What to do and see in Topeka, United States: The Best Places and Tips

September 25, 2017 Christa Meece

Get a blast of the past in this western Kansas state capital, which was founded in 1854 by a group of anti-slavery activists and later played a key role in the civil rights movement. Visit the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site, which celebrates those involved in the 1954 Supreme Court decision that deemed segregated schools unconstitutional. Continue your back-in-time travel at Ward Meade Park, which features an early 1900s town, Victorian mansion, one-room schoolhouse and log cabins. View aircraft dating from World War I at the Combat Air Museum, and visit Cedar Crest, the historic Governor's home, overlooking the Kansas River. Aside from historical attractions, Topeka is also known for its world-class motor sports racing site, Heartland Park Topeka, with its record-breaking quarter-mile drag strip. Topeka has its share of cultural attractions as well in the form of numerous art galleries, live theater and local symphony and opera companies. For a great family outing, head over to the Topeka Zoological Park for a visit to the tropical rain forest, naturalistic bear dwelling and the children's petting zoo, featuring llamas and sheep.
Restaurants in Topeka

1. Evel Knievel Museum

2047 SW Topeka Blvd, At Historic Harley-Davidson, Topeka, KS 66612-1462 +1 785-215-6205
Excellent
97%
Good
3%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
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Overall Ratings

5 based on 144 reviews

Evel Knievel Museum

The Evel Knievel Museum showcases an incredible collection of authentic artifacts that belonged to the most legendary, death-defying daredevil of all time! Experience Knievel’s life and journey to record-setting, super-stardom! The 2-story 13,000 sq ft Evel Knievel Museum features: • Evel’s motorcycles – the bikes that launched a legend • Knievel’s genuine leathers and helmets • “Big Red,” Knievel’s fully-restored Mack Truck • Evel’s personal and never-before-seen memorabilia INTERACTIVE EXHIBITS: • Virtual Reality 4-D Jump Experience • Broken Bones Interactive, including Evel’s actual X-rays • “Plan Your Jump” Interactive Challenge • Engine & Suspension Interactive • Snake River Experience Room featuring Knievel’s actual X-2 Sky Cycle

Reviewed By Angela E - Park City

Was a bit shocked at admission price $15/adult and $7/kid 8-16yr (7 and under free). However, the museum did entertain my five kids (ages 5-14) who had no idea of Evel beforehand. Each jump has video footage which captivated my four boys plus the discussion of all bones broken in each crash. My typical teenage daughter found his story interesting. The movie showings were a hit as well as the interactive bones broken screen with X-rays. The highlight was the Jump Planner...the boys and their sister chose different jumps and speeds and would have stayed there all afternoon testing it all out. It is a little hidden gem--just prepare for the admission for your family. Give yourself time to do the museum--Plan to spend two hours.

2. Lake Shawnee

3137 SE 29th St, Topeka, KS 66605-1815 +1 785-251-2600
Excellent
78%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 179 reviews

Lake Shawnee

Reviewed By ShellBell loves mexican food!!

We love going to Shawnee lake as a family! Its a great place to grill and take the kids to the playground. It is also great for walking, riding bikes, playing frisbee, or any family sport. I love being there! It is very beautiful and well kept. Its perfect for any occasion really!

3. Kansas State Capitol Building

10th and Jackson, Topeka, KS 66612 +1 785-296-3966
Excellent
75%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 457 reviews

Kansas State Capitol Building

Built in 1866, the Capitol building contains magnificent artwork, including murals by native-born artist John Steuart Curry, ornate architectural features and elaborate Senate and House Chambers.

Reviewed By Shawna S

We did the self-guided tour as we did not wish to have politicians fake-smiling at us during our visit. I was particularly impressed with the displays featuring more controversial truths about our history (John Brown, the Republican Party storming the Capitol, etc) rather than whitewashing the place with only interesting stories about the building itself. And we had minimal contact with any politicians at all, so that made it even nicer.

4. Kansas Museum of History

6425 SW 6th Ave, Topeka, KS 66615-1099 +1 785-272-8681
Excellent
68%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 207 reviews

Kansas Museum of History

The striking "White Buffalo" sculpture outside offers an inkling of the interesting exhibits inside this museum, including a steam locomotive, a Southern Cheyenne teepee, one of the largest collections of prairie memorabilia in the U.S. and a hands-on children's area.

