The capital of Kansas, Topeka is full of opportunities for history, art and fun. With updates recently completed and more improvements on the way, visitors can always find something new to enjoy.
The citizens of Topeka are extremely proud of their town’s heritage, but they’re not afraid to innovate. The historic downtown will soon undergo a revitalization project (slated to end in 2015) to promote pedestrian traffic and allow visitors and locals alike to see more on foot.
Both a local attraction and a meeting facility, the Kansas State Capitol is an iconic feature of the city. The building was recently returned to its architectural glory after a 13-year, top-to-bottom restoration. Free tours take visitors up 296 steps to see the copper dome and what Adrianne Meyer, convention sales manager of Visit Topeka, calls “the best view in Topeka.” There are also beautiful murals inside the building, and visitors enjoy looking up at the glass panels of the dome.
Other historic attractions include Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site, which illustrates the 1954 Supreme Court decision to end legal segregation in public schools. The Combat Air Museum is just south of Topeka and features planes, walkways and lots of military history at the base.
The NOTO Arts District in Historic North Topeka Crossing is home to antique stores, restoration shops, art galleries, interactive art classes and events, live music and more. The NOTO Arts Center opened in May, and the First Friday Art Walk happens the first Friday of every month, with special artist presentations and live music.
“The area has been used several times for larger groups,” Meyer said. “We shut down the street, let groups come in and wander through the shops, or have parties and outdoor music. It’s an intimate outdoor setting for an off-site event.”
The Topeka Zoo is a fun space with enough animals to keep visitors interested but a small enough venue to keep things intimate.
“What is unique about our zoo is that you can get up close to the animals,” said Jeffrey Alderman, director of sales for Visit Topeka. “If the giraffes aren’t eating out of your hands, they just aren’t hungry. You can get within 100 feet of most if not all of the animals.”
Another interesting activity for meeting groups is the Farm to Fork Tour, which lasts one to three days and involves visiting farms in the area and seeing the production of a wide variety of agricultural goods such as vegetables, wine and meat.
“You get to eat what you see,” Alderman said. “Our agritourism is pretty special, and the tours are unique because we can change who you want to visit every time you come to Topeka.”
Primary meeting facility: Kansas Expocenter
Other meeting properties: Capitol Plaza Hotel, Domer Arena, Ramada Convention Center
Largest meeting space: Kansas Expocenter (210,000 square feet)
Total hotel rooms: 2,700 in the city; more than 3,000 in the metropolitan area
CVB website: www.visittopeka.com