As you go south out of Topeka on 75 highway you will come to signs for three different lakes in less than 30 miles. The closest is the smallest one, Osage fishing lake. Then you come to the shallow end of Pomona Lake. The furthest away is Melvern Lake. I've spent more time at Melvern than the other two. Melvern has a swimming beach, a marina, and a heated fishing dock. The public use areas around the lake are good places to find our native Kansas birds. You can see some of the kinds of birds we have in this part of Kansas at the link below.
We went to the Topeka Railroad Days Festival on Labor Day weekend. There were crafts, food, carnival rides, locomotive rides, and tours of city on an old cable car. I liked riding the railroad hand cart the best. I never realized just how fast one of those things could go.
This car is to promote arts in Topeka. You can't quite read the sign on the door in this picture. Topeka has Helen Hocker Performing Arts Center at Gage Park, Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy on SW 8th street, and Topeka Performing Arts Center at 214 SE 8th street.
In this picture you will see Cedar Crest. It is home to the governor of Kansas. While travelling west on 6th from the capitol turn north on Fairlawn to reach it. It is not 'off the beaten path' but it is only open for a short time every Monday after noon. I have never been in Topeka when it was open. If you ever go there please tell me what it is like inside.
On 6th street as you drive west from down town and the capitol towards Wanamaker and things to do there you will see a cemetary. Wild geese and ducks have learned the cemetary is a good place for them to live. It is quiet and safe for them. People often come by just to feed them. For those who like seeing birds this is a good place to see waterfowl up close. Usually there are just Canada geese, mallard ducks, and toulouse geese but some times different species of wild ducks will be there as well.
Topeka has lots of parks. As you drive around town you will notice one park after another. Lake Shawnee is one of the biggest. One of my favorite parks is at the corner of Huntoon and Topeka boulevard. It has a large bird statue of a wren.
Historic Ward-Meade Park is a lot of fun the first Sunday in October for the Apple Festival. If you can't be there for the festival then visit the park and tour the old restored buildings. There is a livery stable and a one room school and many more. Stepping inside of livery stable is a lesson in how life in Kansas was over 100 years ago. Ward-Meade Park is located at 124 NW Filmore. If you take 6th street west from the capitol complex a few blocks and turn north you will be in a residential area. There are lots of nice homes and you won't see the park at first. As you get closer to it you will see green signs with white lettering pointing the way to the park for you. It is a little difficult to find but if you get a map at the capitol or the visitor center you won't have any trouble.
Jayhawk, symbol of Kansas, above building near the Kansas State Capitol. I have not been inside this building yet but have heard it is nice.