Nestled in the heart of Kansas, Independence is a charming city that often goes unnoticed on the tourist map. However, this hidden gem has much to offer for those seeking a blend of history, outdoor adventure, and cultural experiences. In this guide, we’ll explore the top things to do in Independence, Kansas, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this delightful Midwest destination.
- Explore the Independence Historical Museum: Start your journey by delving into Independence’s rich history at the Independence Historical Museum. Housed in a beautiful historic building, the museum showcases artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that bring the city’s past to life. Learn about the Native American heritage, the pioneer era, and the growth of Independence through the years.
- Take a Stroll Through Riverside Park: For a dose of nature and relaxation, head to Riverside Park. This sprawling green space along the banks of the Verdigris River offers walking trails, picnic areas, and scenic views. The park is an ideal spot for a family outing, a romantic walk, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the outdoors.
- Visit Little House on the Prairie Museum: Literature enthusiasts and fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the Little House on the Prairie Museum. Located just outside Independence, this historical site is where the Ingalls family lived and is dedicated to preserving the pioneer spirit. Explore the recreated cabin, schoolhouse, and museum exhibits that transport you back to the 19th century.
- Attend a Performance at the Independence Community College Performing Arts Center: Experience the vibrant cultural scene in Independence by attending a performance at the Independence Community College Performing Arts Center. From theatrical productions to musical concerts, this venue hosts a variety of events throughout the year, showcasing local talent and bringing the community together.
- Indulge in Local Flavors: No visit to a new place is complete without savoring the local cuisine. Independence offers a range of dining options, from cozy cafes to family-friendly restaurants. Don’t miss the chance to try regional specialties and support local businesses.
- Join the Annual Neewollah Festival: If your visit coincides with October, immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere of the Neewollah Festival. One of the oldest and largest celebrations in Kansas, Neewollah (Halloween spelled backward) features a grand parade, carnival rides, live entertainment, and a variety of family-friendly activities.
- Take a Scenic Drive Along the Elk City Reservoir: For those who enjoy scenic drives, Elk City Reservoir offers a picturesque route. The reservoir, surrounded by rolling hills and woodlands, provides a serene setting for a leisurely drive. Bring along a picnic and make a day of it, exploring the beauty of the Kansas countryside.
- Golf at the Independence Country Club: If you’re a golf enthusiast, tee off at the Independence Country Club. This well-maintained golf course offers a challenging yet enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels. Enjoy the scenic views as you navigate through the lush fairways and manicured greens.
- Discover Aviation History at the Ralph Mitchell Zoo: For a family-friendly outing, head to the Ralph Mitchell Zoo. While exploring the diverse range of animals, don’t miss the Aviation Heritage exhibit. This unique display highlights Independence’s connection to aviation history, showcasing vintage aircraft and celebrating the city’s contributions to the aerospace industry.
- Take a Step Back in Time at the Landon Cabin: Visit the Landon Cabin, a historic log cabin built in the 1850s that provides a glimpse into pioneer life. Located in Riverside Park, this well-preserved cabin offers guided tours, allowing visitors to learn about the challenges and triumphs of the early settlers in Independence.
- Shop Local at Independence Farmers Market: Experience the vibrant community spirit by visiting the Independence Farmers Market. Open seasonally, the market offers fresh produce, handmade crafts, and local delicacies. Engage with local vendors, support regional agriculture, and take home a taste of Independence.
- Attend Events at the William Inge Center for the Arts: For theater enthusiasts, the William Inge Center for the Arts is a cultural hub in Independence. Attend live performances, workshops, and events that celebrate the legacy of renowned playwright William Inge. Check the center’s schedule for upcoming shows during your visit.
- Fishing and Boating at Elk City Reservoir: Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts can further enjoy Elk City Reservoir by partaking in fishing and boating activities. The reservoir is well-stocked with a variety of fish, making it a popular spot for anglers. Rent a boat or bring your own for a day of relaxation on the water.
- Explore the Dalton Defenders Museum: Delve into the Wild West history of Independence by visiting the Dalton Defenders Museum. Learn about the infamous Dalton Gang and the daring citizens who defended the town against these outlaws. The museum houses artifacts, exhibits, and stories that bring this chapter of Independence’s past to life.
- Attend the Independence Annual Art Walk: If you appreciate art, plan your visit around the Independence Annual Art Walk. This event showcases local artists and their works, transforming the downtown area into an open-air gallery. Stroll through the streets, admire the diverse art forms, and even have the opportunity to purchase unique pieces.
Conclusion: Independence, Kansas, may be off the beaten path, but its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it a destination worth exploring. Whether you’re interested in delving into the past, enjoying outdoor activities, or simply soaking in the local atmosphere, Independence has something for everyone. Plan your trip to this hidden gem, and you’ll discover the warmth and charm that define this Midwest city.