Explore this small Midwest town that's big on things to do and steeped in Wild West history with our Hays travel guide.
Reserve with Choice Hotels in Hays, KS, where history, education and culture come alive. Visit Hays, the ideal place to experience the historical and cultural charm of America's Old West. A vibrant college town and the largest city in northwestern Kansas, Hays features historical museums, eclectic shopping, arts and exciting entertainment to enjoy on your vacation.
Rattlesnakes, dinosaurs and mastodons come alive at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. Visitors will be captivated by replicated flying reptiles, sea serpents and life-sized animated dinosaurs. Aspiring paleontologists will enjoy digging for buried treasures in the museum's fossil pit. Step back in time with a tour of Fort Hays State Historic Site, built to protect settlers as the country expanded westward in the 1800s. Reopened as a historical park in 1929, many restored buildings are open to visitors.
Learn the history of the Wild West on a self-guided Historical Downtown Walking Tour, where plaques identify important sites and events. Notable historical figures such as Calamity Jane, "Wild Bill" Hickok, George Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody were all connected with Hays, giving it a reputation as one of the most violent towns on the Kansas frontier. Many Hays residents are descendants of German immigrants from Russia, the heritage of whom heavily influences the area.
For a peek at early German-American life, visit the Volga German Haus at the Ellis County Historical Society, as well as the nearby St. Fidelis Church, referred to as "the Cathedral of the Plains." If time allows, attend a German-style Mardi Gras, polka fest or Oktoberfest while visiting. Kids of all ages will love cooling off at the Hays Aquatic Park. Plenty of fun can be had on the lazy river, water slides, pools and diving boards. Chestnut Street District is a busy commercial area featuring fine arts, entertainment, quaint bakeries and plenty of shopping.
Head to a Hays hotel for relaxation and rest after a busy day exploring the historic city. Reserve with Choice Hotels for a memorable stay.