You can imagine how special a place must be when it’s home to a garden so spectacular that the name stuck.

The garden in question, Fulton Yard, is long gone, but Garden City lingers on as an exciting place to explore for both vacationers and local residents.

Find out some more things you didn’t know about this charming destination.

1. Enormous Diversity

There are over 20 languages spoken in the Garden City area, where people from over 35 different countries live in harmony together.

The city’s diversity is so staggering that filmmaker, Steve Lerner, recently captured this essence in a film entitled ‘Strangers in Town’. The short documentary features frank conversations with many residents of the town and their experiences living and working in this accepting and welcoming community.

Lerner hopes his work will become an inspiration for cities all over the world to follow Garden City’s example of what people can achieve by working together regardless of their backgrounds.

2. It’s Home to a Huge Swimming Pool

When the Big Dipper opened in 1922, it was one of the world’s largest swimming pools and the largest one where you could swim for free.

The citizens of Garden City dug the 72,600 square-foot pool by hand and laboriously poured the concrete themselves.

During the 1930s the City added a bathhouse and children’s wading pool to the complex and further improvements in 2006 included a bulkhead dividing the pool in half as well as five slides and a plunge pool.

In the 1980s two youths ski-ed across the pool in a promotional stunt and the Lee Richardson Zoo’s elephants often took a dip in the waters after the pool closed for the summer season. At its zenith, the pool attracted over 1,000 visitors a day.

However, all this wear and tear have taken their toll on this Garden City landmark, and its currently closed for renovations. The pool’s set to reopen in 2021 with significant improvements and even more attractions for summer fun-seekers.

3. Garden City Has the Biggest Zoo in Western Kansas

No trip to Garden City’s complete without a trip to the Lee Richardson Zoo. This top garden city attraction spans 50-acres and is home to over 300 different kinds of animals.

Some of the more interesting species include Addaxes, Amur leopards, Gorals, Takins, and many other animals you’ve never heard of.

Here you can walk among the animal habitats and relax in the picnic areas while children have a ball in the playgrounds. You can also take guided walks with a zoo professional as well as a host of interactive presentations at the Finnup Center for Conservation Education.

4. Sandsage Bison Range Wildlife Area

Apart from the zoo, Garden City’s also home to free-roaming animals at the Sandsage Bison Range Wildlife Area. Located just outside town, this wilderness area’s home to one of the world’s largest herds of wild bison.

The animals here also belong to the longest-standing publicly-owned bison herd in Kansas. President Woodrow Wilson set up the reserve in 1916 when he set aside 3,021 acres of the Kansas National Forest Holdings for use as a nature sanctuary. The preserve was later expanded to its current size of 3,760 acres.

Mule deer, coyotes, black-tailed prairie dogs, and Ord’s kangaroo rats also reside in the park. You can tour these prairie landscapes on pre-booked guided tours to see the bison in their huge pastures.

You can explore areas where the bison aren’t in residence under your own steam.

5. The Tiger King Was Born in Garden City

One of the lesser-known garden city facts is that Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, the nefarious Tiger King, hails from here. He left Garden City with his parents when he was five years old.

This colorful character worked as a policeman, an aspiring country singer, and once ran for president, before settling into his well-known career as an animal breeder. His deeds were so astonishing and baffling that his antics are now featured in an eight-part documentary on Netflix.

Fortunately, Garden City has many upstanding citizens and high achievers to make up for the wrongdoings of this character. Namely, Ray Watson, a former Olympic athlete, baseball legends Gene Krug, Harry Short, and Todd Titchener, as well as several successful boxers.

6. Buffalo Dunes Golf Course is Number One

Golf is one of the biggest garden city attractions in the summertime. The city boasts two prestigious courses, namely the Golf Club at South Wind and Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.

The latter’s currently ranked as the number one municipal golf course in Kansas by Golf Digest and offers an excellent 18-hole challenge for enthusiasts.

The Scottish-style course is six miles south of the city and hosts the annual Kansas Pro-Am in August. You can usually play golf all year round on this course.

Some of the pros who’ve graced the fairways and greens of Buffalo Dunes are Tom Weiskopf, Stewart Cink, Lee Janzen, Steve Jones, and Gary Woodland.

7. You Can Eat Almost Anything in Garden City

Thanks to its diverse culture you’ll find every kind of cuisine up for grabs at Garden City bars and restaurants. Try some of these the next time you’re in town:

  • Vietnamese
  • Chinese
  • Mexican
  • Barbecue

Of course, you’ll find all your American favorites up for grabs here too, but why not try something different when you get the chance?

Discover Garden City for Yourself

Garden City’s a fascinating destination for every kind of traveler, offering endless entertainment, fascinating sites, and welcoming hospitality.

Don’t miss out a moment longer, start planning your trip today. We look forward to welcoming you soon!

Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau

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