Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in McPherson, KS

  • Published 2023/03/03

Founded in 1872, the city of McPherson was a progressive community with a rich history and a myriad of beautiful and picturesque places.

Early on, the city already had landmarks pointing to its progressive roots, such as the historic opera house and the county courthouse.

In 1920, people discovered oil in McPherson, which boosted the city’s economic development.

This discovery helped the city avoid the brunt of the Great Depression.

Today, the city still booms with business, foot traffic, and tourist destinations.

Here are the best things to do in McPherson, KS:

Visit the McPherson County Courthouse

Exterior of McPherson County Courthouse

Christian M. Mericle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

History buffs will surely enjoy the McPherson County Courthouse on North Maple St.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, the McPherson County Courthouse is now a primary location for county offices and services.

Tour the facility and marvel at its 19th-century Richardsonian-Romanesque architectural style.

While walking along the pavement, you’ll see a bronze equestrian statue of General Birdseye McPherson, a Civil War Union officer who lent the city his name.

Built in 1894, the McPherson County Courthouse stands at 105 feet, with a clock constructed in 1908.

Learn about the City’s Local History at the McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation

The city of McPherson has many historical sites that tell about its rich culture.

You’ll learn all about local history and culture at the McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation.

The McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the city’s heritage.

Explore the museum’s six permanent exhibits.

Look closely at local prehistoric fossils, a skeletal model of Harlan’s ground sloth, and meteorites at the natural history exhibit.

Swing by the model train exhibit and get up close and personal with detailed model trains curated by Mid Kansas Model Railroaders.

You can also check out lithographs and paintings from Birger Sandzen and other pieces from various artists.

For the sports fans out there, visit the sports gallery to know more about McPherson’s sports history and look at the Globe Refiners Exhibit.

Beat the Heat at McPherson Water Park

The McPherson Water Park has many facilities which give you the best water park experience.

Time your laps at the eight-lane, 50-meter pool, or lounge around the 500-foot lazy river if you’re looking to do something more relaxing.

Kids are also welcome to play in the splash pad area or fly down the giant water slide.

Don’t forget to try the zero-entry pool, the Bulldog slide, and the diving well.

Kids looking to learn about swimming can enroll in six levels of swimming classes.

Kids 13 to 14 years old can also try the junior lifeguard program.

Get Lost in the Wild at the McPherson Valley Wetlands

Drown out the sounds of busy streets by visiting the McPherson Valley Wetlands.

Explore over 4,000 acres of marshes, wetlands, and shallow lakes.

If you’re planning to visit the wetlands sometime around spring, the area makes an excellent spot for watching migratory birds.

Catch rare sightings of whooping cranes, or hunt the area for quails, doves, pheasants, and more.

Currently, the area has 51 managed wetland pools and two refuges.

Practice Your Swings at Turkey Creek Golf Course

Sunny days have always been the perfect time to practice your swings at the golf course.

At Turkey Creek Golf Course, you can enjoy an 18-hole facility decorated with bluegrass fairways and bent grass greens.

Built in 1990, the Turkey Creek Golf Course features four sets of tees ranging from approximately 4,597 to over 6,300 yards with a par of 70.

Enjoy the calm scenery and the well-maintained course designed with native grass areas.

You can also swing by the 300+ yard driving range with natural grass tees and a full-length hitting mat.

Catch Live Performances at the McPherson Opera House

Exterior of McPherson Opera House

Christian M. Mericle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whether you’re looking for live music or theatrical performances, visit the McPherson Opera House.

Kansas’ premier performance venue takes you back to the 19th century with its intricate interior design paired with state-of-the-art technology.

Enjoy concerts, plays, and more in the 500-seat auditorium.

You can also swing by the Mary Anderson Arts Center and explore the facility where artists of all ages hone their performing skills.

Both novice and veteran artists usually host art-inspired camps and activities in the Mary Anderson Arts Center.

