Discover the Top 20 Things that Define Kansas

Discover the Top 20 Things that Define Kansas

Kansas is located in the Midwest of America with a population of 3.935 million people. If you’re curious to know how long Kansas has been a state, it was admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861. It was the 34th state to land its official position in America. Kansas is a state to visit or relocate if you are interested in experiencing all four seasons of the year.

You will definitely see tons of powdery snowfall during the winter seasons. On the flip side of the coin, summers in Kansas tend to be comfortable pleasant, and warm. There’s a lot to love about the state beyond its weather upswings, though. It’s known for being one of the more affordable places to live compared to alternative options on the West or East Coast.

With a median home price of $214,347 compared to California’s median home price of $793,600, it’s obvious that you’ll get more bang for your buck in the Sunflower State. For more Kansas-related content, click here to learn about the 10 biggest movie stars who were born there.

To gather this list of 20 things Kansas is the most well-known for, 24/7 Tempo consulted several travel sources. These include Kansas City Magazine, Wichita Eagle, Only In Your State, Kansas, and Wanderlog.

The nickname: The Sunflower State

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“The Sunflower State” is Kansas’ nickname.

Some state nickname to be super confusing and mysterious. The state nickname for Kansas is pretty straightforward, though. Its affectionately been nicknamed “The Sunflower State” since wild sunflowers are native to the land. They sprout just about everywhere adding vibrancy, beauty, and aesthetically pleasing views wherever they bloom.

Superman comic books

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Kansas is known for Superman comic books.

Superman is arguably the most beloved comic book character of all time. He’s a superhero who landed on planet earth as a baby. He arrived in a mysterious spaceship and grew up to save innocent lives from villains. His spaceship happened to touch down in a fictional town called Smallville that was written to be located in Kansas. Since the original comic book publication, Kansas is honored and talked about in most Superman-themed movies and TV shows.


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Tornadoes occur in Kansas regularly.

The same way residents of California have to stay vigilant about earthquake threats, the residents of Kansas must stay on high alert for tornadoes. Some of the most notable tornadoes to hit Kansas were the Whippoorwill Tornado of 1978, the Great Plains Tornado of 1955, and the Andover Tornado of 1991.

The Kansas Jayhawks and other sports teams

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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - DECEMBER 30: Xavier Bell #1 of the Wichita State Shockers controls the ball as Elmarko Jackson #13 of the Kansas Jayhawks defends during the 2nd half of the game at T-Mobile Center on December 30, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Kansas Jayhawks are beloved in Kansas.

When it comes to sports teams in Kansas, the Kansas Jayhawks are one of the most popular squads to root for. They’re a college team that has a great reputation for scoring high. Other Kansas teams to support are the Kansas State Wildcats and Sporting Kansas City. The Wildcats mascot references college basketball, football, and baseball. Sporting Kansas City is the only professional sports team in the entire state for the game of soccer.

Kirstie Alley and other celebs born in Kansas

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Kirstie Alley and other celebs were born in Kansas.

A handful of highly popular and beloved celebrities were born in Kansas before pursuing professional fairs in the Hollywood industry. One of those stars happens to be Kirstie Alley who was born in Wichita. Dennis Hopper is an actor and film director who is born in Dodge City. Cassandra Peterson is an actress who was born in Manhattan. Annette Bening is an actress who was born in Topeka. The list of Kansas-born celebs goes on.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

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Visiting Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a must for Kansas tourists.

Stopping by the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the foothills region of Kansas is worthwhile if you’re curious to know more about the wonderfully diverse ecosystem on display there. There are more than 500 species of plants to admire, including Indian grass, big bluestem, little bluestem, and switchgrass.

Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum

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The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum is located in Kansas.

Amelia Earhart will go down in history for being one of the most innovative young women of her era. She was an American aviator who flew solo across the Atlantic ocean. Spending time in Kansas means there’s a chance you can visit the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. This museum gives guests the chance to explore her childhood home to see how she grew up before becoming a history maker.


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The Cosmosphere is a worthwhile spot in Kansas.

Anyone who enjoys science will appreciate a trip to Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. The Cosmosphere is full of cool attractions including the Justice Planetarium, Carey Digital Dome Theater, Hall of Space Museum, and Dr. Goddard’s Lab. The Cosmosphere is used as a field trip destination for local schools in Kansas as well.

Eisenhower Presidential Museum

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Kansas tourists can visit the Eisenhower Presidential Museum.

The Eisenhower Presidential Museum exists in honor of former US President Dwight David Eisenhower. He was the 34th President of the United States, and he served two consecutive terms as a representative of the Republican party. The Eisenhower Presidential Museum is located in Abilene, Kansas for visitors to check out.

