Topeka

Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Kansas Topeka

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Introduction

Topeka is the capital of Kansas. Topeka, located in Shawnee County, serves as the capital of Kansas. The metropolitan area is rich in history and highly favored by nature. It lies on rich sandy loam river bottomland where Indians 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) Indian 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 Indian 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.

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 has been an active participant in the modern-day Civil Rights Movement. 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.

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Sights and Activities

  • 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.
  • Kansas State Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave. Take the #4 West 10th Bus along 10th Street to the Capital. The capital features original Murals as well as a tour of the rotunda. There are many restaurants within walking distance to the building, making this a nice afternoon visit.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

In 2007 Forbes Magazine named Topeka as one of the leading U.S. cities in terms of having the greatest variations in temperature, precipitation, and wind. Topeka has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa), with hot, somewhat humid summers and cool to cold, fairly dry winters. Over the course of a year, the monthly daily average temperature ranges from -1.3 °C in January to 26.1 °C in July. The maximum temperature reaches 32.2 °C an average of 41.5 afternoons per year and reaches 37.8 °C an average of 3.5 afternoons per year. The minimum temperature falls below -17.8 °C an average of four mornings per year, and there are 21 afternoons per year that stay below freezing. The average window for freezing temperatures is October 15 through April 17.

The area receives nearly 930 mm of precipitation during an average year, with the largest share being received in May and June - the April through June period averages 33 days of measurable precipitation. Generally, the spring and summer months have the most rainfall, with autumn and winter being fairly dry. During a typical year the total amount of precipitation may be anywhere from 640 to 1,190 mm. Much of the rainfall is delivered by thunderstorms. These can be severe, producing frequent lightning, large hail, and sometimes tornadoes. There are an average of 100 days of measurable precipitation per year. Winter snowfall is light, as is the case in most of the state, as a result of the dry, sunny weather patterns that dominate Kansas winters, which do not allow for sufficient moisture for significant snowfall. Winter snowfall averages almost 0.45 metres. Measurable (0.0025 metres) snowfall occurs an average of 12.9 days per year, with at least 0.025 metre of snow being received on five of those days. Snow depth of at least an inch occurs an average of 20 days per year

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Getting There

By Plane

Kansas City International (MCI IATA) is the closest fully functional commercial airport. A shuttle service can take you to Topeka from Kansas City.

By Train

The Southwest Chief, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California, stopping in Topeka.

By Car

  • 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

  • Greyhound Bus Lines stops at 600 Southeast Quincey Street next to Southeast 6th Avenue in downtown.
  • jeffersonlines, runs to Kansas City, phone 1-800-451-5333. The same line is serviced by Greyhound.

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Getting Around

By Car

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, Topeka Boulevard, 21st Street and 6th Street (6th Street turns into Highway 40).

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.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Topeka Metro is the public bus system that runs through most of the main streets. Their phone number is: +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 $50.00. 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.

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Eat

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:

  • Bobo's Drive In, 2300 SW 10th Ave.
  • Globe Indian Cuisine, 117 SE 10th Ave.
  • Kiku Japanese Steak House, 5331 SW 22nd Pl (In the Fairlawn Plaza Mall).
  • Tacos El Mexicano, 2002 SE California Ave.
  • 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.
  • Madison Street Diner, 420 SE 6th (Intersection of I-70 and 6th street), ☎ +1 785-234-5400.
  • Blind Tiger, 417 SW 37th St, ☎ +1 785 267-2739.
  • North Star Steak House, 1100 NW 25th St, ☎ +1 785 354-8880. Tu–Th 5PM–9:30PM, F Sa 5PM–10:30PM. Reservations recommended.
  • Juli's Coffee and Bistro, 110 SE 8th 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.

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Drink

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 Barristas:

  • PT's Coffee Roasting Co., 5660 SW 29th St.
  • 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.
  • Lazio's Coffee Bar & Roasterie, 2111 SW Belle Ave, ☎ +1 785 273-3550.
  • The Break Room, 911 S. Kansas Ave, ☎ +1 785 215-6633. 7:30AM - 4:30PM.
  • Uncle Bo's Blues Bar, 420 SE 6th St (At Ramada Hotel, intersection of I-70 and 6th Street), ☎ +1 785-234-5400.

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Sleep

  • Capitol Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, 1717 SW Topeka Blvd, ☎ +1 785 431-7200.
  • Courtyard Topeka, 2033 SW Wanamaker Rd, ☎ +1 785 271-6165, fax: +1 785 228-9712.
  • Fairfield Inn Topeka, 1530 SW Westport Dr, ☎ +1 785 273-6800, fax: +1 785 273-6800.
  • Hyatt Place, 6021 SW 6th Ave, ☎ +1 785 273-0066.
  • Motel 6 Topeka Northwest, 709 Fairlawn Rd, ☎ +1 785 272-8283, fax: +1 785 271-1341.
  • Motel 6 Topeka West, 1224 Wanamaker Road SW, ☎ +1 785 273-9888, fax: +1 785 273-0665.
  • Residence Inn Topeka, 1620 SW Westport Dr, ☎ +1 785 271-8903, fax: +1 785 271-8903.
  • Ramada Topeka Downtown Hotel and Convention Center, 420 SE 6th St (Intersection of I-70 and 6th street), ☎ +1 785-234-5400. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 8. Last edited at 10:13 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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