Once the capital of the Kansas Territory, little Lecompton played a big role that led to the Union accepting Kansas as a free state. (Tours of Constitution Hall State Historic Site put you in the room where it happened.) Today’s capital of Topeka proves true freedom is an ongoing process. Case in point: Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, which reminds visitors just how recently school segregation was lawful. This region also provides in-depth opportunities to learn from the legacies of abolitionist John Brown, U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, and other spirited movers and shakers, including today’s locals who work to advance The Sunflower State’s illuminating story.
Places to GO!Back to Top of List
Get Schooled On The State’s Agricultural, Geological, And Human Histories At Marvelous Museums And Beneath The Towering Dome Of The State Capitol.
- Baker University Wetlands
Peace prevails where a boardwalk and other trails provide opportunities to spot more than 200 bird species and nearly 500 varieties of plants.
- Booth Family Hall Of Athletics & Debruce Center
Fans flock to Booth Family Hall of Athletics and the adjacent DeBruce Center to learn about basketball’s history and see former coach James Naismith’s original rules of the game.
- Robert J. Dole Institute Of Politics
The home of the Kansas statesman’s archives features a 29-foot stained-glass window of the American flag and beams from the World Trade Center.
- Spencer Museum Of Art
Looking for some visual inspo? Head to this free University of Kansas museum to see the 47,000-piece collection, including works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Grant Wood.
- Brown County Agriculture Museum
Take a breeze of a stroll past more than 40 windmills along Windmill Lane. Antiques hunters find buggies, cars and tractors galore among early 1900s farm buildings and equipment.
- Constitution Hall State Historic Site
Return to pre-Civil War days when an antislavery group crashed a proslavery constitutional convention meeting. In the balance: whether Kansas would join the Union as a free state.
- John Brown Museum State Historic Site
Abolitionist John Brown attacked proslavery settlers, sparking the Bleeding Kansas era of retaliatory fighting. Attend exhibits and events in a refurbished log cabin at John Brown Memorial Park, where the initial battle took place.
- Kansas Speedway
See one of two annual NASCAR Cup Series races or get behind the wheel yourself with the NASCAR Racing Experience, which lets adrenaline fiends take an exhilarating ride around the 1½-mile tri-oval.
- Legends Field
In 2021, the T-Bones of the American Association of Professional Baseball became the Monarchs, honoring the KC team that dominated the old Negro Leagues for decades. Watch them knock one out of the park at Legends Field.
- Legends Outlets
Shopping pros get their fix at Legends Outlets, with more than 70 stores delivering discounts on just about any brand you can imagine, plus nearly 30 dining options.
- Children’s Mercy Park
When it comes to great sporting events, it’s game on in Kansas City. Catch a Sporting KC soccer match under the canopy roof of Children’s Mercy Park, voted one of the most intimidating places to play in all of Major League Soccer. (The fans aren’t afraid to show their devotion.)
Photography By Kansas Tourism
- Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop And Farm Historic Site
In the 19th century, a vehicle’s horsepower meant just that. Ride in a reproduction stagecoach and get a taste of 1860s farm life. It’s the Santa Fe Trail’s last stagecoach stop open to the public.
- Merriam Marketplace
On Saturday mornings from May through September, a farmers market brims with baked goods, fresh produce, flowers and artwork. Enjoy a pastry at one of the picnic tables, then walk off the carbs along the Turkey Creek Streamway Trail.
- Museum At Prairiefire
The Kansas City area looked a bit different 300 million years ago. Experience an era of mammoths, rain forests and giant sloths, and see the skeletons of a carnivorous seagoing lizard and the giant fish Xiphactinus.
- State Capitol
The 1903 landmark soars 17 feet higher than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Inside, look up for a dazzling view of the inner dome, featuring 256 glass panels and a 900-pound chandelier.
Photography by Jess Hoffert
Places to EAT & DRINK!Back to Top of List
Kansas grains, grapes, honey and apples put many of these sip-and-dine treasures on the map.
- Black Labs Craft Meadery
Julie and Carl Hinchey—along with black Labs Zak and Petey—open up their small batch meadery for free tastings on weekends. Creative varieties include Social Deduction, aged with habanero peppers.
- The Burger Stand
Burgers aren’t just burgers in Topeka. At The Burger Stand, bite into Kobe beef topped with truffle butter and pickled red onions.
- Hazel Hill Chocolate
Third-generation Chocolatiers Craft Truffles And Butter-toffee Popcorn. Their Treats Make Great Gifts … Especially For Yourself.
- Jong’s Thai Kitchen
If you’re looking for something light, go for the beautifully presented papaya salad. Their Tom Yum soup with lemongrass and fresh veggies warms the soul on cool nights.
- Norsemen Brewing Company
In the heart of the NOTO Arts and Entertainment District, raise your glass of Odin’s One EyePA and toast the creative energy—and cuisine—that thrives around here.
