Disclosure: Kansas I-70 Association sponsored this post. However, all opinions and photographs are my own.
Have you ever driven into a town for the first time and instantly fell in love with it? Bonner Springs, Kansas won me over for its small-town charm and big-city attractions. Located off of KS I-70 Exit 224, the community promises visitors a warm welcome and a multitude of things to do.
I spent an overnight stay in Bonner Springs, which I was glad for because between sunrise and sunset I was busy exploring and needed the extra time. My first stop? Checking into my lodging accommodations at Comfort Inn (13041 Ridge Drive) and gearing up for a day of fun.
Although the hotel is a short drive to downtown Bonner Springs, it is conveniently located near the Hollywood Casino, Kansas Speedway, and Legends Outlets should you decide to stay in the northeast part of the state for more than a weekend. I appreciate Comfort Inn for always providing the travel amenities I want when on the road.
Guests have access to a complimentary hot breakfast, indoor heated pool and hot tub, as well as an up-to-date fitness center with treadmills. The rooms are quiet and spacious – two must-haves for exhausted travelers who want a place to relax after a day of exploring Bonner Springs. Parking was a non-issue despite the fact the hotel stays busy with guest arrivals.
TEN & TWO COFFEE
I was curious about a coffee shop that I heard was on the same property as a members-only automotive club, The Fuel House. Caffeine is my fuel, so I had to find out more.
Sure enough, as I drove into the gravel parking lot, I spied the sign for Ten & Two Coffee (611 W. 2nd Street). One of three locations, the Bonner Springs cafe was located inside a 100-year-old converted warehouse. The entire space was massive. Needless to say, the coffee bar lived up to my expectations.
Not only does Ten & Two prepare specialty drinks and drip coffee, but they also serve breakfast sandwiches and pastries. A steady flow of customers consisting of locals and out-of-towners came in the door while I enjoyed a homemade cinnamon roll and a cup of signature coffee from a comfortable couch.
I spied beer on draft and a menu of specialty cocktails behind the coffee bar. Sure enough, Ten & Two transforms into a taproom after dark.
The lounge was decorated with high-end furnishes that appeared to be handpicked by a designer with an eye for a modern aesthetic. Pendant mercury bulb lighting. A pool table with new felt. Comfortable seating in an adjacent bonus room. An inviting space, it was only part of a larger complex.
THE FUEL HOUSE
Within view of the coffee shop is a window that divides the public space from a members-only, automotive country club, The Fuel House. I was given a private tour of the indoor garage that serves as a place where motorheads gather to work on their cars and chat with like-minded enthusiasts.
The owners’ wanted a place where members could also unwind and relax so they converted another area of the warehouse into a high-end whiskey lounge, only steps from a cigar room. I was shocked at the level of sophistication of both spaces, but considering the high-dollar cars housed on-site, it made perfect sense.
Members of The Fuel House have one thing in common – they love cars. They also appreciate a place where they can watch the game on an oversized TV, sip on the finest whiskey, or listen to music while puffing on a cigar from their own humidor locker.
To learn more about becoming a member and see a photo of the whiskey lounge, visit the website.
So far, the people of Bonner Springs were impressive. They greeted me with a warm welcome everywhere I went. Each time I met someone, they raved about their own town. Repeatedly, locals told me that they chose to live in Bonner Springs for its family atmosphere and proximity to Kansas City. The town was quickly winning me over, too.
I drove a few blocks from The Fuel House to the Historic Downtown District to do a little shopping. Correction: A lot of shopping. Within three short blocks, I saw numerous boutiques. A few appealing eateries. I was delighted. I parked the car and set out on foot to see what I could find. My wallet was burning a hole in my pocket.
KAREN’S COUNTRY KITCHEN
Karen’s Country Kitchen (300 Oak St.) is a retail/grocery store specialized in Amish food. The owner’s mother welcomed me to the store and gave me a quick tour. When she mentioned that they carried about 100 different kinds of cheese, it was game on!
The tiny store was stocked to the gills with packaged seasonings, jams, and retro candies. The refrigerated case teased shoppers with whole cheesecakes, ice cream treats, and copious amounts of cheeses and meats. The food store is the place where neighbors visit with one another and the town’s sheriff stops by for a to-go snack.
The employees couldn’t stop telling me about a soup starter kit that tasted like stuffed bell peppers. (Full Disclosure: I came home to Wichita and prepared the soup for lunch in the weeks following my trip to Bonner Springs. It lived up to the hype, and so did the ham and bean soup that I also made the same week.)
If you’re someone who appreciates knowing where their food comes from, Karen’s Country Kitchen is the place to shop. Every package’s label lists a farmer or maker by name including the town where the food was sourced.
