Clark Kent and Dorothy aren't the only heroes from Kansas. In real life, Wild West lawmen and fearless pioneers were the ones who made the Sunflower State bloom, a fact that's easy to recognize when you're touring the state's frontier-era forts, admiring its vintage railroad depots, and exploring other things to do in Kansas.

Down in Dodge City, visitors can walk the streets where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday stood up to the outlaw gang known as the Cowboys. After making their way down Front Street, where the jail, general stores, and saloons have been restored to their 1867 designs, they can watch a shootout at high noon, take in a saloon show, and dig into a real country dinner of slow-roasted Kansas beef and hot biscuits.

Further east in Independence lies the Little House on the Prairie Museum, where visitors tour a replica of the one-room cabin in which author Laura Ingalls Wilder was raised.

Another Kansas native, Amelia Earhart, gets her due inside Topeka's Combat Air Museum at Forbes Field. The museum's collection of military aircraft, aviation memorabilia, and aircraft engines spans from World War One all the way to the Space Shuttle program.

Of course, not everything in Kansas is so caught up in the past. Modern engineering is on display at the Kansas Speedway, where spectators watch NASCAR racers compete before retreating to the adjacent Hollywood Casino to play slots and table games. And at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, children climb kid-friendly steps to get a better view of elephants, red pandas, and Mexican grey wolves.

Perhaps the greatest oddity in Kansas is the World's Largest Ball of Twine, a 7-ton behemoth that visitors can add to if they arrange to do so in advance. About 170 miles northwest of both Wichita and Topeka, it'll take some driving to get to, but there may be no better excuse for taking a tasty tour of roadside barbecue joints along the way.

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