Check out 50+ free ways to entertain your kids in Topeka this summer!

Finding family fun this summer in Topeka doesn’t have to be expensive! Topeka has a bevy of free activities that it offers during the summer to keep your kids active, learning and even eating nutritional meals. In this blog, you’ll find a wide assortment of different no-cost activities.

Events

  • Free Family Fun Night — Every third Thursday of the month, families get in free from 5-8 p.m. at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, 4400 S.W. 10th Ave. in southwest Topeka.
  • Kaw Valley Bank Block Party — This block party is packed with fun things to do, including snow cones, a face painter, a balloon artist and an obstacle course. Free burgers and hotdogs while supplies last. Runs from 5-9 p.m. June 3 at Kaw Valley Bank, in the NOTO Arts and Entertainment District, 1110 N. Kansas Ave.
  • Youth in the Outdoors Day — Free activities for kids ages 6 to 16. Runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 4 at Ravenwood Lodge, 10147 S.W. 61st St. in southwest Topeka. For more info, contact Verne Dow at (785) 438-2065 or call (785) 256-6444.
  • JuneteenthSeries of events including parade, June 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in downtown Topeka and Family Celebration, June 18 starting at noon at Hillcrest Community Center
  • Open Art Studio at Leaping Llamas — Every first Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Leaping Llamas, 725 S. Kansas Ave. in downtown Topeka.
  • Oceans of Possibilities Art Exhibit for Children — Free exhibit will be on display from June 4-August 21 at the Alice C. Sabatini Art Gallery in the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave. in southwest Topeka. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
  • Kids Jam — Sunday night kids open mic with Kyler Carpenter from 5 to 9 p.m. at Doughboyz Pizzeria, 1312 N. Kansas Ave. in North Topeka.
  • First Friday Art Walk — Every first Friday evening at venues throughout the city.
  • Fiesta Mexicana — Mexican food and music fill the air during this three-day festival to raise money for Holy Family Catholic School. This free-to-attend event takes place July 14-16, with food sales kicking off at 4 p.m. and music around 5 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 201 N.E. Chandler St..
  • Blockbuster Wednesdays at the Library — Every other Wednesday, watch an amazing performance at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave in southwest Topeka. Showtimes are 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
  • Summertime Blues Concert Series — Free concerts from 7-9 p.m. during the third Wednesday of each month at the Gage Park Amphitheater, 600 S.W. 6th St. in southwest Topeka.
  • USA Football Blitz – Topeka Blitz — Free fun and football from noon to 5:30 p.m. June 24 at the Washburn University campus, 1700 S.W. College Ave. in southwest Topeka. Register at https://bit.ly/3wI0u4r/.
  • Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival — Music, food trucks, arts and crafts, a classic car show and, of course, fireworks! The event runs all day long July 4 at Lake Shawnee, 3137 S.E. 29th in East Topeka.
  • Friday Flicks at the Library — Every Friday in June and July, check out an ocean-themed family movie from 1-3 p.m. at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave in southwest Topeka.
  • Kids Ride Free!Topeka Metro provides youth free bus transportation in city limits, ages 18 and under, May 15-August 15.
Photo: Benaka Family in Downtown Topeka Pocket Park / provided by the Benaka family

