Topeka is the capital city of Kansas and the seat of Shawnee County.
It is situated on the Kansas River in the eastern part of the state.
The city’s name comes from the Indian term for “smoky hill” or “a good place to dig potatoes.”
The economy of Topeka relies mainly on manufacturing, agriculture, and governmental services.
Topeka is one of the best places to live in Kansas due to its suburban and relaxing atmosphere with proximity to essential establishments.
Its pop culture, exciting museums, and picturesque surroundings also attract many visitors from the rest of the country and abroad.
However, you can also enjoy this city without spending any money.
Here are some free things to do in Topeka, Kansas:
Take a Tour of the Kansas State Capitol
Kansas State Capitol is located on 8th Southwest and Southwest Van Buren St.
This magnificent structure was built in 1866 and has since become one of the main attractions in the city.
Spend your afternoon admiring its elaborate architecture and artistic details.
There is no elevator inside the Kansas State Capitol building, and you must take 296 steps to reach the top.
The building’s summit will give you a picture-perfect view of the city.
The interior of the Kansas State Capitol also displays some of the murals of native-born artist John Steuart Curry.
The Senate and House Chambers of the capitol building are also filled with ornate architectural features.
See Beautiful Flowers at Ted Ensley Gardens
Ted Ensley Gardens is a 37.5-acre garden on Southeast West Edge Rd.
It is ideally situated on the western side of Lake Shawnee.
You can enjoy the lake’s relaxing view while surrounded by various plants and colorful flowers.
Ted Ensley Gardens boasts 1,200 collections of perennials, 300 types of annuals, roses, shrubs, and trees.
There are also seating areas within the whole garden where you can sit back and relax after minutes or hours of exploring.
Aside from that, Ted Ensley Gardens also has a Meditation Garden Water and Rock Gardens with walking trails and decks that are ADA accessible.
A pagoda, pergola, and gazebo are also inside.
Children and seniors will also enjoy fishing at the Ted Ensley Gardens’ fishing pond.
Visit the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park
Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park is a historic site on Southeast Monroe St.
It was established in October 1992.
This vital landmark commemorates the abolition of racial segregation in public schools.
Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park also features footage, static displays, and photographs of people involved in the landmark Supreme Court case.
If you want to dig deeper into the city’s rich history, this destination should be on your list.
Service animals are also allowed at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park.
Bond with Nature at Lake Shawnee
Lake Shawnee is a 1,100-acre park nestled on Southeast 29th St.
This is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and other recreational activities.
It was built as a Work Progress Administration project from 1935 to 1939.
Lake Shawnee is surrounded by trails and other natural spots, making it perfect for some nature tripping and some moments with mother nature.
This attraction was even named twice as a top travel destination, drawing over 1 million visitors yearly.
Lake Shawnee’s other amenities are its 140 campgrounds, golf course, tennis courts, and foot trails.
You’ll also be amazed by its 11-acre arboretum and 9.5-acre diverse garden.
Marvel at the Tiffany Windows of the First Presbyterian Church
You can find the First Presbyterian Church on Southwest Harrison St.
You’ll easily recognize this beautiful church through its unique ten Tiffany Windows.
These windows show an iridescent quality that changes in color depending on the light inside and outside the church.
Moreover, you can visit First Presbyterian Church any time of the day and still experience the same beauty.
Aside from that, this church is also adorned with carved furnishings installed in 1935.
If you want to find peace and see a beautiful and historic part of the city, then First Presbyterian Church is the one for you.
Stroll at Kaw River State Park
Kaw River State Park is a 76-acre natural oasis on Southwest St.
You can stroll on its forested trails, which give you access to Kaw River.
You can also go mountain biking and hiking in Kaw River State Park’s oak-hickory forest over breathtaking landscape views.
Kaw River State Park features trails that are fit for all skill levels.
Since the trails were constructed for sustainability and erosion protection, you can also explore the park safely.
Once you reach the Kaw River, you can try water activities such as kayaking and canoeing.
Kaw River State Park is also a home for wildlife species like turkeys, deer, birds, and more.
Read Your Favorite Books at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library is on Southwest 10th Ave.
It was founded in 1870 and officially opened to the public in 1871.
This landmark library is also famous for its Alice C. Sabatini Gallery and Chandler Booktique.
You also shouldn’t miss its cafe.
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library also has meeting rooms, free WIFI access, and a computer training program.
This library houses vast collections of physical and digital learning materials.
Help your little ones love reading at this library since it has a wide selection of kid-friendly materials.
See Classic Victorian Homes at Potwin Place
Potwin Place is on Southwest Woodlawn Ave, named after banker Charles Wolcott Potwin who bought the land in 1869.
