• Amanda Davis

What not to miss: Kansas I-70 Travel

Updated: May 4

Based on everything we’ve ever been told, driving across Kansas sounds like it’s anything but exciting. If you believe the stories, you’d assume Kansas is “flat as a pancake” and filled with empty farmland and very little to do. While many think of Kansas as “fly-over country”, I’m here to show you it’s more than just acres and acres of farmland - it’s actually not as flat or empty as we’ve all been led to believe.


A great way to see Kansas is by taking a trip all the way across the state on Interstate 70. Driving through Kansas on I-70 takes you across 423 miles of rolling prairies, the incredible Flint Hills, massive wind farms, and some admittedly flat farmland scattered throughout. You’ll have about 6 hours of opportunity to pull off the interstate and explore. While many just drive across as quickly as they can, I hope to convince you to take your time and explore what Kansas is all about. Much of it can be seen with a quick jaunt off the Interstate and I’ll be sharing some of my favorite stops within about 30 minutes of I-70, across Kansas, from west to east, using exit numbers as our guide.

Giant Van Gogh Painting

Exit Number: 19

Location: Goodland, KS (map)

The giant Van Gogh painting is in a great spot for a quick picnic lunch or a restroom break as you travel along I-70. Although it’s not immediately off the highway, you’ll find that the distance from the interstate isn’t as far as some of the other recommendations on my list. The painting is placed on a giant easel and depicts the Kansas State Flower, the sunflower. It’s a fun break and photo op as you’re traveling through Western Kansas.

Wheat Jesus Billboard

Exit Number: 19

Location: Goodland, KS (map)

Image credit: Steven Hausler, AP

The Wheat Jesus billboard is along-side I-70 as you pass through Goodland. It’s not really a place to stop or to have a photo op, but it’s worth watching out for as you drive through. It depicts Jesus standing in a wheat field, and depending on the time of year, you could be driving past fields that look similar.

Monument Rocks

Exit Number: 76

Location: Scott City (map)

Monument Rocks are worth a side-trip, off I-70. You’ll exit the interstate in Oakley and drive south for a bit before you start to see the chalk formations in the distance. Monument Rocks were formed millions of years ago when Kansas was at the bottom of a large ocean. They are formed of chalk and tower above the neighboring land, looking like a castle on the prairie. If you’re interested in geology or paleontology, or even just experiencing really cool stuff, I recommend making the drive to check them out.

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

Exit Number: 76

Location: Scott City, KS (map)

If you’re planning to visit Monument Rocks, definitely take the time to also visit Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park. For years, this land was owned by private individuals and was inaccessible to the public, but the land was recently acquired by the State and became one of the newest Kansas state parks. Little Jerusalem includes hiking trails, several overlook opportunities, and great views of what look like small canyons in the prairie. It’s an incredibly unique landscape and a great opportunity to see something that’s like nothing else you’ll find in Kansas.

Smoky Hills Wind Farm

Exit Number: 219

Location: Ellsworth, KS (map)

If you happen to be driving through Kansas at night, the Smoky Hills Wind Farm is going to blow you away. While it’s spectacular in daylight hours, it is particularly eerie and awe-inspiring after dark. As you approach the wind farm, you’ll begin to see flashing red lights along the horizon. When you’re in the midst of the flashing lights, it can feel like you’re witnessing an alien invasion and it’s a really incredible thing to see. If the timing isn’t quite right to be there after dark, the view in daylight is similarly stunning. The scale and proximity to the road of the wind turbines is something to behold. You’ll be amazed by the size of the turbines. They’re almost majestic as they rotate through the morning fog or afternoon sun. If you’re driving through Kansas, you definitely won’t be able to miss them.

Kanopolis Lake State Park

Exit Number: 238

Location: Marquette, KS (map)

Kanopolis Lake is one of my favorite state parks. You can find water activities, camping, hiking, and all sorts of other fun things to do. The lake is beautiful at sunset and taking a hike through Horsethief Canyon is not to be missed.

Mushroom Rock State Park

Exit Number: 238

Location: Brookville, KS (map)

One of the more unique spots in Kansas is Mushroom Rock State Park. The rocks truly look like mushrooms and are scattered throughout the area. The park is good for a short hike and some exploration, and a great opportunity to stretch your legs and check out some unique geological formations.

Coronado Heights Castle

Exit Number: 250A

Location: Lindsborg, KS (map)

Image credit: Atlas Obscura

Coronado Heights, just outside of Lindsborg is a fantastic spot for a picnic and for viewing the sunset. Be sure to stop there on the way into or out of Lindsborg to climb around the castle and see the view of the surrounding countryside. It feels like you can see for miles. Coronado Heights has been a favorite stop for me, anytime we’re in the area.

