20 Best Things to Do in Emporia, KS

Emporia, KS

Join me as we delve into the best things to do in Emporia, Kansas, promising a memorable experience for every visitor and resident alike.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Alberto Allen, Jeremy Johnson, Ruth Morris, Rodrigo Hall, Lucia Hunt, Catherine Shumate and Betty Henry.

Encounter Animals at David Traylor Zoo

Bobcat in David Traylor Zoo
KCZooFan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The other day, I had a delightful afternoon stroll through the David Traylor Zoo of Emporia, a charming little gem nestled right in our city.

This zoo is a blessing for us in Emporia, boasting a large collection of reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and birds - all at no cost.

The zoo sparkles with cleanliness, but its true beauty lies in the vibrant lush greenery.

The plants and flowers in full bloom are truly a sight for sore eyes, which I've always found to be a captivating part of my visits.

Every visit feels like the first, there's something new to admire and experience.

On my recent visit, I was accompanied by my grandkids and niece, and their excitement was infectious.

The lynx, always playful and ever so adorable, became an instant favourite of theirs.

Although they were a bit disappointed at not getting to meet the raccoon, the sight of the mountain lion more than made up for it.

It's the largest one we've seen yet, although I have to admit, it's a bit daunting.

Last but not least, I must mention the bathrooms, which were spotless.

It's not often that zoo bathrooms impress me, but this one did.

It's just another testament to how well-maintained this place is.

The David Traylor Zoo truly offers a remarkable experience to all its visitors, and I consider myself lucky to have such a treasure right here in Emporia.

Journey through Time at the William Allen White Home

Waking up in Kansas has its perks. On a bright Sunday morning, I decided to pay a visit to the historic William Allen White Home.

The charm of the place, coupled with a sense of nostalgia, makes it a must-visit.

As soon as I stepped foot on the property, a friendly tour guide greeted me with a warm smile.

She was not only funny but also very knowledgeable about the history of the site, making the visit even more interesting.

On this particular visit, I was lucky to have a personal tour.

The young lady guiding us was well-versed in every nook and cranny of the house.

The antique furniture, all original to the home, and the detailed history she provided transported me back in time.

When we first arrived, she was leading another tour, so I took that opportunity to run a quick errand and returned after half an hour.

It was the perfect timing for our tour to begin!

Kansas is a state rich in history, and the William Allen White home is no exception.

The tour is guided, so there might be a small wait time, but it's worth every second.

The tour guide did a fantastic job explaining the history of the home, and she even shared some fascinating stories about the Kansas Family.

Keep in mind, you can also get a pass for this historical site on the Sunflower App!

Hike through Cottonwood River Trail - Peter Pan

One of life's simplest pleasures is taking a leisurely stroll at the Cottonwood River Trail - Peter Pan.

Tucked away in the heart of the city, this trail offers a serene escape from the daily hustle and bustle.

The trail itself is a delightful path to walk or bike.

It's an easy meander, suitable even for a toddler's tiny feet.

It's partially mulched, which gives it a natural, untamed charm.

I often find myself drawn to the two majestic Cottonwood Trees that sit side by side along the trail.

Their towering presence reminds me of how long they've stood there, silently bearing witness to the world around them.

The entrance from Peter Pan Park is conveniently located near the frisbee golf goal.

So, after a round or two of frisbee golf with friends, it's always nice to cool down with a walk along the river.

Cottonwood River Trail - Peter Pan follows the Cottonwood River, providing us with a refreshing riverside view.

It's a beautiful slice of nature tucked away in our small city of Emporia.

Uncover Hidden Treasures at the Johnston Geology Museum

It was a typical Saturday afternoon when I found myself weaving through the corridors of Cram Science Hall at Emporia State University.

I was looking for a quiet place to get some studying done when I stumbled upon a small museum that I'd walked past countless times without even noticing.

Curiosity piqued, I decided to venture inside and found myself in the Johnston Geology Museum.

What this quaint museum lacked in size, it more than made up for in its dense collection.

It was like stepping into a time capsule, each exhibit whisking me away to a different era.

The focus is primarily on the geology of Kansas, with an impressive collection of rocks and fossils that are native to our state.

I was awestruck by the fossils from Hamilton, Kansas, a vast collection ranging from plant fossils to insects and even amphibians.

