20 Things To Do In Abilene, Kansas

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The Smithsonian Magazine doesn’t just hand out labels so when they include somewhere in their list of the ‘best small towns to visit’ in the USA, it should be enough to get your attention. Abilene is best known for its most famous son, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was born and raised in this part of the 34th US state. He went on to become the 34th President of the USA, as well as a 5-star general. So, as you can imagine, the town dines out on its association with him.

However, aside from its many Eisenhower-related attractions, Cowtown, as locals affectionately call it is a vibrant community with plenty of attractions to keep you engaged for a good few days at least. When planning to visit the Midwest, Abilene is a destination you should pencil into your itinerary. It will take you around two hours to get there from Kansas City and about an hour and 15 minutes from Topeka. Here are the best things to do in Abilene.

Abilene, Kansas

20 Things To Do In Abilene

1- Check Out The Statue Of Eisenhower

Old Postage Stamps From USA Eisenhower
Checking out the statue of Eisenhower is one of the things to do in Abilene KS.

One of the first things to do in Abilene is to meet the man himself or at least his statue, anyway.

On 200 S E 4th Street, within the grounds of the Eisenhower Library & Museum (more about that shortly), the 11-foot statue depicts him in his signature World War II ‘Eisenhower Jacket’.

It also features a base made of Georgia granite that highlights his roles as the President of the United States, General of the Army, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces and Supreme Allied Commander of Europe.

2- Visit The Presidential Library & Museum

The statue stands in the grounds of the Presidential Library and Museum, so once you’ve taking a few photos of the carving, you should head on over to this superb cultural attraction.


Built on the back of funding from public gifts, the museum and library were constructed under the stewardship of the Eisenhower Foundation.

The building was made from Kansas limestone, and it opened on 11th November (Veterans Day) 1954, with the former president in attendance.

The museum houses various exhibits and displays that showcase his life.

Just be aware that it is closed on Mondays.

3- Sit On A Bench With Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is known as one of the founding fathers of the USA, which is acknowledged in part through a sculpture of him that sits on a bench out of the front of the Carnegie Library.

The life-size sculpture was created by George Lundeen and was generously donated to the library in 2010 by Ron and Shirley Russell.

It is at 209 NW 4th Street and features Franklin sitting on a bench reading a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

On the back of the bench, to keep him company, is an American Eagle.

4- Photograph Abilene’s Murals

Abilene has an incredible street art scene which has been allowed to flourish thanks to sizeable donations from authorities like the local Arts Council and Dickinson County Community Foundation.

While in town, take the opportunity to see as many of them as you can.

One of the most impressive is the Abilene Mural, which was created by Whitney Kerr, a talented local graffiti artist.

It comprises a postcard-inspired, vintage mural on North Spruce Street that depicts a significant part of Abilene’s history, through each letter of its name.

Other notable street art to see are the train mural on NE 3rd Street and Harmon Mural on NW Broadway, another Kerr masterpiece.

5- Admire The Lebold Mansion

Completed in 1880, the breathtaking Lebold Mansion is a 20-room mansion that was commissioned by C.H. Lebold, a local realtor, banker and politician, over the site of the town’s first log cabin.

The Victorian-era house has a touch of the Addams Family home about it.

Over time it has been an orphanage, telephone exchange and apartment complex.

However, today it is the private residence of Joseph Tatner, a professional entertainer, event producer and choreographer.

Despite being his private home, you are able to visit it via a guided 1.5-hour tour.

There is no official charge for it, although a $10 donation per person is requested.

6- Watch A Wild West Gunfight

Showdown In Old West
Watching a Wild West gunfight is one of the cool thing to do in Abilene for adults and kids

Abilene has a rich history for wild west gunfighting, which you can get a flavour for by watching a performance by the Old Abeline gunfighters.

This volunteer group stages shows in full wild west regalia that depicts shoot-outs from days gone by with intriguing realism.

It’s a fascinating spectacle that is well worth checking out when you are in town.

The location of the shows often varies, year-on-in, so ask the locals where the next one will be staged.

7- Visit Brown Memorial Park

If the sound of firing guns is all a bit too much for you, then head on over to Brown Memorial Park for more a serene experience.

on Indy Road, this beautiful greenspace is home to a stunning waterfall, which is a perfect place for a picnic or digital detox.

The park has a nice walking path you can explore and plenty of pretty flowers and trees to take it.

Additionally, it features a fabulous 18-hole disc golf course, which has recently been upgraded and re-designed from its original 9-hole course.

Playing a round of disc golf is a very fun way to explore the park’s beauty while letting your competitive juices flow.

8- Follow The Cowboy Boot Art Trail

New Cowboy Boots On Shelf
Following the Cowboy Boot Art Trail is one of the things to do in Abilene Kansas.

Back in the 1870s the T.C. McInerney’s Drovers Boot Store was an institution in town, hooking up the local cowboys with the footwear they need.

Thanks to the local Arts Council, Abilene now pays homage to this store through its Cowboy Boot project.

Throughout town there are 11 cowboy boots that have been installed as public art.

They are brightly coloured and beautifully designed to showcase a part of the town’s history.

One of them, outside Little Ike Park has an American Flag theme, while another honour’s their sister community of Omitama, which is a city in Japan.

9- Check Out The Seelye Mansion

Named one of the ‘Eight Wonders in Kansas’ in terms of its architecture, the Seelye Mansion is a very impressive structure.

Completed in 1905, this deluxe 25-room mansion features incredible period fixtures and fittings.