Attractions

  • Kansas State Capitol — Take a tour of the Capitol building! Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 300 W. 10th St. in downtown Topeka.
  • Brown v. Board of Education Historic Site — Learn about the landmark Supreme Court decision that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional at this historic site. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 1515 S.E. Monroe St.
  • Evergy Plaza — Chill out in the heart of the city and play in the Crossroads Fountain, a water feature with 40 water jets in center of the plaza. Visit https://evergyplaza.com/events/ for exact hours each day. Located at 630 S. Kansas Ave. in downtown Topeka.
  • Great Mural Wall of Topeka — A community-based and driven mural arts initiative of the City of Topeka and area neighborhoods. Open all day. Located at 1969 S.W. Western Ave. in central Topeka.
  • Topeka Graffiti Wall — A canvas for spray artists to be used freely by local and traveling artists. Open all day. Located at Capitol City Pawn and Jewelry, 1001 S.E. 6th St. in East Topeka.
  • Ted Ensley Gardens — A 37.5-acre garden area on the west side of scenic Lake Shawnee featuring beautiful plant life, a gazebo, meditation garden, water and rock gardens and more. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Located at 3650 S.E. West Edge Road in East Topeka.
  • Crossroads Fountain Show — A colorful fountain show takes place at 9 p.m. every Tuesday at Evergy Plaza, 630 S. Kansas Ave. in downtown Topeka.
  • Yesterday’s Motorcycle Museum — Experience a bit of Harley-Davidson history as you take a self-guided tour of the museum. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Located at Topeka Harley-Davidson, 2047 S.W. Topeka Blvd.
  • Museum of the Kansas National Guard — Learn about the 160-plus-year history of the Kansas National Guard. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Located at 125 S.E. Airport Dr.
  • Holley Museum of Military History — The Holley Museum fills five small galleries and features dioramas, photographs, many models of aircraft and vehicles and a few artifacts. Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Located at the downtown Topeka Ramada Inn, 420 S.E. 6th Ave.
  • Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library — Visit 1515 S.W. 10th Ave. in southwest Topeka for amazing experiences plus check out passes to visit the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center or the Topeka Zoo for free.

Educational programs

  • Sunflower SummerDownload this free app from the Kansas Department of Education for free admission to the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, Evel Knievel Museum, the Topeka Zoo, the Kansas Museum of History, Perry State Park, and 90 other attractions around Kansas. 
  • Camp Kindergarten — Kids prepare for kindergarten through these four free single-day camps, which take place from 4-6 p.m. June 13, June 20, June 27 and July 11 at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, 4400 S.W. 10th Ave. in southwest Topeka. Spanish-speaking teachers available July 11. Register at https://bit.ly/3s5GsOr/.
  • Oceans of Possibility Summer Reading — Encourage reading through the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s summer reading program, Oceans of Possibilities, which rewards both kids and adults for reading with prizes. The library will also have lots of ocean-themed games, crafts and fun available at its physical location at 1515 S.W. 10th Ave. in southwest Topeka.
  • Discovery Kindergarten Fair — A fair for all things kindergarten to help students prepare for school! Takes place from 4-6 p.m. Monday, July 25, at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, 4400 S.W. 10th Ave. in southwest Topeka. Register at https://bit.ly/3wImeNH/.
  • Creative Fun at the Library — Get creative with a super cool activity every Tuesday and Thursday from 1-2 p.m. at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave in southwest Topeka.
  • Sensory-Friendly Sundays — On the second Sunday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon, families with children who have autism spectrum disorders receive free admission to the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, 4400 S.W. 10th Ave. in southwest Topeka. The museum is closed to the public during that time.
  • Dolly Parton’s Imagination LibrarySign up for this United Way and Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Program to have free books mailed to your home. 
Image courtesy of Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal

Free summer meals

Several schools will offer free lunches this summer to all children ages 1 to 18, regardless of their income level, through the federally funded USDA Summer Food Service Program.

  • Highland Park High School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at Highland Park High School, 2424 S.E. California Ave.
  • Topeka High School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at Topeka High School, 800 S.W. 10th St.
  • Chase Middle School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at Chase Middle School, 2250 N.E. State St.
  • Robinson Middle School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at Robinson Middle School, 1125 S.W. 14th St.
  • Scott Magnet School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 6-July 1 at Scott Magnet School, 401 S.E. Market St.
  • Capital City School/TCALC/Avondale Academy — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 6-July 1 at Capital City School 2731 S.W. East Circle Dr. S.
  • Quincy Elementary School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at Quincy Elementary, 1500 N.E. Quincy St.
  • Whitson Elementary School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 6-July 29 at Whitson Elementary School, 1725 S.W. Arnold Ave.
  • Jardine Elementary School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 1 at Jardine Elementary, 2600 S.W. 33rd St.
  • Meadows Elementary School — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 8-9 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at Meadows Elementary, 201 S.W. Clay St.
  • Great Life Play — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at Great Life Play, 1936 N.W. Tyler St.
  • Southwest YMCA — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at the Southwest YMCA, 3635 S.W. Chelsea Dr.
  • St. David’s Episcopal Church — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 2-July 29 at St. David’s, 3916 S.W. 17th St.
  • Westminster Presbyterian Church — Students can pick up a free breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m.-noon each day from June 6-July 29 at Westminster Presbyterian, 1275 S.W. Boswell Ave.

