Disclosure: Kansas Tourism sponsored this post. However, all opinions and photographs are my own.
If you love delving deep into the history of The Sunflower State, there is no better town to start the journey than Coffeyville, Kansas. The town is proud of its legacy and boasts many entertaining things to do during your visit. From outlaws and aviators to entrepreneurs and artists, Coffeyville sets itself apart.
Let my overnight itinerary guide your visitors through the Montgomery County town of over 8,000 people, a place you’ll be glad you experienced.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Coffeyville
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Coffeyville (8701 Northeast St.) has received over 500 nearly perfect ratings and for a good reason. I received a warm welcome from the front desk employee, who informed me of the hotel’s amenities, including a complimentary breakfast, an indoor heated pool, and a fitness center.
The King Room, featuring modern amenities, had plenty of room for a solo traveler like me. When I wasn’t touring the town, I appreciated the functional desk where I could get work done.
PRO TIP: Get a sneak peek at the hotel’s accommodations by viewing its online photo gallery here.
BRING YOUR APPETITE
Terebinth Coffee House & Roastery
The first stop on any traveler’s itinerary in Coffeyville must be Terebinth Coffee House & Roastery (232 W. 9th), where owners Matthew and Madison Frech, and their fabulous staff, turn out delectable coffee drinks and restaurant-quality food. Inspired by a love of community, the coffee shop is a relaxing space with multiple areas to chat with locals or unwind.
Unsure of what I wanted to order initially, the café manager patiently guided me to the menu’s top selections. I ordered a London Fog (Twinnings Earl Grey Tea with foam) and a savory cheddar bacon scone. With the smell of freshly roasted coffee as the backdrop, I watched locals approach the counter to order brewed House Favorite Lattés and espresso drinks before sitting down to read their newspaper or laptop.
I was surprised by the breadth of menu items, including fruit smoothies, grilled paninis, toasted sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, parfaits, and freshly prepared salads. On this particular visit, aka Make a Difference Monday, a portion of the café sales returned to the community. If possible, I think my scone and hot tea tasted even better.
PRO TIP: Check the reach-in cooler case left of the coffee counter for grab-and-go menu selections.
Where do you eat when nearly every local you ask suggests the same place? El Pueblito (600 Northeast St.). The Mexican restaurant serves a traditional classic menu plus a full bar of drinks at Cantina Margaritaville (the locals rave about the margaritas!).
At lunchtime, the service is swift despite a full dining room of guests. While browsing the extensive, I ate a basket of warm tortilla chips with impressive homemade salsa. The #3 Lunch Special – Ground Beef Taco & Enchilada served with rice and beans, a tasty meal for the value.
PRO TIP: The menu is multiple pages, so preview the menu so you don’t feel rushed when ordering.
Cherokee Casino Bar & Grill
When it’s dinnertime, drive to Cherokee Casino Bar & Grill (1506 N. Highway) in South Coffeyville to dine on comfort classics before playing the slots or tempt your tastebuds with appetizers and drinks between wins.
I couldn’t resist ordering a Midwest favorite, Chicken-Fried Beef Steak with fried okra and cole slaw. Served with a complimentary iced tea or fountain drink, it curbed my cravings while I watched gamblers try to defy the odds at slot machines. Jackpot bells rang. The speaker played music from the 90s.
PRO TIP: You don’t have to play casino games to enjoy a meal at the bar and grill. If you go, ask about menu, like an Indian Taco or Breaded Shrimp.
Sunflower Soda Fountain, Hometown Diner & Coffee Shop
Made-from-scratch food is a major draw at Sunflower Soda Fountain (125 W. 8th St). in downtown Coffeyville. Good ol’ conversation between locals commences over plates of stacked sandwiches and sliced homemade pie. And Supreme Sundaes like Roosevelt Drive Cherry Chocolate Chip or Cedar Bluff Pecan Caramel Sundae and a short list of shakes and malts keep the soda fountain busy.
Just like the Facebook review read, the staff was incredibly friendly, and the service was attentive. The hometown diner feels comfortable “just like sitting at Grandma’s house.” How many sunflowers will you spot during your visit to the restaurant?
PRO TIP: Take a few minutes to admire the locally made art near the entrance.
ICEE Frozen Slushie at Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce
Did you know the original ICEE frozen slushie was created in Coffeyville? I wasn’t leaving town without buying a $3 drink at the Coffeyville Area Chamber of Commerce’s office! What’s the history behind the popular drink? It comes down to one man’s honest mistake.
Oman Knedlik, owner of a Dairy Queen in town, improvised by freezing Coke until it was half frozen. The “coldest drink in town” grew popular, so he invited a machine that produced the icy concoction on demand.
PRO TIP: Check the Coffeyville Area Chamber of Commerce hours before visiting for an ICEE. Cash or credit cards are accepted.
TAKE A TOUR
Dalton Defenders Museum & Dalton Death Alley
If you only have enough time to make it to one destination in Coffeyville, it must be Dalton Defenders Museum (814 S. Walnut St.). It is the place to start your history journey through town.
When a group of outlaws, The Dalton Gang, thought they could pull off two bank robberies at once in October 1892, they didn’t expect the townspeople to fight back, let alone win. Dalton Defenders Museum includes authentic artifacts from the shoot-out and rooms of collected local memorabilia. The museum serves as a tribute to the citizens who died.
The outlaw gang (Grat, Bob, and Emmett Dalton with Bill Powers and Dick Broadwell) had been tracked by US Marshalls for weeks before they arrived in Coffeyville to rob two banks simultaneously. When stalled by a bank employee for a delayed safe release, the community armed themselves and prepared for a gunfight.