Birger Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery

Exit Number: 250A

Location: Lindsborg, KS (map)

Image credit: Kansastravel.org

When visiting Lindsborg, it’s always a great idea to stop by the Birger Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery. The gallery is filled with Sandzén art and also hosts traveling exhibits throughout the year. Sandzén is one of the most well-known Central Kansas artists, with a career spanning over 50 years. He is most widely known for his oil paintings and watercolors and his art is displayed in large galleries across the world.


Blacksmith Coffee Shop & Roastery

Exit Number: 250A

Location: Lindsborg, KS (map)

After you stop by the Sandzén Gallery, be sure to take a drive down Main Street and check out the next several recommendations on my list, starting or ending with Blacksmith Coffee Shop & Roastery. Whether you’re in the mood for a snack or need s quick jolt of caffeine to perk you up for some more driving, Blacksmith is a great option and one of my “must stops” when we’re in the area. Blacksmith’s space is really unique and they roast all their own coffee, in house. I’ve never ordered something there that I didn’t enjoy. They also have a drive-thru location, in Salina, if you’re not going to be able to get to Lindsborg.


Trollslända Toy Store

Exit Number: 250A

Location: Lindsborg, KS (map)

Image credit: Salina Journal


Trollslända is a fun, Scandinavian-inspired toy store in Downtown Lindsborg. It’s definitely worth a stop if you have kids with you or even if you don’t. My husband and I have found many fun gifts for our nieces and nephews there and you’re guaranteed to find something at Trollslända that you haven’t encountered before.


The Good Merchant

Exit Number: 250A

Location: Lindsborg, KS (map)

Image credit: Trip Advisor


The Good Merchant is truly one of my favorite stops each time we are near Lindsborg. I LOVE kitchen gadgets and can always find something unique that I just have to have when we visit The Good Merchant. It feels like the owners know everyone in Lindsborg and they have really taken the time to consider their audience and offer something very unique for the area. It’s definitely worth a stop if you like looking for interesting kitchen items or home decor inspiration.

Kansas Motorcycle Museum

Exit Number: 250A

Location: Marquette, KS (map)

Image credit: Kansas Travel

Just a few miles beyond Lindsborg, off of K4, is a hidden gem called Marquette. This is where my husband grew up and it’s one of my favorite small towns in Kansas. It’s got everything you need to be a quintessential small town, but one of the biggest draws for the town is the Kansas Motorcycle Museum, where you can find hundreds of motorcycles from across the world. Each year, Marquette hosts Thunder on the Smoky, where motorcycle enthusiasts from across the country converge on the town for lots of engine revving and excitement.

Blue Skye Brewery

Exit Number: 252

Location: Salina, KS (map)

Image credit: Trip Advisor

If you’re hungry, head back to Salina to check out one of these next two recommendations. Blue Skye Brewery is a great place if you’re in the mood for some pizza, something a little more substantial, or some beverages to cool you down. Their pizza is great and we’ve always enjoyed everything we’ve ordered there.

Cozy Inn

Exit Number: 252

Location: Salina, KS (map)

Image credit: Travel Kansas

If you’re into iconic foods and don’t mind smelling a bit of onions for the next 12 hours, definitely add Cozy Inn to your list of places to grab a bite to eat. They’re known for their burgers with onions (don’t ask for substitutions - they’re a place to go for this one iconic item) and if you’re less into smelling like onions for a while, place an order at the pick-up window rather than going inside (and maybe find a curb to sit on and eat so you don’t end up with a vehicle that smells like Cozy Inn for hours beyond Salina). The burgers are great, so don’t let the smells scare you away. It’s totally worth it!

Eisenhower Presidential Museum

Exit Number: 275

Location: Abilene, KS (map)

Image credit: Travel Kansas

If you’re interested in history, especially Presidential history, this is a must-stop while traveling I-70. The museum highlights the life of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first and only (as of 2022) Kansan to be elected President of the United States. President Eisenhower grew up in Abilene, Kansas and his museum is an incredible snapshot of a Kansas farm boy who went on to do great things, both in his military career, as well as political.

Flint Hills Discovery Center

Exit Number: 313

Location: Manhattan, KS (map)

Image credit: Flint Hills Discovery Center

The Flint Hills Discovery Center is a great stop for families. It’s a good opportunity for everyone to stretch their legs and learn a bit about what makes the Kansas Flint Hills some of the most interesting and beautiful landscape in the country. There are spaces designed specifically for kids and an immersive theater to entertain all audiences. You can even find outdoor experiences and trails to get a bit of fresh air.

Aggieville

Exit Number: 313

Location: Manhattan, KS (map)

Image credit: K-State Collegian

Aggieville is one of those iconic places that K-State students will never forget. The area is a mix of bars and restaurants, as well as entertainment venues and is a magnet for students who want to have a good time. If eating, drinking, and being entertained by live musicians aren’t your thing, you can also find an eclectic shopping experience in Aggieville. From local gifts to college apparel, you can find lots of interesting stuff in the retail shops housed in the area.

