For the state's comprehensive Visitors' Guide, contact the Kansas Department of Commerce's Travel & Tourism Development Division (tel. 785/296-2009; www.travelKS.com). For information on the state's many parks and outdoor facilities, try the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks (tel. 620/672-5911; www.kdwp.state.ks.us). History buffs can get the scoop on the state's many historical sites from the Kansas State Historical Society (tel. 785/272-8681; www.kshs.org). Golfers can get the inside scoop on the state's best courses from the Kansas Golf Association (tel. 785/842-4833; www.kansasgolf.org).
If you're driving, you'll find two visitor centers scattered along some of the state's major travel corridors: along I-35, just north of the Oklahoma border (tel. 620/326-5123), and off I-70, east of the Colorado state line (tel. 785/899-6695). The friendly staff dispenses travel and touring advice, as well as maps and brochures.
By Plane -- The state's major airport is Kansas City International Airport (www.flykci.com); it's serviced by several major domestic carriers. For general information call tel. 816/243-5237. Most major car-rental agencies have desks at the airport.
By Train -- Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) trains stop at several cities, including Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City.
By Car -- The major road route is I-70, which runs west from St. Louis, Missouri, passing through the entire state before moving on to Colorado and Denver. I-35 runs north to Kansas City out of Oklahoma City. Two scenic and historic routes in the state that originate in Dodge City are U.S. 50 (moving west along the old Santa Fe Trail) and U.S. 56 (heading north). Note that road conditions can change in a moment; call the Road & Weather Conditions Hotline (tel. 877/511-5368) before setting out on a long drive.
The Kansas City Renaissance Festival (tel. 800/373-0357 or 913/721-2110; www.kcrenfest.com), one of the largest of its kind in the country, kicks off on 16 acres in Bonner Springs (15 min. outside Kansas City) on Labor Day, runs for 7 consecutive weekends, and then ends on Columbus Day. Each weekend features its own theme, lots of food, a mock-up of a 16th-century English village, live entertainment, tons of shopping, and 500 costumed characters. It's a royal hoot.
We're also fans of the Amelia Earhart Festival (www.atchisonkansas.net), held annually in Atchison (as in "The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe"). The famous aviatrix spent much of her girlhood in this eastern Kansas town, which retains many Victorian structures (some of which are now B&Bs). Earhart's girlhood home is restored, and available for tour by costumed docents. There are also a parade, musical performances, and flyovers.
Cowboys and wannabes shouldn't miss one of the state's many rodeos. Dates vary, so consult www.travelKS.com for up-to-the-minute event information.