Founded in 1867 as a railroad stop near a frontier fort, Hays, an I-70 community of 20,000, tempts with a mix of specialty shops, restaurants, historic attractions and a top-notch museum.
Fort Hays

Day 1

Fuel up on a Danish or kolache downtown at Augustine's Bakery. Then head for the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. Exhibits include a fossil collection, one with a fish within a fish. Next, at old Fort Hays, you can peer through rifle slits in the blockhouse of an 1870s Army post. Nearby Frontier Park offers trails and picnic areas. End the afternoon over wine and Tuscan fare at Rooftops Restaurant. If you stay in one of the four rooms at the ornate 1909 Tea Rose Inn Bed and Breakfast, you're just steps from the shops, galleries and restaurants of the Chestnut Street District.

A statue of a bison outside Fort Hays.

Day 2

The Chestnut Street District encompasses most of the revitalized downtown. After a scone and espresso at Semolino, browse the almost two dozen specialty shops. Bildschon Haus features home furnishings and decor. C.S. Post and Co. stocks antiques, jewelry and garden accents. Find gift ideas and seasonal decor at Dwayne's Designs. The expansive Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Co. features elegantly hearty fare and award-winning house beers.

Nearby attractions:

Sweets at Cocoa Dolce Beth Tully's northeast Wichita shop has become a sweet-tooth shrine thanks to her gray-salt caramels and other artisan chocolates handmade in small batches from premium ingredients. (866) 505-9214;

The chocolates of Cocoa Dolce.
The chocolates of Cocoa Dolce.

Golf at Auburn Hills This nationally celebrated 7,143-yard, 18-hole municipal course in Wichita (one of five public courses) winds through wetlands and requires precision to navigate its 52 sand traps and 14 lakes. (316) 219-9700;

Viewing the Big Well Designated one of the "8 Wonders of Kansas," the world's largest hand-dug well was excavated in Greensburg in the 1880s. Visitors carefully peer down into the 109-foot-deep, 32-foot-wide colossus. (620) 723-4102;

World-Class Wetlands Near Great Bend, millions of migrating waterfowl and other birds gather at vast wetlands. Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area (620) 793-7730; Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (620) 486-2393

For more information: Travel KS (785) 296-2009;