Topeka’s Natural Attractions

If you want to get out and see some of Kansas’ great outdoors than a stay in Topeka will put you in easy distance of some great sights. Anyone looking to experience some beautiful scenery and give themselves a gentle bit of exercise should definitely look into taking a stroll along the Kansas Historical Society’s Nature Trail. The trail, which is situated in western Topeka consists of four different sections. The eastern section is made up of a 2.5 mile long circuit which takes in creeks, grasslands and woodlands. As you walk along you’ll come across signs imparting interesting facts both about the natural history and the cultural significance of the sights you’ll see on the way. On the north trail you’ll pass through more woodland, whilst the south will take you down to the charming Stach School, a one room building of historical interest where you can see just how far education has come in the last couple of hundred years. The path to the west will take you over a series of bridges, including the Wea Creek Bridge, which is one of the only bridges featuring a Bowstring Arch Truss design still in use today. (The faint of heart should probably also be aware that one of the three bridges is of the rope variety, but don’t worry, it’s a lot safer than the ones you’ve seen in adventure movies!). There’s some great wildlife in the area that you might be lucky enough to catch sight of whilst out on the trail. In the prairie and alongside the banks of the creek you could spot a number of smaller animals as well as larger mammals such as the white tailed deer. If you’ve got an ornithological streak, keep an eye out for meadowlarks and red-tailed hawks. You might even see a wild turkey roving about. Another prime spot you should drop in on is Shawnee Lake. There are a range of places there in which to relax and it makes an ideal setting for a picnic. There’s a swimming beach as well as facilities for organised sports if you’d like to indulge in a game of tennis or volleyball. If you’d like to appreciate the view from the water head down to the marina and take a boat out or, if you have the requisite skills, you could go windsurfing. If you really want to get out on the water and enjoy yourself, try kayaking or canoeing down the Kansas River. At the Kaw River State Park, as well as enjoying a variety of hikes and mountain bike rides you can take through the 76 acres of...

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Children’s Attractions in Topeka

Topeka has a lot to offer visitors of all ages. If you’re going to be seeing the city with little ones, there are some great attractions that you certainly won’t want to miss. Nestled away in the beautiful Gage Park, the Kansas Children’s Discovery Centre is the ideal place for curious minds who love to play whilst they learn. The building, which is the best part of 16,000 square foot, contains nine different exhibits all geared towards teaching valuable lessons on a range of subjects including science, art and economics, whilst being a bucket load of fun to boot. As well as the hands on experiments inside, there are a number of outdoor activities on offer too. There are adventure playgrounds, tree house trails and a garden featuring an expansive, interactive water feature. The centre is closed most Mondays and is open 10am-5pm the rest of the week with the exception of Sundays on which it is open between 1pm and 5pm. Various events go on throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to phone ahead and see what is happening on any given day before you start planning your trip. Admission is $7.25 for adults and children alike. Also located in Gage Park is the Topeka Zoo, where you’ll find a whole host of your favourite animals, including creepy crawlies, birds and bats, lazy sloths, big jungle cats, reptiles, black bears and various members of the ape family. There’s even a kid’s zoo featuring cute farm animals that you can feed and pet. On top of that, there’s a ‘living classroom’ where you can go for even more educational fun. Perfect for anyone with a love of nature. The zoo is open from 9am to 5pm everyday of the week except for major holidays. You’ll need to get there before 4.30pm for last admissions. Tickets are $5.75 for adults and $4.25 for children. Again there are lots of special events that run throughout the year so check what’s on before heading down to make sure you make the most of your trip. Of course, Gage Park is beautiful in of itself and a good place to let the kids run around and get some air in their lungs. If you go for a look around you should definitely drop into the Blaisdell Family Aquatic Centre which features a huge outdoor swimming pool – the ideal place to cool off if you’re coming during the heat of the summer months. The pool is, as the name suggests, family friendly and there’s lots to keep swimmers entertained, including diving boards, slides and waterfalls. There are shallow paddling areas and...

