Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Thu January 29 2015
The Kansas state capitol building is located in downtown Topeka on land donated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad company. Construction began in 1866 and was officially completed 37 years later in 1903 at a total cost of just over 3.2 million

Topeka

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Soft clouds and blue skies appear over fountains and the capitol of Topeka, Kansas USA (photo via chrisboswell/ iStock / Getty Images Plus)
PHOTO: Soft clouds and blue skies appear over fountains and the capitol in Topeka (Photo via chrisboswell/ iStock / Getty Images Plus)

In the center of America’s Heartland, Topeka, Kansas, shines as a laid-back destination offering world-class museums, a thriving arts scene and several parks and zoos. As the capital of Kansas, Topeka is chock-full of wonderful sights, events and attractions filled with history and American culture. Whether traveling here for business or leisure, the city is great for families and tourists of all ages.

The Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site was built in Topeka to commemorate the U.S. Supreme Court decision to end racial segregation in public schools. This landmark case helped shape American history, and is an important and educational site to teach children. The Topeka Zoo is nestled inside of Gage Park, and is home to over 400 animals from all over the world. Major exhibits include Lion’s Pride, Hill’s Black Bear Woods, Animals of the Tropical Rainforest and Discovering Apes.

The Combat Air Museum, located on Forbes Field, has over 30 aircrafts on display as well as an active air field and the Air Heritage Gallery which has paintings, photographs and sculptures depicting aircrafts flown in both world wars. If the Air Museum doesn’t satisfy your need for speed, then check out Heartland Park, a multi-purpose racing facility that hosts drag racing, road course racing, dirt track and cycling events.

Though Kansas might be known for its barbecue, it’s certainly not the only type of cuisine this Midwestern capital can dish out. Chez Yasu is a hidden Topeka gem that consistently turns out creative and delectable French inspired dishes, such as the seafood crepes and crème brulee. To satisfy the inevitable BBQ craving while in Topeka, Boss Hawg’s is legendary for serving up some of the tastiest Kansas City barbecue outside of the city.

With no major airport in the city, Topeka’s closest commercial airport is Kansas City International (MCI), located 53 miles away. From the airport, there is a shuttle service to take you into town. Laid out in a grid, Topeka is an easy city to navigate by car, though there are taxis and public bus lines available.

Topeka is classified as having a humid continental climate, with hot summers and fairly cold and dry winters. With weather that is constantly changing, the average temperature can span anywhere from a low of 17° F (-8° C) in January to a high of around 90° F (32° C) in July. Topeka gets about 36 inches of annual precipitation, as well as occasional tornadoes. The best time to visit Topeka is during the spring and autumn months, when weather is less humid and outdoor events can be thoroughly enjoyed.