Top Attractions in Topeka, Kansas
by Norm Johnson
The United States is widely known for having a mix of different hobbies, tastes, and walks of life. That is no different for Topeka, the capital city of Kansas. It is said that the word “Topeka” is an old Native American word meaning “a good place to grow potatoes”. I’m sure that is still the case, but there are many other things that are good to do in Topeka! The capital city of Kansas has a wide variety art shows, restaurants, bars, museums and more!
Best Places to Eat in Topeka
Blue Moose Bar and Grill
As with any other large city, there are many places one might go to grab a drink. But few within all of Shawnee County could compete with the Blue Moose Bar and Grill. While aptly named, this is not your traditional bar. The modern atmosphere lends to a more upscale environment without breaking the bank. It is an excellent place to take your significant other for a special dinner. I personally recommend their shrimp wontons with a light beer. You won’t be disappointed!
Lonni Q’s BBQ
If you’re anything like me then you love a rack of ribs. Located on 21st street, Lonni Q’s BBQ offers the best around. The building shape is reminiscent of a barn with its peaked roof and open floor plan. This is a great place to go with the family or on a fun date with your significant other. It would be almost criminal not to mention the portion sizes. I have eaten here many times and I have never left without a box to carry my food in. I highly recommend the beef brisket sandwich with cheesy taters and their famous “cold” slaw!
If you like Thai food you will love Tuptim Thai. With an address near 29th street, you would be surprised at how much of a hidden gem this restaurant is. Modern furniture, beautiful art, a clean environment, and professional staff all work flawlessly together to create an elegant fine dining experience. The spice level of the food can all be customized to your liking. I’ve eaten here on a few special occasions but only once was I brave enough to ask for my food to be “Thai hot”.
Blackbird Espresso Bar & Bistro
Blackbird Espresso Bar & Bistro is a wonderful coffee shop that sits right by Gage Boulevard. I love going to Blackbird on a Sunday morning and drinking a latte while I check my social media accounts. They offer a wide array of coffee blends, food items, and even adult beverages. Blackbird is hands down the best place in Topeka to grab vegan cuisine.
Top Things to Do in Topeka
Thinking about taking the kids to see something fun? Look no further. In addition to standard playground equipment, the famous Gage Park boasts a merry-go-round, a train ride, and a zoo! Your family will love seeing the brightly colored tigers playing or getting to feed the giraffes just before riding a train on a relaxing trip around the park.
Alice C. Sabatini Gallery
If you’re a fan of art, you have only to go to the Alice C. Sabatini art gallery in the Shawnee County library to see some beautiful pieces. There’s a lot to do in this somewhat smaller gallery. My children loved seeing the art, getting to play the instruments they had on display, and even playing indoor frisbee golf.
Jazz & Food Truck Festival
This festival takes place around September each year. The city closes off a few streets and a ton of food trucks come to park their vehicles. There are a wide variety of foods offered at this event including Mexican, Asian, BBQ, and Snowcones. There is nothing quite like walking the streets listening to live jazz and sampling food from multiple trucks! There’s more than just food though, there are vendors of all kinds seated in various booths. There is jewelry, clothing, face painting, henna, and more!
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
If you’re looking to do something that is fun for the whole family, you simply must stop by Sky Zone Trampoline Park. The whole building is practically full of trampolines! My family spent an entire day there jumping into the foam pit, trying to race across the trampolines, and playing basketball while soaring through the air!
Children’s Discovery Center
The Children’s Discovery Center is a museum of sorts aimed towards small children. Kids can perform science experiments, dance, or make super messy art pieces all while learning. This is easily the best place to visit if you have small children.
Evel Knievel Museum
This museum features some of the famous daredevil’s belongings such as his helmets, motorcycles, and suits. The 4D jump experience will have your family on the edge of their seats!
Top Free Attractions in Topeka
The Topeka Art Walk is held on the first Friday of each month in downtown Topeka. Local artists from all walks of life come and set their amazing work out for all to see. Live music plays while friends and families gather to admire the beautiful art. With different art out each month, this free attraction never gets old.
I love nature, and I especially love being beside a big body of water. If you love nature as much as I do, then Shawnee Lake with its gorgeous flower and rock gardens placed all around will certainly appeal to you. In spring, the 37-acre Ted Ensley Gardens are simply covered in captivating colors as far as the eye can see. I’m always relaxed when I leave Shawnee lake, whether I’ve been walking through the gardens, relaxing by the shore, or fishing for trout.
Brown vs Board of Education National Historic Site
If you’re looking for something educational, this historic site is open year round with the exception of just a few holidays. With exhibits both inside and out it is a wonder that this experience is free. There is a small park on the east side of the site with nearby grills, making this a great place to stop with your family and have a small barbeque. If you’re up for a very long walk, the 38-mile long Landon nature trail is also nearby.