What is Kansas most famous for? You guessed it. The Wizard of Oz.
Just an hour west of Leavenworth is Wamego, Kansas, home to the Wizard of Oz Museum. If you’re a fan of the Wizard of Oz, it’s fun and unique place to indulge yourself in all thing WOZ.
Fun Fact: The entire downtown of Wamego is themed for the Wizard of Oz and is an absolute delight.
Where to Go: The Wizard of Oz Museum
Filled with authentic Wizard of Oz memorabilia divided into sections for each character, it’s one of the most well-organized and extensive collections in the United States. The staff begins the tour with a brief history of the museum and story, and then it’s off you go exploring. Plan to give yourself several hours here, especially if you are a fan of the Wizard of Oz. There are life-sized characters that are so realistic you’ll do a double-take, and a photo op booth in the wizard’s balloon. The museum’s gift shop offers a diverse array of items, all affordable, from ruby red slippers in all sizes to shirts and more. Note: The movie runs on repeat in the museum’s theater so you can pop in and out while exploring.
A clever way to get visitors around the area is the scavenger hunt “Totos Around Town”. 15 of Dorothy’s beloved dog Toto are strategically placed around the downtown area, and you’re challenged to find them all. Sponsored by local businesses and residents, the fun and artistic Totos enjoy names like “Toto in Tulips”, “Poppy Dog”, “The Lollipop Guild”, and “Somewhere Over the Reading Rainbow”.
“Emerald City Toto” greets visitors to the Yellow Brick Road, a glorious alleyway transformed into a mini storybook of the Wizard of Oz with murals, a real yellow brick road and neat landscaping. The property and improvements were donated to the City of Wamego by Jim and Barbara Meinhardt & Family in 1992, and some of the yellow bricks along the path are dedicated to loved ones of residents.
Where to Eat: The Friendly Cooker or Toto’s TacOZ!
The Friendly Cooker: Housed in an historic building downtown, it’s nothing fancy, but the food is cooked to order and tasty. The staff is super friendly and attentive.
Toto’s TacOZ!: Serving authentic Mexican food, the Wizard of Oz themed eatery is highly recommended.
Where to Drink: Oz Winery
No trip to Wamego is complete without a stop at the Oz Winery. With fun names like the Moscato “Witch Gone Good”, the Wizard of Oz inspired wines will have you sitting for a spell in the tasting room to talk with proprietor Brooke Balderson about the shop’s seasonal offerings and finding your favorites.
After all, who doesn’t need a Flying Monkey or Squished Witch in their life? Be sure to check out the sweets on display for a chocolate sunflower, themed after the state’s native flower.
Pro Tip: Take a peek online at the ‘From the Land of Kansas’ Marketplace for specialty items. https://shop.fromthelandofkansas.com.
Discover more #unique summer vacation trips and ideas now in the 2022 Summer Issue of Top Shelf Florida Quarterly.