Grab and go sites — 7-day meals, orange card required. Students do not need to be present during pickup. Please provide orange card with the quantity of children in the household at each meal pickup. Serving time: 11 a.m. to noon Fridays, June-July Pickup sites: Highland Park High School, Topeka High School, Chase Middle School, French Middle School, Robinson Middle School, Pine Ridge Prep, Avondale East, Great Life Play, St. David’s Episcopal Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Topeka Bible Church.

Farmer’s Markets

  • Monday Farmers Market @ Your Library — Open from 7:30-11 a.m. Monday at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave. in southwest Topeka.
  • Downtown Topeka Farmer’s Market — Open from 7:30 a.m.-noon Saturday between 10th and 12th streets along Topeka Boulevard in downtown Topeka.
  • Breadbasket Farmers Market — Open from 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at West Ridge Mall, 1901 S.W. Wanamaker.
Photo: Hillard Family in Redbud Park / provided by the Hillard Family

Park Highlights

  • Dornwood Spray Park — Cool down with spray cannons or a water bucket tower from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day in Dornwood Park, 2500 S.E. Highland.
  • Jackson Spray Park — Enjoy getting soaked in the hydro tunnel or the jelly fish tower from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day at Samuel Jackson Park, S.E. 8th and Lake.
  • Redbud Park — Features a gazebo, the Topeka Postcard mural, and unique sculptures. 935 N. Kansas Ave. in NOTO.
  • Gage Park — Play in the animal park, walk the fitness loop or bring your pooch to the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Bark Park in one of Topeka’s favorite parks. 635 S.W. Gage Blvd.
  • Ward-Meade Park — Visit Old Prairie Town and see the sights from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day at 124 N.W. Fillmore St. in central Topeka.
  • Central Park — Park includes a pond, playground equipment and a track. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at 1534 S.W. Clay St. in central Topeka.
  • Collins Park — Play on the basketball court, expression swings or other new playground equipment at this beautiful park. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at 1400 S.W. Collins Ave. 
  • Nana’s Park — Park features a large play structure with seating, a picnic table and plenty of green space to run around and play. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at 2001 S.E. 37th St. in East Topeka.
  • Betty Phillips Park — Play on two basketball courts, check out murals, play on the playground or walk the .44-mile walking path! Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at 3303 S.E. Irvingham St.
  • Boswell Park — This historic park includes a gazebo and playground. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at 1300 S.W. Jewell Ave.
  • Brookfield Park — A fun place to play some sports! Includes tennis, basketball and shuffleboard courts, plus a .3-mile paved walking path and covered shelter house. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at 2430 S.W. Kingsrow.
  • Holliday Park — Check out the fountain, playground and historic charm. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at 1200 S.W. Western.
  • Chesney Park — Go for a ride at the skate park or play on the playground. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at 1823 S.W. Clay St. 

Fishing

  • Lake Shawnee — A great spot for fishing, boating, walking and taking in a gorgeous view! Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at 3137 S.E. 29th St. in East Topeka.
  • Hanger Family Fishing Pond — Formerly Lake Shawnee Jr., renamed and reopened with gorgeous upgrades. A great fishing experience for children and seniors. Open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at 3875 S.E. West Edge Road in East Topeka. 
  • Cedar Crest Pond — Multiple ponds, including two docks, dot the 244-acre MacLennan Park, S.W. Fairlawn and Cedar Crest Drive in southwest Topeka. 
  • Westlake Pond — A great place to take young anglers fishing for the first time! Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at Gage Park, 635 S.W. Gage Blvd. in southwest Topeka.

