Disclosure: Kansas Tourism sponsored this post. However, all opinions and photographs are my own.
Pittsburg, Kansas, draws me back for its ever-changing scene of entertaining things to do and see. Known for its rich history as a mining town from 1890, it draws people to the state’s southeast corner to appreciate delectable dining, tour the downtown attractions, and root on the Pitt State Gorillas.
In Pittsburg, there is always something to love.
Hampton Inn & Suites Kansas Crossing
Hampton Inn & Suites Pittsburg (1285 U.S. 69 Hwy) is my hotel when visiting Pittsburg. During my return visit, I found the accommodations met my standard for comfort and cleanliness. Attached to Kansas Crossing Casino, it’s a bustling hotel with ample opportunities for on-site entertainment.
The King Room, with a sofa bed and mini refrigerator, includes a roomy bathroom with glass door shower. I appreciated the quiet room, given the hotel was at capacity during my weekend stay.
Free WiFi, complimentary breakfast, an indoor pool, a fitness center, and pet-friendly rooms provide guests with the comforts of home they crave when on an overnight trip.
PRO TIP: Don’t expect to be able to check in early to your room, but instead, ask if the hotel will hold your bags until 4 pm check-in.
Take a Tour
Miners Memorial at Immigrant Park
At Miners Memorial at Immigrant Park (106 W. 2nd St.), you can expect to learn about the work of coal miners who labored in the Weir-Pittsburg Coal Field, the home to more than 100 coal camps. A life-size bronze statue of a miner is the focal point, flanked by nine black granite monuments inscribed with the miners’ names.
According to Miners Memorial, over 10,000 miners worked in the area, like Wendell Dean Golf, who worked on a crew to bring coal from mine to mine via Frisco Railroad so it could be washed. Retiring in 1993, he spent 21 years on the job, a long-standing tradition in his family.
Miners worked in dangerous conditions for up to 12 hours daily, often digging coal by hand. When they were not working in the mines, they opened small businesses and farmed in the area to generate income.
PRO TIP: Locate the mural Solidarity inside Pittsburg Public Library painted by Kansas artist Wayne Wildcat. It depicts Amazon Army’s march protesting working conditions in the mines.
Crawford County Historical Museum
Located on the edge of town, Crawford County Historical Museum (651 S. Highway 69) provides visitors with a deep dive into the coal mining capital of the world, where over 50 nationalities settled.
Although the museum was closed during my visit, I could tour its exterior, including H.R Brown’s Grocery. Its first location opened in 1907, and its second location eventually closed in 1968. Locals relied on its fresh produce, meat, and dairy products inventory.
The șite of educational sessions (cooking class, anyone?), Crawford County Historical Museum hosts Living History School Day, Cow Creek Cowboy Days & Wild West Show, and holiday-themed events.
PRO TIP: Call 620-231-1440 to confirm if the museum is open for free, self-guided tours before your arrival.
Downtown Pittsburg is an art lover’s dream. Whether you call it street art or a mural, the town has many of them. Pittsburg Artwork commissions creators to paint colorful scenes on the side of buildings – even benches!
The mural movement in Kansas is strong, and Pittsburg is leading the charge. If you consider yourself a mural hunter, you may want to start in the downtown area and then hop in your car to drive around the county to view more creations using the PocketSights app.
PRO TIP: In April, the town hosts Pittsburg Artwork closing down a corridor to feature street artists, musicians, food vendors, and more. Use the Pittsburg Artwalk map to plan your journey between 4th and 7th streets.
Explore the Outdoors
Trail Head Park / Watco Trail
The beauty of Pittsburg is viewable from its biking and walking trails. At Trail Head Park / Watco Trail (11th and Broadway Streets), the 2-mile paved path is an out-and-back route. Benches at Trail Head Park under the pergola offer a bit of shade.
PRO TIP: Park is free and public bathrooms are available at the trailhead.
