Summer Travel Bucket List: Chanute, Kansas

What makes your town a unique destination for summer travelers?

Chanute is home to the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, a destination that welcomes visitors from all over the world. The museum showcases the photography and films of Osa and Martin Johnson who were explorers in the early 20th century in Africa, the South Seas and Borneo. Chanute is only a two-hour drive from Lawrence and other major metropolitan areas in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum

Can you highlight some of the key attractions that visitors shouldn’t miss?

• The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum also houses the photographic collection of Elizabeth Main LeBlond, a pioneer for female mountain climbers who was known, too, for her mountain and sports photography and filmmaking during the latter part of the 19th century.

• Howard’s Toys for Big Boys is an automotive museum featuring many rare automobiles as well as other automotive memorabilia. The collection is owned by Howard Alger, who has been collecting and restoring autos for more than 50 years. He opened his museum in 2017 upon his retirement.

• Cardinal Drug Store Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain is located in the Cardinal retail store and pharmacy in the heart of downtown Chanute.

• The Chanute Art Gallery has a core collection representing 25 mediums and numerous artists. Special exhibits are highlighted each month.

• The Chanute Historical Museum houses Chanute artifacts, memorabilia from the Santa Fe Railroad and Harvey House and the oil industry, sports information on baseball great Paul Lindblad and basketball’s Ralph Miller along with other collections. A replica of the Octave Chanute 1896 biplane glider hangs from the three-story open ceiling.

• There are walking trails, a public golf course, several downtown murals and other attractions.

What special events, festivals or activities are happening this summer?

• Every third Friday from May through October, Main Street Chanute will host a Cruise Night for individuals to cruise downtown Main Street.

• The Main Street Chanute Farmers Market is held every Tuesday from 5-6:30 p.m. at the downtown pavilion.

• MIRZA SEKCATS Car Show in Katy Park on Saturday, June 15, from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

• City of Chanute Fireworks Show on Saturday, July 6, in Santa Fe Park.

Historic Santa Fe Depot

What landmarks or historical sites might visitors enjoy?

Chanute has a Veterans Memorial located near the Santa Fe Sports Complex that highlights U.S. conflicts as well as recognizing veterans.

In the heart of downtown is a memorial to Octave Chanute and the Wright Brothers. Mr. Chanute was a mentor to the Wrights and is the town’s namesake.

An 1872 160-foot bowstring arch bridge is located in Santa Fe Park as part of the city’s hike/bike path. It originally spanned the Neosho River east of Chanute and prior was used to get livestock and crops to the railhead in Chanute.

Chanute Veterans Memorial

What accommodation options are available for tourists?

Chanute has four motels in addition to a hunting lodge and a number of Airbnb properties. The city has an RV campground as part of Santa Fe Park with 30 pull-through sites, a dump station and showers.

What are the must-try dishes or restaurants?

Chanute has several locally owned restaurants that feature local specialties such as lasagna roll-ups, smashburgers, all-day breakfast and chicken fried steak. In addition, there are two local restaurants featuring handmade Mexican food.

Can you share any insider tips or local secrets that might enhance a visitor’s experience?

The city has two older cemeteries dating back to the 19th century. Individual tours of several attractions can be scheduled. Wednesday mornings will find the local car club having coffee at Howard’s Toys for Big Boys.

Are there any outdoor recreational opportunities that visitors can enjoy during the summer?

The Maring Aquatic Center has a lazy river, water slide and lap pool that is open during the summer months.

There are three fully accessible playgrounds at three local parks.

Santa Fe Park has a lake that is open for fishing and has shelters for picnics as well as a retired locomotive that can be climbed on and investigated.

There are two hike/bike trails within the city limits.

Cardinal Drug Store & Gift

Are there any day trips or nearby attractions that you recommend combining with a visit to your town?

Chanute is within approximately one hour from the majority of the tourist attractions in southeast Kansas. One can make Chanute “home base” and visit locations such as Big Brutus, Little House on the Prairie and the Dalton Defenders Museum.

Can you provide any recommendations for scenic drives or picturesque routes in and around the area?

Chanute is located in a rural area of southeast Kansas. There are several country roads that provide good viewing for amazing Kansas sunsets!

Are there any famous or noteworthy residents, past or present, that visitors might find interesting to learn about?

Octave Chanute was a mentor to the Wright Brothers and is considered the “father of aviation.” He visited Chanute as a railroad engineer in the late 1800s and recommended the four townships come together to be considered for a larger rail stop. They did and named the town after him. In addition to other engineering feats, Chanute designed the Chicago and Kansas City Stockyards as well as the Hannibal Bridge in Kansas City, which was the first across the Missouri River in that area.

Osa Johnson was from Chanute and her husband, Martin, was from Independence, KS. They are famed photographers and filmmakers who were the first to send back the sound of a lion roaring for U.S. movie audiences to hear.

Howard’s Toys for Big Boys

How do you feel about your town, and what do you hope visitors will take away from their time here?

Chanute is a friendly community with people who care about their neighbors. We hope visitors will enjoy that friendliness and the attractions, retailers and restaurants that make our community of approximately 9,000 residents a wonderful place to visit and to live.

Summit Hill Gardens

Where can visitors go or look for more information or to start planning their trip?

The Chanute Area Chamber of Commerce & Office of Tourism website –


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