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Kansas might be home to some famous trails and historical sites, but it’s the outdoor splendor that really puts the Sunflower State on the map. Small town Kansas hosts some incredible outdoor recreation – everything from horseback riding and fishing to incredible golf and city parks.
Visiting Kansas during your summer vacation? The town of Garden City is home to family friendly outdoor fun like the Lee Richardson Zoo – one of the largest zoos in Kansas – and the ever-popular Big Pool. Known as the “World's Largest, Free, Outdoor, Municipal, Concrete Swimming Pool” – the Big Pool in Finnup Park holds more than two million gallons of water, three water slides, and over 2,000 happy swimmers.
Not looking to get wet? Head to the city of Emporia for it’s many parks and the Emporia Municipal Golf Course. Emporia is home to nearly 300 acres of parkland, including the 50-acre Peter Pan Park – a scenic spot for picnics, fishing and tennis.
More fun is to be had in outdoor Kansas, but don’t take our word for it.
A suburb of the Manhattan metropolitan area, Junction City is the ideal place for the outdoorsman in your family. Between the fishing lakes, nature trails and hunting areas, you won’t know where to start in outdoor Kansas.
Break out the rod and reel and head to the Geary State Fishing Lake along U.S. Hwy 77. From this 99-acre fishing lake, you can cast out for catfish, bass and bluegill, not to mention saugeyes and walleyes. Once you get your fishing fill, check out the 180 acres of public hunting land framing Geary State Fishing Lake.
For more hunting and fishing in outdoor Kansas, head to Fort Riley for 24 ponds and five lakes of fishing opportunities – and reel in black bass, trout, crappie, and carp. You can also hunt for whitetail deer, elk and waterfowl at Fort Riley, as long as you carry a hunter education card.
Of course you can’t talk fishing without mentioning the Fishing Capitol of Kansas – better known as Milford Lake. As the largest lake in Kansas – a whopping 15,700 acres – Milford Lake is stocked with plump wipers, walleye, crappie and bass of all shapes and sizes. The lake is part of Milford State Park & Marina – a great stopping point during your trek through outdoor Kansas.
Looking to get on your feet? Head to Olathe in northeastern Kansas for incredible city parks and outdoor opportunities. The fifth largest city in the state and a suburb of Kansas City, Olathe encompasses a certain atmosphere encouraging visitors to get out in the fresh air.
Be sure to stop by Black Bob Park in eastern Olathe for fishing, swimming, and bike trails – not to mention picnic shelters and even batting cages. Have a full day in Olathe? Visit Ernie Miller Nature Center & Park for three hiking trails, a wildlife viewing room, and a 500-gallon aquarium – perfect for a family friendly afternoon. The fisherman in your family will enjoy a day at Lake Olathe – a 170-acre lake complete with fishing docks, boat ramps and a 200-acre playground.
Brought your bike? You’re in luck. Visit the 900-acre Kill Creek Regional Park for plenty of biking trails, or make your way to the Indian Creek Greenway Trails for its county-wide bike trail system – totaling nearly 16 miles of bike path.
Just 35 miles southwest of Olathe in eastern Kansas, the city of Ottawa is an outdoor paradise set along the Marais des Cygnes River. A suburb of Kansas City, Ottawa is yet another Kansas town full of great parks, golf, fishing and biking. Put together your itinerary, and head into outdoor Kansas.
Grab your bike or your hiking boots and hit the Prairie Spirit Trail – a 50-mile former railroad track connecting Ottawa to the city of Iola. Open during daylight hours, Prairie Spirit Trail offers everything from wildlife viewing and nature photography to a vigorous journey through eastern Kansas. The Prairie Spirit Trail starts in Ottawa from the restored 1888 Old Depot Museum.