The Midwest doesn't get any more middle than Kansas. In fact, the exact middle of the continental U.S. is found there, and the state's western geography has all the flatness you would expect from an area known as the Great Plains. Many travelers mistakenly jump to the conclusion that "plain" also means ordinary—or downright dull—and that the middle is not the place to be. They either avoid the state or streak across it to places where the land is steeper and the waters are wilder.

While Kansas may not have an ocean or a mountain range, it does have a subtle beauty and a slower pace that we always enjoy. (We're not afraid to say it: We like driving down long stretches of two-lane road, surrounded by miles/kilometers of rippling wheat. It gives a sense of calm and vastness that's not found in many other places.)

Kansas also offers its share of oddities (such as the world's largest public concrete swimming pool and largest ball of sisal twine), fascinating geological features and outdoor activities (lots of hiking and fishing). And besides its location in the middle of the country, Kansas is smack-dab in the middle of U.S. history, too, with a large number of sites that will help you better understand the course of westward expansion, the struggle over slavery and the wide-open expanses crossed during cattle drives.

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