The McPherson Opera House also rents out its grand ballroom, auditorium, art centers, and meeting rooms for various events.

Munch on Hoagies at Noffy’s Sandwich Shop and Pub

If you’re looking for something to munch on while touring the city, drop by Noffy’s Sandwich Shop and Pub.

Indulge in various servings of authentic east coast hoagies in the beautiful state of Kansas.

Enjoy a classic Italian sandwich bursting with the flavors of capicola, genoa salami, provolone cheese, and the BLT combo.

You can also try the Caprese hoagie, stuffed with genoa salami, fresh milk mozzarella, tomato, basil, spinach, and balsamic reduction.

Of course, your meal wouldn’t be complete without an ice-cold glass of beer.

Wash down your hoagies with a beer at Noffy’s.

Visit the Clayworks

During your McPherson trip, you’ll come across various art galleries and stores that showcase artistic talents, including the Clayworks on North Main St.

However, the Clayworks isn’t your ordinary art studio and gallery, making it a must-see facility for tourists.

The Clayworks is a collaborative art studio that supports the entrepreneurial creations of people with disabilities.

Shop for clay sculptures, drawings, paintings, and other creations from people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Besides giving them a chance to showcase their talents, the Clayworks also gives them all the profit from their sales.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at the Pink Flamingo

The Pink Flamingo is a favorite for locals and tourists looking to satisfy their cravings for sweet treats.

The candy store and chocolate shop offer a wide variety of sweets, from cupcakes and candies to chocolates and cakes.

Thanks to store owner Chad Mock, you feast your eyes on the vast flamingo display across the shop.

The shop also offers monster-sized peanut butter cups in different flavors.

Indulge in a wide selection of unusually shaped chocolate creations, which you can’t find anywhere else.

The store owner is also a self-taught baker, so you might want to try his crafted macaroons, cookies, and more.

Spruce up Your Kitchen and Pantry at the Cook’s Nook

It always pays to have good kitchenware and a full-stock pantry.

Luckily, you can find everything you need at The Cook’s Nook.

Shop for top-of-the-line cookware, cutlery, bakeware, and dinnerware and give your kitchen a makeover.

The Cook’s Nook also offers gifts and specialty items perfect for souvenirs for your friends and family who love to spend their time in the kitchen.

The Cook’s Nook first opened its doors to the public in 1988, when store owner Priscilla Smith saw the need to help young women with bridal registries.

Today, Priscilla’s daughter, Jonna, and her daughter, Cassidy, manage the Cook’s Nook in McPherson.

They continue to shower customers with premium-quality items and specialty products to take their kitchen to the next level.

Celebrate All Schools Day at McPherson

All Schools Day is one of Kansas’ largest annual celebrations.

Check out giant floats parading down the streets during the yearly parade, drawing over 40,000 people flock to the city.

Since the event is called “All Schools Day,” school-age children across McPherson County showcase their talents during the May Fete Program.

The celebration began in 1914 to honor eighth grade, high school, and college graduates across the county.

Participate in various events like button hunts, college cruise-ins, and block parties.

Catch the annual fireworks display to cap off the celebration.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt for the McPherson Murals

At McPherson, galleries and museums are not the only places you’ll find art.

Pass by a couple of streets downtown, and you’ll find murals painted on building walls.

The McPherson Convention and Visitors Bureau funded these murals.

These murals feature several historical events that contribute to McPherson’s rich heritage.

While walking down Main St., you’ll see the All Schools Day mural, depicting one of the largest annual celebrations in McPherson county.

Likewise, you’ll find the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge mural painted by Matthew Richter to highlight the Kansas prairie.

Also along Main St. are the Veterans Memorial, Automotive Restoration Technology, and Central Christian College murals.

Swing by Ash St. and Kansas Avenue to see the Globe Refiners mural, depicting the USA’s first-ever Olympic basketball team with six players from McPherson.

Experience City Life at McPherson Main Street

Taste the bustling city life at Main St., where you’ll get the whole McPherson cultural experience.