Mount Sunflower

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Mount Sunflower is a tourist spot in Kansas.

Interestingly enough, Mount Sunflower isn’t an actual mountain. This tourist destination snagged its name due to its altitude. It’s the highest natural point in the entire state of Kansas, reaching 4,039 feet. Since sunflowers are the state flower of Kansas, the name is quite fitting. Hiking Mount Sunflower only takes about 14 minutes for most folks to complete since it’s such a short trail.

“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

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“The Wizard of Oz” references Kansas for audiences.

How many movies from the ’30s are still respected and revered to this day? “The Wizard of Oz” premiered in 1939 as a musical fantasy. It starred Judy Garland in the lead role of Dorothy Gale. When people think of “The Wizard of Oz” they often think of Kansas. That’s because no one will forget Dorothy’s unforgettable quote, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

The Great Plains

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The Great Plains are significant to the economy.

It’s impossible to talk about Kansas without referring to the Great Plains. The Great Plains describe the expanded flatland of North America. They go on for about 3,000 miles and exist as a reliable place for the production of agriculture. Since agriculture and farming are so important in America, the Great Plains are significant when it comes to keeping the economy stimulated.

The original Pizza Hut

Pizza in a cardboard box on a dark chalkboard. Space for your text. Top view of pizza package. Pizza delivery.
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The first-ever Pizza Hut was in Kansas.

Have you ever wondered where the first ever Pizza Hut was built? The first Pizza Hut opened its doors in Wichita, Kansas. It was back in 1958 when two college-aged brothers decided to borrow money from their mother to get the business started. She lent them $600, and they built a massive empire out of it. As of now, there are more than 1,600 Pizza Hut restaurants franchised throughout the United States.

Kansas State University and other college campuses

Kansas State University has a beloved college campus.

Students who are interested in going to college in Kansas have tons of incredible schools to consider. Kansas State University is a top college choice, located in Manhattan. The acceptance rate is quite high with 95% of applicants invited to move forward. Other college options include the university of Kansas, Emporia State University, Baker University, and Wichita State University.

The state bird: The Meadowlark

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The Meadowlark is Kansas’s state bird.

The meadowlark is the state bird in Kansas. One of the reasons this bird stands out so much is its color. They’ve got bright yellow under parts with a more neutral backside. If you only notice a meadowlark from behind, you might not think much of it. The yellow underbelly is what makes the Meadowlark such a memorable site to see when spending time in Kansas.

Chili, barbecue, and other savory dishes

Barbecue pork spare loin ribs St Louis cut with hot honey chili marinade burnt as closeup on an old rustic board
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Kansas is famous for barbecue.

Some of the most savory dishes Kansas is known for include chili, barbecue, hot wings, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, pot roast, BLTs, steak, monster burritos, and pork meatballs. There are tons of restaurants in Kansas where residents and visitors are welcome to order plates of delicious food. A few top spots are Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room and 801 Chophouse.

Cinnamon rolls, peppernut cookies, and other sweet desserts

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Cinnamon rolls are beloved in Kansas.

There’s no need to hide your sweet tooth while hanging out in a state like Kansas. Some of the delicious sweet treats people order in Kansas include peppernut cookies, cinnamon rolls, brown bread frozen custard, and coconut pie. As tandom, as this combination might sound, Kansas is widely known for serving savory chili and sweet cinnamon rolls together in one meal.

Armadillos, jackrabbits, and other wildlife

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Kansas’s wildlife includes wild armadillos.

If you enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, the wildlife in Kansas is intriguing to take a note of. Some of the most common animals you’ll come across are armadillos, jackrabbits, mice, prairie dogs, raccoons, and opossums. Venturing out into nature means, potentially crossing paths with Kansas’ wildlife.

“Terms of Endearment” and other movies filmed in Kansas

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Shirley MacLaine filmed “Terms of Endearment” in Kansas.

A handful of movies have been filmed using Kansas as the backdrop. “Terms of Endearment” was filmed in Junction city back in 1983. Shirley MacLaine led the way in the cast lineup. “Paper Moon” was filmed in multiple cities throughout Kansas in 1973. “Friday Night Lights” was filmed in Manhattan in 2004. “Ninth Street” was filmed in Kansas City in 1999. These few movie titles barely even scratch the surface.

The central location of Kansas in America

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Kansas is smack dab in the middle of the US.

Kansas is one of the most centrally located states in America. There are only a few other states that are equally as landlocked as this one. It’s bordered by Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Since Kansas is smack dab in the middle of the US, seeing it lit up on a map is a charming sight to see.

Folks from Kansas who want to visit a beach will have to embark on quite a journey to make that happen. Now that centrally located states are fresh on your mind, click here to learn about the 20 things Arkansas is most recognized for.

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