Vacation Ideas from our Editors
Dave Bergmeier, Managing Editor
The nation's 34th state, Kansas, also produced the country's 34th president-Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served from 1953-61. The man, known as Ike, was also the Allied Forces' architect of D-Day, which led to the June 6, 1944 invasion of Normandy, France, that led to end of Nazi Germany in World War II. Abilene, Kansas is where he and his wife, Mamie, are buried, in a chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Center. A trip there to see his boyhood home, the museum, library and Place of Meditation is a great place to take a family, particularly as this nation commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. There is a charge to go through the museum, but the investment is worth it.
So, in Oklahoma, there's a few places that come to mind. Topping the list would be Cattlemen's Steakhouse in Oklahoma City at the Stockyards. http://www.cattlemensrestaurant.com It reminds me of lunch with my dad after sale day at the sale barn cafes back home. Good food. Good prices. Great service.
In Kansas, nothing beats the Flint Hills in springtime. Usually about May to June, after the April pasture-burning season, the hills come alive with color. It's a green that you've only seen in the Wizard of Oz-it's almost Technicolor. While you're traipsing around the countryside, stop by Hays House Restaurant in Council Grove. www.hayshouse.com. Or, if you're in Abilene, stop by Brookville Hotel for the best fried chicken family style dinners. Even better than grandma's cooking. www.brookvillehotel.com.
In Texas, it's barbecue. Loads of great barbecue. And, you can't beat The BBQ Shop of Farwell, Texas. They're only open on Thursdays and they serve until the meat is gone and then that's it for the week. You can always call on Wednesday and place an order, but the lines are LONG and worth it on Thursday if you just drop by. A sign of good food? The number of farm pickups in the parking lot. www.thebbqshopfarwell.com. Of course, you can't beat Lubbock for live music. Or Amarillo and The Big Texan and Cadillac Ranch for kitsch.
The Oz Museum, Wamego: To any Wizard of Oz fan, the museum in Wamego is a must-see. The museum has thousands upon thousands of artifacts about or in regards to the movie and books, including real props used in the 1939 film. Every September, the museum hosts a star studded Oztoberfest. Performances, speakers, experts, and much more all come to the town to celebrate the book series and the beloved film. Around the area are also a winery and Toto's Tacos, a most delicious Mexican restaurant, complete with Oz-themed combo meals.
Monument Rocks, Scott City: A Kansas historical monument, these rocks are standing relics of a bygone era. The rocks are a nice place to climb, explore, and search for fossils. Nearby are also cabins for rent for a family vacation along with a souvenir shop.
Dorothy's House, Liberal: Though not the actual house used in the film, a similar house is positioned in this town as a place to explore and enjoy. Dorothys act as your guide and lead you through her former house and then into the Land of Oz. The museum has spent time and effort making this warehouse as close to actually being in the movie as possible. They also have artifacts and memorabilia from the film, including the small house used in the tornado scene. They also have a yellow brick road park and a playground for little Munchkins to have a good time.
Downtown Wichita-Snazzy hotels, museums, and fine dining are available in downtown Wichita. Numerous events, concerts, and festivals occur throughout the year in Wichita, and the area has something for everyone. For plant lovers, Botanica is an especially lovely choice. Exploration Place is a fun, hands-on museum filled with cool exhibits for young and old of age. The Museum of World Treasures possesses dinosaur bones, Egyptian artifacts, and much more for people to discover and learn. The area also has an ice skating rink, open year-round. The area is a perfect escape for a weekend getaway.
The most obvious weekend get away for most of us living in fly-over country is Branson, Mo. Branson and Silver Dollar City is one day's drive for about one-third of the US population and that figure is even higher for those of us in the High Plains region. Thirty-four percent of all visitors to Branson come from 100 to 300 miles away.
Most of us have been to Branson multiple times not only because it is close but because there is something for every one in the family. This starts with the Silver Dollar City them park and extends to shows, concerts, boating, fishing, golf, and of course shopping.
If your idea of a weekend get away includes getting outside then you might want to consider the Katy Trail State Park in central Missouri. The Katy Trail is a biking and hiking trail built on the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad line (MKT or KATY). The trail runs 225 miles from Clinton, Missouri to St. Charles, Missouri.
Because it is built on an old railroad line is a mostly level trail as it cuts through the scenic hills and valleys. There are many interesting little towns along the route and places to camp if you want to stay on the trail overnight. One of the favorite stops is in Hermann, Missouri which has the distinction of being on both the Katy Trail and the Missouri Wine Trail.
Stop and sample some of the locally produced wines on your next weekend get away.