A discovery during my second visit to Pittsburg, Lakeside Park (402 W. Washington St.), was highly recommended by a local who knew I wanted to explore scenic areas of town. What a find!
I exited the car to hear children’s giggles from a nearby playground. It was a beautiful Kansas day. I walked the paved path around most of the lake, stopping only to take photos of people fishing at the dock and observing ducks swimming leisurely.
PRO TIP: Pittsburg has 15 parks, many open 7 am-11 pm. Locate one near you using the city’s map.
Shop Til You Drop
Miners + Monroe
You won’t find a more unique men’s specialty store in Kansas than Miners + Monroe (214 S. Broadway). It is more than an Uber-cool clothing store. Shoppers will also appreciate its high-quality grooming supplies, candles, shoes, and shelves of on-trend ballcaps. I couldn’t leave without a beer logo t-shirt and stylish socks.
The shop becomes a performance venue when they host musicians on the back patio, Miner’s Alley. They’ve also expanded to support music performances at the Colonial Fox Theater. Check their event listings here.
PRO TIP: Walk to the back of the building to see the shop’s new mural painted by artist Jessica Stout. Featuring a brightly colored buffalo, it pays tribute to four tribes, most especially the Peoria Tribe.
Where can you shop for one-of-a-kind art and crafts? ArtForms Gallery (620 N. Broadway) is a cooperative gallery filled with working artists’ creations ranging from paintings to pottery and stained glass to handcrafted jewelry.
The store’s employees are incredibly helpful, so ask them to assist you if you’re shopping for someone with unique taste.
PRO TIP: Register for one of their single-session workshops to flex your artistic skills here.
Books & Burrow
Books & Burrow (212 S. Broadway) sets itself apart from other independent bookstores because the owners hand-select titles in small quantities focusing on all readers’ ages.
You’ll notice that they don’t carry just best-selling titles but also curate new books that might not find elsewhere. For example, they stock a sizable selection of books by Indigenous authors, and the children’s book inventory is sizable.
PRO TIP: Bring a reusable bag to fill with fun finds. You’ll find it hard not to leave without a new book, a Kansas-made candle, or a notepad.
White Elephant Emporium
A few minutes inside White Elephant Emporium (804 N. Broadway), you may think you’ve entered an art collector’s chic living room or global traveler’s home. Carrying unique home furnishings and decor, the shop is only open the first weekend of every month or when the owner decides to host a pop-up opening.
Shoppers move energetically through professionally designed displays featuring potted plants nestling near leather couches adorned with animal print textiles. Dark wood cabinets and end tables are the base for towering candle holders and ornate lamps.
PRO TIP: Follow the shop’s Facebook page to preview merchandise, as the store always adds new items.
Bring Your Appetite
Root Coffeehouse & Creperie
What do you get when you combine comfy lounge spaces and delicious coffee drinks? Root Coffeehouse & Creperie has mastered serving perfected drinks and breakfast items to its adoring fans. The locally-owned gathering spot attracts college students with laptops, ladies’ groups ready to gab, and parents with kids.
I devoured my latté and crêpe from a blue velvet chair at a table near a brick wall. Because it was a busy time to visit, I admired the framed photography on the wall and the succulent plants nearby, both for sale. A Little Free Library tempted me since a new read creates a delightful café experience.
PRO TIP: Not interested in caffeinated drinks? View a separate menu featuring over a dozen hot and cold drinks sans the buzz.
Drop the H Brewing Company
It never fails. My inner GPS leads me to a brewery or a pizza shop when on the road. Luckily, I knew where to find excellent beer and a slice, Drop the H Brewing Company (107 E. Rose St.). Serving happy customers like me since 2019, the brewpub prides itself on its multiple beer taps and New York-style pizza selection prepared in a brick oven.
A fan of their beer, I ordered a flight to taste a range of flavors from lager to stout. However, my favorite was the Balkan Haze, which I also ordered as a crowler to go. You’ll find their beers approachable and easy on the palette – even the Dry Irish Stout, a maltier brew nitrogenated for smoothness.
