On The History Trail in Miami County – A Kansas City Road Trip

Kansas Citians are blessed to have so many things to do in the metro area. Of course, sometimes it is nice to get away from the city for the day and strike out to one of the nearby communities. With just a little planning, it’s easy to fill a day with new sights and some delicious treats. We swung by First Watch to fuel up before our trip and to get our coffee fix. The menu has obviously changed here, since we seem to remember it being an eggs and bacon restaurant in the past. Whatever the reason, we are quite taken with its current options. After dining, we made  our way south of the metro, on the Kansas side, to Miami County to get a little history lesson.

It was surprising to find a small castle in Paola, Kansas.

We want to thank all of the businesses mentioned in this article for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.

Ask the Locals

Our first destination was the local museum, but we arrived a few minutes early. Near the town square we spotted a local and struck up a conversation. During our talk he asked if we had visited the castle in town and our interest was immediately piqued. With easy to follow directions in hand, we made our way a few blocks to the site. While it wasn’t a real castle, it was still a great spot for a selfie and some reflection. We only stayed a few minutes, as a group looked like they wanted to use it for a photo shoot. That was okay, since it was now time to head to our destination.

The Miami County Historical Museum presents the history for the entire county.

Lay of the Land

The Miami County Historical Museum is located in Paola, Kansas. Situated near the square, it offers up four rooms of exhibits plus a genealogy research room. The museum covers the history of the entire county, which was a bonus for the rest of our trip. Since we would be heading a few minutes away to another town, here we would learn some basic history of it as well. This museum is open during the week, but will also open up on the weekend by appointment. We had no issues getting them to come down on a Saturday, and they were quite helpful in explaining much of the background of the area. (You can read more about this museum here>)

Coach Light is a women's apparel boutique in Osawatomie, Kansas.

Spreading Tourism Dollars

After our stop in Paola, we scooted a little further down the road to Osawatomie, Kansas. This city’s name is a combination of the Indian tribes Osage and Potawatomie. (We learned that from a staff member at the local museum.) Our next stop was to be lunch, but first we decided to check out a couple shops on the main street. One of them was Coach Light, which is a women’s apparel store that has been in business for around 40 years. This is a common theme in many smaller communities, as they usually have only one or two mainstay businesses in each category of merchandise. I visited with the owner, while Crystal shopped. If you stop by here, be sure to check out the back room for all of her clearance items.

Chris' Cafe offers gourmet style dishes in a small town setting to show the locals that there are better options than fast food.

Small Town Gourmet

Our breakfast had worn off by now, and we were ready to refuel at Chris’ Cafe. This place was highly recommended and we soon found out why. We have eaten at our share of small town diners and they usually have very similar menus. While the food is usually delicious it can sometimes be less than healthy. Chris started as a baker, but soon saw the need to expand her menu to bring something to her town that the residents wouldn’t get at a fast food stop. She has certainly accomplished that goal. We were absolutely floored at the dishes she served, and the desserts show why she is such a successful baker.

The Osawatomie History Museum offers the city's historical records, as well as a railroad depot and caboose.

Learning About the Locals

Just a few steps away from our lunch stop we stopped in the Osawatomie History Museum. This localized museum specializes in showcasing the history of the town. What used to be a smaller venue was expanded with the addition of the railroad depot exhibit. We especially enjoyed the refurbished caboose out back that offers a great hands-on learning experience. Be sure to ask staff about this, so they can take you for a tour.  (You can read more about this museum here>)

The John Brown Museum tells the history of one of the most charismatic figures in Kansas history.

Charismatic Character

We had one more stop planned, which was the John Brown Museum. It was close enough to walk to, which helped after our delicious, and filling, lunch. The museum is located in a park, which was being enjoyed by families from nearby. The stroll includes a hill at the end, so keep this in mind when visiting. When we came up on the building, we were a little surprised not to see a cabin, but this would subside once we stepped inside. While this museum is not very large, it is packed with lots of information on a person who’s name will forever be associated with Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War. (You can read more about the cabin here>)

A Kansas sunset is hard to top.

Beauty Surrounds Us

With the day drawing to an end, we decided it was time to head back to the city. Our historical day trip had certainly lived up to our expectations. As we made our way back home, we were reminded of how varied the landscape is in the places we travel. We love the mountains, as well as the shorelines, but have learned that there is beauty in just about every place we see. Sometimes it just takes the right setting to remind us to slow down and enjoy the view. When was your last day trip? Tell us a little about your adventure. We love hearing others stories and it may just spark our next day trip. Thanks!

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