A battle ensued outside CM Condon & Co. Bank and the First National Bank. Gallant citizens returned fire, killing the gang, except for Emmett. He was shot multiple times, survived, and served 15 years in prison.
Locals stripped the gang of their personal artifacts, cut pieces from their clothes, and took their guns. Today, those historical relics are on display at Dalton Defenders Museum. Visitors should start their self-guided tour by watching a 45-minute movie before taking up to an hour to view the museum’s contents.
Located next door, visitors can walk Dalton Death Alley. It’s where the outlaws tied their horses up during the bank raids and the location of part of the shootout. Today, cartoon boards tell the story of the raid.
PRO TIP: Ask the Dalton Defender Museum’s employee to show you the original bank door with bullet holes.
Isham Hardware Store
“Everyone, grab a gun!” During the Dalton Gang bank raid, Coffeyville citizens obtained guns from Isham Hardware (810 Union St.). The business still operates today, selling every tool, bolt, or belt needed for household or farm chores.
I took a cargo elevator to the basement to view the original owner’s shelves and hardware backstock. Although the basement’s windows were filled in, the openings provided a place where he could fire at the bank robbers.
PRO TIP: Ask the owner if you can look at some of their oldest hardware.
Located at Elmwood Cemetery (288 Eldridge St), the graves of Bob Dalton, Grat Dalton, and Bill Powers lie in rest near a marker. Dick Broadwell’s family returned his body to Hutchinson, Kansas. Do you see the pipe near the tombstone in the photo below? It is the original hitching rail the bank robbers used to tie up their horses in Death Alley.
PRO TIP: Follow the signs to the marker after entering the cemetery. You can park on a road parallel to the gravesite, so accessibility is not an issue.
There is a chance you’ve never seen anything like it. The Sculpture Garden (2002 N. Buckeye) is the home of over 70 creative chainsaw sculptures carved from trees. A project of the Coffeyville Community College art department, it continues to expand its collection. Aliens, animals, school supplies, vegetables – you probably find a photo-worthy sculpture on site.
PRO TIP: Across the street, Orscheln Hall hosts fine arts events. View the calendar.
Downtown Mural & Electric Box Art
You don’t have to travel through the heart of Coffeyville very long before you spot a mural or painted electric box. Most of the murals were painted by the late Don Sprague and depict the people and places that put Coffeyville on the map. He painted 14 murals from 1988-1992.
Each painted electric box in the downtown area is painted by a local artist. The brightly colored scenes on each one vary in subject matter.
PRO TIP: View the city’s website for Sprague mural locations.
Coffeyville Aviation Heritage Museum
History buffs and airplane enthusiasts will love Coffeyville Aviation Heritage Museum (2002 N. Buckeye St.) for its extensive collection of restored aircraft and artifacts. The 1930s-era hangar houses displays featuring local pilots, including several who flew as Tuskegee airmen or Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) female pilots during World War II. Framed color photographs adorn the walls in a deviated room to celebrate their milestone moments.
Restored planes, including those owned by Joe Funk, sit on display. I was delighted to learn that Coffeyville residents were pivotal in developing aircraft and aircraft parts. Funk Aircraft Company built 365 planes, 200 still fly today. Walking amongst the planes, honorary medals, and pilot uniforms makes for an unforgettable experience.
PRO TIP: Admission is free, and donations are welcome. Sign the guestbook and introduce yourself to the volunteers on duty. They are a wealth of information, especially about the Republic F-84 Thunderjet on display outside.
The Brown Mansion
Sitting atop a hill on the edge of town, The Brown Mansion (2109 S. Walnut) makes an impression on passersby. Originally designed for a family with three children, the 16-room mansion was designed and completed for $125,000 in 1904. Inside, the home features entertainment spaces, including a library, billiard room, and parlor. Multiple fireplaces of various designs are evidence of Wilder and Wight’s architectural style.
Despite my best efforts, I could not tour the mansion during business hours due to the docent’s schedule. I strolled the home’s property, noting its size and scale compared to other homes. I walked to a Kansas Historical Marker about Frontier in Montgomery County, located on the edge of the front driveway, where I learned about The Sturgis Treaty signed in 1868.
PRO TIP: Locals mentioned that viewing Brown Mansion at Christmas is worthwhile. Check the museum’s website hours, call ahead to schedule a private tour, or ask about upcoming events. Tour times vary.
Walter Johnson Park
Your entire family will find a reason to love Walter Johnson Park (701 Hargis Dr.), named after the town’s early resident and Baseball Hall of Famer who pitched for the Washington Senators from 1907-1927. A monument plaque with his biography is near the baseball field’s entrance.
Nearby one of the park’s entrances, an ATSF steam locomotive is an eye-catching site. The train engine is a tribute to “The Big Train” Walter Johnson.
The park also has an 18-hole disc golf course that winds around the ball fields, playground, and RV park. It’s free to play the course and available from dawn to dusk. The course is ranked the 113th-best course in the state.
OTHER PLACES TO CHECK OUT
Pfister Park’s Big Hill Splash Aquatic Center is an ideal place to take the kids. Adults who want to take to the links will appreciate Hillcrest Golf Course for its 18-hole design that features hills and water hazards. Home of the Coffeyville Community College Red Ravens, Veterans Memorial Stadium hosts sporting events.
Built in 1928, the historic Midland Theater & Event Center is undergoing renovations and is expected to reopen for movie nights and free community events.
What a place! There are more than enough reasons to spend an overnight visit in Coffeyville. You can expect a genuine welcome from residents wherever you go, and the town’s top destinations are some of the best in the state.
Are you planning a road trip through the southeast corner of the state? Plan your adventure using my Humboldt, Fort Scott, and Pittsburg itineraries or Kansas Tourism to plan the road trip.