The rock formations and minerals on display at Johnston Geology Museum were equally captivating, each one unique and telling a different story of the earth's history.

It was not just a geological journey but also a journey into the past of our local culture.

The museum houses a diverse collection of Native American artifacts and regional geology specimens, some of which are considered unique globally.

Get Inspired at Emporia Arts Center

Stepping into the Emporia Arts Center, it seems as though you're transported into an artistic haven right here in the heart of Kansas.

The moment you walk through the doors, you're greeted by a captivating gallery that's home to an incredible collection of local art.

The artworks that adorn the walls are as varied as they are beautiful, showcasing the talent and creativity of artists from all over the Central Kansas Flint Hills region.

I found myself truly impressed by the sheer depth of talent on display here.

It's not just the art on the walls that will catch your eye, but also the unique pieces of artwork available for purchase in the gift shop.

It was there that I chanced upon an opportunity to cosign for some of my own handmade creations, an opportunity I grabbed with both hands.

I am proud to say that I am now a part of the artistic community that the Emporia Arts Center so ardently supports.

It's not just the art that makes this place special.

The center is also home to numerous classrooms, a testament to the nurturing and fostering of local artistic talent.

It's a place where creativity is not just celebrated, but also nurtured and encouraged.

Have a  Night at Mulready's Pub

When the day winds down and the city lights begin to shine, there's no place I'd rather be than Mulready's Pub.

The atmosphere at Mulready's is hard to beat.

The first thing you notice is the pub's vibe – it's cozy, inviting, and simply perfect for a laid-back evening.

Be it the laughter, the great people, or the excellent service, Mulready's never fails to make you feel at home.

Every visit to Mulready's is a unique experience.

The variety of beers on tap is beyond impressive.

Every time I step foot into the pub, I find a new brew to try.

And trust me, they are all as delicious as they sound.

Another thing I adore about Mulready's Pub is their smart use of space.

Regardless of how packed the place gets, there's always a comfortable spot to sit.

Be it a cozy corner for quiet conversations or a larger setup for when you're with your gang – there’s a spot for every occasion.

And if you're anything like me, the cleanliness of the restrooms matters.

At Mulready's, they're always impeccably clean.

A reflection of the care and attention they put into every detail of the pub.

Whether you're looking for a place to hang out with friends, meet great people, or just enjoy a pint of good beer, Mulready's is the place to be.

And, as someone who's been there numerous times, I can't wait for my next visit!

Celebrate Heroes' Lives at Emporia All Veterans Memorial

Every day, while strolling down my neighborhood, I am drawn in by the poignant beauty of the Emporia All Veterans Memorial.

This is more than just a memorial.

The moment you enter, you are engulfed in a wave of reverence and gratitude for the brave souls who've fought for our country.

You can't help but be moved by the thoughtfully arranged memorial tributes that pay homage to their valiant efforts.

The memorial itself is a sight to behold, but the surroundings are no less captivating.

Towering above is the beautiful bridge and spillway, which only adds to the feeling of serenity that prevails.

Walking along the nature trail, you'll be treated to the soothing sound of a cascading waterfall.

Once, I stumbled upon an old plow spike during my walk.

It felt like a piece of history in my hands, so I decided to leave it at the foot of the majestic flagpole, a fitting place for this historical artifact.

But, of course, what is Emporia All Veterans Memorial without a nod to the strength and power of the country it represents?

And nothing embodies this more than the sight of bald eagles caged up across the street, a helicopter and a tank standing stoically by their side.

Each time I visit, I feel a sense of pride swell within me.

Revel in the Rich Resources of the Emporia Public Library

Exterior of the old Emporia Public Library
SharonPapierdreams, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The first thing that captures your attention when you walk into the Emporia Public Library is the sheer wealth of resources available.

Right off the bat, you're greeted by a vast selection of books that makes your heart swell with delight.

You can almost feel the knowledge leaping off the shelves, begging to be explored.

The staff, ever helpful and friendly, are always there to assist with book recommendations or help you locate the materials you need.

They carry a pleasant aura amidst the quiet, calm atmosphere of the library, making every visit feel like a warm welcome.

It's not just their knowledge that's impressive, their honesty about what they don't know and their delightful sense of humor make each interaction worth looking forward to.

