Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Emporia, KS

  • Published 2022/08/16

Emporia is a small city in Lyon County, Kansas, and one of the best places to live in the state.

The city features various restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, and parks, not to mention its remarkable history.

What are some things you can do in Emporia?

In 1953, Emporia became the first city in the nation to celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th.

The city holds many events, including an annual parade where veterans receive special recognition for their service.

Likewise city has several landmarks worth visiting, such as the Lyon County Historical Museum.

The museum houses artifacts from local history, including Native American relics and artifacts from local pioneers.

Here are the best things to do in Emporia, Kansas:

Explore the Downtown Emporia Historic District

Digital street clock at Downtown Emporia

mark reinstein /

Emporia is a city rich in history.

It has many museums, theaters, and other exciting locations to check out.

However, you shouldn’t miss the Downtown Emporia Historic District.

Check out classical buildings in Italian architecture in the downtown area of Emporia.

People touring around Downtown Emporia

mark reinstein /

There are also well-known boutiques and gift shops you can shop while you’re walking the district.

After your stroll, you can choose from one of the many available restaurants and enjoy a meal.

Spend the day at the Downtown Emporia Historic District.

Buildings at Downtown Emporia

Ichabod, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the William Allen White House

One of Emporia’s most famous landmarks is the William Allen White House, more commonly known as Red Rocks.

William Allen White, known as “The Sage of Emporia,” once lived at the house.

White was a journalist, author, and politician born in Emporia in 1868.

He lived there for most of his life until he died in 1944.

The historic landmark is currently a museum and is open to the general public for viewing.

The first floor is red sandstone, while the higher levels follow the Classical Revival style.

Meanwhile, the second floor is a two-and-a-half-plus-twelve-story home constructed of brick and limestone.

The William Allen White House dates back to late 1880, constructed entirely with stones taken from Colorado.

Play Mini-Golf at Peter Pan Park

If you’ve ever thought about what it would be like to explore Neverland, Peter Pan Park in Emporia can give you a glimpse.

You’ll find a picnic area for an all-out outdoor adventure, and a mini golf course with an 18-hole disc where you can practice this sport.

Then, you can fish in the four-acre lake, not to mention tennis courts and playgrounds.

Peter Pan Park is an excellent location for birdwatching and team building.

This park covers a total area of fifty acres and includes a fantastic lake for fishing and boating.

You may also have fun playing tennis in one of the park’s tennis courts.

Walk the Emporia Cottonwood River Trail

After seeing Peter Pan Park, put on your hiking boots and head out on a trail that ranges from simple to moderate.

Visit the Emporia Cottonwood River Trail to learn more about the natural environment surrounding the state.

This path is clear and unimpeded.

You won’t find any tough barriers or obstructions along the trail.

Along this trail, you will pass through historical sites such as a river spillway and an old bridge.

If you prefer to go on foot or ride your bike along this trail, you’ll witness a variety of birds, insects, and other wildlife.

During the warmer months, the abundance of trees and grasses along the trail provides shade and sun protection.

Work up a sweat at the Emporia Cottonwood River Trail.

Appreciate Art at Emporia Arts Center

You can attribute the unique personality of a city to its artistic community, which in turn helps residents feel more at home.

When you’re in Emporia, look at the art in each place you visit.

Don’t stick to the famous paintings or sculptures that everyone knows about!

Visit the Emporia Art Center to get a sense of where the location originated and how it developed over time.

Besides regular gallery displays and theatrical performances, the Emporia Art Center also features one-of-a-kind options for shopping, including souvenirs, jewelry, and art items.

The venue’s modern look and elegance will enhance your experience while seeing a musical or play.

Discover the World of Animals at David Traylor Zoo

Bobcat in David Traylor Zoo

KCZooFan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You might want to make Emporia’s David Traylor Zoo your first stop.

Since the late 1970s, visitors have enjoyed themselves at this quaint and entertaining zoo.

You will see exotic wildlife such as prairie dogs, bison, Cinereous vultures, mule deer, red foxes, cougars, and more.

Likewise, the zoo celebrates an Open House, Boo in the Zoo on Halloween, and Zoo Lights during the winter holidays.

Stop by the mini souvenir shop after greeting all the animals and get yourself something to remind you of the David Traylor Zoo.

Take a Tour of the Johnston Geology Museum

The Johnston Geology Museum is a treasure trove of geological specimens, fossils, and artifacts.

When you visit the ESU Geology Museum, you’ll see displays as unique as those who donated them.

In recognition of Professor Paul Johnston, this institution changed its name to the Johnston Geology Museum.

Professor Johnston taught for 38 years at Emporia State University.

The museum features 45 exhibitions, including artifacts from Kansas, such as a mastodon tusk, Kansas Cretaceous mosasaur, a huge ground sloth, and other valuables.

The majority of the geological specimens in the Johnston Geology Museum come from the state of Kansas.

Give Fishing a Try in Jones Park

There’s something about a small town park that makes you feel like a kid again.

