Start in Atchison, where the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum provides a glimpse into the famed aviatrix’s childhood and career that ended with her fatal 1937 flight. Bonus: costumes and posters from the 2009 movie Amelia.
Informative trolley tours (Fridays through Sundays) leave from the restored Santa Fe Depot, Atchison’s visitor information center, down the road.
Family-owned Snow Ball Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe serves tasty grilled sandwiches and scoops 24 flavors of ice cream.
Thousands of people flock each year to Nell Hill’s, to see the creatively styled home-decor shop operated by Atchison native and interior designer Mary Carol Garrity.
Stay at the Tuck U Inn at Glick Mansion Bed and Breakfast for 1800s elegance (see Stay to Remember, below). For more privacy, travel 25 miles south to Leavenworth and you can have a two-bedroom home to yourself at Union Park Guest House (from $125), a renovated 1900s bungalow complete with fireplaces and hardwood floors.
Glimpse the military lifestyle at Fort Leavenworth (it's an active Army base, so bring your photo ID), where The Frontier Army Museum displays 19th-century artifacts of the nation's westward expansion
Stop at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery and marvel at the Buffalo Soldier Monument, honoring African-American cavalry and infantry.
The tab for lunch generally runs less than $10 at Santa Fe Depot Diner, housed in a restored 1887 train depot.
Military spouses own many of the independent shops, like Artistic Woods by Lu, in downtown's ornate brick buildings. (See "5 Great Places to Shop in Leavenworth" below.)
Ride on a 1913 carousel at C.W. Parker Carousel Museum.
Authentic Thai cuisine, including green coconut curry and noodle bowls, makes for deliciously spicy dinners at Baan Thai Restaurant.
Stay to Remember
George and Elizabeth Glick built their Victorian mansion in 1873 in a swank bluff-top neighborhood of Atchison. Tuck U Inn at Glick Mansion Bed and Breakfast’s canopied beds and fireplaces still reflect the luxury of that bygone era, as do the gourmet breakfasts that include fresh fruit parfaits, quiche, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and blueberry pastries. From $110. (913) 367-9110; glickmansion.com
Inside Scoop: Haunted Trolley Tours
Locals know the chilling stories of scorned lovers and vengeance that have earned Atchison a reputation as one of the most haunted towns in Kansas. In September and October, guides share these tales of paranormal activity as trolleys creep past the Santa Fe Depot and go by various haunted locations throughout town. (800) 234-1854; atchisonkansas.net
5 Great Places to Shop in Leavenworth
1 Candle Queen Candles Filled with hundreds of hand-poured candles, the pink store on Shawnee Street also touts bling (rhinestone baubles) and other fashionable accessories. (913) 682-7724; candlequeencandles.com
2 Queen’s Pantry This family-run shop sells roughly 170 kinds of loose tea and more than 80 boxed teas, giving it one of the Midwest’s largest selections. British foods and gifts widen the choices. (913) 680-1899; qptea.com
3 Quilter’s Quarters Crafters travel many miles to browse fabrics and notions from the shop’s merchandise. Quilting classes draw crowds year-round. (913) 651-6510; quiltersqtrs.com
4 The Pot Rack Coffees, kitchen gadgets and Vita Craft cookware made in nearby Shawnee, Kansas, line the interior. (913) 364-5038; thepotracklv.com
5 Artistic Works by Lu Handmade jewelry and Bohemian-style, casual-chic clothing get displayed on salvaged architectural pieces. (913) 758-0754; artisticworksbylu.com