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Topeka

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Topeka [1] is the capital of Kansas.

Understand[edit]

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Topeka, located in Shawnee County, serves as the capital of Kansas. The metropolitan area is rich in history and highly favored by nature. It lies on rich sandy loam river bottomland where Indians lived for many years using the excellent fords on the Kansas (Kaw) River. Among the first permanent settlers were three French-Canadian (Pappan) brothers. They married three Kanza (Kansas) Indian sisters and established a ferry over the river in 1842. A grandson from one of the marriages was Charles Curtis, the only Vice-President of the United States to be of Indian descent. (Charles Curtis served with President Herbert C. Hoover from 1929 to 1933.) In the 1800s, Topeka served as a gateway west for pioneers traveling on the Oregon Trail or by railroad.

Topeka is home to the highly acclaimed Kansas Museum of History where you'll step back in time and learn all about the land that is Kansas. Relive the history of Kansas through exhibits, videos, and programs.

Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site overlooks the Oregon Trail's ferry site across the Kansas River and includes the original Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad depot from Pauline as well as a turn of the century town, botanical gardens, and dinners served by hosts in period dress.

Topeka has been an active participant in the modern-day Civil Rights Movement. The Monroe School is the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site where visitors gain an understanding and appreciation for the role of this decision in the Civil Rights Movement.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Billard Airport, [2] is a small airplane airport.
  • Topeka Regional Airport (Forbes Field), [3] has limited connections.
  • Kansas City International, [4] (MCI) is the closest fully functional commercial airport. A shuttle service [5] can take you to Topeka from Kansas City.

By train[edit]

By car[edit]

Travelling by car is the easiest way to enter, exit and move around in Topeka.

Highways include:

  • Highway 24 gives four lane access from the east and two-lane entry from the west.
  • I-70 gives controlled access from the west.
  • Highway 75 gives two lane access from the south and controlled four-lane access from the north.
  • I-335 (toll) [8] gives controlled access from the southwest.
  • I-70 (toll)[9] gives controlled access from the east.

By bus[edit]

  • Greyhound Bus Lines, [10] stops in Topeka.

Get around[edit]

Most of the streets in Topeka are laid out in a grid pattern. North/South streets are named and most East/West streets are numbered. South of the river the street numbers increase as you travel southwardly, and the opposite on the north side of the river. Popular streets running through the city are Wanamaker, Topeka Blvd, 21st St and 6th St (6th St turns into Hwy 40).

Topeka has a controlled access bypass, I-470, traveling through the southwest side of town. This makes for easy access to shopping centers and connects the major highways going into and out of Topeka.

Topeka has a public bus line that runs through most of the main streets [11]

See[edit][add listing]

Westboro Baptist Church
Topeka has become renowned for being the home of Westboro Baptist Church, headed by Fred Phelps and his family. This family is notorious for protests against homosexuals, soldiers, any church or religion besides their own, and America as a country. When visiting or living in Topeka, it is a common sight to see a group of Westboro Baptist Churchgoers picketing a local church or community gathering, carrying colorful signs with offensive slogans and sometimes shouting or singing. Know that most local Topekans despise the Phelps, given that they are against every religion but their own, and because most locals see Westboro Baptist as giving Topeka a bad name as a bigoted, small-minded city. On numerous occasions, committees have been formed attempting, unsuccessfully, to bar the Phelps from the city. The Patriot Guard Riders [12], a band of motorcyclists, was formed in response to picketing at soldier's funerals. They attempt to shield mourning families from protesters. Their compound is on the corner of W 12th and South-West Cambridge Ave


Gage Park houses the Topeka Zoo, Renisch Rose Gardens with over 6,500 plants, offering 400 varieties, and a 1908 Carousel that houses a 1909 Wurlitzer organ. Tour the Combat Air Museum, the Capitol Building, and the Governor's home - Cedar Crest. First Presbyterian Church, built over 112 years ago, is the site of a unique presentation of Tiffany windows. Louis C. Tiffany came to Topeka in 1911 and produced these windows. First Presbyterian Church is the only church west of the Mississippi River to have all Tiffany windows. Visit Heartland Park, a state-of-the-art motor sports complex. The Topeka area has an abundance of campgrounds and lakes, as well as hiking and biking trails.

