Discovering Atchison: 13 Things to Do in Amelia Earhart’s Hometown

A statue of aviatrix Amelia Earhart outside a museum in Atchison, Kansas.

Atchison, Kansas, is a quaint town nestled along the Missouri River. It’s known for its stunning Victorian architecture, rich history, and friendly community. From magnificent museums to impressive parks, these are the best things to do in Atchison.

Nestled along the Missouri River in northeastern Kansas, Atchison is a charming town brimming with history, culture, and natural beauty. As the birthplace of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, this hidden gem is a must-visit destination for history buffs and aviation enthusiasts alike. But Atchison isn’t just for plane spotters – a whole world of adventure is waiting for you. Whether you want to museum hop, explore the great outdoors, or taste the delightful local cuisine, these are my recommendations for the best things to do in Atchison, KS.


Have You Visited Atchison, KS?

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A sign marks the location of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison, KS.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott

1. Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum

A trip to Atchison would not be complete without a visit to the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. Set in the home where the famed aviator was born in 1897, this beautifully restored Gothic Revival-style house offers a glimpse into the early life of Amelia Earhart and her family.

As you tour the various rooms, you’ll discover a wealth of personal artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia that provide insight into the inspiring story of a woman who defied expectations and shattered glass ceilings. You’ll learn about her daring flights and mysterious disappearance, leaving you with your head in the clouds, just like Amelia. 

Sage Advice: Find sky-high inspiration in these Amelia Earhart quotes.

A statue of aviator Amelia Earhart outside the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott

2. Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum

Just a short drive from her birthplace, the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum is another must-see attraction for aviation enthusiasts, history buffs, and Amelia Earhart fans. Situated at the Atchison Amelia Earhart Airport, the museum showcases an impressive collection of aircraft, including Muriel, a replica of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B – the plane she flew during her groundbreaking solo flight across the Atlantic. In addition to the aircraft on display, the newly renovated museum features interactive exhibits, fascinating stories, and historical artifacts that provide an in-depth look into the golden age of aviation and the enduring legacy of Amelia Earhart.

A sign listing all of the trees and their origin at the International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, KS.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott

3. International Forest of Friendship

If you thought Kansas was all plains and prairies, the International Forest of Friendship will debunk that Midwestern stereotype. This arboretum is a living, growing memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace, with trees from all over the world.

As you stroll along the peaceful, winding paths, look for trees representing all 50 U.S. states and more than 140 countries. And keep your eyes peeled for the Moon Tree, an American sycamore grown from a seed taken to the moon on Apollo 14, because it’s not every day you get to see a tree that’s been to the moon and back! The park is also home to the Amelia Earhart Earthwork, a one-acre living portrait of the aviation pioneer on a hillside overlooking Warnock Lake. 

4. Atchison Parks

Take a break from your cultural escapades and enjoy some fresh air in Atchison’s parks. Independence Park, Riverfront Park, and Jackson Park are just a few of the green spaces where you can picnic, play, or simply soak up the beauty of nature. Enjoy stunning views of the Missouri River or explore walking trails that meander through lush landscapes. It’s the perfect way to recharge before diving back into Atchison’s many attractions.

5. Komechak Art Gallery at Benedictine College

Art lovers will find plenty to admire at Benedictine College, a private Catholic liberal arts college in Atchison. The campus is home to the Komechak Art Gallery, which showcases a rotating selection of contemporary art exhibits. Additionally, the college hosts various art events and lectures throughout the year, providing visitors with ample opportunities to engage with the vibrant local arts community. While you’re on campus, take the time to admire the stunning architecture of the historic buildings, many of which date back to the 19th century.

A person walking in front of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison Kansas.
Photo Credit: Kansas Tourism

6. St. Benedict’s Abbey

Experience a moment of tranquility at St. Benedict’s Abbey, a historic monastery founded in 1857. This peaceful haven welcomes visitors to explore its beautiful grounds, including the Abbey Church, which features stunning stained glass windows and an impressive pipe organ. Attend a daily mass or join the monks for prayer, and be sure to stop by the gift shop to browse an array of religious items and handcrafted goods made by the monastic community.

The Cray Mansion is a beautiful white house in Atchison, Kansas.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott

7. Evah C. Cray Museum

Experience Victorian elegance at the Evah C. Cray Museum, also known as the Glick Mansion. Originally built for George Glick, the ninth Governor of Kansas, this beautifully preserved historic home is a stunning example of Queen Anne architecture and a testament to Atchison’s prosperous past. Take a guided tour of the mansion’s exquisite interior, with intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and period-appropriate furnishings. You’ll also learn about the fascinating history of the Glick family and the role they played in Atchison’s development. 

The Sallie House is a modest home that is allegedly haunted in Atchison, KS.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott

8. Sallie House

For those seeking a spine-chilling experience, look no further than the Sallie House. Built at the turn of the 19th century, a physician used the main floor to see patients while his family resided upstairs. The property is allegedly haunted by Sallie, a six-year-old girl who died during appendix surgery. Former occupants reported experiencing paranormal activity, including apparitions, strange noises, and unexplained physical attacks. Take a tour if you dare – just don’t blame me if learning about the chilling history and alleged hauntings gives you nightmares.