Reviewed By John C - Ames, Iowa, United States

Large, modern museum is well done and includes significant information about the native peoples. It is located near the highway. The full sized 1880’s train inside the museum was a nice feature. The admission price is a bit high for a state museum.

5. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

1515 SE Monroe St, Topeka, KS 66612-1143 +1 785-354-4273
Excellent
65%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 254 reviews

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

The Monroe Elementary School, one of the segregated schools involved in the 1954 Supreme Court decision aimed at ending segregation in public schools, is now a National Historic Site commemorating this landmark ruling.

Reviewed By Kim T - Wichita, Kansas

My two girls, ages 10 and 13, and I visited the museum on a cold December afternoon. It was relatively quiet and a pleasant gentlemen gave us a brief overview of the rooms available for viewing. We could then enjoy at our leisure. The museum brings on difficult questions and causes visitors to think about what has happened in the past and where we are now. It is important to me to expose my kids to these questions and issues. Would definitely recommend for someone wanting to address these issues.

6. Gage Park

Between 6th and 10th Streets caca, Topeka, KS +1 785-251-2600
Excellent
62%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 222 reviews

Gage Park

Reviewed By Don D - Topeka, Kansas

Gage Park has always been a go to place for family entertainment in Topeka. It is centrally located. The major attractions within the park are the swimming pool. zoo, gardens, fishing pond, merry-go-round, and playground. Plays, concerts, and other civic events are held there as well.

7. Kansas Children's Discovery Center

4400 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, KS 66604-1959 +1 785-783-8300
Excellent
76%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 152 reviews

Kansas Children's Discovery Center

Since opening June 1st, 2011, the Kansas Children's Discovery Center has become a special place where children can explore, create, discover and learn through play. The Discovery Center engages children and families in Serious Fun through hands-on exhibits, camps, daily programs, field trips, birthdays, special events and other exciting learning opportunities throughout the year. The Discovery Center's 15,708 sq. ft. building is nestled within 4.5 wooded acres of Topeka's Gage Park, providing numerous opportunities for outdoor exploration and discovery. Guests of the Discovery Center can learn and play in a safe and fun educational environment.

Reviewed By Michelle S - Shawnee, Kansas, United States

I have been to discovery and science centers throughout the midwest and this one is in my top three. I like how it is organized by type of discovery and appeals to a variety of aged children. And then the grounds and activities outside are not to be missed. Well done Topeka. I will be back.

8. Combat Air Museum

7016 SE Forbes Ave, Forbes Field, Topeka, KS 66619-1444 +1 785-862-3303
Excellent
47%
Good
46%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 110 reviews

Combat Air Museum

A collection of military aircraft, a re-created German P.O.W. barracks, aircraft engines and aviation memorabilia spanning World War I to the space shuttle program are on display at this museum tailor-made for flight enthusiasts.

Reviewed By Mbv9415 - Omaha, Nebraska

Have wanted to visit this museum for a few years. A nice military museum that is not tied to one branch. Enjoyed seeing aircraft from different branches and eras. Several that have not on display at other museums, which is always nice to find a new one to get a look at up close for the first time. Loved the early model CH-53 and the Skycrane.
Second building is kind of tight and dusty. Well worth the time spent going through here, decent sized number of people going though here on the day we visited.
The volunteer guides were very nice, enjoyed a nice conversation in the Connie.

9. Ward Meade Park

124 NW Fillmore St, Topeka, KS 66606-1171 +1 785-368-3888
Excellent
64%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 87 reviews

Ward Meade Park

Originally a family farm on the Oregon Trail, this six-acre park features an early 20th-century town, an elegant Southern-style mansion, botanical gardens and original log cabins.

Reviewed By Don D - Topeka, Kansas

Ward Meade has historic buildings that have been restored. The drug store has a soda fountain and hearth cooked meals are offered in the cabin to groups. The gardens are beautiful. Good place to relax and experience some Kansas and Topeka history. My wife and I cooked and served the hearth meals in years past and enjoyed telling the stories.

10. Ted Ensley Gardens

SE 37th St. & West Edge Road, Topeka, KS +1 785-267-1156
Excellent
72%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 46 reviews

Ted Ensley Gardens

Reviewed By rc1078 - The Villages, Florida

This was a wonderful place to visit even on a sunny August afternoon. There were running and tumbling water features, beds of prairie flowers, butterfly gardens, shade plant beds and a wonderful view of Lake Shawnee.

I can see why people use these gardens for events and backgrounds for photo shoots.

This is worth the visit - oh, did I mention - it's free!

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