Getting To and Around Topeka

Topeka, as you might expect of a state capital, is easy enough to get to both by car and by plane. It’s at the cross roads of the I-335 and I-70 making it easily accessible by road whichever direction you’re approaching from. If you’re coming from overseas then Kansas City International airport is only an hour’s drive away and if you’re taking a domestic flight you can touchdown at the Manhattan Regional Airport. The Railways have played an important part in the history of Topeka so it’s no surprise that is has good rail links. Trains from the Union Pacific and BNSF are frequent. As with any major city, you won’t have a problem finding a place to hire a car if you want to provide yourself with a means of private transport during your stay. However, if you’re coming from overseas you’ll need to be aware of the requirements you’ll need to satisfy the rental criteria of the company you’re thinking of using. Though you can drive from your teens, you may need to be 25 or older to take a rental. In addition, though you may prefer to avoid borrowing in your day to day financial affairs, you might need a credit card to be able to rent a car. If you are coming from Britain, Ireland, Japan or Australia you will want to take some time to ensure you are comfortable driving on the other side of the road before you head into busy areas where conditions may present a challenge. On top of this you’ll probably be more used to driving ‘stick’, whereas the likelihood is that your rental will be automatic. If you really want to see a lot of the surrounding area, you probably will want to go down the rental route. However, if your trip is going to see you based around the city centre then public transport may suffice. There are 30 fixed Topeka Metro bus routes you can ride. Children under 5 are able to ride the bus routes for free, whilst a ticket (one way) for an adult costs $2. If you’re going to be using the buses frequently during an extended stay it could possibly be worth your while getting a monthly pass. This allows unlimited journeys during the calendar month and costs $50.00. It’s non refundable so you should be sure that you’ll get your money’s worth before making the investment. It could transpire that you’ll be better off going for a strip of ten tickets. This is cheaper than paying for each ride individually and, as you’ll already have your tickets, you don’t need to worry...

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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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Sporting Events in Topeka

If, as a sports fanatic, you find yourself in Topeka with a yearning to see some competitive action, don’t worry. As well as a host of regular sporting events, there’s a variety of events that carry more of the local flavour that will satisfy that urge. It would be downright neglectful to talk about sports in Topeka without bringing up the races that take place at the motorsports Mecca that is Heartland Park. Here you can see dirt track, drag strip and road course racing amongst other events. This year in May, over the Memorial Day weekend, the NHRA Kansas Nationals will be held at Heartland Park, where petrol heads can get a three day fix of high octane action, including some fastest funny cars in the world. If you’d rather see something a little more unusual then you might want to check out steer wrestling. If you’ve no idea what that actually involves, it’s basically an event in which a cowboy, mounted on his faithful steed, chases down a steer and makes and acrobatic leap from the horse to the steer. He then proceeds to wrestle the latter to the ground by its horns. As you may have picked up from the description, it’s quite a spectacle and not the safest of sports. Indeed, there are only five regional steer wrestling events that take place, and one of them is held at Topeka’s Domer Livestock Arena in January. There’s more at the same venue in the same month in the form of the PRCA Championship Rodeo, where you can see roping, bronc riding and all other sorts of events that you’d expect of a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event. If you want something with an equestrian theme but at a little bit more relaxed of a pace, then you might want to head down to the Kansas State Horseshoe Tournament which takes place at the end of August. Horseshoe pitching is a serious business at this event, with contenders all eager to take the crown. It takes place in Gage Park which, if you take a look at some of our other articles, you’ll see is already overflowing with family friendly attractions. Another sporting family event that makes for a great day out is the Sunflower State Games. They run for three consecutive weekends during July and feature a huge range of events, from martial arts, to bowling, sand volleyball to orienteering. It’s open to all age groups and ability levels and is all about inclusivity and fun. Whatever sort of sport you prefer, the likelihood is that it’ll be on at the games, which give the Olympics...

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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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