Nature Areas

  • Iliff Commons — Trails, a fishing pond and beautiful scenery. Open from dusk to dawn each day on N.E. 31st and Kincaid in North Topeka.
  • Warren Nature Area — Just east of Felker Park, includes three miles of trails, native grass areas and Shunga Creek. Open daily at S.W. 25th and Gage Blvd. in southwest Topeka.
  • Clarion Woods — This nature area includes a fishing pond with a barrier-free dock and a single-track nature trail running through a red cedar forest. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at S.W. 37th and Fairlawn.
  • Kansas River Weir — Off Saline Road, includes access to the Kansas River and great exploration (Google map to “Topeka Dam Portage Access”)
  • Harvey Garden at Washburn University — Behind the art building on the Washburn University Campus at 1700 SW College Ave. see koi fish, turtles and waterlilies. 
View from Skyline Park in Topeka, Kansas

Trails

  • Azura Trails at Skyline Park — Great view of the city! Open 24 hours daily on Burnett’s Mound, 4841 S.W. Skyline Parkway in southwest Topeka.
  • Dornwood Nature Trail — Seven-mile trail open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at S.E. 25th and Highland in East Topeka.
  • Grant-Bradbury Nature Trail — A nearly 2-mile walking trail in the Grant-Bradbury Prairie Preserve. Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at 6600 S.W. Westview Road in southwest Topeka.
  • Landon Trail — A 38-mile nature trail beginning at Shunga Trail in Topeka and ending at the Clinton Wildlife Area in Pomona. Open 24 hours daily at S.E. 15th & Monroe in central Topeka.
  • Orville Rice Nature Trail — A nature trail that winds along Shunga Creek from Gage Boulevard to McDonald Field. Open 24 hours daily at S.W. Shunga Drive and Gage Blvd. in southwest Topeka.
  • Freedom Valley — A .75-mile concrete walking path along a park that includes a fishing pond, playground and basketball goal. Open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at S.E. 14th and Locust in East Topeka.
  • Soldier Creek Trail — A 1.8-mile concrete bike/pedestrian trail and nature trail that runs from Garfield Park to N.E. Lyman Road. Open 24 hours daily at 1600 N.E. Quincy in North Topeka.
  • Shunga Trail — A 7.3-mile concrete trail in sections beginning at Crestview Park near SW 27th and SW Fairlawn and continuing to the east to SE Golden.
  • Shawnee North Nature Trail & Fitness Loop — A 2-mile trail through grasslands and wooded area. Open daily at 300 N.E. 43rd St. in North Topeka.

A child looking at a book of butterflies outside by prairie vegetation with Kansas Children's Discovery Center staff

Community Centers

  • Crestview Community Center — Includes a community gym, lounge area with game equipment, playground, wireless internet and a yoga studio. Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at 4801 S.W. Shunga Drive in southwest Topeka.
  • Central Park Community Center — Includes a community gym, computer lab, kitchen, playground equipment, fishing ponds, wellness/fitness room and wireless internet. Open from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily at Central Park, 1534 S.W. Clay in central Topeka.
  • Garfield Community Center — Includes a community gym, computer lab, kitchen, lounge area with game equipment and picnic areas. Open from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at 600 N.E. Quincy St. in North Topeka.
  • Hillcrest Community Center — Includes a gymnasium with a brand new floor, racquetball courts, meeting rooms, fitness/weight room, lobby with games and a computer lab. Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at 1800 S.E. 21st Street in East Topeka.
  • Oakland Community Center — Includes a community gym, computer lab, lounge area with game equipment, wellness/fitness room and wireless internet. Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 801 N.E. Poplar in East Topeka.
  • Rice Community Center — Includes a community gym, computer lab, lounge area and wireless internet, as well as a disc golf course, horseshoe pit and playground equipment. Located at 432 S.E. Norwood in East Topeka.
  • Shawnee North Community Center — Includes an art studio, classrooms, dance studio, kitchen, lounge area with game equipment, playground and wellness/fitness room. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 300 N.E. 43rd St. in North Topeka.

Thank you for Communities Supporting Early Literacy (CSEL) facilitated by United Way of Greater Topeka for support in creating this list. Is something missing? Let us know by emailing info@kansasdiscovery.org.

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