Time spent in the Emporia Public Library is time well spent!

Entrance to the old Emporia Public Library
SharonPapierdreams, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The activities they host during the summer are absolutely wonderful.

They even have kits that are sure to keep the little ones engaged and entertained.

Just recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the Wichita Art museum courtesy of a family pass from the library, a testament to the array of incredible services they provide.

And then there's the Kansas Room, an utterly enjoyable section of the library that I adore.

It's undoubtedly my favorite place to retreat to when I need some quiet time.

The Emporia Public Library is more than just a house of books, it's a sanctuary, a haven of knowledge, and a great place to stay out of trouble.

I absolutely treasure this gem in Emporia!

Observe Ducks at Peter Pan Park

There's something magical about stepping foot into Peter Pan Park on a perfect sunny day.

The park is my go-to spot when I need a breath of fresh air and a moment of tranquility.

The spacious park is perfect for any activity.

I often pack a picnic with my family and laze around while the kids have a grand time on the fenced playground.

The little ones can't get enough of the swings and slides.

I love the sight of them running around, their laughter echoing through the park.

On days when I'm feeling a bit adventurous, I partake in a game of disc golf.

The 18-hole course is a challenge, but it's also a lot of fun.

It's become a bit of a tradition among my friends and me.

The friendly competition, the cheers, the jeers—it all adds to the charm of Peter Pan Park.

My absolute favorite part, however, is the lake.

There's something calming about sitting by the water's edge, watching the ducks glide gracefully.

It adds a serene backdrop to my afternoon walks.

The trail around the lake is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a quick jog.

It's hard to beat the view, especially when the sun starts to set, casting a warm orange glow over the water.

And if you're lucky, you might even catch a performance at the mini stage on special occasions.

The park truly has something for everyone to enjoy.

Have a Picnic at Jones Park

Every once in a while, when life's hustle and bustle gets a bit too overwhelming, I find a haven in the tranquil environs of Jones Park.

It's my personal sanctuary, just a short walk down the street from my house.

A resourceful place, Jones Park has been serving the Emporia community in Kansas for years.

The Park is not just a perfect place to unwind after a long day; it's also my preferred destination for a game of disc golf. The course is nothing short of excellent.

I remember when I first started playing, the course was challenging yet fun.

With time, I have noticed that the layout is continuously improved, making it even more exciting.

Now, it's a well-structured game zone with plenty of tees, and it's well-marked, catering to all skill levels.

Jones Park is also a great family spot. Often, I take my family for a picnic, and there's nothing more satisfying than lounging under a tree in the shade, enjoying our packed lunch.

The park is always clean, and it's evident that the management puts a lot of effort into its maintenance.

Every trip to the park, whether it's for a quiet moment alone or a lively day out with the family, always leaves me feeling rejuvenated and ready to face the world again.

The serenity of the place, the fun activities, and the overall ambiance make Jones Park a treasured gem in our community.

Buy Fresh Produce from Emporia Farmers Market

Every Saturday morning, I find myself heading to the Emporia Farmers Market, the heartbeat of our city.

There's something about the fresh, crisp air of the morning, infused with the mingling scents of fresh produce, baked goods, and aromatic herbs, that simply draws me in.

As I meander through the bustling stalls, my basket slowly fills up with vibrant produce, rich in color and bursting with promise.

Sun-ripened tomatoes, crunchy carrots, and juicy berries - you name it, they have it!

But the appeal of the market doesn't just end with fresh produce.

A myriad of stalls offering baked items beckon, their aromas wafting through the air.

Sourdough bread, chocolate chip cookies, berry pies - your taste buds will be in for a treat.

Strategically, I try to time my visit to coincide with the appearance of these freshly baked goodies.

But the Emporia Farmers Market is not just about food.

They have an array of other items like handcrafted soaps, homemade jams, and unique jewelry pieces - a testament to the creativity and craftsmanship of our locals.

Sure, the Wednesday night visits can be a bit warm, but there's just something about shopping under the stars that makes it all worth it.

And let's not forget the live music, often featuring local talent that adds a vibrant energy to the evening.

This market is more than just a place for shopping.

It's a platform for community interaction, a place to connect with local farmers and to appreciate the talent of our local artisans.

It's an event that brings together our community in a very special way.

