Leavenworth, Kansas at a Glance
Location: On the banks of the Missouri River, 40 minutes northwest of Kansas City, Kansas
Access: Interstates 70 and 29; Kansas City International Airport
Major Meeting Spaces: Riverfront Community and Convention Center, Frontier Conference Center within Fort Leavenworth and the Heritage Center
Hotel Rooms: 600-plus
Off-Site Venues: Haymarket Event Center, Schwinn Produce Farm, Lamborn Farm and the Lincoln Room at the University of St. Mary
Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau
Rich with pioneer and military history, the national treasures in Leavenworth, Kansas, will leave an indelible mark on visitors.
“I love the history and the connection to the military post that’s here,” said Kristi Lee, director of the Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The patriotic spirit here is amazing.”
Leavenworth’s location on the western banks of the Missouri River, just 40 miles northwest of Kansas City, gave it a starring role in many historic movements. For example, Fort Leavenworth occupies the northern half of the town and was a key supply base for settlers on the Oregon and Santa Fe trails, earning it the moniker the “Post that opened the West.”
Because neighboring Missouri entered the union as a slave state, Leavenworth became a refuge for thousands of African Americans seeking freedom. When Gen. Colin Powell was stationed at Fort Leavenworth in 1992, he spearheaded the creation of the Leavenworth Buffalo Soldier Monument to honor pioneer-era African American Army soldiers. Visitors can explore museums that highlight the history of the fort and the Buffalo Soldiers throughout Leavenworth.
In the late 19th century, entrepreneur Fred Harvey launched the nation’s first restaurant chains along the railroads from his home in Leavenworth. The wave of women who migrated from the East under Harvey’s employ was made famous thanks to the musical “The Harvey Girls,” starring Judy Garland.
The railroad still plays a role in Leavenworth’s story today. The town’s main convention center is the Riverfront Community Center, housed in the renovated 1888 Union Station Train Depot.
Meeting attendees can learn more about Leavenworth’s tapestry of history and hold memorable events in its museums, historic homes and monuments around town.
Major Meeting Spaces
In the 1860s and 1870s, Leavenworth was a boomtown. Riverboats chugged into town daily, and railroads laid track at a furious pace to accommodate eager passengers. Railway companies built a handful of train stations in town, of which the Union Depot was the finest. Today, the Union Depot is still used as Leavenworth’s main convention center. The architecturally stunning Riverfront Community Center was beautifully renovated in 1998. Its 53,000 square feet of flexible meeting space accommodates 450 people.
To provide for overflow, meeting planners often book the nearby Heritage Center at the same time. There, planners will find a banquet hall of 5,000 square feet and three other meeting spaces that range from 600 to 1,900 square feet. The Heritage Center can accommodate 20 to 350 guests.
Unique Meeting Venues
Planners that hope to make use of historic Fort Leavenworth’s facilities can book the Frontier Conference Center. Though there are heavier planning logistics involved, the extra protocol is worth the treat of hosting a group at the post that opened the West.
The on-property event venue is one of the largest in Leavenworth, with multiple rooms and 50,000 square feet of event space. Facility managers recently overhauled the audiovisual system with what they call ultramodern technology.
Additional venue options include the Haymarket Event Center, Schwinn Produce Farm, Lamborn Farm and the University of St. Mary.
Fort Leavenworth, the longest continuously running military installation west of the Mississippi, figures heavily in the town’s atmosphere. “A lot of people come to town just to visit the fort and the Frontier Army Museum,” Lee said.
Thanks to Hollywood hype, Leavenworth is famed the world over for its five penitentiaries. None of the facilities allow public tours, but there are prison displays at the First City Museum, open Thursdays 1 to 4 p.m.
The Richard Allen Cultural Center is one of Leavenworth’s premier attractions highlighting African American history. The center hosts plays and musicals and displays artifacts like freedom papers from former slaves.
Now being restored, the Fred Harvey Museum will reopen later this year to educate visitors about how hospitality tamed the West, and the Carroll House Museum will transport visitors to Victorian-era Leavenworth.
The Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau is happy to serve groups visiting Leavenworth. For example, the CVB can arrange site tours, marketing collateral, custom itineraries, step-on guides, name badges, welcome bags and more.
One of the CVB’s unique offerings is coordinating Harvey Girl Dinners. “Almost all of my group tours take advantage of the Harvey Girl Luncheons,” Lee said. Harvey Girls perform a skit and serve a full meal as groups learn about the history of Leavenworth.