This is the sixth post about our family's adventures in July 2019. If you haven't already, I recommend reading the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts about this trip. Because I blog about educational travel, I received complimentary admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited throughout the trip. Many attractions are free to everyone; I paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I share is something that I recommend without hesitation.
Family-Friendly Fun in Topeka, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri
While we spent the majority of our trip in Missouri, we did dedicate a full day to exploring Topeka, Kansas. We had a great time!
It took about an hour to drive from our hotel just north of downtown Kansas City to our first destination, the Kansas Museum of History.
Right from the start, it was obvious that the staff has put a lot of thought into making the Kansas Museum of History fun, educational, and accessible to all ages. I absolutely love this display of activity guides for kids (or adults!). Trevor worked on the BINGO card and loved it.
We started with a special exhibit called "105 Counties 105 Stories." This outstanding display includes a single story from each of Kansas' 105 counties, including stories of "rain wizards, war heroes, artists, business adventures, hard times, and happy endings."
The Main Gallery tells the story of Kansas from its native people to its recent past. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
I took these two photos because both exhibits featured places we'd be visiting that afternoon!
In addition to the galleries, the Kansas Museum of History has a Discovery Center for young children. At 13, Trevor has long outgrown puppet shows and pretend play, but I saw quite a few happy kids playing in the space. No photos, of course, since I don't photograph strangers' kids. Instead, here's a gorgeous piece of woodwork from outside the Discovery Center.
A 2.5 mile trail winds through the grounds of the museum. We crossed over a bridge (an Eagle Scout project, as it turns out)....
... and set off in search of a geocache. Success!
We saw tons of birds and butterflies, particularly as we crossed into the native grassland area. What a treasure this trail is!
We had lunch at the outstanding Bobo's Drive-In. While not huge, the seating area seems enormous compared to Carl's Drive-In! The food was just as delicious.
Hey, look! Guy Fieri was here.
On the recommendation of many locals, and Guy Fieri, we tried the Spanish burger, onion rings, and a slice of their famous apple pie. Delicious!
Next, the Kansas State Capitol.
Trevor got a stamp in his Capitol Collection book.
We asked about the Liberty Bell replica, as we had not seen on the grounds or in the lobby, the two places where most states have theirs on display. With a big sigh, the man on duty told us that the bell is in storage. Then he offered to take us to see it. We headed downstairs, through the parking garage, and to a utility closet. Inside, this.
He told us that he's been fighting to get the bell back on display, which I was glad to hear. But repairs need to be done and there are apparently concerns about people ringing it if it's on display. (This does not seem like an issue to me. You can ring the replicas in some states; others have the bell behind plexiglass or otherwise blocked off.) Anyway, for now the bell is in storage and you might be allowed to go see it if you ask.
The Dome Tour is not for the faint of heart. Or the faint of back, neck, knee, or feet. Nor for young children, people in improper shoes, or people who don't like heights. The tour began easily enough. We climbed about 75 steps and stopped to learn interesting facts from the docent and take some pictures.
More climbing, then more listening and learning.
Steve, who is afraid of heights, was out. Trevor and I talked about going up without him, but we were really hot, had somewhere else we needed to be, and ultimately decided to all head down together. We were not the only ones in the group to bail out. Here you can see some of the brave (and apparently heat-resistant) tourists starting their way up.
Our next stop was at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.
The Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ended legal segregation in public schools. The National Historic Site is housed at the once-segregated Monroe School. Much of it has been restored to its 1954 appearance.
This map shows states with mandatory segregation (green), optional segregation (blue), laws forbidding segregation (red), and no laws regarding segregation (grey). Kansas is blue.
There's a gorgeous mural between the NHS and the parking lot.
A former coworker of Steve's lives in Kansas, so we headed to Q39 to meet him and his wife for dinner.
The place was huge and jam-packed. It was easy to see why - the food was outstanding. This is the Baby Berg with pork belly lardons. YUM!
We thoroughly enjoyed our time. Definitely try Q39 if you're in the area. The original location, which we did not try, is in midtown Kansas City.
Stuffed from dinner, we headed back to our hotel for our final night in Kansas City. The next morning, we packed our stuff, checked out of the hotel, and headed to our final KC destination: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. To be honest, my main reason for wanting to go there was to see the World's Largest Shuttlecocks.
There are actually four on the grounds of the museum, along with many other sculptures.
Because of the heat, we toured the outside area first while it was still relatively cool.
This glass maze was really neat. As you know, Trevor loves mazes.
Trevor also loves mini golf and was thrilled to see the Art Course on the museum grounds.
Unfortunately, all the tee times were taken, so we had to settle for watching other people play. The holes were so original. It's impossible to pick a favorite, but for me it might be this one, which is a model of the museum and grounds.
When it started getting uncomfortably warm outside, we headed indoors to the galleries. We spent the next hour or so enjoying art.
We ate a late lunch in the museum's outstanding Rozzelle Court Restaurant.
Our final stop in Kansas City was at the airport... but we didn't fly home! Tomorrow I'll share the final leg of our three-state adventure.