Nestled in the heart of America, Ottawa, Kansas, may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a trip, but this charming town has a lot to offer for those seeking a unique and enriching experience. From historical sites to outdoor adventures, Ottawa has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll explore the top things to do in Ottawa, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this hidden gem.
- Explore the Historic Downtown:
Begin your Ottawa adventure by strolling through the historic downtown area. Lined with well-preserved 19th-century architecture, downtown Ottawa exudes a timeless charm. Stop by local shops, boutiques, and cafes, where you can discover unique finds and indulge in delicious treats. Don’t miss out on the local farmers’ market, held regularly, showcasing the region’s fresh produce and handmade crafts.
- Franklin County Historical Society and Old Depot Museum:
For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Franklin County Historical Society and Old Depot Museum is a must. Housed in a beautifully restored 1888 Santa Fe Depot, this museum offers a fascinating journey through Ottawa’s past. From Native American artifacts to exhibits on the Santa Fe Trail and the Civil War, the museum provides insight into the rich history of the region.
- Pomona State Park:
Nature lovers will appreciate the beauty of Pomona State Park, just a short drive from Ottawa. This sprawling park offers a picturesque setting for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and boating. With its serene lakeside views and well-maintained trails, Pomona State Park provides a peaceful escape for those looking to reconnect with nature.
- Eisenhower Veterans Memorial Park:
Pay tribute to the nation’s heroes at the Eisenhower Veterans Memorial Park. This solemn and beautifully landscaped park honors veterans from all branches of the military. The centerpiece of the park is a striking war memorial that serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who have served in the armed forces.
- Ottawa University:
Visit Ottawa University, which has been a cornerstone of education in the region since its founding in 1865. Take a stroll through the campus to appreciate the historic architecture and learn about the university’s role in shaping the community. Don’t forget to check for any public events or performances that may be happening during your visit.
- Cyclist’s Paradise:
Ottawa is a haven for cyclists, with numerous trails and scenic routes to explore. Rent a bike and venture onto the Prairie Spirit Trail, a rail-trail that spans over 50 miles through the Kansas countryside. The flat terrain and peaceful surroundings make it an ideal route for cyclists of all skill levels.
- Wallace Park: Take a leisurely stroll or have a picnic at Wallace Park, a green oasis in the heart of Ottawa. With its well-maintained walking paths, playgrounds, and open spaces, it’s an ideal spot for families and nature enthusiasts alike. The park often hosts community events, so check the local calendar for any festivals or gatherings.
- Local Eateries and Cafés: Ottawa has a burgeoning food scene with a variety of local eateries and cafes. Explore the culinary landscape by trying out some of the town’s unique dining establishments. Whether you’re in the mood for comfort food, farm-to-table cuisine, or international flavors, Ottawa has options to satisfy every palate.
- Artistic Pursuits at Ottawa Community Arts Council: Immerse yourself in the local arts scene by visiting the Ottawa Community Arts Council. This vibrant organization promotes and supports the arts through exhibitions, workshops, and events. Check their schedule for art shows featuring works by local artists or participate in one of their creative workshops.
- Carnegie Cultural Center: Delve deeper into Ottawa’s cultural offerings by visiting the Carnegie Cultural Center. This historic building hosts rotating exhibits, highlighting the work of regional artists and exploring various aspects of local culture. It’s a great place to gain insight into the artistic and cultural tapestry of Ottawa.
- Seasonal Festivals and Events: Ottawa hosts various festivals and events throughout the year. From summer music festivals to fall harvest celebrations, there’s always something happening in this tight-knit community. Check the local event calendar to see if your visit coincides with any special festivities.
- Antique Shopping in Ottawa: Antique enthusiasts will appreciate Ottawa’s antique shops, where you can browse through an eclectic collection of vintage items and collectibles. Discover hidden gems, unique artifacts, and one-of-a-kind pieces as you explore the town’s antique stores.
- Attend a Local Sporting Event: Experience the local sports culture by attending a game or match at Ottawa University. Whether it’s college basketball, soccer, or another sport, cheering on the local teams can be a fun and spirited way to engage with the community.
- Community Theater Productions: Check out the local theater scene by attending a production at Ottawa’s community theater. Enjoy a night of entertainment and support local actors and performers as they bring stories to life on stage.
- Day Trip to Nearby Attractions: Ottawa’s central location makes it a great starting point for day trips to nearby attractions. Explore the quaint towns, nature reserves, or historical sites in the surrounding area, expanding your adventure beyond Ottawa’s borders.
Ottawa, Kansas, may be a small town, but it packs a punch when it comes to offering a diverse range of activities for visitors. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor adventures, or simply enjoying the charm of a small town, Ottawa has something for everyone. So, the next time you’re planning a trip, consider this hidden gem in the heart of America for a truly unique and enriching experience.