Kansas: Least Scenic State? No!

Since the weather across the USA is rather dull, let's talk about an item in the news. You've probably seen this all over the internet.
Being a proud Kansan (who has visited 48 of the 50 states), I strongly disagree that Kansas isn't scenic. I could show you many, many photos of scenic Kansas but you'll probably unconvinced because Kansas has two problems:
  • I-70, west of Salina, is not scenic. That is the most traveled road in the state. 
  • Kansas is deliberately portrayed as not scenic in the media.
To take one popular movie example: This scene from National Lampoon's Vacation that is supposed to be in Kansas. Where was it really filmed? Colorado!

Or, take Trains, Planes and Automobiles. The ugly 'Wichita' scenes. Where were they filmed? Illinois!
Director John Hughes sent people to scout locations in the real Wichita but found the city was much more attractive than they imagined, so they filmed the 'Wichita' scenes elsewhere. 

The 1999 movie The Big Kahuna starring Danny DeVito and Kevin Spacey is supposed to take place entirely in Wichita at a hotel immediately adjacent to the convention center. In the movie, it looks old and dingy. Here is what the real hotel, the Hyatt Regency Wichita (next to the Century II Convention Center), actually looks like.

What kind of experience can you expect at the Hyatt (or at Wichita's other great hotels)? Let's let Oprah Winfrey tell you:

Just 24 hours earlier, they spent the night in what Oprah called a "grungy, moldy, stinky motel," so when she and Gayle pulled into Wichita's Hyatt Regency Hotel, the weary travelers could barely contain their excitement.

"I wanted to hug the bellman, but when I went to hug him, he looked afraid," Gayle says.

Oprah even broke out into the "happy hotel dance" in the lobby! "After our experience in the motel the night before, that Hyatt was a welcome oasis," Oprah says. "What a difference a day makes!"

The ladies left their pillows and blankets in the car and bedded down for the night in beautiful suites.

But, what if you are not Oprah? Here is the latest Hyatt review from TripAdvisor:
We also have excellent an excellent full-service Marriott, the Broadview, and, across the street from our AccuWeather offices, The Ambassador along with hundreds of others. 

Just yesterday, we hosted an AccuWeather guest with an interest in aviation at our offices in downtown Wichita. He was so excited when he learned about the Kansas Cosmosphere, Kansas Aviation Museum and our other attractions, we were already planning visits when he is back in town in a couple of months. 

I could go on and on but you get the idea. Kansas, as one national travel writer commented, is a "much, and unfairly, maligned state." 

If you wish to come and visit us, just do a Google search on the following:  meteorological musings three perfect days in Wichita
You'll find my insiders' guide to having a terrific time. If you have any questions, just post them in the comments below. 

P.S. I look forward to visiting Idaho and Montana in the next few months, the only two states I have not visited. 


  1. I would look to Ansel Adams as proof, some people can find beauty in everything they see. Some can not see it until it is pointed out to them.

    The only places I go where I honestly can't find *something* to like are garbage dumps, or industrial cleanup sites.

  2. Many people also think KS is flat. In ways (storms) I wish it was but it definitely isn't till you get west (interstate 70 problem again). Me on the other hand, just got a job in Manhattan at KSU. Your three days in KS is great and definitely agree about Harrys. I am moving in next month (from SD where my heart will remain for many reasons), but I look forward endless photog ops and living in the country outside the city. Hoping the skies are dark enough for star/milky way photog!

  3. Chip: Welcome to Kansas!! We are delighted to have you.

    Suggestions: Go visit the Flint Hills (take 177 south from Manhattan) and enjoy the green and scenery to Cottonwood Falls. You will find an outstanding restaurant at the Grand Central Hotel and Cafe. Downtown Cottonwood Falls has many neat stores. Continue south to just north of Matfield Green and visit the Pioneer Bluffs ranch and museum.

    Since writing "Three Perfect Days" there are a couple new restaurants in Manhattan well worth your time and money.

    Finally, YES! you can see the Milky Way very well from rural Kansas. See: http://photography.corymottice.com/Astrophotography

  4. How does the saying go? "I spent a week one day in Kansas."

    I-70 is to Kansas as the Northern NJ Turnpike is to New Jersey.


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