PRO TIP: Partake in half-priced drinks every Friday and Saturday from 10 pm to 11 pm. If it’s the last Friday of the month, wear your Drop the H t-shirt to earn $5 off your tab.
Brick + Mortar Social House
Do you know the feeling you get when you discover a restaurant that checks all the boxes, and you want to tell everyone about it? Brick + Mortar Social House (401 N. Broadway) is that restaurant for me. The gastropub’s aesthetic is somewhat upscale but not so pretentious you can’t walk in wearing casual attire. I arrived during the tail end of Happy Hour and was excited to enjoy a meal.
Serving an elevated menu of classic entrees, I labored over what to select since everything sounded tasty. Did I want an artisan salad, the Prime Rib Sandwich, or Pan Roasted Chicken? I settled on Crispy Brussels Sprouts for an appetizer and the best gosh darn Chicken and Waffles I’ve ever tasted. The chef, originally from Coffeyville, did an exceptional job.
PRO TIP: The dining room is not decorated in the typical sports bar style, but with 10 TVs, it’s a prime place to watch the game.
The Blue Spoon
At The Blue Spoon (618 N. Broadway), a catering business has evolved into a brick-and-mortar storefront selling thoughtfully-prepared grab-and-go meals and desserts. Charcuterie trays, salads, and dinner entrees stock the reach-in refrigerators.
While my mouth began to water over a glass case of hand-rolled truffles and cookies, customers continued to file into the store to purchase in-store pick-up orders. The place was hopping with locals in search of Easter-themed goodies. Scratch-made classics like chocolate clusters, sugar cookies, and cakes were popular.
PRO TIP: To find out grab-and-go meals available in the refrigerated case, view The Blue Spoon’s Facebook feed.
The Corner Patio
Every town needs a place where locals can soak up the sun’s rays with a drink. Pittsburg’s newest addition to the downtown scene, The Corner Patio (919 N. Broadway), is the place. And if what a group of locals said at a neighboring table, it’s “going to be a popular place.”
Whether you’re in the mood for a cold beer, hot coffee, or fruit smoothie, the cozy watering hold delivers. Come hungry and enjoy affordable meals like a Walking Taco, Philly Cheesesteak, or a Turkey Wrap. I found a shaded spot under a patio table’s umbrella, where I kick back and relax.
PRO TIP: The owners plan to add live music events to their lineup. View their Facebook Events page to see who’s playing.
Other Places or Events Worth Checking Out
The Pittsburg Area Farmers’ Market supplies locally-grown produce and farm-processed foods on Saturdays and Wednesdays. In the mood for a live show? Memorial Auditorium hosts a range of artists, from comedians to nationally-known music acts.
The college town hosts numerous festivals and fairs. Attendees of Pittsburg ArtWalk during the spring and fall can expect live music and art demonstrations, plus food vendors. Little Balkans Days, a 3-day festival on Labor Day weekend, promises games, entertainment, arts and crafts, and a parade celebrating the town’s ethnic heritage.
Also, the fried chicken epicenter of Kansas is well-revered for its hearty meals, a tradition that began when two women opened restaurants on the same street catering to hungry miners. Pick between Chicken Mary’s, Pichler’s Chicken Annie’s, or Chicken Annie’s Original.
New or Coming Soon
You can expect more murals to appear downtown as the City of Pittsburg uses grant funding for new projects.
Rumor has it that The Corner Patio’s owners are renovating a space above the business into an Airbnb.
Electric car travelers will appreciate the fast charging stations installed in the north parking lot of the Colonial Fox Theatre.
…But there’s more!
To learn more about Pittsburg, view Kansas Tourism’s community page. Check out my earlier blog post, Plan a Bucket List Trip to Pittsburg, for additional entertainment suggestions. Cruising by other southeast Kansas towns? View my itineraries for Humboldt and Fort Scott.