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Cultural Attractions in Topeka

If you find yourself hankering after some culture during your stay, Topeka won’t disappoint you. Whether you have an eye for architecture, a passion for painting or an appreciation of performing arts, there’s something for everyone. One place you can go to figuratively kill two of the aforementioned birds with one stone is the Kansas State Capitol Building. This beautiful building, which was under construction from 1860s to the 1880s was commissioned to house the state legislature in a manner as grandiose as could be managed at the time. With its iconic dome, the building is a work of art in its own right, and, if you get the chance, you should certainly see if you can get onto one of the tours that take you to its very summit. You’ll be rewarded with a close up look at some the building’s most intriguing architectural features and an unbeatable view of the city into the bargain. (Take note that you will need to climb you fair share of stairs and that taking an elevator is not an option). On top of this the building is home to a variety of incredible artworks. Perhaps most notable among them are the murals made by Kansas local, John Steuart Curry, which were intended to tell the story of the state’s history (he was stopped short of completion as some of his contemporaries took umbrage with his vision). In truth the entire space is a thing of beauty and really should be seen as a priority. The building is open from 8am to 5pm on weekdays and tours go on throughout the day. Group size permitting, you can walk on to one of these tours without having made prior arrangements. Right across the street from the Capitol Building you’ll find the beautiful First Presbyterian Church, much famed for its Tiffany stained glass windows. If you have the time it’s worth coming to see them at a few different times of day as, with the changing of the light, the scenes take on a different character, though they are always stunning. For a further art fix look in at the Mulvane Art Museum on the Washburn University Campus. The museum is open every day with the exception of Wednesdays and, as well as its extensive in house collection, it also features an ever changing series of guest exhibitions. If you want to know more about the works on show, you can take a guided tour and get the story behind the pieces. On top of this, they also hold a number of interesting events, such as discussion groups and hands on, practical workshops. In...

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Historical Attractions in Topeka

Topeka is not short of things to do for those wanting to learn a little more about the history of the surrounding area which, at various times, has played a pivotal role in the development of the USA as a nation. One of the best places to go and get a flavour of this rich heritage is The Kansas Museum of History located on 6th avenue. Among the museums many award winning attractions are the 1914 Longren biplane (based on the 1911 model, which was the first Kansas made craft to successfully fly), the howitzer cannon belonging to James Burnett (who was a key figure in the fight to make Kansas a free state) and, the centrepiece, the oldest surviving locomotive from the Atchison-Topeka- Santa Fe railway. Children under the age of five can get into the museum for free as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Full price tickets are $8 but there are concessions on offer for senior citizens, students and military personnel. The museum is open from 9am-5pm from Tuesday to Saturday and from 1pm-5pm on Sundays. You can check these details by visiting the museum’s website here. If you want to get an even more immersive experience, you could head to the Old Prairie Town, which, as well as featuring a stunning expanse of botanical gardens, also has a replica of a log cabin from the mid 1880’s complete with a blacksmith’s workshop and a Victorian Prairie Mansion which you’ll find listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’ll give any visitor a great impression of what Topeka would’ve been like as place to live in the early days when the pioneers settled at this advantageous crossing point on the Oregon trail. Guided tours are available for just $4.50 for adults and $2 for children aged between 6 and 12 (those under six get in free). Of course, Topeka is also home to sites that have proved to be of great importance in much more modern history. There are many places throughout the city that were of great importance to the civil rights movement. Chief amongst these would be the Brown V. Board Historical Site which was opened to commemorate the Supreme Court’s decision to end segregation in schools. The site consists of what used to be the Monroe Elementary school, which was established to serve the black population of Topeka when, in the aftermath of the civil war, there was an influx of newly freed slaves to the area. In 1951 a group of parents filed a class action against the City of Topeka’s Board of Education calling for an end...

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