While long vacations can be fun to plan, there are plenty of times we are just looking for a short getaway. Whether it’s a day trip or an overnight stay, taking an excursion to a close by destination can add an air of excitement to any weekend. With a drive from Kansas City that can be covered in around one hour, we were ready for some eye opening discoveries in Fort Scott, Kansas. We timed our visit to arrive on a Friday afternoon, with a goal to see as much as possible in around 24 hours.
We want to thank the Fort Scott CVB and the local businesses for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
A Meaningful Impact
During our travels, we have seen exhibits that feature the works of Gordon Parks. His photographs captured a world of segregation and helped bring the disparity of this issue into the public eye. What a surprise it was to discover that Parks was a native of Fort Scott. We knew that a stop at the Gordon Parks Museum was a must, and we were not disappointed. Not only does the museum have a broad collection of personal items from his life, but some of his most memorable work. The staff were very welcoming and willing to explain details about this self-made man. (You can read more about Gordon Parks here.)
A “Wow” Meal
Every trip includes a chance to sample the local dining scene. We don’t always find cutting edge cuisine, but are usually impressed with the friendly atmosphere. One of our eye opening discoveries in Fort Scott was Crooner’s Lounge. This upscale dining experience has a relaxed feel with dishes that can compete with just about any restaurant in Kansas City. It was obvious that we weren’t the only ones who felt this way. The busy dining room was filled with happy customers who knew the value of this unique eatery. (You can read more about Crooner’s here.)
As we were finishing up at Crooner’s, we were informed that Fort Scott recently got their first microbrewery. It was only a short walk away, so we decided to pay them a visit. Boiler Room Brewhaus is located in a historic building that once housed a 1950’s motor lodge. Sourcing as many local ingredients as possible, they create their craft brews in-house. They have added a half dozen interesting brews to their menu, but also offer wine, whiskey, and soft drinks. We noticed their unusual decor, which includes some interesting artifacts from Fort Scott’s history.
The chance to stay in a historic Bed & Breakfast is always intriguing. Lyons Twin Mansions kicks this up a notch by featuring a pair of magnificent old homes. Stepping through the doorway of our lodging was one of the eye opening discoveries in Fort Scott that met us at almost every turn. The beautiful Victorian decor provided a backdrop for the modern amenities that we discovered in our room. The next morning, breakfast was featured in the other mansion, and added another layer of pleasure to our stay. (You can read more about Lyons Twin Mansions here.)
Getting Our Coffee Fix
After breakfast, we were ready to explore the city’s namesake attraction. First, we decided to grab an extra dose of caffeine to get us going. In the heart of the downtown, we discovered Common Ground Coffee Company. While we were there we learned that this non-profit organization is designed to be a welcoming spot for locals and visitors alike. The profits from this java spot is reinvested into the local community. We noticed that other customers were enjoying breakfast here, but since we had eaten we decided to stick with our delectable drinks.
History on the Prairie
With our coffee in hand, it was a short stroll to the Fort Scott National Historic Site. It’s one of the most convenient national sites we have visited, with plenty of parking nearby. With a dozen buildings to explore, you will want tp plan at least a couple of hours for your visit. Since there is no admission fee, it’s easy to break up your visit into chunks. We had a planned time for a trolley tour, which ended up falling in the middle of our time at the fort. Fortunately, we were able to catch our trolley and then return to the fort to finish our explorations. (You can read more about the fort here.)
Old School Dining
All of the walking around had worked up our appetites and we knew just the place to satisfy them. The previous evening, we had made a few eye opening discoveries in Fort Scott. After visiting the microbrewery, we passed the Nu Grille Cafe on the way back to our car. This old school eatery has been serving the Fort Scott community since 1946. We knew that a track record like that means they offer up consistent dishes. Burgers, fries, Suzy Q’s, shakes, and chili are a few of the staples on the menu. While they have booth and table seating in the dining rooms, we preferred to dine in the original counter seating section. Take a seat and dig in to some Kansas history.
It seems like every city or town we visit has at least one unexpected attraction. The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes was certainly a one-of-a-kind experience. This educational center is designed to bring students and educators together to have one of those “Aha” moments. Each group works to identify a person from history who exemplifies the characteristics that make an unsung hero. The museum displays the stories of the people that the groups have identified with key information about each hero. This place inspires visitors to think about their contribution to society and shows that everyday people can make a huge impact in the lives of others. (You can read more about Unsung Heroes here.)
Eye Opening Discoveries in Fort Scott
A visit to Fort Scott is filled with plenty of chances to interact with the locals. It’s a great destination, whether you are looking for frontier history, fine dining or just a relaxed weekend getaway. Being so close to Kansas City means that it also makes a good day trip destination. We hope you add this Kansas town to your list of places to explore. It’s a good example of the interesting places that can be found within a short distance from your home. What are some of your favorite day trip destinations?