What to do and see in Ottawa, United States: The Best Places and Tips

August 1, 2017 Phylicia Berquist

Ottawa is a city in, and the county seat of, Franklin County, Kansas, United States. It is located on both banks of the Marais des Cygnes River near the center of Franklin County. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,649.
Restaurants in Ottawa

1. Old Depot Museum

135 W Tecumseh St, Ottawa, KS 66067-1902 +1 785-242-1250
Excellent
74%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
5%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 19 reviews

Old Depot Museum

In 1868, the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston (LL&G) became the first railroad to reach Ottawa, Kansas. Shortly thereafter, the line was sold to the Southern Kansas, who hired architect George Washburn to design the depot that still stands today. The building's stone was quarried in Cowley County, which is in southeast Kansas. After its construction in 1888, the Santa Fe bought the Southern Kansas line and the depot became a Santa Fe Division Headquarters. The depot included a 13-stall roundhouse where engines were repaired, a freight depot, and a Railway Express Agency (an express shipping service). Unfortunately, before the levee system was installed, the depot was at the mercy of the Marais des Cygnes River, which flooded frequently. As the need for passenger service declined, the 1888 depot fell out of use, and passenger service moved to a smaller building north of town before being discontinued entirely. In 1962, the depot was donated to the Franklin County Historical Society, which reopened the depot's doors in 1963 as the Old Depot Museum. In 1996, the Franklin County Historical Society received an ISTEA grant, and the building underwent major rehabilitation before reopening in 1999. The two-story museum includes exhibits on Native American tribes, the Pottawatomie Massacre, the exaggerated photography of William "Dad" Martin, local industry, and historic examples of daily life in Franklin County (a turn-of-the-century general store, farm kitchen, Victorian parlor, soda fountain). One entire room is dedicated to an HO-scale model railroad layout designed to replicate the sites of 1950s Franklin County. Our one-room school exhibit also serves as the setting for our One-Room School Program, where students are invited to dress in pinafores and suspenders and experience a day in school--complete with academic, behavioral, and recreational expectations--just as a child would have in 1915. Just outside the depot is a 1940s caboose, which was donated to the Franklin County Historical Society in 2012. The large first-floor gallery features temporary exhibits. The depot also hosts numerous events throughout the year. Most events are free and open to the public. The museum is a member of Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area.

Reviewed By ReedsKentUK - Kent Uk

Having read the reviews on here before our visit to Ottawa, I knew to look out for this attraction. I had some trouble finding it as it is on the edge of town, but if you find the Riverside Diner it is just along from...MoreThank you for visiting the Old Depot Museum! We appreciate your feedback and hope the rest of your visit to the US was as positive as your trip to our museum.

2. Kanza Park

200 W 13th St, Ottawa, KS 66067-3545 +1 785-229-3630
Excellent
59%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 19 reviews

Kanza Park

Open park with a track, 18 hole Disc Golf course, about a dozen different exercise stations, and access to the Prairie Spirit Trail.

Reviewed By Carissa E - Atlanta, Georgia

I grew up a block away and my parents still live in the same house. 25 years of memories at this quiet, peaceful neighborhood park. This walking path is right on the "Kansas Rail Trail" also, connecting you to the rest of the town and beyond. There's a frozen yogurt shop, Dairy Queen, Walgreens, and Sonic in the same vicinity-so it's great for an afternoon outside.
Even now, when I go home for the holidays, my dad, dog, and I walk around it twice a day every day. Within the past 5 or 6 years, they've offered some upgrades like a new playground area and frisbee golf.
When I was younger they used to light the whole path in candles for the holidays, complete with a small petting zoo.
I've sat many an hour under their many trees just enjoying a beautiful day.
Take time for yourself and spend some time in the peace and quiet.

3. Forest Park

400 N Locust St, Ottawa, KS 66067 +1 785-229-3630
Excellent
73%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 11 reviews

Forest Park

Reviewed By Devin A - Ottawa, Kansas, United States

Great place for Doggies to play., Kids enjoyed it alot. Plenty to do there. Wouldve loved to had more time to done more

4. Carnegie Cultural Center

501 S Main St, Ottawa, KS 66067-2828 +1 785-242-8478
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 6 reviews

Carnegie Cultural Center

Home of the Ottawa Arts Council and Ottawa Suzuki Strings. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open Wednesday-Friday 12-5 p.m.

Reviewed By Devin A - Ottawa, Kansas, United States

Didnt know much bout this place, it used to be a Library., but we found out so much more., very informative & you certainly do learn alot more than you would expect

5. Plaza Cinemagic Experience

209 S Main St, Ottawa, KS 66067-2329 +1 785-242-5555
Excellent
51%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 6 reviews

Plaza Cinemagic Experience

Reviewed By gpabm - Ottawa

As a "claim to fame", the current location is NOT where the first movie theater opened and kept running but the establishment values both history and cinema. Yes, tickets are not cheap, but the environment and food is worth the price of admission.

6. Sandbar

1608 S Main St, Ottawa, KS 66067-3805 +1 785-242-8888
Excellent
50%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
25%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Sandbar

Reviewed By OTR_Again_IM - Iowa

The Sandbar should be classified under the bar/club type of attraction. We stopped to overnite in Ottawa at a motel close to an Applebees. Applebee's was having a Veteran's Day special so the place was packed. We decided to cruise historic downtown Ottawa til the crowd at Applebees died down which is where we saw The Sandbar. It's parrothead atmosphere interested me. Both the inside and front patio are decorated like tropical/beach atmosphere (sorta), while nice in summer, we did not opt for the patio in November in Kansas. The Sandbar is the usual older, local bar with the usual barfood; mostly sandwiches & burgers. There were a few locals drinking at bar and eating at a couple of the tables. Our beers were cold and a decent price (compared to chains like Applebees). Our waitress was friendly and suggested we try their Killer Dip w/tortilla chips and a secret ingredient. It tasted like a spicy cream cheese/sour cream ranch and was decent. I'd recommend trying it if you are ever in the Sandbar.

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