Nestled in the heart of the Flint Hills, Council Grove, Kansas, is a charming and historic town that often goes unnoticed by travelers. However, this hidden gem has a rich history, picturesque landscapes, and a variety of activities to offer. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful getaway, Council Grove has something for everyone.
- Visit the Kaw Mission and Last Chance Store: Begin your journey through Council Grove by exploring its historical landmarks. The Kaw Mission State Historic Site takes you back in time to the 1850s, offering a glimpse into the lives of the Kaw Indian tribe and the missionaries who lived among them. Right across the street, the Last Chance Store, a former trading post, stands as a testament to the town’s role in the Santa Fe Trail trade route.
- Stroll Down Council Grove’s Historic District: Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s historic district, lined with well-preserved buildings that showcase the architectural charm of the 19th century. Admire the unique storefronts and imagine the bustling activity that once took place along the Santa Fe Trail.
- Relax at Council Grove Lake: For those seeking outdoor adventures, Council Grove Lake is a must-visit destination. Enjoy fishing, boating, and hiking along the lake’s scenic trails. The serene atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for a picnic or a quiet afternoon of bird-watching.
- Explore the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: Just a short drive from Council Grove, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve offers a chance to experience one of the last remaining tallgrass prairies in the United States. Hike through the trails and witness the beauty of native grasses, wildflowers, and a diverse array of wildlife.
- Attend the Washunga Days Festival: If your visit aligns with the annual Washunga Days Festival, be sure to participate in the festivities. Celebrating Council Grove’s rich heritage, the festival features live music, food vendors, parades, and various family-friendly activities.
- Dine at Local Eateries: Council Grove boasts a selection of charming local eateries, each with its own unique character. Enjoy a delicious meal at a historic inn or grab a bite at a family-owned restaurant. The warm hospitality and home-cooked flavors will make your dining experience memorable.
- Visit the Madonna of the Trail Statue: Council Grove is home to one of the twelve Madonna of the Trail statues erected in the early 20th century to honor pioneer women. Located on the Santa Fe Trail, this iconic statue pays tribute to the strength and resilience of women who played a crucial role in westward expansion.
- Experience Flint Hills Scenic Byway: Embark on a scenic drive along the Flint Hills Scenic Byway, which passes through the breathtaking Flint Hills region. Marvel at the expansive prairies, rolling hills, and vibrant wildflowers. This is an excellent way to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds Council Grove.
- Golf at Council Grove Country Club: Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the Council Grove Country Club. This well-maintained golf course provides a picturesque setting, with challenging holes and a relaxing atmosphere. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner, the course caters to all skill levels.
- Attend a Cultural Event at the Council Grove Community Arts Council: Check the schedule of the Council Grove Community Arts Council for cultural events, performances, and art exhibitions. Engage with the local arts scene and support the community’s creative endeavors. It’s a great way to connect with the town’s cultural vibrancy.
- Discover the Hays House Restaurant: Founded in 1857, the Hays House is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurants west of the Mississippi River. Indulge in a historic dining experience and savor classic American dishes in a setting that transports you back in time.
- Go Antiquing in Downtown Council Grove: Explore the antique shops scattered throughout downtown Council Grove. Uncover hidden treasures, vintage finds, and unique collectibles. The town’s antique stores are a haven for those who appreciate the charm and history of yesteryear.
- Attend the Symphony in the Flint Hills: If your visit coincides with the Symphony in the Flint Hills event, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a unique outdoor symphony experience. Held in the heart of the Flint Hills, this annual event combines classical music with the natural beauty of the prairie.
- Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour: Pick up a map from the local tourism office and embark on a self-guided walking tour. Wander through the town at your own pace, discovering hidden gems, historical markers, and unique architectural details that tell the story of Council Grove’s past.
- Camp at Council Grove Reservoir: For a rustic outdoor experience, consider camping at Council Grove Reservoir. Enjoy the tranquility of the lakeside, stargaze around a campfire, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the surrounding nature.
Conclusion: Council Grove, Kansas, may be a hidden gem, but its rich history, natural beauty, and welcoming community make it a destination worth exploring. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply enjoying the small-town charm, Council Grove offers a unique and delightful experience for all who venture into its embrace.