Exploring Indoor Spaces
Posted on Jan 23, 2023 by Visit Emporia
Right now is the perfect time to put your New Year’s travel resolutions into action. You might not be up for outside activities in the dead of winter, but how about exploring indoor spaces? It’s easy to put together a day or a weekend of indoor experiences that will exercise your brain, spark your imagination, and keep you warm and toasty! Traveling–even short distances–brings an awareness and appreciation of both the world around us and the people in it.
First stop: The PAROC. The Prophet Aquatic Research and Outreach Center (601 E. 18th Ave.) is located at the far north end of the Emporia State University campus overlooking a lovely lake. The PAROC offers a high-impact introduction to the importance of water and aquatic environments, spotlighting the interconnectedness of the natural world and our daily lives. Enjoy hands-on opportunities to experience just how much we all depend on the cycles of Mother Nature, the importance of sustainability, and what each of us can do to help.
For a breath of fresh air, take a brisk hike on the Campus Woods Nature Trail, starting right at the PAROC parking lot. The trail features a nice flat gravel surface for a peaceful walk or bike ride through the woods near the ESU campus and the Neosho River.
You probably worked up an appetite with that hike, right? Head downtown to Amanda’s Bakery & Cafe (702 Commercial St.) for a huge, melt-in-your-mouth homemade cinnamon roll–or sample Amanda’s made-from-scratch desserts, soups, and breads. Don’t miss the Friday Special mystery dessert!
You say you’re in the mood for diner-style comfort food? Dive into the mouth watering dishes at Commercial St. Diner (614 Commercial St.). For breakfast, brunch, and lunch, it can’t be beat! From fluffy homemade biscuits and gravy to hand breaded chicken-fried steak, this is the place for a solid, homestyle meal.
Now that you’ve satisfied your cravings, take a stroll across the street to the Lyon County History Center (711 Commercial St.). The beautifully restored building structures its exhibits around eight core themes: natural history, Native Americans, immigration, transportation, farming, ranching, business and industry, and military and Veterans Day. Don’t miss the hugely popular kids’ area on the second floor of the museum, complete with interactive play spaces.
If you plan in advance, through the History Center you can schedule a tour of the 1867 Howe House and Welsh Farmstead in south Emporia (315 E. Logan Ave.). Visitors are welcome to walk the property anytime between sunrise and sunset. You might want to take the walking path in the Prairie Patch south of the house, which is well marked with flags identifying local plants and grasses.
The History Center presents its annual Kansas Day Birthday Bash on Jan. 28. Join the party and celebrate 162 years of Kansas statehood! New this year will be an art show featuring Kansas-themed art. The exhibit will run until Feb. 18.
There’s lots more to explore on the Emporia State University campus, conveniently located at the top of downtown at 12th Avenue and Commercial Streets. Take in the Peterson Planetarium, Johnston Geology Museum, and the Schmidt Museum of Natural History–all located in the Science Hall at 1320 Merchant Street. Free shows play on Thursday evenings and the second Saturday of each month at the Planetarium. Check out the western Kansas Cretaceous mosasaur, a giant ground sloth, and a massive mastodon tusk in the Geology Museum, as well as fossils and Native American artifacts. Convenient parking directly behind the building means you won’t get chilled, no matter what the weather.
Ready for a break? Sample the selection of fine whiskies and craft beers at Mulready’s Pub (717 Commercial St.) or indulge in all things chocolate at The Sweet Granada–A Chocolate Cafe (803 Commercial St.) and grab a cup of gourmet coffee just two doors down at Granada Coffee Company (809 Commercial St.).
Top off your afternoon with a stop at the Emporia Arts Center (805 Commercial St.). Slow down and enjoy the art in the Trusler Gallery and browse the unique hand-crafted gift items in the Glaser Art & Gift Store. The EAC maintains a full schedule of art classes and performances–check the website to plan your visit around a special art experience.
Evening entertainment abounds at the historic Emporia Granada Theatre (807 Commercial St.), featuring concerts in a variety of genres, live theatre performances, and more! Check upcoming shows on their website.
Where to stay: Nestled near the ESU campus and Emporia’s enticing downtown, the historic Gufler Mansion bed and breakfast (612 W. 12th Ave.) offers impeccable rooms, beautiful fireplaces, and a warm, cozy atmosphere. Or opt for some indoor swimming at Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express, both conveniently located just off the Interstate and adjacent to chain restaurants and a wide variety of shopping options.
January is an excellent month for a deeper dive inside…and we’ve got plenty of enticements for you to explore! Check the Visit Emporia website or visit us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more ways to enjoy the Great Indoors this winter!
Visit Emporia welcomes travelers and meeting planners, and serves as the visitor information center for Emporia, Kansas and surrounding area.