trail and is a mecca of history. The town was founded in 1872 as an Old Western settlement and was referred to as “The Wickedest Little City in America” during its early years due to many colorful characters, including gamblers, prostitutes, and cowboys, that had moved there. Travelers can stop in at the Boot Hill Museum, which is rife with historical exhibits, or take a trolley tour of the town.
12. Fort Scott
Whether you are a history buff or a nature lover, Fort Scott offers plenty of fun things to do for people of all interests and ages. You can visit the Fort Scott National Historic Site, which features 20 buildings with 1840s furnishings along with many exhibitions, including the fort that was used from 1842 to 1853.
There are also plenty of beautiful Victorian buildings to tour as well as boutiques and antique shops to check out. If nature is more your thing, there are plenty of opportunities for hunting, fishing, and participating in water sports here, too.
Leavenworth is known as “The First City of Kansas” and was founded in 1854. This riverfront town features plenty of shops and restaurants as well as the historic Carroll Mansion and the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum.
Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active fort west of the Mississippi River and offers tours at the Frontier Army Museum. The National Cemetery is also located there and is one of the very first national cemeteries established by Abraham Lincoln.
Known as “Little Sweden USA,” Lindsborg has a proud heritage thanks to the Swedes that settled the area in 1869.
Lindsborg boasts the Old Mill Museum where you can learn more about the city’s history. It includes the Swedish Pavilion from the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and allows tourists to have a glimpse into what the town and its people were like from 1870 to 1910. The town is also home to the biennial cultural celebration, the Svensk Hyllningsfest, which Lindsborg is known for.
Known as the “Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas,” Lucas is a very small town with only about 400 people but is rich with history. It features colorful buildings that are made with Post Rock Limestone and visitors can explore the S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden – a log cabin that is also constructed from Post Rock limestone. The cabin is surrounded by unique sculptures that were created by Civil War veteran S.P. Dinsmoor, who began the project all the way back in 1904.
Other places in Lucas to check out include the Bowl Plaza, which is a public restroom flanked by beautiful mosaics, as well as folk art created by area residents and on display at The Grassroots Arts Center.
Located nearby the Big Blue River, Marysville was the first home station on the Pony Express route west of Missouri.
Visitors can visit the local Pony Express Museum to learn about the history of this amazing little town as well as the Doll Museum, Lifetiles Murals, and various art exhibitions. Marysville also offers a gorgeous town park that features a free pool, a steam locomotive, and a 1901 Union Pacific Depot.
Known as the Czech capital of the state, Wilson honors its ties to the Czech Republic every year with the amazing Czech Festival that attracts thousands of people from all over. The town also hosts the Kansas Originals Gallery, which is one of Kansas’ largest exhibitions promoting local artists and crafters.
Wilson Lake is situated right outside of town and is known for having the clearest water in the entire state. Visitors and locals swim there as well as fish, boat, and hike the trails. The nearby Wilson State Park offers plenty of campsites in the midst of strikingly beautiful limestone formations.
Once an important piece of the Arapaho, Kiowa, and Pawnee territories, the town of Hays is a very significant town in Kansas.
This city is home to three universities, including Fort Hays State University, North Central Kansas Technical College, and the Kansas State University agricultural research center. The town holds several American and German cultural events throughout the year, including over the holidays.
Paola boasts a beautiful Historic Downtown Park Square surrounded by Victorian architecture that has served as a gathering place for Native American tribes over the years.
This area also features a horse racing track, a parade, and a circus area, and is simply a fun place to hang out. There are several specialty shops located in the business district, and the city is surrounded by plenty of places to camp, swim, fish, and explore.
Chanute is a beautiful town rooted in interesting history. There are plenty of festivals, parades, and other annual events held on Main Street to honor the town’s old-world charm and heritage. It is home to Neosho County Community College, art galleries, several museums, and the annual Artist Alley event.
21. Garden City
Garden City is home to the historic Windsor Hotel and has plenty of shops, restaurants, and boutiques to visit on its Main Street.
There is a local art gallery that features more than ten exhibits every year, and for music lovers, Hillside Sessions provides plenty of live music and dancing. The town also boasts the Big Dipper mega-pool with three water slides as well as a historical museum, zoo, and several parks.
Manhattan is located where the Kansas River meets the Big Blue River and was dubbed an “All American City” in 1952. The town is home to Kansas State University as well as the annual Country Stampede Music Festival, Juneteenth Celebration, and the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave.
Visitors can also head to the nearby Tuttle Creek Reservoir or visit either the Sunset Zoo or the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art.
Wamego’s motto is, “Small Town, Big Experience” and features the beautiful Columbian Theatre that was built in 1895.
You can enjoy live entertainment or take a stroll around the city’s 12-acre park that boasts a Dutch Mill and the Historic Museum and Prairie Town Village. Wizard of Oz fans will really love checking out the Oz Museum and its thousands of movie-related artifacts, and adults will enjoy sampling award-winning wines at the Oz Winery.
Victoria is located in eastern Ellis County near the Smoky Hill River. The town was settled by immigrants from two different cultures and has a rich past.
You can visit the historical marker on the south side of town that features information about the town’s first settlers as well as the historic home of George Grant, who introduced Aberdeen-Angus cattle to the United States.
Home to the Guardians of the Santa Fe Trail, Larned is known for Fort Larned and other forts that were part of the process of gaining US control over the Great Plains. Today, Fort Larned is considered one of the most well-preserved military posts from the Indian Wars era, it was even a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas.
Visitors can check out the military buildings and sandstone structures as well as Fort Larned’s History and Nature Trail, which includes a mail station, stables, stores, corrals, and offices complete with wagons passing by.
Norcatur is located in Decatur County and has the Norcatur Museum Features, which offers plenty of pictures and items from the past to share with its visitors.
The museum not only features the history of the town, its schools, and community but also shows off items that belonged to Elden Auker – the major league baseball player who grew up in Norcatur and once struck out Babe Ruth.
27. North Newton
Located in Harvey County, North Newton is home to Bethel College and boasts a history with Longhorn Cattle since the town once raised and shipped them to Texas in the late 1800s. It is named, “The Wickedest Town in the West,” as it was once home to brothels, saloons, and cowboys.
28. Bel Aire
This is not the same Bel Aire that the Fresh Prince grew up in, but it still has a lot to offer. With a population of about 7,800 people, you can immerse yourself in a small-town environment while exploring museums, parks, prairie land, and nature centers.
Located in Sedgwick County and a suburb of Wichita, this small town is the newest one on our list since it was just established in 1955.
McPherson is centrally located in Kansas and is named after James “Birdseye” McPherson, who was a union general during the Civil War. Nestled in one of the largest wheat-producing areas of the United States, McPherson ranks among the top agricultural centers in the state of Kansas.
McPherson is also home to a college by the same name and tourists can visit the historic courthouse, the McPherson Opera House, and stroll around the town to enjoy the beautiful murals featured throughout.
Located in Butler County and home to about 2,000 people, the quaint town of Douglass offers a relaxed environment with plenty of places to visit, including rustic bridges, historic barns, and homes, as well as the scenic views of amazing sunsets on the golden, rolling wheat fields. This small town is located near larger cities with plenty of amenities and offers a huge public park to explore.