capital of the state of Kansas, United States; county seat of Shawnee County

Topeka is the capital of Kansas. Visitors come to see the Kansas Museum of History, Topeka Zoo, and Renisch Rose Gardens. The metropolitan area is rich in history and highly favored by nature. In 2019, it was home to 125,000 people.

Understand edit

Kansas State Capitol

Topeka, located in Shawnee County, serves as the capital of Kansas. It lies on rich sandy loam river bottomland where Native Americans 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) Native American 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 Native American 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.

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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 was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, particularly with the fight for the desegregation of schools. 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.

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.

Local information edit

Get in edit

By plane edit

There is no commercial airline service to Topeka as of January 2020.

By train edit

Amtrak has a stop in Topeka which is served by the daily Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief line. Be aware that trains from Chicago and Kansas City, MO arrive at around 12:30AM and trains from Los Angeles arrive at around 5:20AM.

By taxi 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) gives controlled access from the southwest.
  • I-70 (Toll) gives controlled access from the east.

By bus edit

Get around edit

By car 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 Rd., Topeka Blvd., Gage Blvd., 6th St., 21st St., and 29th St. Be aware that the grid pattern slants around downtown due to the layout of the original city being different than the rest of the suburbs.

Topeka has a controlled access bypass, I-470, travelling 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.

By bus edit

Topeka Metro is the public bus system that runs through most of the main streets. +1 785 783-7000. The bus fare costs $2 per trip. A card that is good for 10 rides costs $18. A pass that is good for 31 days costs $50. Buy cards and passes at the Quincy Street Station at 820 SE Quincy Street or at any Dillons store. You can catch or transfer to most buses at this station too.

See edit

Monroe Elementary School, where the court case ending school segregation started

Westboro Baptist Church

Topeka has the unfortunate distinction of being the home of Westboro Baptist Church, headed by the late Fred Phelps and his family. This family is notorious for protests against the LGBTQ community, soldiers, any church or religion besides their own, and the United States 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 and 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, a band of motorcyclists, was formed in response to picketing at soldier's funerals. They attempt to shield mourning families from protesters. The church's compound is on the corner of West 12th and South-West Cambridge Avenue (3701 Southwest 12th Street). Right across the street are houses painted in the colors of the Pride and Transgender Flags (known as the Equality Houses) to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community, which have turned into tourist attractions in their own right.
  • 1 Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, 1515 SE Monroe St (Take the #6 West 17th Bus to 17th Street and Topeka Ave, then walk east along 17th street to Monroe.), +1 785 354-4273. 9AM-5PM every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Ranger led tours of Monroe School offered at 10AM and 2PM, or on request when staffing permits. This historic site highlights Monroe Elementary School, where the historic case ending school segregation in the United States started. The former school now includes exhibits and a restored kindergarten room. Free.    
  • 2 Kansas Historical Society and Museum, 6425 SW 6th Ave, +1 785 272-8681. Take the #5 West 6th Bus along 6th Street to the Society.
  • 3 Combat Air Museum, 7016 SE Forbes Ave (Hangars 602 and 604 "J" Street, Forbes Field), +1 785-862-3303.    
  • 4 Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site, 124 NW Fillmore.
  • 5 Kansas State Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave (Enter building on 8th Ave.,north wing), +1 785 296-3966, . Building: M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. Take the #4 West 10th Bus along 10th Street to the Capitol. The capital features original murals and a tour of the rotunda. There are many restaurants within walking distance to the building, making this a nice afternoon visit. Free.    
  • 6 Topeka High School, 800 SW. 10th St. Take the #4 West 10th Bus along 10th Street to the school. Topeka High School is known for being the first million-dollar school west of the Mississippi river.    
  • 7 Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave. On the campus are creative displays of students' sculpture projects.    
  • 8 Great Overland Station, 701 North Kansas Ave, +1 785 232-5533. Tu-Su 10AM - 4PM. Historic train station with some exhibits showing the history of the city Topeka, the Santa Fe and Union Pacific train service. $5 for adults, $4 for seniors (62+), $2 for children 3-12, $1 discount for those with military IDs.    
  • 9 Topeka Zoo, 635 Southwest Gage Blvd (From the north: Take US-75 south to the I-70 exit. Exit immediately onto Gage Blvd. Go south on Gage to 6th street (the first stoplight), then right to the first left into Gage Park (Zoo Parkway). The Zoo parking lot will be on your left. From the west: Take I-70 east to the Gage Blvd exit, then go south on Gage to 6th street (first stoplight). Turn right onto 6th Street, then take the first left into Gage Park (Zoo Parkway). The Zoo parking lot will be on your left. From the east: Take I-70 west to the East Topeka exit of the Turnpike. Continue on I-70 west to the Gage Blvd exit. Go south on Gage to 6th street (the first stoplight), then right onto 6th Street. Take the first left into Gage Park (Zoo Parkway). The Zoo parking lot will be on your left. From the south: Take US-75 north to I-470 west to the Gage Blvd exit. Proceed north on Gage to 10th street. Turn left on 10th then right into Gage Park. Follow the Zoo Parkway to the Zoo parking lot which will be on your right.), +1 785-368-9180, . Daily 9AM-5PM. An exceptional zoo with a living rainforest. There is a giant park area, carousel, and train just outside of the zoo gates. Adults $8.75, seniors $7.75, children $7.25.    

