Family-Friendly Things to do Outdoors in Topeka, Kansas

Topeka is a great city to visit if you are stationed at Fort Riley. It’s only an hour away, and the drive takes you through some of the prettiest rolling hills and grasslands in northeast Kansas. Topeka has played a significant part in American history as well. And if that’s not enough, there are plenty of outdoor activities, parks, and interesting things to do in Topeka that are FREE too.

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kids-in-Croatia-1024x768 Family-Friendly Things to do Outdoors in Topeka, Kansas

There are many activities for kids in the area– click here to find out what.

Fun Things to do Outdoors in Topeka, Kansas

Just a Day Trip from Fort Riley

I’ve been to Topeka a few times since our PCS to Fort Riley. But none of those previous trips put a big smile on my face like this one. I needed to get out of the house and do something I considered normal. And that means I needed a road trip. I didn’t have plans to do a whole lot because there is a pandemic going on after all. Nevertheless, Topeka offers quite a few (outdoor) activities where you can practice safe distancing and re-capture a little normalcy in the process.

History in Topeka

The Kansas State Capitol

The downtown area is in the process of revitalization. I enjoyed an evening stroll up and down S. Kansas Street before settling in for the night. I hadn’t planned on visiting the State Capitol, but when I walked out the side door of my hotel, it was right there. The Kansas State Capitol, also known as Kansas Statehouse, is located on SW 8th & SW Van Buren. Built around 1866, the capital strikes a dramatic statement against the Topeka skyline. Tours are available.

0.2 mi from the hotel.

The Great Overland Station 

The Great Overland Station was built between 1925-27 and had a lot to do with the Santa Fe Railway’s birth and the race to build the first transcontinental railroad and the American West’s development. The history documents the contributions of African-Americans, Hispanics, and European immigrants who worked on the railroads.

1.4 miles from the hotel.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Brown v. Board of Education (1954) is one of the most important legal cases in the United States’ political history. In short, it’s a story of one Afro-American family who fought for their kid’s right to study in an all-white school in the neighborhood.

As a black woman, I received an exceptional education as a result. I will be forever grateful for their decision to fight the powers that be. The landmark site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street.

0.7 mi from the hotel

Outdoor Activities

Ted Ensley Gardens

Topeka’s Ted Ensley Gardens is one of the most beautiful flower parks in the state. The 37-acre garden spreads on the west shore of scenic Lake Shawnee, and The park includes a pagoda, and statues. Water and rock gardens, an arboretum, and almost 2,000 varieties of trees, perennials, annuals, shrubs, and roses.

3.9 mi from the hotel.

I’ve found some of my favorite places on road trips; check this place out on Lake Michigan.

Reinisch Rose Garden at Gage Park

Gage Park is a beautiful city park on 210 acres established in 1899. It’s one of the largest parks in Topeka and probably one of the utilized due to all of its attractions.

And kids of all ages will enjoy the historic mini-train and a vintage carousel. A walking/biking trail, an aquatic park with slides, and an amphitheater round out the park experience.

However, today, I visited the historic Reinisch Rose Garden and its many varietals. There are more than 5,500 different rose bushes. Roses in every shade perfumed the air and lightened my mood.

3.4 mi from the hotel.

Outdoor Art

Truckhenge

When I first read about Truckhenge, it was described as a loose interpretation of Stonehenge. But it’s nothing like it. Honestly, it isn’t easy to describe. And so is the artist, a little older adult who uses his unorthodox art to speak volumes.

Ron Lessman began creating Truckhenge in 2000, using numerous old boats, trucks, and buses he salvaged. Each vehicle is anchored into the ground decorated with inspirational quotes. And for the last two decades, he has transformed his property into a strange collection of lost and found objects just as quirky as Ron himself.

4.5 miles from the hotel.

Topeka’s Great Wall

If you’re a fan of street art, don’t miss an opportunity to admire Topeka’s “Great Wall” murals on 1969 SW Western Avenue. This community-designated attraction was created in 2007. Consequently, the murals are updated frequently and depict certain aspects of the city’s history.

Unfortunately, the streets surrounding the murals are under construction, so you have to walk a couple of blocks to view them.

1.4 miles from the hotel.

Where to Stay in Topeka

Cyrus Hotel

920 S Kansas Ave, Topeka, Kansas 66612

I stayed at the beautiful Cyrus Hotel in downtown Topeka. The boutique-style hotel has a laid atmosphere. Grab a bite to eat at The Weather Room, a restaurant that features a bar/lounge that just opened today. Reservations are required. Please be aware, the fitness center is not open, and face masks and social distancing is required in public areas.

24 Hours of Fun in Wichita, Kansas- fun things to do on a weekend. Click here to read all about them.

Where to Eat in Topeka

Globe Indian Restaurant

117 SE 10th Ave, Topeka, KS 66612

I am not going to lie. The food at the Globe Indian Restaurant was delicious and plentiful. I ordered the vegetable samosas (potatoes and green peas in a spicy turnover), masala dosa (a crepe with potatoes and peas, served with lentil soup, peanut, and tomato chutney), and Seekh kabob (minced lamb with onions and spices cooked in a tandoori oven).

This was enough for more than two people, so my plans to try another restaurant will have to wait until my next visit.

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