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Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Kansas

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Introduction

Sunset in Kansas

Sunset in Kansas

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Kansas is a state in the midwest of the USA with around 2.85 million inhabitants. Kansas is often overlooed by many travellers crossing the States on a road trip for example. Still, it has some interesting cities and those endless plains are worth a shot as well!

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Geography

Kansas covers over 200,000 square kilometres of land and borders Oklahoma to the south, Missouri to the east, Nebraska to the north, and Colorado to the west. The state is located equidistant from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states (so except Alaska and Hawaii) is located in Smith County near Lebanon.
The western two-thirds of the state, lying in the great central plain of the United States, has a generally flat or undulating surface, while the eastern third has many hills and forests. The land gradually rises from east to west; its altitude ranges from 208 metres along the Verdigris River at Coffeyville in Montgomery County, to 1,231 metres at Mount Sunflower. It is a popular belief that Kansas is the flattest state in the nation, reinforced by a well-known 2003 study stating that Kansas was indeed "flatter than a pancake". This has since been called into question, with most scientists ranking Kansas somewhere between 20th and 30th flattest state, depending on measurement method. Its average elevation is 2,000 feet, higher than 36 states. The Missouri River forms nearly 121 kilometres of the state's northeastern boundary. The Kansas River joins the Missouri at Kansas City, after a course of 270 kilometres across the northeastern part of the state. The Arkansas River, rising in Colorado, flows with a bending course for nearly 800 kilometres across the western and southern parts of the state.

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Sights and Activities

  • Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail - Between May 1804 and September 1806, 32 men, one woman, and a baby traveled from the plains of the Midwest to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They called themselves the Corps of Discovery.
  • Fort Scott National Historic site - ground zero for the Bleeding Kansas term, where the state's slave policy of yesteryear can be thoroughly studied.

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Weather

Supercell

Supercell

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Kansas experiences a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. From December to February, temperatures are usually below zero. From June to September Kansas enjoys warm days with frequently temperatures above 30 °C. From February until May, Kansas, located in the so-called Tornado Alley, is prone to tornadoes. Precipitation ranges from about 1,200 mm annually in the southeast corner of the state, to about 400 mm in the southwest. Snowfall ranges from around 13 centimetres in the fringes of the south, to 90 centimetres in the far northwest. Frost-free days range from more than 200 days in the south, to 130 days in the northwest. Kansas is the ninth or tenth sunniest state in the country, depending on the source. Western Kansas is as sunny as California and Arizona.

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Getting There

By Plane

Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (ICT) is the largest airport in Kansas and offers flights to/from Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver and Houston.

Although, located in neighbouring Missouri, Kansas City International Airport (MCI) is located about 15 miles (24 kilometres) from the central business district of Kansas City and also is important for the western part of the state.

By Train

The Southwest Chief, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California, stopping in a number of places in Kansas.

By Car

If you are driving to Kansas from the east or west, it would be best to take Interstate 70. I-35 travels from the south center of the state and passes northeast meeting I-70 in Kansas City. I-135 travels from Wichita to Salina, connecting the other two major interstate highways.

By Bus

Check Greyhound for options.

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Getting Around

By Car

The only way to travel in Kansas is to drive. Part of the experience of being in the state is to spend time on the road, which is as interesting an experience as you make it. Take the time to plan a route off of the main highways and see the country. Otherwise, if you require public transportation, Kansas may not a place for you. Even the larger cities like Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City, buses offer very limited public transportation.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

Kansas state flower, outside Dodge City, KS

Kansas state flower, outside Dodge City, KS

© All Rights Reserved rbyslipahs

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

Kansas has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.

By Bus

Intercity bus transportation in central and western Kansas is provided by http://www.beeline-express.com|Bee Line Express]] (+1 316-201-6700). Beeline Express is part of Prestige Bus Lines). Keep in mind that these buses do not have frequent departures. Beeline Express has two routes: blue and red. The blue line runs from Salina to Wichita with stops in Lindsborg, McPherson, Hutchinson and Newton. The redline runes between Wichita and Syracuse with stops in Kingman, Pratt, Greensburg, Dodge City and Garden City.

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Eat

Kansas' best known regional food is Kansas City-style BBQ, associated with the metropolitan Kansas City area including Wyandotte County and Johnson County, as well as portions of Missouri. It is a slow "pit" style barbecue; sauce is usually an important component to the finished meal. Well-known restaurants include Rosedale and Wyandotte BBQ in Kansas City, Hayward's Pit BBQ and KC Masterpiece and Gates BBQ in Overland Park (Gates, however, is based in Kansas City, Missouri -- an important distinction to some), and Zarda BBQ in Lenexa. KC Masterpiece in Overland Park is the original restaurant that started the chain and its nationally distributed "sweet sauce." In the small town of Spring Hill, K&M BBQ was voted the best BBQ in the Kansas City metro area.

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Drink

Kansas has very complex and restrictive liquor laws. The short of it is that only 3.2% ABV packaged beer may be sold outside of retail liquor stores. Drinks by the glass were only restricted to private "clubs" until 1987 (jobs). Kansas today has 29 "dry" counties that prohibit all on-premise liquor sales and as of 2005 only 2 counties and 26 communities have provisions for Sunday sales. Kansas has never ratified the 21st amendment to this day.

The only craft beers easily found throughout the state are Boulevard (Kansas City), Free State (Lawrence), and Fat Tire. Fans of Mexican beer rejoice! There is a huge variety of cerveza that rivals what can be found deep in the heart of Texas.

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Sleep

Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:

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Contributors

as well as Peter (10%)

Kansas Travel Helpers

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This is version 13. Last edited at 9:46 on Aug 10, 16 by Utrecht. 23 articles link to this page.

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