Do edit

  • 1 Lake Shawnee. Watersports and camping. There is a small waterpark at the beach.
  • Bowling alleys are popular in Topeka. There is a bowling alley in most areas of the town.
  • 2 YMCA, 3635 SW Chelsea Drive, +1 785 271-7979. Has four facilities for exercise and sports.
  • 3 Topeka Performing Arts Center, 214 SE 8th Avenue, +1 785 234-2787, . Regularly hosts concerts, plays and performances.
  • Movie Theaters are located at West Ridge Mall and on the north terminus of Wanamaker Road
  • 4 Kansas Expo Centre, One Expocentre Drive, . Hosts major events and conventions
  • Heartland Motorsports Park, 7530 Topeka Blvd, +1 785 861-7899, toll-free: +1-844-200-6472. Has drag, dirt and road racing events.
  • 5 Helen Hocker Theater, 700 SW Zoo Pkwy (Gage Park), +1 785 251-5990. A quaint community blackbox theatre, regularly puts on plays and musicals, and specializes in children's camps.
  • 6 Gage Park. 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.    
  • 7 Topeka Civic Theatre, 3028 SW 8th Ave (8th and Oakley (just a few blocks east of Gage Park)), +1 785 357-5211. Fegularly puts on musicals, plays, and comedy acts featuring talented local performers.
  • 8 Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave, +1 785 580-4400. M–F 9AM–9PM, Sa 9AM–6PM, Su noon–9PM. This 183,000 square foot building may be one of the greatest libraries around, and is popular with people from across Kansas and out of state. There's a great selections of all media types including books, movies, music and periodicals. It also houses local art and screens classic movies for free.
  • Shunga Park. Walking and biking trails, a pool, and baseball diamonds, as well as a BMX track.

Buy edit

Eat edit

Topeka has the variety of chain restaurants like most modern American cities. 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.

Recommended locally owned or small chain restaurants:

  • 1 Bobo's Drive In, 2300 SW 10th Ave. Drive-in restaurant that features burgers. Featured in a popular show named American Classics, which Guy Fieri is in.
  • 2 Globe Indian Cuisine, 117 SE 10th Ave.
  • Kiku Japanese Steak House, 5331 SW 22nd Pl (In the Fairlawn Plaza Mall).
  • 3 Tacos El Mexicano, 2002 SE California Ave.
  • 4 Tuptim Thai, 220 SW 29th Street, +1 785 266-2299. Su noon–8PM; M–F 11AM–2:30PM, 5PM–9PM; Sa noon–9PM.
  • Annie's Place, 4014 SW Gage Center Dr, +1 785 273-0848. M–Th 11AM–9PM, F–Su 7AM–9PM.
  • 5 Blind Tiger, 417 SW 37th St, +1 785 267-2739.
  • 6 North Star Steak House, 1100 NW 25th St, +1 785 354-8880. Tu–Th 5PM–9:30PM, F Sa 5PM–10:30PM. Reservations recommended.
  • 7 Juli's Coffee and Bistro, 911 S Kansas Ave (in the historic Thacher/Gizmo Building, on 8th Street, between Kansas Ave. and Quincy), +1 785 228-2001. A popular destination for breakfast and lunch.
  • 8 Wingstop, 2121 SW Wanamaker Rd #103, +1 785 496-9464. Daily, 11AM-midnight.

Drink edit

Topeka has a few locally owned coffeehouses, but several coffeehouses in the area buy their coffee from a medal-winning local roaster, PT's Coffee Co. PT's also has a coffeehouse of their own.

Recommended locally owned or small chain baristas:

  • PT's Coffee Roasting Co., 929 SW University Blvd Suite 2704-d2.
  • 1 Classic Bean, 722 S Kansas Ave, +1 785 232-1001. M–F 6:45AM–7PM, Sa 8AM–2PM.
  • Classic Bean, 2125 SW Fairlawn Plaza Dr.
  • 2 The Break Room, 911 S. Kansas Ave, +1 785 215-6633. 7:30AM - 4:30PM.

Sleep edit

Stay Safe edit

As far as crime goes, Topeka is generally a safe city, but some areas around downtown (not including the downtown core) and on the eastern side of the city are best avoided at night. As long as you follow common sense, you will be safe in Topeka. Despite its bad reputation in Kansas, most of the crime in Topeka is gang-related, so a traveler is highly unlikely to come across any sort of serious danger.

Being in Kansas, it is important to be well aware of the weather in Topeka. During the spring and summer months, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in general are possible, while the winter can bring blizzard conditions. All weather warnings will be broadcast by local radio stations, and most people will get an emergency alert on their smartphone. Furthermore, during a tornado warning, tornado sirens will be sounded throughout the city, which are easy to hear from basically anywhere. When in doubt, ask the locals, but a good rule of thumb during tornadoes is to get on the lowest floor of the building and as far away from windows as you can.

Go next edit

  • Lawrence is 30 minutes east of Topeka along I-70 (Toll). A scenic (and cheaper) route to Lawrence from Topeka is along US Highway 40. The Amtrak train system connects Topeka to Lawrence. Lawrence is home to University of Kansas. Lawrence is a small college town with a vibrant social scene located around Massachusetts Street. Massachusetts Street is also the site where John Brown fought during the Bleeding Kansas battles.
  • Perry Lake is 30 minutes north east of Topeka along US Highway 24. It is the third largest lake in Kansas. Perry Lake features watersports, hiking and camping opportunities.
  • Manhattan is an hour and a half west of Topeka. Take I-70 West to KS-177 North. Manhattan is home to Kansas State University. Near Manhattan is Tuttle Creek Reservoir.
Routes through Topeka
AlbuquerqueNewton  W   E  LawrenceKansas City
HaysJunction City ← Jct N   ← Jct N   S  W   E  LawrenceKansas City
END  N   S  EmporiaWichita via  
Follow   south  S   E  Follow   east
StocktonWamego  W   E  LawrenceKansas City
OmahaHolton  N   S  → Junction N   SIndependenceTulsa

This city travel guide to Topeka is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.