There are many beautiful sights to see in Kansas, and many others of historical interest. But there are also quite a few sights that are best classified as just a little strange.
Note that this list of Kansas oddities does not include the town of Lucas and its centerpiece, the Garden of Eden. Lucas is clearly and easily the hands-down winner of the “strangest things to see in Kansas” category. However, we wanted to give some less famous and/or less obvious sites their due.
So if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to spot on your next Kansas road trip, try some of these oddities.
It’s not every day you can visit Paradise. This town is located in a fairly remote part of Russell County. The big stone sign reads “Welcome to Paradise Est. 1889.” The town was named by a group of hunters, who were evidently quite satisfied with their success.
In case you’re wondering, the big stone tower by the welcome sign is a WPA water tower, apparently the only water tower of this style in Kansas and therefore on the National Register of Historic Places. The sign and water tower are located at the intersection of Main Street and Waldo Road, just off Kansas Highway 18.
9. The North Pole
To fully appreciate this attraction, you really should visit in summer. WaKeeney is known as the Christmas City of the High Plains, and a lot in the 100 block of North Main Street has been given over to the holiday spirit regardless of season. Expect to see candy canes, evergreen trees, and festive murals. It’s pretty cute.
North Pole Park
A little more information and a map.
8. Mushroom Rock State Park
The name says it all. Irregular rates of erosion have left concretions in some unique shapes. This may be one of the best places in Kansas for a family portrait. It’s also a great picnic spot.
7. Concordia Kugel Fountain
A 1,800-pound granite ball slowly rotates in a fountain at the Cloud County Courthouse. This is a Kugel fountain, a water feature consisting of a sphere aquaplaning in a hollow base. The Concordia fountain may very well be the only Kugel fountain in Kansas. See it on Washington Street between 8th and 9th streets.
6. Madison Hills
This small town in Greenwood County is scenic, but its quirky side lies on its north-south roads. Pick any one of them and drive its full length. But please—no sledding in the street.
5. The Rhino Capital of Kansas
Marion is the Rhino Capital of Kansas. You will find concrete rhinos all over town in various garbs—tutus, jewelry, K-State gear, stars and stripes, and more. This tradition began in memory of a beloved resident with a passion for the rhinoceros. Today it is a way for local businesses to display their community spirit.
Click on a rhino to see its address.
4. Hot and Cold Water Towers
There are two sets of these, one in Canton and one in Pratt. In the early 1960s, a group of teenagers climbed to the top of one of Canton’s water towers and painted the word HOT on it. The city added COLD to the other one. The Pratt version came about in 1956, also for a joke. The Canton towers are located on Railroad Street near the Canton co-op, while the Pratt towers are north of U.S. 400 at the intersection of Main and Green.
To see this one, you’ll have to step inside the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays. This mind-blowing fossil was excavated by George F. Sternberg in Gove County. The 14-foot Xiphactinus audax contains another 6-foot fish. You’ll also enjoy the other fossils, models, and exhibits at the Sternberg.
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
All the information you need to plan your trip.
2. Narka Water Tower
Yes, that is a UFO. It appears to be landing across the street from the post office at Main and Nebraska. We have no explanation.
1. Main Street Cawker City
Of course, the main attraction is the Big Ball of Twine, the largest ball of sisal twine in the world. But to get the full experience, be sure to peek at the windows as you drive down U.S. Highway 24. You’ll see some familiar paintings with an interesting twist. Not sure how to find the Big Ball of Twine? Just follow the trail of “twine” painted on the sidewalk!
World’s Largest Ball of Twine
More information, including who to contact if you want to add to the ball.