A railroad worker stands outside the Atchison County Historical Society Museum in Atchison, KS.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott

9. Atchison County Historical Society Museum

Located in the historic Santa Fe Depot, the Atchison County Historical Society Museum is a treasure trove of local history and artifacts. Explore exhibits that delve into Atchison’s storied past, including its role in the westward expansion, the history of the railroad, and the lives of prominent local figures. 

Locomotive at the Atchison Rail Museum.
Photo Credit: Kansas Tourism

10. Atchison Rail Museum

Train enthusiasts will delight in a visit to the Atchison Rail Museum. It’s like stepping back through centuries but without the pesky need for a time machine. Adjacent to the Atchison County Historical Society Museum, this outdoor attraction features an impressive collection of vintage rail cars, locomotives, and a restored 1880s-era depot. Stroll through the grounds, admire these magnificent machines, and check out the 12”-gauge miniature railroad operated by Northeast Kansas Railroad members on weekends during the summer.

Close up of two people walking along a paved path.
Photo Credit: Canva

11. Atchison Walking Tours

To truly appreciate Atchison’s rich history and charming architecture, embark on a self-guided walking tour of the town. As you meander through its charming streets, you’ll uncover hidden gems and learn about the town’s history. From breathtaking architecture to tales of local legends, this tour is a fantastic way to see Atchison up close and personal. Grab a walking tour brochure from the Atchison Visitor Center to help guide your exploration and provide interesting historical tidbits, or download a map here.

12. Atchison Farmers’ Market

A visit to the Atchison Farmers’ Market is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the local community while supporting regional farmers and artisans. Open on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings from May through October, the market offers a wide variety of fresh produce, homemade baked goods, and handcrafted items. Enjoy the lively atmosphere as you browse the stalls, chat with the locals, and savor the mouthwatering flavors of northeastern Kansas. And be sure to save some room in your suitcase for the treats you won’t be able to resist.

13. Eat Locally in Atchison, KS

No visit to Atchison would be complete without indulging in some local cuisine. Treat yourself to a meal at one of the town’s popular locally owned restaurants, and dig into the flavors of Atchison, Kansas. Here are some of my favorite Atchison eateries:

The Sunflower Café

With a name that gives a nod to the Kansas state flower, The Sunflower Café is part coffee shop, part eatery, and part gathering place. Go in the morning for a delicious selection of fresh pastries and hot coffee to start your day. Stop by later to satisfy your sweet tooth with an ice cream shake or afternoon pick-me-up. Or usher in happy hour with a craft beer, glass of wine, or signature cocktail. Whether you whet your whistle with a vodka, gin, or bourbon, you’re sure to love the locally inspired names like The Atchison Mule and Amelia’s Last Flight.

A Korean bulgogi sandwich topped with Asian slaw and a side of seasoned fries at Willie's Sports Pub.
Photo Credit: Willie's Sports Pub

Willie’s Sports Pub

When you’re in the mood for a laid-back atmosphere with scrumptious food, look no further than Willie’s Sports Pub. This beloved sports bar offers a variety of delicious pub grub, from juicy burgers to crispy chicken wings. Pair your meal with a cold beer or one of their unique cocktails, and settle in to watch the game on one of their many TVs. 

Paolucci Restaurant and Deli

For an Italian fix, head to Paolucci Restaurant and Deli. This family-owned gem serves up an array of Italian-American favorites, like spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmesan, and homemade lasagna. Don’t forget to check out their deli, where you can pick up some authentic Italian meats, cheeses, and other goodies to take home with you. 

A strip steak topped with Bordelaise sauce next to a side of smashed potatoes.
Photo Credit: Pete's Steakhouse

Pete’s Steak House

Craving a perfectly cooked steak? Pete’s Steak House has got you covered. Just remember to wear your stretchy pants, because you’re in for a carnivorous treat. This classic steakhouse offers a selection of tender, juicy steaks cooked to your liking and served with all the traditional accompaniments. From the Kansas City strip to ribeye, you’re in for a carnivorous treat. But don’t worry if steaks aren’t your thing – Pete’s also has a selection of pasta, seafood, chicken, and vegetarian options to suit every palate. 

To Visit Atchison, KS

Here’s all of the practical information you need to visit Atchison, KS.

Where is Atchison, Kansas?

Atchison is located in northeastern Kansas along the left bank of the Missouri River. 

How far is Atchison from Kansas City?

Atchison is approximately 50 miles north of Kansas City, Missouri. The drive between the two cities generally takes about an hour, depending on the traffic and the exact starting and ending points of your trip.

What is the population of Atchison, Kansas?

Per the 2020 US census, the population of Atchison is about 11,000 people. 

What is Atchison, Kansas, famous for?

Atchison is renowned as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The city hosts an annual festival in her honor. Atchison is also known for its historic red brick streets and sweeping views of the Missouri River.

When is the Amelia Earhart Festival in Atchison, Kansas?

Established in 1997 to celebrate Amelia Earhart’s 100th birthday, the Amelia Earhart Festival is held on the third weekend in July in Atchison, Kansas. It celebrates her accomplishments with a weekend of food, fun, live music, and more. Come for the history, stay for the party, and leave with a newfound appreciation for a remarkably fearless woman and her flying machines.

Have You Visited Atchison, KS?

Have you spent time in Atchison, KS? What did you like most? Any additional tips and tricks to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Sunflower in a Field at Sunrise


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