NOTO (North Topeka) Art District

Exit Number: 361B

Location: Topeka, KS (map)

Image credit: Travel Kansas

A little farther east, you’ll find yourself in the Kansas State Capital, Topeka. Topeka houses a number of interesting opportunities for pit stops, but one of my favorites to explore is NOTO, or the North Topeka Art District. NOTO is one of the highest concentrations of thrift and vintage stores in the area and there’s no doubt that everyone can find something in one of the shops to interest them.

The Wheel Barrel

Exit Number: 361B

Location: Topeka, KS (map)

While you’re in NOTO, if you’re hungry, you have to stop by The Wheel Barrel. The restaurant is known for their gourmet grilled cheese and we’ve never tried something there we didn’t enjoy. Get ready for top-tier ingredients and combinations you may never have thought would work well together. Whatever you order, you’re sure to be happy with it!

Gage Park & Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center

Exit Number: 358B

Location: Topeka, KS (map)

Image credit: Visit Topeka

Image credit: Visit Topeka

Gage Park and the World Famous Topeka Zoo are two places I spent a great deal of time enjoying as a child. My grandparents lived in Topeka and we would visit the zoo often, either beginning or ending the day with play time and a train and carousel ride in Gage Park.

The park is more than just a park. It includes a rose garden, pond, carousel, mini train, multiple playgrounds, a public pool, an amphitheater, and ball fields, among other things I’m sure I’m leaving out. A visit to Gage Park wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Zoo though. . . Topeka’s zoo is a fantastic collection of animals from across the globe and I remember being over-the-moon excited to visit the new exhibits like the African lions and the Chimpanzee house was always a favorite. Definitely stop by if you enjoy animals!

Tuptim Thai

Exit Number: 363

Location: Topeka, KS (map)

Image credit: Topeka Capital-Journal

I’ve long felt that one of the best restaurants in Topeka is Tuptim Thai. They’re known for their “Money Bags” which are their version of crab Rangoon and definitely worth trying. If you enjoy Thai food, you won’t be disappointed with a stop here.

Clinton State Park

Exit Number: 197

Location: Lawrence, KS (map)

As you approach the western edge of Lawrence, you’ll start to see signs for Clinton State Park, where you’ll also find Clinton Lake, a man-made lake developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the 1970s. The park boasts 1500 acres and is home to the lake, as well as campgrounds, a golf course, swimming beach, marina, hiking and biking trails, and a dog park. It’s definitely worth a stop if you enjoy the outdoors (or have a pup along for the ride who needs a good run).

Allen Fieldhouse, Booth Family Hall of Athletics & DeBruce Center

Exit Number: 202

Location: Lawrence, KS (map)

If you’re a basketball fan, take note of this recommendation. Allen Fieldhouse, home of the Kansas Jayhawks, has been called the home of college basketball. The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, if buried in Lawrence and coached the Kansas Jayhawks shortly after he invented the game. The Jayhawks have enjoyed a storied history of success, season-after-season and Allen Fieldhouse boasts one of the greatest home court advantages in the game. If you’re in the area and have any interest in basketball, stopping by for a visit (and even a game if you can get tickets) is a “must”. Attached to Allen Fieldhouse, you will find the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, housing the history of Jayhawk Basketball. The exhibits are fascinating for fans, and even just the general public.

Adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse and the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, you will find the DeBruce Center, whose signature exhibit is a display housing the original rules of basketball, written by James Naismith in 1891. The original rules document was purchased in a Sotheby’s auction in 2010, by KU Alum, David Booth, and brought back to KU to be housed in the DeBruce Center, which was build specifically for this purpose. Definitely a recommended visit for any fan of sports.

University of Kansas

Exit Number: 202

Location: Lawrence, KS (map)

While you’re checking out everything Jayhawk Basketball-related, be sure to take a drive around the University of Kansas campus. It’s been called one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country and boasts buildings made of Kansas limestone, state of the art facilities, as well as a tall, free-standing bell tower called the Memorial Campanile, which houses 53 bells and honors the 277 KU students who lost their lives in World War II.

Be sure to walk down Jayhawk Boulevard, spend some time at Potter’s Lake, and visit my next two recommendations while you’re visiting campus!

Spencer Art Museum

Exit Number: 202

Location: Lawrence, KS (map)

The Spencer Art Museum is a fabulous gem on the KU campus and boasts an extensive collection of all kinds of art. The collection is being rotated constantly and the museum brings in new and exciting exhibits all the time, so just because you’ve been once, doesn’t mean you’ve seen it all.