  • Brown v. Board of Education Museum, 1515 SE Monroe St, +1 785 354-4273, [13]. 9AM-5PM daily except Thanksgiving (4th Th in Nov), 25 Dec and 1 Jan. Take the #6 W 17th Bus to 17th and Topeka Ave, then walk east along 17th St to Monroe. Brown v. Board of Education Museum highlights the historical case where the movement against segregation in public schools started.
  • Kansas Historical Society and Museum, 6425 SW 6th Ave, +1 785 272-8681, [14]. Take the #5 W 6th Bus along 6th St to the Society.
  • Kansas State Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave,[15]. Take the #4 W 10th Bus along 10th St to the capital. The capital features original Murals as well as a tour of the rotunda. There are many restaurants within walking distance to the building, making this a nice afternoon visit.
  • Topeka High School, 800 SW 10th St, [16]. Take the #4 W 10th Bus along 10th St to the School. It was the first million dollar school west of the Mississippi River.
  • Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave, [17] On the campus are creative displays of students' sculpture projects.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Watersports and Camping at Lake Shawnee [18]. There is a small water park at the beach.
  • Bowling alleys are popular in Topeka. There is a bowling alley in most areas of the town.
  • YMCA [19] has four facilities for exercise and sports.
  • Topeka Performing Arts Center [20] regularly hosts concerts, plays and performances.
  • Movie Theaters are located at Westridge mall and on the north terminus of Wanamaker Road
  • Kansas Expo Centre [21] hosts major events and conventions
  • Heartland Park [22] has drag, dirt and road racing events.
  • The "World-Famous" Topeka Zoo, located at Gage Park [23].
  • Helen Hocker Theater [24], also located in Gage Park, a quaint community blackbox theatre, regularly puts on plays and musicals, and specializes in children's camps.
  • Gage Park also features a fun outdoor aquatic center (Blaisdell Pool), a small train, a rose garden, walking trails, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, a greenhouse, a dog park, and an amphitheatre with occasional music performances. http://www.topeka.org/parksrec/gage_park.shtml]
  • Topeka Civic Theatre, at 8th and Oakley (just a few blocks east of Gage Park) regularly puts on musicals, plays, and comedy acts featuring talented local performers [25].
  • Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library [26] a large and comfortable library building featuring a tower, which also houses local art and screens old movies for free.
  • Walking and biking trails, a pool, and baseball diamonds, as well as a BMX track, at Shunga Park [27]

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • West Ridge Mall - Features more than 115 stores including Old Navy, Gap, and Macy's.
  • Fairlawn Plaza Mall, 21st and Fairlawn. Featuring over 50 unique shops and restaurants including Hasting's and The Classic Bean.  edit


Eat[edit][add listing]

Topeka has the variety of chain restaurants like most American cities of its size or larger. Locally owned restaurants are scattered through town. Most small shopping centers will have one or two small, locally owned restaurants. Wanamaker is the popular street for most chain restaurants.

  • Bobo's Drive In: 2300 SW 10th Ave
  • Boss Hawgs BBQ: 2833 SW 29th St
  • Globe Indian Quisine: 117 SE 10th Ave
  • Horizon's Hamburger Palace: 821 SW 21st St
  • Kiku Japanese Steak House: 5331 SW 22nd Pl (In the Fairlawn Plaza Mall)
  • Rosa's Mexican Food: 2025 SE California Ave
  • Taco's El Mexicano: 2002 SE California Ave
  • Grover's Smokehouse: 1217 SW Gage Blvd
  • Annie's Place: 4014 SW Gage Center Dr
  • Daimaru Steakhouse and Sushi Bar: 1221 SW Gage Blvd
  • Jade Garden Chinese Restaurant, 2038 SW Gage Blvd, +1 785 271-2038‎.  edit
  • Madison Street Diner, 420 SE 6th (I-70 and 6th St), +1 785 234-5400, [28].  edit
  • Lonnie Q's BBQ, 3150 SE 21st St. M-F 11AM-1PM, F 5:30PM-7:30PM. A true hidden BBQ gem. The line often goes out the door.  edit
  • Rowhouse Restaurant, 515 SW Van Buren St, [29]. World class new-American cuisine; menu changes weekly.  edit


Drink[edit][add listing]

Topeka has a few locally owned coffeehouses, but several coffeehouses (and as far away as Washington, DC) in the area buy their coffee from a medal-winning local roaster, PT's Coffee Co. [30] PT's also has a coffeehouse of their own.

