Historical, educational sights just down the road from area
If you want to get on the road, consider heading to places steeped in history.
"When you have a World War I museum in Kansas City and a presidential library in the same metro area, that is a lot right there," said Paul Stuewe, a Lawrence resident and high school history teacher.
The National World War I Museum is at the Liberty Memorial, south of downtown Kansas City, Mo. The museum, which was rebuilt two years ago, has numerous war artifacts such as weapons and other military equipment on display.
Immersion galleries allow visitors to see large-scale tableaus depicting certain aspects of the war. For more information call (816) 784-1908 or go online to libertymemorialmuseum.org.
East of Kansas City in Independence, Mo., is the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Major issues and events in the Truman presidency are highlighted, enhanced by exhibitions, theaters, audio and video programs. There is a 24-hour information line for the museum and library at (800) 833-1225, or go online at trumanlibrary.org.
Another presidential library the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library is in Abilene. Although Eisenhower was born in Texas, he grew up in Abilene and called it his home. Call toll-free (877) RINGIKE or visit eisenhower.archives.gov.
There are numerous museums in northeast Kansas, most notably, the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka.
"I think people are surprised when they see it," Stuewe said. "People in the business who really know museums rate it very highly for a state historical museum."
In addition to its many regular exhibits, throughout this year the museum is featuring a "Forces of Nature" exhibit, focusing on tornadoes, droughts, prairie fires and floods. The museum can be reached at (785) 272-8681. The museum's Web site is kshs.org/places/museum.htm.
Historic Lecompton in northwestern Douglas County is noted for its "Bleeding Kansas" pre-Civil War history. Constitution Hall is a state historic site because it is where the Kansas Territorial Government convened. It is also where in 1857 the Lecompton Constitutional Convention met and drafted a pro-slavery constitution. Nearby is the Lane University and Territorial Capital Museum.
To get a sense of what the military was like on the Kansas frontier in the 1800s, you can visit some of the state's remaining forts and their museums. Fort Leavenworth has its Frontier Army Museum. Fort Riley has a cavalry museum. Prominent forts also exist at Fort Scott, Fort Larned and Fort Hays.
The Kansas State Capitol building in downtown Topeka was in built in the 1860s and 1870s and tours are available. Topeka also has the Brown vs. Board of Education historic site, which tells the story of the end of race segregation in public schools.