Soak in the Tranquility of C of E Park

There's something utterly peaceful about wandering around C of E Park.

You see, it's not just an ordinary park – it's my sanctuary.

I've been taking my little furry friend for walks here for years now.

We both love the feel of the grass under our paws and the gentle hum of nature surrounding us.

The park boasts a tidy sidewalk that winds its way through the abundant greenery and leads to a small lake.

And it's not just any lake.

This quaint body of water is alive with life, brimming with frogs, goldfish, and even some turtles.

When the sun descends and the day's hustle starts to fade, the bullfrogs start their melodious chorus.

It's music to my ears, a natural orchestra that serenades the park every evening.

C of E Park isn't just about the lake and its inhabitants, though.

It's a beautiful blend of an open park and an arboretum.

I love taking a leisurely stroll around the park, taking in the vast open spaces and the stunning scenery.

It's a sight to behold and one that never gets old.

Plus, that little spin turn at the end of the walkway always adds a touch of excitement to our daily jaunts.

Have a Picnic at Fremont Park

I love grabbing a quick lunch and heading over to enjoy it at Fremont Park here in Emporia.

You can't beat the combination of history and the outdoors that this park offers.

I'm always drawn to the retired train engine and caboose that are displayed in the park, a nod to Santa Fe Railroad's influence in our city.

It's quite a sight to see, especially when you consider that the park sits right next to the BMSF rails.

Freemont Park is always clean and well-kept, making it the perfect spot to unwind.

If you're like me and enjoy the sights and sounds of passing trains, you'll appreciate how many trains pass by daily.

It's not your typical park - there aren't many toys for children, just a small roofed building and a couple of swings.

But the open grass space is ideal for a small gathering or maybe even a quiet picnic on your own.

A trip to Freemont Park, whether on a lunch break or on a leisurely weekend, is always delightful.

It's a small yet charming park steeped in history and nestled right in the historic district of our city.

And nothing beats enjoying a simple meal on the park's picnic table, taking in the sights and sounds around you.

It's one of those simple joys of living in Emporia that I wouldn't trade for anything.

Explore History at Lyon County History Center

A meeting in Lyon County History Center
mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

One sunny afternoon, I found myself immersed in the elaborate chronicles of the Lyon County History Center.

Their collection is nothing short of a treasure trove for history lovers.

I was particularly in search of some unique books, and the friendly staff pointed me in the right direction.

They even went out of their way to look for more relevant information that could help me.

Lyon County History Center isn't just for adults, though.

I've noticed it to be an excellent space for kids to engage with history.

There's something whimsical about watching them learn and discover new things while I comfortably sit back with a book in hand.

Once, I attended a graduation party organized on the 3rd floor, and let me tell you, it was marvelous!

The ambiance was perfect for a celebration, and the location undoubtedly added grandeur to the event.

I couldn't explore much that day, but a quick glance was enough to pique my curiosity about the historical displays on the first floor.

Stroll down Memory Lane at The Coca-Cola Silo

Ah, the Coca-Cola Silo, a staple in our community, it's been there for what seems like forever.

I remember when it was just a blank canvas on the side of the highway before the art students turned it into the vintage masterpiece it is today.

Their project, painting the iconic Coca-Cola logo on the silo, added a splash of nostalgia to our everyday life.

Now, it's not just an old warehouse but a landmark we proudly call our own.

I find myself drawn to the Silo, especially on those quiet Sunday afternoons.

There's something soothing about its towering presence against the clear blue sky.

Even though it's just a few minute's drive from my home, each visit feels like a mini road trip.

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, that vibrant red and white logo never fails to brighten up my day.

The Silo's location, right off the highway, makes it an easy spot for every passerby to take a quick break from their long drives.

There's plenty of room to park and stretch your legs.

I've met many travelers who've pulled over just to snap a photo with the Coca-Cola Silo.

Celebrate Mentors' Contributions at The National Teachers Hall of Fame

Have you ever stumbled upon a place in your city that is so unique it makes you proud to be a part of that community?

That's exactly how I felt when I discovered The National Teachers Hall of Fame in my building in Kansas.

It's a historic treasure that's tucked away in the back of the first floor, a bit like finding a secret room in a grand old mansion.

It's not just a building, it's a journey through time, with ancient classroom pictures and artifacts tastefully displayed in glass cases.

