It’s easy to find the statistics for just about any city or town, but they will not tell the whole story. To get a true taste of any destination requires experiencing it firsthand. Over the years, we have discovered a formula that helps us make the most of our time. This has been used for large and small destinations and we always leave with a sense of accomplishment. A recent itinerary we created was designed to show you how to sample Atchison, Kansas in one day. This city of 11,000 people has some unique flavors that make for a great day trip.
Meet America’s Favorite Flyer
If you plan to see Atchison in one day, you will definitely need to set aside time to learn about the city’s aviation darling. You can find nods to Amelia Earhart all around town. Statues and artwork show off this daring pilot. To get a better backstory, we made a visit to the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. At this home on a hillside, the young aviator developed her explorer spirit. Although she spent time in many cities during her lifetime, she always considered Atchison her hometown. Her birthplace holds an amazing array of artifacts from her life. A tour of the home provides some interesting stories about this female flier and her rise to fame. Admission is low for this family-friendly attraction, so bring the whole family.
Dive into the History
While Amelia is a shining star, there were others who also left their mark on Atchison. In the heart of the city lies the Atchison County Historical Museum. This FREE museum offers a glimpse at the past and the people who have called this area home. A tour of the space begins with the Kanza Indians, who once roamed the hills of northeast Kansas. As we walked through time, we learned how the city changed to meet the needs of its citizens. We also learned that Atchison has seen its fair share of hometown heroes who have helped spark changes in the world around us.
Hanging with the Locals
To truly sample Atchison in one day, we knew that we would need to spend some time where the locals gather. Obviously, a day trip almost always requires at least one meal. For this particular excursion, it wound up being a late lunch. There are plenty of good choices in downtown Atchison, so we went looking for one that was near some of the local shops. After all, we also wanted to check out the retail scene. Seeing a busy parking lot at Maria Authentic Mexican Restaurant was a positive sign.
South of the Border Flavors
Stepping through the doors, we found ourselves transported to a Mexican cantina setting. Our server walked us through the menu and suggested one of their delicious housemade margaritas. We don’t mind if we do. Wanting to sample the menu, we chose dishes off of the appetizer section of the menu. Instead of our usual cheese dip, we chose the Queso Flameado, which includes melted cheeses and chorizo. We added the Botanas Platter that has a bounty of flavors. This yard-bird combination serves up chicken taquitos, chicken fajita quesadillas, and grilled chicken nachos. They toss in some guacamole, pico de gallo, and cheese dip to add even more flavor. We were going to need to do some strolling after this meal.
Fortunately, the shops are relatively close to our lunch stop. There is plenty to check out along Commercial Street, which is the main shopping corridor in Atchison. The sunshine had broken free from the clouds as we popped in and out of the various boutique-style shops. There are lots of treasures to be found whether you are looking for art, clothing, or home accents. The old-school pedestrian mall is being revamped, so many of those shops were closed for the time being. We will certainly have to return to see how the transformation looks when completed.
Atchison, Kansas in One Day
As we were wrapping up our tour of Atchison in one day, we happened upon an ice cream shop. It seemed a fitting way to celebrate our accomplishment, and we enjoyed a cone before heading back toward home. Depending on your starting point, Atchison will be around an hour’s drive time from Kansas City. If your visit occurs during warmer weather, you may want to plan some extra time to take in some views of the Missouri River. It’s easy to do with a visit to the Atchison Riverwalk. Enjoy your trip and check out more of our day trip destinations from Kansas City.