- The White Linen
For A Classy Date Night, The White Linen Comes Through With Dishes Like Roasted Pheasant With Pomegranate And Honey Vinaigrette—and Swanky Cocktails At The Knox Next Door.
- The Pennant
Try a Mighty Mushroom (Black Angus beef with mushroom Bordelaise and fried onion strings). The vibrant, airy space is also home to dazzling milkshakes and vintage arcade games.
- Feed Store Cafe
Bring a big appetite to this friendly small-town cafe. Mom’s Favorite Homemade Pancakes fill the plate, and the biscuits and gravy practically require their own zip code.
- Ibis Bakery At Black Dog Coffeehouse
Think of the truffle grilled cheese sandwich (served on freshly baked bread) as the adult answer to childhood cravings. Strong coffee prevents a post-cheese snooze.
- Island Spice Jamaican Restaurant
This military town draws a diverse population that influences the dining scene. Try curried goat or oxtails, then refresh with sorrel, a punch made from dried hibiscus flowers.
- Ladybird Diner
The savory hashes and sweet French toasts provide all the fuel you need to walk Mass Street.
- John Brown’s UndergroundSip topflight cocktails in a basement setting at this spot known for creatively designed menus and expert mixologists. Order a seasonal drink or stick with one of their classics, like Let Me Be Clear, a clarified Jungle Bird made with Haitian-distilled rum.
Photography By Aaron Patton
- Kck Taco Trail
For local fare, follow the KCK Taco Trail to more than 50 taquerias, such as Carlos Falcon’s Jarocho and Carlos Mortera’s Poió Mexican BBQ.
- Louisburg Cider Mill
After posing for a pic in front of the postcard-ready barn, treat yourself to fresh apple cider, house-made Lost Trail Root Beer, and cider doughnuts at the 80-acre farm.
- Paolucci Restaurant, Deli And Lounge
This 1983 spin-off of the 1894 Paolucci’s Grocery keeps aficionados of Italian food satisfied with generous portions of lasagna and shrimp Alfredo. Hankering for hash browns? They also do all-day breakfast.
Chef Colby Garrelts’ 2013 James Beard Award proves that capable hands can turn fried chicken into fine dining, and executive pastry chef Megan Garrelts’ Chocolate Mo-Kan Pie showcases nuts from the region.
- Somerset Ridge Vineyard And Winery
Weekends bring food trucks and live music to this country winery that features a tasting room with picnic provisions. The wines, some made from Kansas grapes, include off-dry whites and a Cabernet Franc. .
- Sommerset Cafe
Since the late Norma Grubb’s coconut cream pie was named the nation’s best by ABC’s Good Morning America in 2008, dessert-lovers have visited in droves. The juicy burgers also earn raves from locals.
- Strawberry Hill Baking Company
If You Had To Live By Bread Alone, You Might Want To Go With Povitica (pronounced Poh-va-teet-sa), A Filled European Sweet Bread With Intricate Swirls. Try Samples Of Some Of The 10 Flavors, Including Apple Cinnamon And The Signature English Walnut.
- Strang Hall
With six restaurants in one airy space, the meal combos are endless. Order steam buns from Anousone, tacos from Fénix, grilled shrimp from Solstice and Brussels sprouts from Minglewood for the ultimate sampler.
Photography By Aaron Patton
Places to STAY!Back to Top of List
Rest easy. Whether you opt for an urban boutique hotel or a rural retreat, the hospitality here is second to none.
- The Barn Bed And Breakfast Inn
Host a family reunion in the country that’ll keep everyone entertained. Disc golf, an indoor heated swimming pool, a game room, and fresh breakfasts and dinners make planning easy.
- Cyrus Hotel
Named for Cyrus K. Holliday, one of Topeka’s founders, the city’s first boutique hotel is full of modern amenities and unique antiques, like an ornate eagle door knocker in the lobby. Fine-dine at on-site Fedeli’s Steak and Pasta.
- Great Wolf Lodge
Everyone digs a super-soaked stay here. Kids let loose at the sprawling indoor water park, which is heated to a balmy 84 degrees year-round.
- Hidden Valley Wilderness Retreat
A trio of tree houses provides wooded serenity in a forest north of Leavenworth. The Whispering Elm tree house blows guests away with its spiral staircase and spacious screened-in patio.
Photography By Aaron Patton
- The Inn At Meadowbrook
Bask in one of 54 luxe rooms or in the lakefront courtyard. Get active in the pool and fully equipped fitness center. And start the day right with fresh coffee and pastries at The Market.
- The Oread
You’re allowed to feel like royalty at this castle-esque limestone lodging overlooking the KU campus. Cheer on the Jayhawks at Bird Dog Bar and enjoy a late-night drink on the hotel’s rooftop terrace.
- Circle S Ranch And Country Inn
A rural-chic stay means horseback riding and hayrides followed by Jacuzzi time in the wood silo. Don waffle-weave robes and cozy up by double-sided fireplaces in the barn.