When en route to Kansas City, I’ll make a special stop in Bonner Springs at Karen’s Country Kitchen for the finest in Amish food products. If you can’t stop by, shop the online store, and have items shipped directly to your home. Home cooks can shop on this website page.
THE WONKY DOTTE
One of the newest stories downtown, The Wonky Dotte (204 Oak St.) is a gift shop where shoppers are bound to find something that makes them smile. I giggled my way through the retail store as I perused racks of socks with comical sayings and drink glasses perfect for parties.
Owned and operated by female entrepreneurs, it’s the kind of place where they serve wine slushies or mimosas for special events.
I couldn’t resist chatting with one of the owners as she prepared for Wine in the Dotte, a sip and shop event held that evening along Oak Street. I liked the store owners’ unapologetically funny sense of humor. They loved their job and they clearly had fun at work.
If you don’t find the ideal gift for someone, they will custom create it for you. Their staff can print any word or phrase onto apparel or drinkware. Now, that’s great customer service. View the store’s hours to plan your visit.
As they say, “shopping is a hoot” at Owl-R-Junk Boutique (127 Oak St.). Homeowners who like to decorate will feel right at home shopping for everything from monogrammed coffee cups and wall art to holiday decor and doggie bowls.
I fixated on the front display showcasing a Christmas tree and shelves of miniature gnomes. They certainly know just what shoppers are looking for during the holiday season.
Walking to the back of the store, you’re greeted by colorful Kansas City Chiefs apparel. Think of it like a fan zone filled with something for every football fan. They also carry a large inventory of women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories for any occasion.
My heart always starts to beat a little faster when I walk into an antique store. The perk of shopping at Yowza Antiques (205 Oak St.) is that shoppers will find old items as well as new retail intermixed on the showroom floor.
Say for example that you’re on the hunt for items for a photo shoot or to gift to someone who collects vintage sit-abouts, you’re in luck. The store is filled with retro finds. Perhaps you’re more in the mood to shop for a new candle or a pretty piece of jewelry. Yowza Antiques is one-stop shopping.
Visit the Facebook page to see the newest inventory and doorbuster deals. They publish live videos with insider tips for future sales. Heck, you might even catch them drawing names for a prize giveaway.
WOODLAND & WILLOW
What started as an online business grew to a boutique store when Woodland & Willow‘s owner decided to open a brick-and-mortar space to sell women’s apparel and home decor. The shop (128 Oak St.) has received rave reviews on social media for its trendy clothes.
During my visit, I eyed a t-shirt featuring Dolly Parton that I couldn’t live without. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be because the store was out of my shirt size. But wait!
I found just what I was searching for… a knit headwrap to keep my ears warm just in time for winter. And the price was reasonable – score!
The clothing inventory includes the latest trends. Serious shoppers should also follow the store’s Instagram and Facebook VIP group pages to learn about the newest additions.
GOOD VIBE SOCIETY
The store’s name alone drew me inside. Good Vibe Society (221 Oak St.) carries a plethora of clothing pieces to match any woman’s style in every size.
When you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy, visit the boutique to peruse racks of tops, jumpsuits, rompers, and dresses. Shoes complete every outfit and you’re sure to find a pair that complements your look.
New to the neighborhood, they’ve earned a loyal following. Farmhouse-style decor, t-shirts imprinted with positive sayings, and go-to gifts for friends who need a good laugh are just what fans flock to the store in search of. Preview the latest inventory for sale on their Instagram page.
THIRD SPACE COFFEE
When more than one person in town tells you to eat lunch at Third Space Coffee (226 Oak St.), you do it. Of course, the coffee shop serves dynamite drinks and pastries, but it’s the fresh-made sandwiches that draw a mid-day crowd. I took my place in line.
A firefighter standing in line behind me said I couldn’t go wrong with any of the sandwich options and that I should also “order the brownie.” My turkey avocado bacon sandwich was served on pillow-soft bread with a side of chips. I settled into a cozy seat near the rear of the cafe and watched as customers made their way to the counter.
Coffee shops are often a place for the community to gather and enjoy an espresso or meal with conversation. If you prefer reading while sipping a latté, check out the “Borrow a Book or Buy It $1” display in the rear of the cafe.
The Wi-Fi is free. The coffee is flavorsome and the food is so good you won’t have a single crumb left on your plate. View Third Space Coffee’s hours here.
MOON MARBLE COMPANY
One of the top attractions in Bonner Springs is the Moon Marble Company (600 E. Front St.). Travelers come from miles away to watch artist/owner Bruce Breslow demonstrate how to make marbles. In fact, the store’s annual Marble Crazy event draws artists from around the country to learn from one another.