When you pull into Emporia Jones Park West Pond, you will feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

Return to a simpler time when all you had to worry about was fishing and playing disc golf.

This park also features a unique nine-hole disc golf course with natural tee pads and a little pond in the middle of the course.

The majority of the holes are around 300 feet in length, with a few longer shots thrown in for good measure.

Jones Park has three ponds: East Pond, North Pond, and West Pond.

Buy Local Products at Emporia Farmers Market

One of the finest ways to get a taste of a city’s culture is to visit the local farmers’ market.

Emporia’s farmers market is one of the most exciting places to visit.

It features fresh and delicious local products from over 60 farmers; everything there is new and healthy.

You’ll also find live entertainment and art shows while shopping at this place, which means it’s fun for all ages!

Grab everything you need from food like fruits and vegetables, baked goods, meat products, and more, without breaking the bank.

Spend the day shopping at the Emporia Farmers Market!

Go on a Cart Adventure at the Emporia Family Fun Center

It’s time to get your game on!

The Emporia Family Fun Center opens from March to November and provides competitive and recreational activities, including indoor and outdoor options.

There’s nothing like the thrill of speeding around a go-cart track or sinking a hole-in-one on a mini-golf course.

If you’re not in the mood for these activities, you can take a stroll around the grounds and admire the magnificent trees and well-kept lawn instead.

Put on your gear and head to the Emporia Family Fun Center.

Appreciate Kansas History at Emporia Public Library

Exterior of the old Emporia Public Library

SharonPapierdreams, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that the Emporia is home to Kansas State’s oldest library?

You got that right!

Since it opened in 1869, the Emporia Public Library has existed for more than 150 years.

The initial settlers built the library, which now collects more than 6,000 items.

Entrance to the old Emporia Public Library

SharonPapierdreams, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Emporia Public Library building is a representation of art and long-standing heritage.

You will want to take a picture of the statue that depicts two children playing outside, as well as the antique bell.

The front door, which looks like a castle, is an excellent subject for photographs you can share on social media.

Have a Party at Mulready’s Pub

Come to Emporia’s best place for beer and scotch!

Since 2013, Mulready’s Pub has quickly become one of Emporia’s most well-liked beer establishments.

The warm and welcoming atmosphere provides guests a place to unwind, chat with other people, and make new acquaintances.

The bar offers a selection of more than 60 different craft beers and 30 different scotches from all around the United States.

Since each barista has earned their certification, you can rest assured that the beverage you receive will be of the highest quality.

Bring your friends to Mulready’s Pub!

Go Bowling at Flint Hills Lanes

Flint Hills Lanes is another place in Emporia where you may spend time having fun.

Aside from its delicious culinary options, this lively establishment features bowling as one of its featured activities.

The Flint Hills Lanes routinely host bowling tournaments for players of all ages.

Bowling parties are always a hit in Emporia since they offer a wide variety of fun activities that are suitable for any occasion.

You won’t go hungry here because they have a wide variety of food and drinks, from burgers to pizza, beers, and favorite juices.

Unwind at the Fremont Park

Fremont Park in Emporia is a classic space and features several memorial sites, in contrast to the majority of parks, which are relatively new and modern.

Fremont Park gets its name from John C. Fremont, the first Republican presidential candidate from Kansas.

This 2.6-acre park sits north of the Santa Fe railroad tracks.

Built in the early 1900s, its bandstand was the first of its kind in the city.

You can walk around with your dog or play football with the neighborhood kids.

Fremont Park ensures convenience via picnic tables and a drinking fountain.

Camp Out at Emporia RV Park & Campground

Prepare your tents and camping supplies before heading to the Emporia RV Park & Campground for a warm and relaxed picnic experience.

Fishing enthusiasts will adore this location because it sits directly next to a fishing pond.

Likewise, it has picnic tables where you can relax with your rod and reel.

If you’re not into fishing, don’t worry.

There are plenty of other things to do at Emporia RV Park & Campground.

It’s got a nine-basket disc golf course nearby.

If you want to play golf but don’t have time to hit up the local links, go to the disc golf course.

Otherwise, you want to take advantage of their playground play frisbee with your puppy.

Learn about US History at Lyon County History Center

A meeting in Lyon County History Center

mark reinstein /

When you walk through the Lyon County History Center doors, it seems like you are entering a portal at another time.

The Lyon County History Center began in 1937.

The center collects and preserves the one-of-a-kind materials that depict the history of the United States.

The museum contains materials, including letters, notes, diaries, maps, and other necessary research materials.

The eight exhibits cover natural history, immigration, transportation, farming, business & industry, and military day.

Bring your kids to the Lyon County History Center and learn about history together.

Final Thoughts

Travel is more than just going someplace.

It’s meeting locals, experiencing the culture and food, and absorbing the atmosphere of your destination.

As soon as you get to Emporia, you’ll want to spend even more time with your family and friends.

You’ll always find new things to do or explore wherever you decide to go, including hiking trails and beaches.

What are you waiting for?

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Emporia!

© All rights reserved.