The collections within this hall pay tribute to the unsung heroes of our society – our teachers.

The most poignant of all is probably the memorial dedicated to fallen teachers, a silent testament to their invaluable contribution.

The whole experience left me with a great sense of appreciation for these extraordinary human beings.

Those interested in visiting should note that the hall doesn't seem to have obvious signage or staff readily available to guide you around.

So, you might end up, like me, exploring it at your leisure until you find someone to ask for directions.

It's a unique experience, but be aware that they operate only by appointment and have specified visiting hours.

I was initially hoping for a grander setup, something more than a single room in an educational building.

But it's funny how, despite its modesty, this little gem has grown on me.

It's a symbol of our city's respect for educators and of our commitment to remembering their work.

Knowing that we house the only National Teachers Hall of Fame in Kansas fills me with a unique sense of pride.

I can't help but wish for its growth, for it to become a widely recognized beacon, shining a light on the crucial role teachers play in our lives.

Feel the Thrill at Emporia Family Fun Center

Ah, the Emporia Family Fun Center is a staple in our city and a hub of excitement for the young and the young at heart!

I've spent countless afternoons here, whizzing around the go-kart track, relishing the rush of speed and the thrill of overtaking.

It's an exhilarating ride that lasts for about 15 to 20 laps, and for just $5.99, it's an absolute bargain!

The carts are fast, well-maintained, and always ready to give you an adrenaline-fueled adventure.

But Emporia Family Fun Center is not just about the go-karts.

After a few heart-racing laps, I usually cool down with a game of mini golf.

It's such a fun way to relax and enjoy the outdoors, especially on a sunny day.

The putt-putt golf is a particular favorite for the little ones, and I've seen many first-timers grinning from ear to ear as they take their first swing.

For just $5.99 per person, it's a great way to engage the whole family in a friendly game.

Have a Retreat at Emporia RV Park & Campground

Just the other day, I decided to spend some time at the Emporia RV Park & Campground.

Even though I live in Emporia, it's always refreshing to immerse oneself in a different setting from time to time.

The day started off a bit rocky.

I arrived early and found that the office was not yet open.

Though flustered, I heeded the sign on the door that advised me to proceed to my pre-booked site and return later for check-in.

The first site assigned to me had some power issues - it conked out a few times, which was a bit of a hassle.

Upon bringing this to the office's attention at 4 pm, I was informed that I was in the wrong site and had to relocate.

The individual at the front desk could have been a tad more cheerful, but I suppose everyone has their off days.

The new site fortunately had a better power supply, albeit not perfect.

It fluctuated between 108 and 112 volts.

For a pet owner, it was a slight inconvenience that there wasn't a designated area or supplies for pets.

Despite the initial hiccups, my stay at the Emporia RV Park & Campground had its silver linings.

My short stay was during a particularly busy weekend, and the staff managed to accommodate me.

The clean, well-maintained grounds were a sight for sore eyes.

The bathrooms and showers were immaculate, and I was pleasantly surprised by the brilliant water pressure and temperature control.

The absence of TV reception didn't bother me much as I prefer the serenity.

However, I believe they offer cable boxes for those who may need them.

While I wouldn't say it was the perfect experience, I do see myself visiting again for those peaceful moments amidst nature.

It's a handy spot for an overnight stay right here in our very own Emporia.

Hit a Strike at Flint Hills Lanes

Oh, the times I've had at Flint Hills Lanes!

It's a spot that's marked many occasions for me.

On one occasion, I remember they were hosting a public school bowling tournament.

I'm no stranger to tournaments and their associated entry fees, but that day, the entry fee was a tad on the higher side.

I guess that was a bit off-putting for me, especially since I was there merely to communicate with the coach about some school bus schedules.

Having to shell out 15 bucks just to have a 5-minute conversation was a bummer.

But let's talk about the bowling experience at Flint Hills Lanes.

The lanes? They were fantastic!

The arcade? It was mind-blowing!

Final Thoughts

There's truly no shortage of things to do here in Emporia.

Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone just looking for a fun day out, this city has got you covered.

From the family-friendly activities to the mesmerizing natural spots, every day in Emporia presents a new adventure. It's a city that has heart, history, and a charm that's truly all its own.

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