Topeka is the capital city of the state of Kansas. Located in the north-east region of the state, the city was founded on the banks of the Kansas River in the mid-1850s and quickly developed into an important river port. Topeka is a highly cultural city and has many museums, theaters, and art galleries, although not so many preserved historic buildings compared with other US cities of the same era due to the major structural damage caused by a tornado in 1966. The best places to go to discover facts about Topeka's past while you're in the city is the Kansas Museum of History or the Ward-Meade Historic Site which is an outdoor museum set out in the style of an 1800s prairie town.
Topographically, Topeka is a low-lying, but widespread city covering a total area of almost sixty-two square miles, with broad avenues and few high rise towers. If you plan on exploring the city by foot during the spring or summer, make sure to carry an umbrella with you as those are the times when the city receives its heaviest rainfall. That's a fact that can put a dampener on outdoor fun for both residents and visitors alike when there's a steady downpour one day out of every three.
Get away from the constant drizzle by getting together with some friends, packing up a rig, and heading out on a week-long road trip from Topeka to Providence in Rhode Island. Once you're away from Kansas, stop off at lakes to enjoy some exciting watersports, go bird watching or hunting, go hiking through a state park with unusual rock formations, and visit a haunted cave. There are some fantastic campgrounds to pitch camp at along the way as well as a great winery where you can chill out on a dock overlooking the water. They're all activities which definitely beat sitting around waiting for the thundery storm clouds of Topeka to disperse.
Leave Topeka on the I 70 heading eastwards out of Kansas and into the state of Missouri. While there is no shortage of lakes in Missouri, an ideal place to pull up for a variety of water sports is the Blue Springs Lake. The picturesque lake is on the Missouri side of Kansas City near the small town of Lees Summit. There are two campgrounds in Fleming Park that encompasses Blue Springs Lake, as well as Lake Jacomo, if you decide you want to pitch up there for the night.
Blue Springs Lake is a seven-hundred acre reservoir with two marinas and several boat ramps. At the lake, you can do just about every type of water-related activity you could hope for. Go kayaking or canoeing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, jet skiing or tubing. If water sports are not your idea of fun, there are hiking trails around the lake, fishing docks, and even an airfield for flying model craft.
As you continue motoring through Missouri on your RV road trip from Topeka to Providence with your friends, stop off at the Ferguson-Herald Conservation Area for a couple of hours to get back in touch with nature in one of two ways. The conservation area is situated a couple of miles south of Bates City off the I 70 and along Walton Road where there is a parking facility.
The Ferguson-Herald Conservation Area is one-hundred and seventy-five acres of mixed terrains ranging from grass-covered hills to prairie and woodland. The grounds are accessible from four in the morning until ten in the evening for either bird watching or hunting. There are strict guidelines in place for all hunting activities so check them out before you go to make sure you stay within the law as far seasons and bag limits go.
If you're going spotting rather than shooting, keep an eye out for the red-feathered northern cardinal and to be on the safe side, wear something as brightly colored as the bird.
As you're heading further through Missouri on the I 70 take a break from the highway to go hiking, biking or caving in a state park with a difference. The Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is just south of the city of Columbia close to the rural community of Pierpoint. The park is day-use only and so there is no campground for RVs there. The Finger Lakes State Park to the north of Columbia is a convenient spot to camp particularly if you want to do some off-roading on your road trip from Topeka to Providence.
Park up then set out to explore the terrains of the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park on foot or two wheels and you'll be amazed at the karst landscapes you find. There are trails running through dense woodlands where around almost every turn you'll find caves to explore, sinkholes, and rock bridges with streams flowing through them. It can be a disorientating place to be so pick up a map from the visitor center before setting out and take a compass. If you don't know how to use one the rangers will give you a quick lesson. Take a picnic and some drinks with you because when you start tramping or biking through these woods you won't want to leave.
