Courtesy Leavenworth CVB
Distinctive Leavenworth: First city in Kansas!
Many people think that Leavenworth is only a prison, but Leavenworth is actually a quaint, historic, town — the “First City in Kansas.” The city is dedicated to preserving its history, and strolling down the restored downtown is like stepping back in time.
Leavenworth was established in 1854, and a guided tour is a must. Groups are intrigued by stories of Wild West characters such as Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley and Carrie Nation, the woman who spared our saloons. The city tour also includes a walk through Victorian mansions, including the Carroll Mansion. In the evenings, private vintage homes are also open for group tours.
Speaking of vintage buildings, don’t miss the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Chapel. Built in 1893, it not only is renowned for beautiful architecture and stained glass, but it is also the only chapel that held Protestant and Catholic services simultaneously at that time.
However, we do like to play with the convict theme: Expect some villainous surprises before you leave town.
New in Leavenworth: A river runs through it
Intercontinental Hotel Group property at Fort Leavenworth was recently privatized and opened to the public. It was branded a Holiday Inn Express in 2012, and groups now have the rare opportunity to spend a night at a fort. Photo identification is required. Leavenworth will also have a new Marriott property in the fall of 2013.
A River Connection Tour includes Leavenworth/Fort Leavenworth and Atchison, Kansas, and Weston, Missouri, with Leavenworth as the hub.
Taste Leavenworth: Food so good it’s criminal!
Groups love Harvey Girl meals, served at the historic 1888 Union Depot. Lunch and dinner, served by women dressed as Harvey Girls, includes a skit about Harvey and the famed waitresses.
Many downtown restaurants have a diverse variety of foods that cater to groups: barbecue; Thai, Mexican and American fare; and for beer lovers, the High Noon Saloon, a brewery/restaurant.
And be sure to arrange a visit by Leavenworth’s barbershop quartet at any restaurant. Complete in convict garb and chain-gang attachments, these entertainers love to serenade surprised diners in Leavenworth.
Military Leavenworth: We want you for the army!
Fort Leavenworth draws a lot of interest because many men — and some women — were inducted into the Army there back in the day. The fort, established in 1827, is the oldest fort in continuous service west of the Mississippi River, and tours are hosted by a retired military historian. Notable graduates and instructors once stationed at the fort are Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, George S. Patton, Colin Powell and David Petraeus.
The Frontier Army Museum further depicts the story of the fort from 1827 to 1917 and the history of the frontier army when Lewis and Clark passed by present-day Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth.
An added treat for tour groups at the fort is the Buffalo Soldier Monument, which pays tribute to the black soldiers who were nearly lost in history. The CVB can arrange to have former Buffalo Soldiers at the monument site to greet groups, tell stories and even sing a song.