For instance, its lighting is original Edison, while it also has a Tiffany mantelpiece.

Its gardens are also spectacular too.

Interestingly, Dwight D. Eisenhower used to deliver ice here when he was a youngster.

The mansion can be view on a tour any day of the week.

10- Pop Into The Greyhound Hall Of Fame Museum

Ok, first of all, I am not talking about buses.

Abilene is, in fact, known for being the greyhound dog capital of the world, which you can find out more about at this museum.

Through its collection of photographs, interactive exhibits and displays, it paints a fascinating portrayal of the greyhound breeding and racing industry.

If this is something you are into, this place will be your Disneyland.

11- See The Fred Schmidt Museum

If you are into trains, another good museum to visit is the Fred Schmidt Museum.

You will find it within the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad depot on SE 5th Street.

The museum honours Schmidt, who was one of the railroads founders.

It showcases a range of G-scale model trains and other railroad paraphernalia that explores the wonders of this form of transportation.

12- Experience Life As A Pioneer

Ever wondered what life was like for the pioneers? Well, you can get a feel for it by visiting the Dickinson County Heritage Center.

There, you can enter a one-room log cabin that gives you a real sense of the lives of the men, women and children who resided in them.

You will see the kerosene lanterns which provided the only form of light, the wood-fired stove on which they cooked and the porcelain basin they washed themselves at.

Overall, it provides a thought-provoking insight into their existence.

13- Take A Photo Of The World’s Largest Belt Buckle

One of the more unique landmarks in Abilene is the world’s largest belt buckle.

Standing at 19 feet 10 ½ inches wide and 13 feet 11 ¼ inches tall, this notable sight can be found within the Eisenhower Park and Rose Garden.

It was designed by Jason Lahr, a local artist and provides nods to Abilene’s historic past by referencing the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Greyhound racing and Wild Bill Hickok among others in a structure which is inlaid with blue quartz.

14- Stroll Around The Eisenhower Park And Rose Garden

Colorful Roses In A Rose Garden
Strolling around the Eisenhower Park And Rose Garden is one of the relaxing things to do in Abilene today.

Talking of the garden, you should definitely take the opportunity to spend a bit of time there.

It is renowned for its stunning floral displays, which accommodate more than 150 different types of roses and over 500 varieties of flowers, making it a tremendous spot for a picnic or to stroll around.

The best way to access it is through Pine Street and arguably the best time of day to visit it is at sunset.

(Pro Tip! If you come here at that time, it is very a romantic place to propose).

15- Enjoy A Show At The Great Plains Theatre

For around 30 years, the Great Plains Theatre on North Campbell Street has been bringing top quality, live theatrical performances to the good people of Abilene.

The shows put on by this highly regarded, professional theatre group are very entertaining and draw in budding actors from all over the country.

Previous performances have included Always Patsy Cline, To Kill a Mockingbird and Little Shop of Horrors.

Contact them directly to see what is currently on.

With 12 pairs of horses, four different chariots and a platform that is 40-foot wide, the Parker Carousel is a must for those who enjoy fairground rides.

Included as one of the ‘8 Wonders of Kansas’, this historic carousel dates back to 1901.

It is currently the oldest of all Parker carousels currently in operation and is at the Dickinson County Heritage Center.

Try to get to it early in the day to avoid longer queuing times.

17- Wild Bill Hickock Rodeo

Rodeo Team Calf Roping
Going to a rodeo is one of the fun things to do in Abilene.

‘Wild Bill’ Hickock, was a legendary figure in the American Old West, variously being a soldier, lawman, cattle rustler, gambler, showman and, perhaps most notably, a gunslinger who was victorious in many famous gunfights.

He made his mark in Abilene by becoming a marshall there in 1871, so for this reason the town has honoured him in various ways, included by naming the local rodeo after him.

Today, the Wild Bill Hickock Rodeo, is regarded as one of the leading medium-sized PRCA rodeos in the USA.

If you happen to be in Abilene in August, make the effort to attend one of these high-octane events.

They are spectacular.

18- Ride The Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad Train

If you intend to visit the Fred Schmidt Museum, you should also take the opportunity to ride a train on the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad.

These trains take you on a 10.5-mile eastbound round trip through the magnificent Smoky Hill River Valley, all the way to the town of Enterprise.

The ride, which is operated by volunteers, is smooth, relaxing and scenic, making it a terrific way to spend an afternoon.

19- Eat At The Brookville Hotel

For over 100 years, The Brookville Hotel has been a stalwart in the local community.

After being forced to close due to the economic impact of COVID-19, it has now reopened again under new management.

The venue is best known for its superb Brookville fried-chicken dinners which are served family-style.

This basically means the portion sizes are huge, so you will need to bring your appetite with you!

20- Browse The Dickinson County Heritage Center

If you are interested to find out more about the region’s agricultural background, the best place to do this is at The Dickinson County Heritage Center.

Here, you will find an annex of buildings that showcase a wide range of farm equipment, tools and machinery in a historical context, which outlines how the town and surrounding area has developed over the years.

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Spencer Samaroo
Spencer is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years experience producing written content for tourism-related businesses. A thalassophile who was afflicted with wanderlust from a young age, he has visited over 40 countries in the world. An ex-pat Brit who now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he cites Miami Beach in the USA and Palm Cove in Australia as his favourite travel destinations. Specialising in writing about beach destinations around the world, he would probably bleed sand if you cut his arm open