Main Streets 2016: Kansas
As the capital of its state, Topeka is a center for civic and cultural life, and South Kansas Avenue is where a whole lot of it happens. This thoroughfare stretches from the Kansas Turnpike to the Kansas River, and in the city’s downtown, it’s home to a lively arts and dining scene, interspersed with local nonprofits and businesses.
With the capitol building just steps away, South Kansas Avenue is close to a number of government agencies and landmarks, including the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Site, which commemorates the landmark Supreme Court decision that ended legal public-school segregation in 1954. In 2016, adrenaline enthusiasts can look forward to the opening of the Evel Knievel Museum, one block over on SW Topeka Avenue, which will boast the world’s largest collection of the legendary daredevil’s stunt bikes and memorabilia.
South Kansas Avenue also stands out for its vibrant, eclectic arts scene. On the first Friday of each month, more than a dozen local galleries and studios open their doors to residents and tourists for a night of art crawling. The Topeka Performing Arts Center, a nonprofit organization, puts on a wide variety of musical and theatrical productions each year. Nearby, guests can enjoy dinner and a performance at local dinner theater, The Break Room.
Like most art-rich neighborhoods, South Kansas Avenue is also known for its diverse and delicious dining options. Locals catch up over a cup of joe at Classic Bean, Topeka’s first espresso coffee house and deli, and indulge at HHB BBQ, a smokehouse specializing in brisket and pulled pork. South Kansas Avenue also hosts a weekly farmers’ market offering the region’s best produce.
Several of Topeka’s favorite festivals take place on South Kansas Avenue. At Tap That, locals and visitors spend the weekend tasting craft beers, learning about the art of brewing and kicking back with other beer enthusiasts. In November, The Miracle on Kansas Avenue Lighted Parade brings the town together for a day of shopping, dining and music, topped off by a light parade of floats, marching bands, military vehicles and antique and classic cars.
Street photo courtesy of Chris Neal – The Capital-Journal
All other photos courtesy of Stephen Smith – Downtown Topeka Inc.