Hays was a focal point for many “Wild West” characters. Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, and Wyatt Earp. Today, it’s the financial epicenter for the entire western portion of Kansas with a stronghold in manufacturing, oil, and agriculture.
In terms of retail, Hays is alive and well. Many shops and restaurants cater to every possible whim. There are numerous galleries, as well as dance and theater studios, a symphony orchestra, and many cultural festivals that add charm and charisma to the community.
One of the most endearing spots in town is Chestnut Street. Quaint shops, eateries, and galleries stand ready to greet customers. A sense of being in a place where “everybody knows your name” emanates from each establishment along the way. Even a stranger feels at home.
Other interesting attractions include: Bukovina Society of the Americas Museum, Ellis County Historical Society, Blue Sky Miniature Horse Farm, St. Fidelis Church, Buffalo Herd, Ellis Railroad Museum & Doll Display, and Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
Kids enjoy Hays Aquatic Park with its pools and slides. Several ball parks and tennis courts are scattered throughout, as are a number of golf courses. Ten lakes in the area spark a lot of water sports activities.
Countless parks present opportunities for outdoor pleasures. Walking trails are found at several locations including Aubel-Bickle Park and Frontier Park. Wildlife observation and photography are popular. Some of the best places to capture nature on film are the Hays Medical Center Fitness Trail, Fort Hays State University Big Creek, and Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site.
Cedar Bluff Reservoir and Lake Wilson offer excellent fishing opportunities. Combined, they make up 15,000 acres of aquatic habitat. These are great areas to catch striped and smallmouth bass, black bass, catfish, bluegill, and crappie.
There’s a skate park at Aubel-Bickle Park. But, perhaps the most exciting sport in the area is the rodeo found each summer at various times (you’re sure to catch a show at the Ellis County Fair).
Hays is located on I-70 in the central portion of The Sunflower State.