Leavenworth Vacations

With nicknames that range from “Prison City” to “Carousel Capital of the World,” this Kansas city embraces its varied past with museums and historic walks.

Leavenworth is a city in northeast Kansas that’s known for its infamous prison and other unusual claims to fame. Explorers Lewis and Clark passed through while embarking on their westward journey, Buffalo Bill Cody grew up here and Abraham Lincoln stayed in Leavenworth for several days during his campaign. Today the city on the banks of the Missouri River is known for its large historic shopping district and museums celebrating its varied past. Browse antique shops, visit a brewery and stop for a meal at an old-fashioned lunch counter.

See why Leavenworth is known as “The First City In Kansas” by taking the Historic Wayside Tour, a path that runs along the banks of the river. Stop to read interactive exhibits and admire signposted landmarks along the way. Sign up for a tour of the city on an old-fashioned trolley car. 

Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary has held some of the past century’s most infamous villains. Snap a photo of the famous structure where criminals like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz, were once held. Visit Fort Leavenworth, a 200-year-old military structure that is today a National Heritage Area. Explore the Frontier Army Museum that houses artifacts dating back to 1804 and see a monument dedicated to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

More carousels have been built in Leavenworth than any other American city, and there’s a museum to celebrate this fact. Stop by the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum to see the types of carousel horses Charles Wallace Parker produced in his factory, which opened in Leavenworth in 1911, and ride one of the three operating carousels. Nearby to the carousel museum is the Chapel of the Veterans, honored by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! for being the only church to hold both Protestant and Catholic services. 

Leavenworth is located 33 miles (53 kilometers) from Missouri’s Kansas City and is accessible via a major highway. Fly into Kansas City International Airport, which has flights arriving and departing daily from all major U.S. cities. Once in Leavenworth, you can walk between attractions in the downtown district and rent a car to explore further afield.

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