Enjoy a day filled with food, fun, and fantastic deals during the annual Shop the Night Away sale.

Catch the Burnin’ Down Main event, where cooks compete to make the city’s best chili, soup, and dessert.

Take your kids trick-or-treating on a crisp autumn night in October.

During the holiday season, stay in the city for the holiday open house and look for the Candy Cane Cash deals.

Find Awesome Deals at the Kansas Barn Sale

Stop by McPherson’s Lakeside Park to catch the annual Kansas Barn Sale.

The barn sale first opened its doors to the public in 2010, initially held in a private property near Goessel.

The need for a bigger space prompted the barn sale to move to its current location in Lakeside Park.

The annual sale draws approximately 5,000 to 7,000 shoppers and at least 130 vendors.

Shop for food, crafts, clothes, souvenirs, and more, at reasonable prices.

Go on a Day Trip at Lakeside Park

Lakeside Park is one of the top outdoor adventures in McPherson.

It’s a gorgeous city park that’s teeming with all sorts of things to do thanks in large part to its size and amenities.

One of Lakeside Park’s headliners is its beautiful lake that serves as a great picnic site for those looking to spend a laid-back afternoon.

Lakeside Park also has other fun activities, such as a bandshell for events and a disc golf area for sports enthusiasts.

There are also a couple of trails here that lead you to its scenic woods, along with some water fountains.

You can visit Lakeside Park along East Lakeside Drive.

Dine in Retro Style at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers

Found along Champlain Street, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers has long been a classic dining establishment not only in McPherson, but in Kansas as a whole.

This is more than just a diner, as Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers is also a treat to the eyes due to its retro-style aesthetic.

Seeing its exterior and dining inside will make you feel like you’re going back to the early 90s or late 80s.

Of course, the food itself is the heart and soul of the restaurant , featuring mouthwatering burgers, custards, ice cream, and more.

If you’re looking for a cheap but famous dining establishment in Kansas, you can’t go wrong with Freddy’s.

Have Breakfast at Neighbors Cafe

Another culinary attraction local to McPherson is Neighbors Cafe.

It’s a delicious spot to enjoy classic American breakfasts such as biscuits and gravy and pancakes.

This place has some of the best atmospheres in McPherson, making it a beloved morning spot of locals and visitors.

Once you’re done trying their breakfast and lunch menu items, don’t miss out on their freshly baked cinnamon rolls—believed to be some of the best in Kansas.

Neighbors Cafe is found along South Main Street.

Go Biking or Jogging along Meadowlark – McPherson Trailhead

Meadowlark – McPherson Trailhead is an underrated spot in the city where you can go on a relaxed and picturesque jog.

With paved trails that lead you to an abundance of grass and flower fields, this trail is a great way to just enjoy the simplicity of McPherson’s beauty.

During spring, this place blooms with tons of sunflowers along with other flora, making it a great place for photography.

If you want to venture further, be sure to bring a bike with you as this trail can be quite long.

Found along Moccasin Boulevard, Meadowlark – McPherson Trailhead is a fun spot for avid runners and bikers.

Play Sports at Wall Bicentennial Park

Wall Bicentennial Park, also known as Wall Park, is McPherson’s largest city park.

Hence, it’s no surprise that you can do a lot of activities here just like in Lakeside Park.

What makes Wall Bicentennial Park unique is that it has an abundance of sporting amenities, most prominently tennis courts, softball and baseball fields, as well as handball courts.

There’s also a skate park and several playgrounds at Wall Bicentennial Park, along with exercise trails.

With so many recreational activities available, you’d be hard-pressed to miss out on this city park if you’re a fitness or sports enthusiast.

Final Thoughts

McPherson is one of the most colorful places you can visit in Kansas.

You’ll find rich artistry, architecture, history, and cultural heritage there.

If you’re planning to stop by McPherson anytime soon, consider staying for a bit longer to get the ultimate city experience.

Start your adventure at McPherson and book your trip today!

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