Sixty miles west of Kansas City in northeast Kansas you will find Topeka, the capital of Kansas. Topeka is the fourth largest city in the state, with a population of more than 127,000. The city is recognized for its affordable housing, favorable cost of living, and lively arts community. Topeka was rated 30th among all cities in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, and 5th among cities of similar population. The city is home to Hill's Pet Nutrition and home to Collective Brands, the parent of Payless Shoes. Hallmark Cards and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company also have significant manufacturing operations in Topeka, though the state capital, Topeka's largest employer is the State of Kansas. Jobs in local and state government employ 20% of the local workforce. Downtown Topeka features the largest farmer's market in the Midwest, with over 100 vendors gathering each Saturday between April and November.
Topeka began as a crossing point for wagon trains making their way to California on the Oregon Trail. Brothers Joseph and Louis Papin ferried wagons across the Kansas River during the "Gold Rush" years and in 1854, decided to form a town at the location. Topeka’s first Mayor, C.K. Holliday, was instrumental in creating the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad, which was at the time one of the largest railroad lines in the United States. With trains stopping in Topeka, rail traffic shaped the development of the city. For many years Topeka served as a center for trade, particularly in meat-packing and agriculture. Topeka was attractive to industrial manufacturers because of its location south of the winter snow line, and with the onset of World War II, Topeka was designated as the location for Forbes Air Force Base. When the base closed in 1974, the city’s population fell by 8%, but the Topeka has since recovered with continued development of the city’s infrastructure, attractions, and opportunities. Explore more Topeka history using these links.
Located near the center of the United States, summer in Topeka is characterized by warm days and mild nights with highs reaching the 90 °F range and lows in the 70’s. The winter season is cold and dry, with an average of 18" of snow during the winter season. The annual rainfall is 36”. Get local climate and current weather information for Topeka, Kansas using these links.
Fixed route bus service in Topeka is provided by Topeka Metro on weekdays and Saturdays. Amtrak’s convenient downtown rail station provides service to Topeka from hundreds of destinations. For air travel, Topeka Regional Airport offers two nonstop daily flights to Chicago on United Airlines. For more destinations, Kansas City International Airport is just an hour’s drive to the east.
Cost of Living in Topeka
The cost of living in Topeka is more than 10% below the national average. Housing is affordable and the cost of utilities is lower than average. See how far your budget will go when living in Topeka using these links.
Topeka Public Schools provides public education for students in grades pre-k through high school with a network of 30 schools, including 4 early childhood education centers, 17 elementary schools, 6 middle schools and 3 high schools. Additionally, a charter academy, two magnet schools, and an adult education center are included in the system.
Stormont-Vail Regional Medical Center is Topeka’s best hospital and the number two hospital in Kansas. This general medical and surgical facility is known for its high performance in hip and knee replacement surgeries, COPD treatment, and heart failure treatments. If you’re planning a move to Topeka, be sure to know the medical resources available to you:
Topeka Real Estate
Affordable homes in a variety of styles from vintage bungalows to modern multi-level properties can be found throughout Topeka. Some of the most affordable homes can be found within blocks of Washburn University and Topeka Country Club. Many of the finest homes are located near Sherwood Lake. Explore homes currently on the market with the following links.
With more than 30 hotels, it’s easy to find accommodations in Topeka, Kansas. The Senate Luxury Suites offer spacious rooms and architectural charm just steps from the state capitol building. Several fine hotels are conveniently located a short drive from downtown near the junction of I-70 and Wanamaker Road, including the ClubHouse Inn & Suites and the Hyatt Place Topeka. If you are looking for a special place to stay, Woodward Inns on Fillmore offers stately and private accommodations for discerning travelers. Find more accommodations in Topeka with the following links.
Topeka, Kansas has more than 300 restaurants to suit almost any taste. Chez Yasu is a French bistro in an unassuming location that will delight even the most dedicated Francophiles. If you are staying at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, you won’t be disappointed by meals at the Falling Waters Grille. They also serve a great Sunday Brunch Buffet. The Rowhouse Restaurant might offer Topeka’s most sophisticated menu, featuring foods from Morocco, Italy, Thailand, and Argentina. For a quick bite on the run, the local favorite is Freddy’s Frozen Custard where they serve shakes, steak burgers, and fries in a classic 50’s diner style atmosphere. Discover more great eats in Topeka with these links.
Things to Do in Topeka
Topeka is a cultural Mecca of the Midwest! Fans of Tiffany glass flock to Topeka’s First Presbyterian Church, where 10 extraordinary Louis Comfort Tiffany windows enhance the sanctuary’s majestic architecture. More than 50 galleries and studios participate in the First Friday Art Walk that takes place each month across the city. You can create your own art walk anytime by visiting the North Topeka Arts District on Kansas Avenue. The Mulvane Art Museum is the oldest accredited art museum west of the Mississippi River, featuring more than 5,000 pieces in their permanent collection. Gage Park, one of the star attractions of Topeka and located in the heart of the city, features a zoo, a 1908 carousel, and a mini-train on a mile-long track. The Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site preserves some of the city’s early beginnings as an outpost on the Oregon Trail. For sheer excitement, it’s hard to beat Heartland Park of Topeka, one of the premier multi-purpose motor sports race tracks in the country. Explore more fun things to do in Topeka with the following links.