Just because you're on a road trip and maybe camping out in primitive campgrounds along the route doesn't mean you can't indulge in a sophisticated afternoon or night out once in a while. After you've navigated your way around St Louis, crossed the Missouri-Illinois state border and are nearing Pocahontas, turn off the I 70 onto Pokey Road and you'll find the Copper Dock Winery. While there are no state park campgrounds near the winery, there are several privately-run ones in the vicinity where you can pitch camp if you decide to make a party of it.
The Copper Dock Winery occupies a super scenic position on the shores of a small lake. A better spot to spend some social time with your road trip buddies would be hard to find. The restaurant and bar of the winery is built on a two-tiered wooden dock jutting out into the water.
For one night of your road trip, there will be no arguing about which of your friends will be in charge of the grill as you tuck into some pulled pork nachos followed by a buffalo chicken topped pizza. There's a wine tasting room on the premises too and live music for entertainment at the weekends, though sitting on the dock to watch the sunset on the lake would be hard to compete with.
When you're motoring through Indiana on your week-long RV road trip from Topeka to Providence and are ready to look for a campground, go no further than the Lieber State Recreation Area. The recreation area is one of two that is situated on the shore of Cagles Mill Lake. The other is the Cataract Falls State Recreation which is a short drive further south
The Lieber State Recreation Area is a fantastic spot to pitch up for a couple of days. The campground there has over one-hundred and twenty campsites for RVs both with and without hook-ups. In the summertime, you and your friends can enjoy making a splash in the lake's water park which opens to the public on Memorial Day.
There are trails to hike, basketball courts, and horseshoe pits to challenge each other to a game of skill as well as fishing piers and boat ramps. If you just want to spend time quietly floating over the lake, pontoon and boat rentals are available from the ranger station.
As you head into Ohio on your RV road trip, make a diverse stop to see how your friends react. They may well enjoy what you have planned for them, but then again, they might not speak to you for the rest of the vacation.
The Lewisburg Haunted Cave is an underground, horror-themed cave in the suburbs of Lewisburg that will give you and your buddies something to remember and probably a few recurring nightmares too.
To get to the cave, leave the I 70 at junction 10 and head north along the US 40. Once you see the signs to the cave start to get prepared for the scare of your life.
There are not too many theme parks that are mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records, but this one is, as the world's longest haunted house. Enter at your peril into the labyrinth of dark passageways eighty feet underground where creepy beings lurk around every turn. It's a scream a minute as you progress through the caves so don't be surprised if your hair has turned white by the time you come out.
After getting spooked in the haunted cave, plan a more sedate visit to somewhere that combines the great outdoors with history and a touch of film star glamour. The Malabar Farm State Park, located near Lucas in Ohio, is a working farm that has been used as a film set as well as a wedding venue for the stars. There are various heritage days held there throughout the year so check before you go to see if one coincides with your road trip from Topeka to Providence.
At the center of the farm's five-hundred acres of rolling green hills is the enormous mansion-style farmhouse, now a museum, that was home to author and conservationist, Louis Bromfield. Explore inside then jump aboard a hay wagon for a pioneering-style ride around the grounds. There are many well-restored buildings to be seen including the Pugh Cabin that was used as a location in the Shawshank Redemption movie.
Make the last stop on the road trip with your friends a sensational one by camping out at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It's an incredible spot on the Delaware River near the state border of Pennsylvania that incorporates almost every type of landscape imaginable from mountains to valleys and ravines, forests, streams, and waterfalls, as well as historic villages. Pitch up among the trees in the Dingman Campground and you'll be in an idyllic setting by the river.
Once you've settled in, go hiking some of the one hundred plus miles of trails, go paddling in a kayak or canoe along the forty miles of scenic river, photograph the flora or waterfalls or do some wildlife spotting then explore the Millbrook Village. There's so much to do at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area you could easily spend a week there and still not run out of new things to do or see.
After spending time in the quiet setting of the Delaware Water Gap, the buzz of Rhode Island's capital, Providence will come as quite a shock. There's no avoiding the crowds either if you want to watch the city's fantastic annual WaterFire event in the Waterplace Park. Bonfires are set alight on the river, boats float downstream lit by blazing torches, and there's live music to add to the atmosphere. It's a truly magical way to end your road trip from Topeka.