Family fun

Kansas State Capitol

300 W. 10th, Topeka

While the historic Kansas State Capitol building in downtown Topeka is a destination unto itself, the park-like grounds surrounding the Statehouse long have been the setting for a variety of activities. Downtown workers use the grounds as a place to lunch, read, relax in the shade or burn off a few calories with a brisk walk. During the summer, free Brown Bag Concerts are held on the south side of the Capitol from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the same area features an outdoor market on Wednesday mornings.



Shawnee North Community Park

300 NE 43rd St, Topeka

This 60-acre park has something to offer every member of the family. Take the first entrance east of NW 43rd and Kansas Ave., and you'll find the four-diamond softball complex, soccer fields, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts and playground. You'll also find the 15,555-square-foot community center, which features meeting rooms, two preschool classrooms, an aerobics room, a weight room, a dance room, an art room and a kitchen/dining room. The community center was once the Shawnee County Poor Farm.



Lake Shawnee

SE Croco and 29th, Topeka

Shawnee County's largest and finest recreation spot, Lake Shawnee offers generous entertainment options for all. The centerpiece of the park is the lake, which stretches across 410 surface acres with about 2.75 billion gallons of water, providing a home for waterfowl and a popular destination for fishing, wind surfing, swimming and boating. The lake also can be enjoyed from picnic tables and shelters that surround the lake.



Kansas Museum of History

6425 SW 6th, Topeka

The Kansas State Historical Society's headquarters -- north of Interstate 70 and west off Wanamaker Road -- feature the Kansas Museum of History and the State Archives and Library. Visitors can spend hours indoors exploring the state's history -- from its first inhabitants through the Civil War to recent times -- but the sprawling grounds surrounding the museum are educational as well.



Great Overland Station

701 N. Kansas Ave., Topeka

An educational experience awaits visitors to the Great Overland Station in North Topeka, where both railroad and Topeka histories are preserved in a restored train depot. Occupying the old Union Pacific Passenger Station, the Great Overland Station "represents the heritage of all the railroads which have crossed our city and state," according to the station's Web site at http://www.greatoverlandstation.com/. The Great Overland Station, which has a variety of rooms that can be rented for a wide range of occasions (check the Web site or call (785) 232-5533 for information), opened in June 2004.



Rice

520 SE Norwood, Topeka

From SE 5th and Norwood, follow the sign pointing east to this park and community center site that stretches behind houses and a church. Inside Rice Community Center, you'll find a gym, game room, computer lab, universal weight system in the fitness room and classroom space. During the school year, the center is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Fridays. During summers, its hours change to 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.



Garfield

1600 N Kansas, Topeka

Garfield Park has held a special place in the hearts of North Topekans for more than 100 years. Dating back to a time when soldiers used to camp in the area along Soldier Creek (before the main channel was redirected to the north), the 32-acre park still has a lot to offer. In addition to the usual park amenities of playground equipment (swings, slides, climbing, etc.), benches, picnic tables and BBQ grills, the park features a community center, a large shelter house, a small swimming pool, a bandstand and an outdoor basketball court.



Gage Park

4001 SW 6th & SW Gage Blvd., Topeka

The City of Topeka's premier park, this 160-acre facility at SW 6th (to SW 10th) and Gage Blvd. offers a full range of family fun from A (Animal Land) to Z (Zoo). Named for Guilford G. Gage, whose wife, Louisa, and heirs gave the park's original 80 acres to the city in 1899 following Gage's death, the spacious park is beautifully landscaped and full of mature trees. It features the Topeka Zoological Park, the Blaisdell Family Aquatic Center, the Helen Hocker Theater, the E.F.A. Reinisch Rose Garden and the Thomas F. Doran Rock Garden.



Central

1300 SW Clay, Topeka

Named for its location in the heart of the city, Central Park is a 15-acre all-purpose park that includes a community center, a fishing pond, a walking trail and an open-air shelter for family picnics and other group functions. There's a wide variety of play equipment for kids, a landscaped pergola on the north end and a football field with a gravel track on the west side. Abundant large trees offer plenty of shade.



W. Giles

750 SW 1st, Topeka

This small park is easy to overlook at SW 1st and Taylor, where it's bordered on the north and east by the 1st Street exit off I-70. The park has some shade, swings, a slide and a teeter-totter for the youngsters, plus benches, a picnic table, a BBQ grill and a water fountain.



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