Recommended Locally Owned or Small Chain Barristas:

  • PT's Coffee Roasting Co.: 5660 SW 29th St
  • Margie's Java Cafe: 4036 SW Huntoon St
  • Classic Bean: 722 S Kansas Ave
  • Classic Bean: 2125 SW Fairlawn Plaza Dr
  • Kaner Coffee: 2601 SW 6th Ave
  • Lazio's Coffee Bar & Roasterie: 2111 SW Belle Ave
  • Sharkey's Tiki Bar, 5217 SW 28th Ct, +1 785 783-2883. Sharkey's is one of the favorite local hangout spots. Great food, cold beer, pool tables and big TV's! The owner, Ernie is great and is usually there hangin' out or cooking the food. Karoke on Th and Su too!! $4-8.  edit
  • The Break Room, 911 S Kansas Ave, +1 785 215-6633. 7:30AM-4:30PM.  edit
  • Uncle Bo's LIVE Blues Bar, 420 SE 6th St (I-70 and 6th St), +1 785 234-5400, [31].  edit
  • Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant, 417 SW 37th St.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Best Western Candlelight Inn, 2831 SW Fairlawn Rd, +1 785 272-9550, Toll-free: +1-800-223-8892, Fax: +1 785 272-8242, [32].
  • Capital Plaza Hotel, 1717 SW Topeka Blvd, +1 785 431-7200, [33].  edit
  • Courtyard, 2033 Wanamaker Rd, +1 785 271-6165, Fax: +1 785 228-9712, [34].
  • Fairfield Inn, 1530 SW Westport Dr, +1 785 273-6800, Fax: +1 785 273-6800, [35].
  • Holiday Inn, 605 Fairlawn Rd, +1 785 272-8040, [36].
  • Hyatt Place, 6021 SW 6th Ave, +1 785 273-0066, [37].
  • Motel 6 Northwest, 709 Fairlawn Rd, +1 785 272-8283, Fax: +1 785 271-1341, [38].
  • Motel 6 West, 1224 Wanamaker Rd SW, +1 785 273-9888, Fax: +1 785 273-0665, [39].
  • Residence Inn, 1620 SW Westport Dr, +1 785 271-8903, Fax: +1 785 271-8903, [40].
  • Ramada Convention Center, 420 SE 6th St (I-70 and 6th street), +1 785 234-5400, [41]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: Noon. varies.  edit

Cope[edit]

  • Topeka-Shawnee Public Library. The 183,000-ft² (17,000m²) library may be one of the greatest libraries in the area, with over 90,000 + card holders.  edit


Get out[edit]

  • Lawrence (Kansas) is 30 minutes east of Topeka along I-70 (toll). A scenic (and cheaper) route to Lawrence from Topeka is along US Hwy 40. The Amtrak train system connects Topeka to Lawrence. Lawrence is home to University of Kansas [42]. Lawrence is a small college town with a vibrant social scene located around Massachusetts St. Massachusetts St is also the site where John Brown fought during the Kansas battles.
  • Perry Lake [43] is 30 minutes northeast of Topeka along US Hwy 24. It is the third largest lake in Kansas. Perry Lake features watersports, hiking and camping opportunities.
  • Manhattan (Kansas) is an hour and a half west of Topeka. Take I-70 West to KS-177 North. Manhattan is home to Kansas State University [44]. Near to Manhattan is Tuttle Creek Reservoir.


Routes through Topeka
HaysJunction City  W noframe E  LawrenceKansas City
END  N noframe S  EmporiaWichita via I-35.png
Follow I-335.png south  S noframe E  Follow I-70.png east
StocktonWamego  W noframe E  LawrenceKansas City
OmahaHolton  N noframe S  → Junction N I-35.png SIndependenceTulsa




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