Tucked into northeast Kansas, about 30 miles from Kansas City, is beautiful Leavenworth County. This 469-square-mile county that borders the Missouri River is rich with history and played key roles in the Civil War, Western Expansion, and the abolitionist movement. The county is also home to Fort Leavenworth, the oldest active Army post west of the Mississippi River.
If you are stationed at Ft. Leavenworth or are visiting Leavenworth County, you’ll find plenty of interesting – and budget-friendly — things to do in the area. Whether you love outdoor recreation or learning about America’s past, there are a variety of activities for people of all ages. Here are just a few:
320 S. Esplanade, Leavenworth, KS
Free for military and military families – a Blue Star Museum
One of the several museums sponsored by the Leavenworth Historical Museum Association, The C. W. Parker Carousel Museum is a celebration of “all that is beautiful and good with carousels.” Ride on a 103-year-old carousel and view restored carousel horses, historically-registered carousels, a Wurlitzer 153 band organ and more.
The C.W. Parker Carousel Museum participates in the Blue Star Program, a nationwide initiative that gives U.S. service members, including the National guard and Reserve and their families, free admission to 2000+ museums and exhibits throughout the United States.
2 Cherokee St, Leavenworth, KS
This scenic quarter-mile-long park along the Missouri River is a beautiful and relaxing place. Walk or jog on a riverside trail and view sculptures that pay tribute to Leavenworth’s importance to the surface transportation industry including railroad, wagon escorts, riverboats, and military roads.
4010 S. 4th Street (on the VA Medical Center grounds), Leavenworth, KS
The Chapel of the Veterans was built in 1893 and was inspired by the design of an English Gothic chapel. In 1921 it was listed in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” for being the only church in the country at that time where Protestant and Catholic services could be held under one roof at the same time. The lower level is the Catholic chapel and the upper level is the Protestant chapel.
Located on the grounds of the Eisenhower VA Medical Center, the Chapel of the Veterans is open daily, but appointments are required for tours. Call (913) 758-6946.
16600 Missouri 45, Weston, MO
Enjoy the great outdoors at Weston Bend State Park, located in Missouri about 10 miles from Fort Leavenworth. The park offers gorgeous views of the Missouri River, a scenic overlook, a campground, playground and dog park. Bikers can travel a three-mile paved loop trail through the woods and there are several natural surface trails for hikers of all levels of experience.
743 Delaware St., Leavenworth, KS
The First City Museum is dedicated to the history of Leavenworth, KS, the first city in Kansas to be incorporated after Kansas became a state in 1854.
Run by the Leavenworth Historical Museum Association, the museum contains a diverse selection of exhibits, displays, collections and more than 1,000 collectibles. View exhibits on the prison industry, including an actual jail cell. There is also a restored 24-foot Kansas Central narrow-gauge boxcar. Open Thursdays only, from 1-4:30 pm or by appointment.
100 Reynolds Avenue, Leavenworth, KS
View more than 7,000 items of significance to the Frontier Army from 1804 to 1916 and the expansion of the western United States. The museum houses one of the premier collections of nineteenth-century military artifacts in the country with exhibits including uniforms, equipment, weapons, and vehicles. Visitors can use their cell phones to call a number and then receive an audio tour of the exhibits.
The Frontier Army Museum is located at Fort Leavenworth. Visitors will be asked to present a photo ID, car registration and proof of insurance.
16300 Wilkerson Road, Weston, MO
Fall Festival – Free admission to the farm on Saturdays & Sundays
Pay as you go for other activities
Go back in time for some old-fashioned fun at the Weston Red Barn Farm. Visit weekends starting Labor Day for the family-friendly Fall Festival when this working farmstead is open to the public. You can pick pumpkins, take a hayride, visit animals, find your way out of a corn maze, shop at the country store, and more.
834 Spruce Street, Leavenworth, KS
This 24-lane bowling alley offers plenty of fun for kids, teens, adults, and seniors. Crown Lanes hosts leagues, summer youth programs, children’s birthday parties and tournaments. In between games, be sure to stop by the snack bar for everything from burgers and hot dogs to fries, nachos, and beverages.
412 Kiowa Street, Leavenworth, KS
Museum tours – $5
Buffalo Soldier Monument tour – $5
The Richard Cullen Cultural Arts Center honors the history of African-Americans and their many contributions to American life. The Center’s museum features exhibits on important historical figures including Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, Donald Hollowell, and General Colin Powell; Buffalo Soldier artifacts and statues; artifacts of ruins of the Bethel AME Church Underground Railroad Site 1859 – 1985; 1863 Freedom Papers; and much more.
Located outside of the museum is the 13-foot bronze Buffalo Soldier Monument that pays tribute to this African-American regiment. Take a tour to learn about the Buffalo Soldiers, see their headquarters and barracks, and walk around the peaceful reflecting pool.