This is where you can find and appreciate the beauty of classic Victorian homes through brick streets.
Potwin Place’s landscaped roundabouts also add a little touch of nature to the area.
These roundabouts also feature plaques that describe the history of the surroundings.
To fully enjoy Potwin Place, you can start driving or walking from Willow Ave. and Greenwood Ave.
Potwin Place also becomes a lively and colorful neighborhood, particularly during Christmas, as the homeowners decorate their homes with extravagant themed decor.
Take Photos of Cedar Crest
Cedar Crest is a unique residence situated on Southwest Cedar Crest Rd.
This picture-perfect house is famous for its French-Norman style architecture.
It also serves as the residence of the city’s governor.
It is nestled in a 244-acre land that overlooks the gorgeous Kansas River.
Cedar Crest was renovated to enhance its French details further.
Besides sightseeing, you can also explore the trails within the vicinity, leading you to green sceneries and a fishing pond.
Plenty of birds and other animals live near Cedar Crest, which adds a fairy-tale-like vibe to the area.
See Various Artworks at First Friday Artwalk
First Friday ArtWalk is an art appreciation activity that takes you around Topeka.
First Friday, ArtWalk’s activities include public displays such as paintings, drawings, sculptures, and more.
You can also attend one of First Friday Artwalk’s live music shows and witness mural-making activities.
Drawing sessions and pop-up food stalls are also available.
First Friday ArtWalk is indeed a family-friendly activity worth trying.
In this fun and exciting attraction, you’ll also meet the artists behind the fantastic displays.
Spark your little ones’ interest in the arts through the First Friday ArtWalk.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at the Museum of Kansas National Guard
The Museum of Kansas National Guard is a historical museum on Southeast Airport Dr.
It is home to artifacts representing the critical history of volunteer forces in Kansas from 1854 to the present. The The
The Museum of Kansas National Guard’s goal is to preserve the memories of the Kansas Army and Air National Guard and the 35th Infantry Division citizen-soldiers.
The Museum of Kansas National Guard’s outdoor park features 30 military vehicles and aircraft.
This museum, established in 1997, also has over 120 exhibits, a gift shop, a library and archives, and guided tours.
You can find other collections here: uniforms, paraphernalia, arms, flags, and photographs.
Also, check out the Museum of Kansas National Guard’s replica of the 4077th M.A.S.H.
Look at Classic Bikes at Yesterdays Motorcycle Museum
Yesterdays Motorcycle Museum at Topeka Harley-Davidson is on Southwest Topeka Blvd.
This museum is on the lower level of the shop.
Yesterdays Motorcycle Museum at Topeka Harley-Davidson boasts 30 rare and different Harley-Davidsons.
If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, this place is right for you.
Yesterdays Motorcycle Museum at Topeka Harley-Davidson also features photos, collectibles, and tools that display the store’s history.
Take your time and look at each collection in this humble museum.
Bring Your Kids to Gage Park
Established in 1899, Gage Park is a 160-acre park on Southwest Gage Blvd.
Your kids will have the best time at Gage Park, which features a mini train and carousel.
Gage Park is also one of the biggest parks in the city.
This park is also a lovely wedding, birthday, and family reunion venue.
Likewise, Gage Park has a zoo, swimming area, and garden.
You can use its two-mile fitness loop trail for a quick exercise session.
Hill’s Bark Park is also inside Gage Park.
It is a free dog park that has separate areas for small and large dogs.
Gage Park has an open-air shelter, picnic tables, benches, and water stations.
Travel Back in Time at Ward-Meade Historic Site and Botanical Garden
Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site and Botanical Garden is situated on Northwest Fillmore St.
This place will make you feel like you’re traveling back to the 1800s with its old structures and vintage atmosphere.
It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Take a stroll in this town with friends and family and admire the replicas of 19th-century churches, stores, schoolhouses, train stations, and more.
During spring, Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site and Botanical Garden becomes filled with pretty and blooming tulips.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Explore Grinter’s Sunflower Farm
You can find Grinter’s Sunflower Farm on Stillwell Road, Lawrence, Kansas, 33 minutes from Topeka.
Bring your camera and take photos of the breathtaking human-sized sunflowers, the most beautiful in the area.
The peak of the blooming season changes every year, typically around late August to early September.
Moreover, the best time to visit Grinter’s Sunflower Farm is during the golden hour, before and after sunrise or sunset.
The historic nature-loving city of Topeka has many activities for you, many at no charge.
You’ll have a lovely time there, enjoying its museums, parks, and unique neighborhoods.
If you want to experience the city on a budget, you can try these free things to do in Topeka, Kansas.