The Evel Knievel Museum’s recent arrival injected fresh energy in the state capital. But sites that explore Kansas’ roots and a landmark court decision reflect the importance history holds too.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
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This story is intended to help you plan a trip after travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic have ended. Please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, restaurants and lodgings.

Do

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Visit the former Monroe Elementary School for exhibits on the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to end segregation. A mural across the street explores themes of equality. nps.gov

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

The Evel Knievel Museum Indulge your inner daredevil by donning VR goggles and attempting a heart-stopping leap over 16 cars. Other exhibits include Evel’s “Big Red” Mack truck from his coast-to-coast travels. evelknievelmuseum.com

The Evel Knievel Museum

Charles Curtis House Museum This engaging museum sheds light on the United States' first Native American vice president, who served under Herbert Hoover. visit.topekapartnership.com

First Presbyterian Church Tiffany Windows What began as a memorial by two widows in 1911 has become a prized collection. The 10 stained-glass windows exemplify Louis Tiffany's patented Favrile technique of creating iridescent and bright jewel tones. fpctopeka.org

Hazel Hill Chocolate Traditions A third-generation chocolatier is the expert behind the truffles, caramel apples and butter-toffee popcorn that make the shop a treat-lover’s paradise. hazelhillchocolate.com

Kansas Children's Discovery Center Cheery pavilions with hands-on exhibits tell the story of art, agriculture and science. kansasdiscovery.org

Kansas Museum of History The Sunflower State’s multifaceted history reveals itself in displays about Native Americans, early railroads and 1950s diners. kshs.org

Kaw River State Park Launch canoes, kayaks and other small crafts from Kansas' only free state park. ksoutdoors.com

NOTO Arts District Many of the city’s studios and galleries line this colorful pocket of North Topeka. Shop for art and dance to music during First Friday Art Walks. notoshopping.com

Old Prairie Town The retro Potwin Drug Store soda fountain and a 2½ -acre garden star in this collection of turn-of-the-19th-century buildings. parks.snco.us

PT's Coffee Roasting Company Pick up a sample of beans from one of the nation’s top roasters or try breakfast, lunch or snacks at either of two locations. ptscoffee.com

Scenic byways near Topeka Glacial Hills Scenic Byway runs 63 miles from White Cloud to Fort Leavenworth and passes Lewis and Clark sites, preserves and evidence of glaciers. Frontier Military Scenic Byway traces Civil War history along its 167-mile route from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Scott. legendsofkansas.com

State Capitol Free tours leave visitors impressed with the dome (taller than the U.S. Capitol’s) of this restored 1903 beauty. Murals in the rotunda and statues of famous Kansans speak to state history. kshs.org

State Capitol

Topeka Zoo The $4.5 million Camp Cowabunga features African animals, such as lions and monkeys, as well as interactive activities and African safari artifacts. topekazoo.org

Eat

Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant Come for the award-winning brews, including the raspberry wheat ale made with pure raspberry extract and a pinch of honey. blindtiger.com

Iron Rail Brewing Enjoy Southern comfort food with craft beer like the CKH Wheat, named for Cyrus K. Holliday, the railroad magnate who founded Topeka in 1854. ironrailbrewing.com

Bobo's Drive-In The classic American burger joint, opened in 1948, comes complete with carhops and Formica-topped booths. Bobo's Drive-On Facebook

Bradley's Corner Cafe A father-and-son team serve good, inexpensive country cooking and more than 25 flavors of fresh-baked pies a day. Bradley's Corner Cafe Facebook

The Burger Stand at College Hill Classed-up burgers include the Fire, with habanero- cactus jam and avocado. burgerstandrestaurants.com

Lonnie Q's BBQ The Cup of Heaven delivers on its promise with three meats, cheesy potatoes and beans. lonnieqsbbq.com

Norsemen Brewing Company Swig a Coffee Porter amid chandeliers and limestone walls. KB’s Smokehouse serves BBQ specialties on-site. norsemenbrewingco.com

The Pennant Bowling alleys and a vintage arcade invite lingering in this restaurant that features gourmet burgers, loaded fries, beer and shakes—both classic and spiked. thepennanttopeka.com

The Pennant. Photo: Starboard and Port.

Rowhouse Restaurant Owner-chef Greg Fox shows off his fine-dining chops with a prix fixe menu that changes weekly. The 1876 row house sits near the Capitol. rowhouserestaurant.net

The Wheel Barrel Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and craft beer star at the North Topeka spot. thewheelbarrow.com

Stay

Hyatt Place Topeka Convenience reigns with a coffee shop, a 24-hour fitness center and breakfasts with tasty egg sandwiches. hyatt.com

Cyrus Hotel New in 2019, the upscale boutique lodging offers rooms blending modern chic with historical elegance. The Weather Room bar and restaurant is already a go-to spot. (You may see Kansas legislators here.) cyrushotel.com

The Woodward Inns on Fillmore Some rooms in the 1920s Tudor-style mansion come with fireplaces and claw-foot tubs. Relax in the heated lap pool set among gardens. thewoodward.com

The Woodward Inns on Fillmore

For more information visittopeka.com

Day trip

Twenty miles east of Topeka, LeCompton boasts an interesting Civil War history-billing itself as both a Civil War birthplace as well as "where slavery began to die"- along with a passion for the Christmas season. Read more here about visiting LeCompton.