Topeka is the capital of the great state of Kansas. It is a wonderful and unique weekend destination for visitors who wish to experience the culture and history of Kansas. Topeka is a place for sightseers who want to get away from city life and commune with nature. Get a sense of the most beautiful places to see in Topeka, and list them all down in your travel must-visits!
1. Lake Shawnee
A trip to the Kansas capital is not complete without a trip to Lake Shawnee, one of the most beautiful places to see in Topeka. It is a man-made lake built as a Work Progress Administration Project from 1935 to 1939. 5,000 fishermen in the state celebrated its completion!
There are many amenities and facilities on the banks of the lake. You can find beautiful gardens and large open areas perfect for just sitting down and enjoying the water. There is the Garden House, the Reynolds Lodge, and even shelter houses for day-trippers who want to picnic on the shores. Water activities offered on the lake include boating, fishing, and swimming. For those who wish to stay on dry land but still enjoy the views, there is camping, golfing, and tennis.
2. Kansas Museum of History
The Kansas Museum of History in Topeka is a state history museum. It is run by the Kansas Historical Society, which called the Kansas State Capitol building as its first home. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places to see in Topeka, but also one of its most educational.
Opened in 1984, the Kansas Museum of History rose on an 80-acre site near the Potawatomi Mission to house the Historical Society’s extensive collection. Today, it houses galleries for ongoing and special temporary exhibits, as well as classrooms for its many outreach programs.
In addition, it also hosts several programs for children that are popular with Topeka natives. Such programs include Kansas Day, Museum After Hours, the History and Environmental Fair, the Sundown Film Festival, and the West Fest.
3. Kansas Children’s Discovery Center
Speaking of programs for children, the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center is another popular place for little ones visiting Topeka! It is a fairly new structure that opened in 2011 but is already one of the most beautiful places to see in Topeka. To find the center, just drive until you reach Gage Park.
The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center houses a variety of hands-on exhibits where their children can learn and explore through play. Exhibits cover the topics of art, science, and many other subjects appropriate for kids. Active children can enjoy hiking trails, obstacle courses, or ride the many bike paths with bikes supplied by the center. It also offers daily programs, camps, field trips, and other special events. The center even agrees to host birthday parties, and interested visitors can find an array of party packages suitable for them and their children.
4. Gage Park
Going out of the Children’s Discovery Center, continue to explore Gage Park. It is one of the largest parks in the city going back to 1899. Aside from offering a lot of things to do, it’s also one of the most beautiful places to see in Topeka.
For instance, it features the Topeka Zoo, which houses over 250 animals in several exhibits. Notably, it also has one of the first indoor tropical rainforests in the country. Aside from that, the park is home to an outdoor theater, a miniature train, and the Reinisch Rose Garden and Doran Rock Garden.
The Topeka Horticulture Society developed the rose garden and opened it in 1930, following the death of its initial planner, E.F.A. Reinisch. The garden features over 400 varieties of roses and is one of 23 test gardens in the United States for hybridizers.
Visitors who wish to see the park at its best are advised to visit in late May until early June when the roses are at their best. Nearby is the Logan Test Garden, a reflecting pool, and the Doran Rock Garden.
5. Old Prairie Town
Old Prairie Town at the Ward-Meade Historic Site is an open-air museum and park. You many historic buildings, botanical gardens, and even a general store and a drug store in this area.
It is actually a street of historic 19th-century buildings that had been moved to that location in order to preserve them. The street includes structures such as an 1880 Methodist church that was originally from Everest, Kansas. There is an 1870 Victorian mansion on site, which was formerly the largest house in the city.
For nature lovers, there are botanical gardens that consist of hundreds of flower, shrub, and tree varieties. There is also a water garden in Old Prairie Town. Visitors who are interested in the combination of nature and history that Old Prairie Town offers can take advantage of the guided tours available, or simply wander around the historic site and take in their fill of scenic views.
6. Cedar Crest
Found on a hilltop on the west side of Topeka, Cedar Crest is the official residence of the Kansas state governor which dates back to 1928.
However, it wasn’t originally meant for the state government. Wight and Wight, an architectural firm, initially designed it for newspaper publisher Frank P. Maclennan. It became the Kansas Governor’s Residence in 1962 after Maclennan’s widow bequeathed it to the state in 1955.
After a renovation in the 1990s, the grounds surrounding Cedar Crest became known as Maclennan Park. Visitors can join tours that will walk them through this interesting piece of history.
7. Kansas State Capitol Building
Serving as the seat of government for the state of Kansas, it is the home of the state’s executive and legislative branches. The Kansas State Capitol Building is also one of the most beautiful places to see in Topeka.
Today, it is one of the few state capitol buildings in the US that still offers dome tours. There is, however, no elevator: interested visitors must start on the fifth floor and climb over 200 steps to reach the top. You can even join historic tours for the entire building! They are a chance to showcase some of the beautiful and historic murals that you can find inside the structure.
Topeka has many places to offer visitors who come down to see its unique landscapes. Its vibrant culture, rich history, and many family-friendly attractions make it a great weekend destination for visitors of all ages. Stroll through the city and see its most beautiful places up close.
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