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Topeka--a capitol destination

By Susen Foster

A majestic 22-foot-tall Native American--bow taut, arrow poised--protects this capital city from the evils facing mankind. Standing ever proud and fearlessly bold, atop the capitol dome, Ad Astra represents the Kansas state motto Ad Astra Per Aspera--"to the stars through difficulties,", honoring the state's American Indian heritage and paying tribute to the aspiration and inspiration that continue to be the foundation of this mid-America state.

Though recognized for playing host to hundreds of politicians and bureaucrats from across the state when the legislature is in session, Topeka also welcomes, and memorably entertains, entire families year round.

According to VisitTopeka, the city's Convention & Visitor Bureau, the city boasts 20 first-class attractions; 12 eye-popping art galleries; 5 distinctive performing arts facilities; 3,000 clean and comfortable hotel rooms; an endless menu of delectable dining options; infinite unique shopping venues; and entertaining events that accommodate a variety of interests.

Some of the "must sees" the website lists are: the Brown v. Board National Historic Site & Museum, the Kansas History Museum, Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Park, and the Kansas State Capitol Building.

You might want to add Colorfield's Glass to see glass blowing in action, the Combat Air Museum, the motorcycle museum at Topeka Harley Davidson, the Topeka Zoo and, if it goes VRRRRRMMM, it happens at Heartland Park Raceway so check that out, too.

If your time in Topeka is short, I recommend you start with a tour of the Capitol. The guides are funny and well-informed. The art, which is in and on everything from the marble floors to glass panels of the dome, hanging on walls and painted in murals, is spectacular. The Capitol Dome is dramatic--and taking the 296 steps to gaze out over the city is worth the breathless arrival.

Other tours should include the historic churches and their beautiful stained glass, like that of Louis Tiffany in the 1st Presbyterian. Once downtown, you should stop by Marion Lane Candles where you can pour your own or take home their handmade delights; and watch everyone's eyes glaze over as the experts at Hazel Hill Chocolates make their mouth-watering fudge and caramel apples.

These attractions, plus the art galleries, great dining and places to buy cool stuff, are part of the year round adventure in Topeka. I suggest you plan your visit, if possible, around an event that grabs your attention.

Art gallery and museum exhibits change constantly and there is always a play or concert at one of the many venues. In addition, the race track has something going on most weekends, like the NHRA O'Reilly Summer Nationals in May.

Other spring events include Tulip Time in mid-April, when four different tulip gardens around the city are in full bloom and open to the public; and in June, eight varieties of lavender burst from the bluffs of the Kansas River filling the air with their heady scent.

The city's motto is "Topeka...Kansas Begins Here!" Visit www.visittopeka.org or call 800-235-1030 to find out more.

Editor's note: Susen Foster is the owner of Greater Success Advertising. She is the author of numerous travel books. Susen can be reached at www.greatersuccess.com or call 580-622-5408.

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