VICTORIA Made from native limestone, a giant, twin-spired Catholic church, with 44-foot ceilings and 141-foot steeples, has towered above tiny Victoria since 1911. It’s no wonder it’s known as the Cathedral of the Plains. When it was built, the seating capacity of 1,100 made it the largest church west of the Mississippi River. Some 15,000 pilgrims visit each year. kansastravel.org
RUSSELL On the surrounding plains, pump jacks still draw oil from the Kansas soil. Exhibits at the Oil Patch Museum celebrate this early Kansas boom. Regional artists display their works at the Deines Cultural Center downtown. russellks.org
LUCAS Everyone will marvel at the story and creations of S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden. garden-of-eden-lucas-kansas.com The Civil War veteran built his small home using 113 tons of concrete and limestone and created 150 bizarre sculptures around it. The Grassroots Art Center displays more “outsider” art made from recycled materials such as pull tabs, chewing gum and glass bottles. grassrootsart.net
WILSON Arts and crafts created by Kansans fill the Kansas Originals store. kansasoriginals.com Stay at the plush, renovated 1899 Midland Hotel. If you can’t spend the night, enjoy a meal in the hotel’s ornate dining room. You’ll find Czech dishes on the menu, in honor of the towns designation as “Czech Capital” of Kansas. midlandrailroadhotel.com
ELLSWORTH In the early 1870s, Ellsworth became one of the state’s first cow towns. Not much has changed in the two-block downtown. Follow the Ellsworth Historical Plaza Walking Tour to 17 frontier silhouettes. Also, explore the Hodgden House Museum complex with an 1878 house, livery, schoolhouse, church and replica of a general store. ellsworthkschamber.net
LINCOLN Take a look inside the massive Lincoln County Courthouse, built in 1900 of native limestone. Stop in Village Lines, a combination visitors center, tea room and crafts shop, for a piece of pie and information. The center also can arrange a tour of nearby 128-year-old Denmark Evangelical Lutheran Community Church. lincolnkansaschamber.com
SALINA A covered tram carries families to more than 300 animals, including rhinos, anteaters, giraffes and tigers at 65-acre Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure two miles south of the interstate. The indoor museum, with hundreds of mounted animals in native settings and animatronic human robots, makes this zoo especially cool. rollinghillswildlife.com Cozy Inn, a downtown institution, serves more than 1,200 mini burgers a day, amazing for a joint with six stools. cozyburger.com
CANTON Board a tram for an upclose look at 200 buffalo and 50 elk on 2,800-acre Maxwell Wildlife Refuge. naturalkansas.org Climb the 25-foot observation tower to see Twin Mounds, where Native Americans camped.