Thanks to the Wizard of Oz, most people have heard of KANSAS even if they have very little idea of what it’s like beyond the movies: vast fields of corn, twisters, Little House on the Prairie and the boyhood home of Clark Kent (aka Superman). Indeed, Dorothy’s immortal words “we’re not in Kansas anymore” has made the state a sort of bellweather ever since, and what Bill Bryson called “the most quintessential of American states” has recently been the scene of much liberal hand-wringing in books like What’s the Matter with Kansas? (the state is overwhelming conservative).

Be prepared for a few surprises; there are certainly vast, flat bits of Kansas, but the tallgrass prairies of the Flint Hills are beautiful, wild and rolling, and college towns such as Lawrence are crammed with galleries, restaurants and cool bars. Around the middle of the state you leave the Midwest behind entirely – Dodge City is all cowboy boots and Stetsons.

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