Breslow, who started as a woodworker, is passionate about his craft. He took me around the retail area of the store to teach me the difference between marbles. Some marbles are used in competition while others with ornate designs and for display purposes.
I was impressed when he placed one particular marble under a light to show off its black light effect. His face lit up as he told me what goes into making one-of-a-kind designs like “Alien Swirl.”
He is also known for designing miniature glass sculptures. Ask him to show you his design of eggs and bacon in a frying pan. You’ll discover more whimsical designs as you tour the shop. All of his creations are made with beautiful Italian glass and created on-site at his workbench.
As of now, shoppers are asked to schedule their visits in advance. Once inside, the world of marbles and toys envelopes you. Everywhere you look there are colorful displays of blown glass and marbles. Moon Marble Company also specializes in carrying a large inventory of retro games and traditional toys. I had never seen so many board games for sale in one place.
If your kids complain that they’re bored, take them to Moon Marble Company for a visit. They’ll be in awe of the toys at every turn. Many of the games in stock are ideal for adults. Party planning? Need a gift for someone? The store carries timeless classics as well as trending games ideal for group play.
As they say, “please call to visit the moon” ahead of arriving at (913) 441-1432. Once you arrive, you’ll soon realize that you’ve arrived at a place unlike any other.
WYANDOTTE COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM
After driving in circles trying to locate the Wyandotte County Historical Museum (631 N. 126th St.), I realized that it was located within Wyandotte County Park. A curvy road led to the historical museum, but to my disappointment, it was closed despite the posted hours. I would have to return another day to view their exhibits, which often include rotating collections of unique items specific to the area with a focus on community stories from the 1950s to the present.
But not all was lost. I learned about the historical significance of the area from the outdoor exhibits, which referenced tribal ancestry. As the sign reads below, the Wyandot people who lived in Ohio were moved to this location. To read more about their friendship with the Shawnee tribe, visit this informative website.
Also located in front of the Wyandotte County Historical Museum rests the World War II Bomber Builders Monument to honor the aviation workers of Kansas City, Kansas who built over 6,000 bombers. Women fulfilled many roles at the Fairfax Bomber plant since men were overseas serving their country during the war.
Admission to the museum is free. To plan your visit and view upcoming exhibits, glance at their information page here.
Other nearby attractions include the National Agriculture Center and Hall of Fame (630 N. 126th St.) dedicated to celebrating the American farmer and rancher. Get a glimpse of farm life as a group or during a self-guided tour. Plan your visit here. The suggested donation is $5.
The best place to eat authentic, drool-worthy barbecue in Bonner Springs is Quentin’s BBQ (611 W. 2nd St.) I returned to the same complex where I enjoyed breakfast at Ten & Two Coffee to order dinner from the food truck’s window. I was told it was the place to be on Thursday nights.
Let me tell you something. I’ve eaten at most of the barbecue joints in the Kansas City area, but this one served some of the best-tasting smoked meat that I’ve enjoyed. The sliced brisket, pulled pork, and burnt ends were exceptional. I wasn’t about to sacrifice any of it just because I was full. It was worth packing the leftovers on ice until I could get them home to Wichita to share with others.
Quentin’s BBQ is so popular that they’ve since opened in a restaurant located at the same site as Ten & Two Coffee and The Fuel House. If the dining room is full, take your specialty sandwich or meaty meal outdoors to enjoy on the patio. Afterward, play a lawn game or head inside the complex for dessert at Olde Mill Ice Cream.
Olde Mill Ice Cream Shop
Take your choice of over a dozen Blue Bell ice cream flavors at Olde Mill Ice Cream Shop (611 W. 2nd St.) A sucker for comfort food, I chose a cup of Blueberry Cobbler. They can also serve scoops of your favorite flavor inside a plain or flavored waffle cone.
If ice cream floats are more your thing, they’ve got you covered. Choose from one of eight flavors from the Stubborn Soda fountain. Open during evening hours, the dessert shop also serves customers milkshakes and ice cream sandwiches.
What could be better than ice cream for dessert after a delicious barbecue meal?
Bonner Springs blew my socks off. From the attractions to the shopping and delicious meals, I loved visiting the area. With almost a dozen boutiques located in the historic downtown area, I’ll return to do more shopping. Besides, the people were incredibly kind and I want to see them again.
Do you love the outdoors? I’m told that adventure seekers like to test their skills at ZipKC. I have a massive fear of heights, so let me know if you enjoy the zip-lining tours through trees. Golfers may enjoy taking to the links at Sunflower Hills Golf Course.
Some people refer to Bonner Springs as a “playground of attractions,” and it’s easy to see why the area draws tourists to its vibrant community. Are you ready to visit?