KU Natural History Museum

Exit Number: 202

Location: Lawrence, KS (map)

The KU Natural History Museum has something for everyone. Housed in Dyche Hall, adjacent to the KU Memorial Union, the museum is home to a marvelous panorama filled with hundreds of North American animals in their natural habitats, Comanche, the horse who was the only living survivor left on the field after the Battle of Little Big Horn, an active bee hive, dinosaur fossils, Bug Town, and newly renovated Grotesques who adorn the exterior of the building. It’s truly worth a stop, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

Downtown Lawrence

Exit Number: 204

Location: Lawrence, KS (map)

Whether your stomach is rumbling and you’re ready for some food, you’re parched and need a good drink, or you’re itching to do some world-class local shopping, Downtown Lawrence has something for you. Massachusetts Street, between 6th Street and 12th Street is a gold mine of amazing restaurants, bars, and local retail stores where you can find some of the best food in Kansas as well as some amazing local brews and quirky local stores and art galleries. Definitely plan to stop for a bite to eat or for an entire afternoon of exploring! Lawrence is my hometown, so I’m also sharing all of my local restaurant recommendations, most of which are located in or very near Downtown Lawrence: - Burger Stand at the Casbah (map)

- Lawrence Beer Company (map)

- Limestone Pizza•Kitchen•Bar (map)

- Free State Brewing Company (map)

- Merchants Pub & Plate (map)

- 715 (map)

- Zen Zero (map)

- Aladdin Cafe (map)

- RPG (map)

- Latchkey Deli (map)

- Culinaria (map)

- Gold Medal BBQ (map)

- Alchemy Coffee & Bake House (map)

- Decade (map)

- Cellar Door (map)

- Sylas & Maddy’s Homemade Ice Cream (map)

- 1900 Barker Bakery & Cafe (map)

- The Roost (map)

Warehouse Arts District

Exit Number: 204

Location: Lawrence, KS (map)

Just a few blocks from Downtown Lawrence, you’ll find the Warehouse Arts District, a collection of galleries filled with gems from local artists. If you’re hungry or thirsty, you can stop by Lawrence Beer Company in between galleries. Definitely check out Cider Gallery, SeedCo, and Art Emergency for art, as well as Lawrence Wine Academy, Decade, and Jungle House Goods for libations, coffee, and incredible house plants.

Watkins Museum of History

Exit Number: 204

Location: Lawrence, KS (map)

Image credit: Explore Lawrence

To learn more about the history of Lawrence, check out Watkins Museum of History, located at 11th & Mass, in Downtown Lawrence. Inside, you can find exhibits about the role of Lawrence in the Civil War and the fight against slavery, as well as an original electric car. The museum was originally a bank, and you can see many of the original building features, including the teller windows, when you visit. It’s a great local museum to visit and learn more about the area.

Moon Marble Company

Exit Number: 224

Location: Bonner Springs, KS (map)

Image credit: Travel Kansas

After you’ve left Lawrence, a fun stop is Moon Marble Company. There, you can find marble making demonstrations and every size and color of marble you could ever dream of. The staff are fun and very friendly and it’s a recommended stop for kids of all ages.

Hollywood Casino

Exit Number: 410

Location: Kansas City, KS (map)

Image credit: Travel Kansas

If you’re into gambling, make a stop at the Hollywood casino to take a chance on the card, slot, or dice game of your choice.

Kansas Speedway

Exit Number: 410

Location: Kansas City, KS (map)

Image credit: Kansas Speedway

If gambling isn’t your thing, maybe you prefer racing. The Kansas Speedway is next door to the Hollywood Casino and hosts NASCAR and other racing events throughout the year. If it’s not your thing though, check the race calendar before planning to spend time in the area. It can get a little crazy on race weekends!

Sporting Kansas City - Children’s Mercy Park

Exit Number: 410

Location: Kansas City, KS (map)

One of Kansas City’s more recent professional sports team additions is Sporting Kansas City, the local Major League Soccer team. Sporting Kansas City has called the Legends area of Kansas City, Kansas home since 2011 and the stadium is truly beautiful. If you’re a soccer fan, definitely check it out!

Kansas City Monarchs - Legends Field

Exit Number: 410

Location: Kansas City, KS (map)

Image credit: Visit Kansas City

The Kansas City Monarchs also call the Legends area of Kansas City, Kansas home. The team is part of the American Association of Professional Baseball and takes their name from the original Negro League Baseball team whose home was Kansas City. Games are always exciting and fun for everyone!

What's Missing?

Above, I’ve shared some of my favorite stops in Kansas, along I-70, but I know I haven’t captured everything that’s out there. Hopefully this list provides some insight about what you can do as you drive across Kansas and helps you plan your travels. You can find a full map of all of the places I’ve included in my list here: Kansas I-70 Recommendations Are you from Kansas? Do you have a favorite that I’ve missed?




232 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All