I'm off to see the Wizard, in Wamego Kansas, because sometimes there really is no place like home!
Updated: Jun 4
Wamego is a small town in Kansas. They have taken the Wizard of Oz theme, ran with it, and really done a fantastic job! Spend a day here, and you will be transported to a colorful, Oz infused, feast for the eyes. Although they have gone to great lengths to make you feel like a whirling tornado transported you to the Land Of Oz, there is so much more to see and do in Wamego. It is a small town, with a great big identity...come and spend a day, or maybe two!
Getting there: Highway 99, between interstate 70 and Wamego, has been officially designated as the "Road to Oz."
But no matter which direction you "blow" into town from, there is no mistaking, you have arrived!
First up, let's get down to what you came for, the Wizard of Oz stuff!
If you did indeed come here for Oz, then the The Oz Museum, a tribute to all things Oz, is a must see. With over 2,000 items, it is one of the largest private collections of Oz memorabilia and in 2021 was included in USA Today's "Best Pop Culture Museum" list.
Pictured above: Some of the artwork on the exterior of the building....
Pictured below: Some of my favorite things from inside the museum.
and of course the characters....
I have created a more in depth post for the Oz Museum, click this link if your interested. "All things Oz, the Oz Museum, Wamego Kansas."
Now's the time to strap on those ruby red slippers Dorothy, and follow that yellow brick road! You'll find it directly across from the museum.
There are 15 simply adorable Toto statues around Wamego, "Totos Around Town" they call them. Make a game of searching them out on your own, or pick up a map. Maps are available at several locations around town. I got my at the museum in the park.
Seriously, how cute are they!?
Below: my personal favorites. L to R: Service Dog Toto, Community Toto, and Emerald City Toto.
Hungry yet? Stop by Toto's Tacoz for some tasty Cal-Mex.
Toto's Tacoz has lots of fun OZ memorabilia, and menu items with names like "Emerald City Street Tacos," "Tin Man Burrito," "Uncle Henry or Auntie Em's Nacho."
Another popular place to eat in town is the Friendship House. In addition to serving breakfast and lunch, they offer homemade baked goods.
I can personally vouch for the Belgian waffle (get it with strawberries and homemade whipped cream!), the cherry kolache, the cinnamon rolls, and the French toast...delicious! I still need to try the Bierocks, served only on Saturday's I'm told. I believe they have frozen Bierock, available for purchase anytime.
Now that your belly is full, how about a walk in the park? Wamego has a beautiful park, that any town would be proud of. Here are a few photos of the park, but I think it deserves its own page. If you would like to see more of the park, follow this link to my Wamego City Park page.
Don't miss the war memorial, found just on the outskirts of the park, also covered here in the Wamego City Park page.
The Wamego Historical Museum is also located inside the park. The Museum property houses several historical buildings, which were moved here from various locations around Pottawatomie County. Inside, you will find it packed full of historical items from around Wamego, and the surrounding area. The museum is also covered under the Wamego City park page.
While we are on the subject of history, did you know that Walter P. Chrysler, the founder of Chrysler Corporation, was born in Wamego? His birthplace can still be found in town. There isn't much to see, but it seems this is the house that took out the Wicked Witch of the West...so I got this fun picture! Find it located next to the McDonalds on Highway 24.
If you like wine, there are two places in town that may interest you. First up the Oz Winery, where you can choose from wines with whimsical names like "Squished Witch," "Emerald City Lights," "Yellow Brick Road," "Flying Money," and "Drunken Munchkin,"....and many more! Check out their handmade chocolates and gourmet cheeses too.
Highland Community College's Wamego Campus has a viticulture certification program. They allow self-guided tours of their vineyards.
After you check out the vineyards, you can stop in for a glass of wine at 456 Wineries, sort of a communal space for up and coming winemakers. They call it a winery incubator!
9 miles south of town is the Plumlee Buffalo Ranch, a 400 acre working ranch. They offer visitors private tours of their ranch. Let Shirley Plumlee show you around their place. You'll get up close, and personal, with animals that have been roaming Kansas for centuries. Tours are by appointment only.
Whew, we covered a lot there. I can assure you, I didn't cover it all. Wamego has a population of just 4,500. It is hard to believe that there is so much to see in a town of that size. If you love the Wizard of Oz, Wamego is a must see/do. While you likely won't find any lions, tigers, or bears here, you will be treated to one big OZtravaganza, oh my!
Also of interest:
The Columbian Theater: built in 1895, it still offers live theater productions throughout the year.
OZtober Fest : food, vendors, entertainment, costume contests...one big celebration, centered around The Wizard of Oz, every October.
Tulip Festival: each spring, you'll find thousands of tulips in bloom, and all manner of food, vendors and fun.
Independence Day Celebration, Wamego has one of the biggest fireworks displays in the state, in addition to a carnival, car show, tractor show, parade, concerts, food, drink, and more.
and don't forget to click through for more in depth on: