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State Bucket List: Kansas

10. Starlite Drive-In

10. Starlite Drive-In

Wichita

Starlite is an institution in Wichita, and even if it wasn't, it'd be worth checking out for the fantastic deals. A carload of people can get in for $13. Once you're in, you're treated to double and triple features, an extensive snack bar, and more.

(image via huddleston, CC)

9. Four-State Lookout

9. Four-State Lookout

White Cloud

While there's a certain kitschy, touristy charm in places where you can stand in multiple states at once, that's not what this is at all. Rather, this is a geographical wonder: a hill that's positioned perfectly over the Missouri River valley so that standing atop it gives you a view that stretches for miles in all directions. You can see the river, and clear over Nebraska to Iowa, Missouri, and the loess hills of Kansas, all from one spot.

(image via Rick Dougherty)

8. Garden of Eden

8. Garden of Eden

Lucas

The Garden of Eden is the work of Civil War veteran S.P. Dinsmoor, who moved to Lucas, Kansas, after the war. There he built a "log cabin"—that is, it looks like a log cabin, but the "logs" are enormous pieces of limestone. From there, he built 150 statues out of limestone and 113 tons of concrete detailing the creation of the world and the story of the Garden of Eden. The site is odd, but haunting and sincere. It also houses a glass-lidded coffin holding the bodies of Dinsmoor and his first wife, so maybe it should've gone on our list of tourist attractions that involve dead people.

(image via juliechristine6)

7. Strataca

7. Strataca

Hutchinson

Also known as the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, Strataca takes you through one of the largest deposits of rock salts in the world, and it's the only U.S. salt mine that's open to the public. In addition to tours, underground train rides, history lessons, and geology exhibits, the mine also holds an annual murder mystery night 650 feet underground.

(image via Dale S. Le Bar)

6. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

6. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Strong City

Tallgrass prairie was once a defining feature of the American landscape, covering 170 million acres of the continent. Today less than 4% of the original prairie remains, and this preserve holds most of that. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve has 11,000 acres of gorgeous views, bison, wildflowers, and all other kids of natural beauty that most people don't get to see anymore.

(image via miguelvieira, CC)

5. Chase County Courthouse

5. Chase County Courthouse

Cottonwood Falls

With its red mansard roof and Second Empire architecture, the Chase County Courthouse is immediately recognizable. It's also the oldest courthouse in the Midwest that's still in operation, dating back to 1873. Made of local limestone with a winding staircase of local walnut wood, the courthouse has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for tours.

(image via Gene Bisbee, CC)

4. Keeper of the Plains

4. Keeper of the Plains

Wichita

The Keeper of the Plains is a 44-foot tall, 5-ton steel sculpture that stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. The figure of a Native American blessing the sky is surrounded by fire pits that illuminate him at night, and as of 2006, he stands atop a 30-foot pedestal, surrounded by an exhibit on the history of the area's original inhabitants.

(image via fireboatks, CC)

3. Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead

3. Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead

Overland Park

Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead is designed to depict a family farm of the 1900s. The farmstead has gardens, a fishing pond, pony rides, over 200 animals, and more. Not only does the farmstead preserve a forgotten way of life, but it's a chance to interact with animals that more and more children don't get to see as family farms disappear. Admission is $2 per person, though kids under 2 get in free, but the farmstead is closed during winter until April 1st when the next season begin.

(image via cityofop, CC)

2. Richard Petty Driving Experience

2. Richard Petty Driving Experience

Kansas City

The Kansas Speedway is one of NASCAR's newer tracks, but they've wasted no time partaking in a NASCAR institution: the Richard Petty Driving Experience. The Speedway track is a 1.5-mile tri-oval, and you can do anything from a 3-lap ride-along to a 50-lap "Racing Experience" in a 600-horsepower car at up to 155 mph.

(image via Tony Stephens)

1. Gage Park

1. Gage Park

Topeka

One of Topeka's finest attractions, Gage Park dates back to 1899, though the park has grown considerably since then. Features include an aquatic center with an Olympic-sized pool, the Helen Hocker Theatre, a mini-train, a carousel, and a concert series. There's also a zoo, a children's museum, and some gorgeous gardens.

(image via ooocha, CC)