If you love American history, then you’ll love exploring Osawatomie’s museums and restaurants. A town rich in pre-Civil War stories and Victorian architecture, visitors travel here from across the United States to learn about John Brown and the history of the American railroad.
The Adair Cabin at the John Brown Museum was a station on the Underground Railroad and used as his headquarters. This amazing historic cabin survived the Battle of Osawatomie, where Brown and his 30 Free State defenders fought 250 pro-slavery militia members. Learn about the life and struggles of these brave, early pioneers. Located in beautiful John Brown Park.
The Osawatomie History and Missouri Pacific Depot Museum is a single entity with four distinct parts. The first features history and includes John Brown, the Osawatomie State Hospital, local businesses, churches, organizations and residents. The Hall of Honor displays artifacts from the Civil War through the Iraqi War while also giving tribute to those employed in public safety. A replica of the 1890 depot illustrates Osawatomie’s long-time prominence as a railroad hub from the 1879 St. Louis-Kansas-Arizona railroad, through the glory years with MoPac and to the 1982 merger with Union Pacific. A historic caboose invites visitors to hop aboard and learn more about railroading.
History buffs will enjoy the variety of exhibits, including Native American artifacts predating the founding of Osawatomie in 1854. Learn about visits from two presidents, the contribution of Osawatomie’s citizens, the role of the State Hospital and the importance of the Missouri Pacific Railroad in the development of the town.
Flint Hills Nature Trail
Midway Drive In
Marais des Cygnes River
Osawatomie’s historic downtown hosts some specialty retail stores such as Coach Light, Donna & Viola’s and Dreamland Antiques tucked within the 19th century buildings in this business district.
Osawatomie’s newest addition is Shoot House Paintball, offering open field play, group events and memberships. Their more than 2-acre site offers obstacles and props for players to plan their attacks.
For a good picnic lunch spot, stop by John Brown Memorial Park. Dedicated in 1910 by President Teddy Roosevelt, the park has playground equipment, shelters, grills, picnic tables and restrooms along with 35 camping spots. Ten of those spots offer electrical hookups.
Osawatomie City Lake has a 75-acre recreational area complete with camping hook-ups and is regularly stocked for fishing. It is open to small craft boaters. The town also hosts paddlefish snagging season on the Marais des Cygnes River. (March 15-May 15)
The Osawatomie Golf Course has 18 holes of excellent play, along with a fully outfitted pro shop, snack bar, driving range and practice greens. Youth lessons are available in June and July.
Osawatomie is also an access point to the Flint Hills Trail State Park. This 120-mile rail-trail crosses six counties and is currently the seventh longest nature trail in the United States, according to the Rails to Trails Conservancy in Washington, D.C.
The family-owned Midway Drive-In is one of the smallest drive-in movie theaters in the state of Kansas. This venue routinely runs double features of recently released films, typically rated PG-13 and under. It features a concession stand, playground and in-car audio broadcasts. (May-Labor Day)
Osawatomie hosts several festivals throughout the year. The Lights on the Lake Festival in June is a popular music festival with headline acts, along with a car show and a fantastic fireworks show! The Freedom Festival & Civil War Reenactment happens in September in John Brown Park and features live re-enactments of the Battle of Osawatomie.
Kick off the holiday season with a Small Town Christmas. Held on the first Saturday in December, this event features holiday shopping, crafts, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a visit from Santa, a Fire & Ice Ball and so much more!
Chris’ Café serves up breakfast and lunch with homemade treats. They are popular for their hearty mac ’n cheese, cinnamon rolls, salad dressings and open-faced roast beef sandwiches. Even the sandwiches are served on Chris’ homemade bread and are sure to bring you back for more!
La Hacienda offers authentic Mexican food with excellent service and a festive interior. Don’t forget to try their Puffy Tacos or the Burrito Sancho, stuffed with shrimp, bacon, pico and lime sauce.
The China Restaurant offers homemade Chinese meals with a full menu. Open daily, try the sesame chicken, pork fried rice or chicken broccoli. And don’t forget the crab rangoon appetizer!
Keep history alive by dining at the Whistle Stop Café. Owned by a retired railroad engineer and his wife, it is decked out in railroad memorabilia, including a model train track in the ceiling and tracks on the floor. Try the hand-breaded tenderloins.
The historic Country Vintage Inn has been operating continuously as a hotel since 1953. Each of the 24 rooms is decorated in a different theme, from railroads, to golf, to Coca-Cola. The suites are ideal for families who need a little more space.