Disclosure: Crawford County, Kansas sponsored this post, however, all opinions are my own. All of the photos were taken by me.
Around almost every bend of Kansas road, there is a destination waiting to be discovered. Pittsburg is the home to outdoor recreation, appetizing dining, and remarkable shopping. During our visit, we found ourselves loving it all from hip hangouts to rave-worthy restaurants. It’s the kind of town that the longer you spend visiting, the more you could see yourself returning to it.
HAMPTON INN & SUITES
I love staying at a Hampton Inn & Suites (1285 U.S. 69 Highway) because it’s the next best thing to home. The staff goes above and beyond to make sure that guests feel comfortable fulfilling requests (late checkout, anyone?) and always offer a cold beverage at the front desk.
We were traveling with our senior dog, so we asked for a ground-level room. The friendly concierge was more than accommodating. In fact, every time I passed a hotel employee, they acknowledged me with a smile. Those small actions make a hotel stay worth repeating.
Our room was spacious, modern in style, and clean. Upon dropping our bags, I exclaimed, “Hello, Pittsburg! What a nice room!” It came with a large kitchen with a full-size refrigerator. The open concept led to a lounge area with a flat-screen TV, sofa bed, and a dining area. A separate space, the bedroom was larger than most and featured a plush king-size bed, desk, and another TV.
Having stayed in a lot of hotels, I appreciate a room with black-out shades that allow me to catch up on sleep after a long day of traveling. I highly recommend booking the King Room with Sofa Bed and Refrigerator when reserving accommodations at the hotel.
When not relaxing in the room, we enjoyed access to the indoor pool, outdoor lounge (great place to watch the sunset), complimentary breakfast, free WiFi, fitness center, free parking, and nearby Kansas Crossing Casino. The hotel was only a short drive from the center of town.
PICHLER’S CHICKEN ANNIES
The battle over the best chicken dinner in Pittsburg is a long-running one. A visit to one of the six chicken houses in the “Fried Chicken Capital of Kansas” is essential to experience Pittsburg. Crawford County is so famous for its chicken meals that it was featured on Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” and earned the 8 Wonders of Kansas! Cuisine honors.
How did this area of Kansas become famous for its wholesome meal? Fried chicken houses opened to serve miners who needed an inexpensive and hearty meal. Rumors still circulate that Chicken Annie and Chicken Mary were sisters with an ongoing competition for the best chicken. False! They were not related. It was Ann Pichler who started the fried chicken frenzy in the county. The grandson of Ann Pichler and the granddaughter of Mary Zerngast started Pichler’s, thus it was two families coming together to create one chicken restaurant.
So, of course, we chose to dine at Pichler’s Chicken Annies (1271 S. 220th St.) across the street from our hotel. Open since 1970, the multi-generational family-owned business considers itself the “chicken eaters’ paradise.” We ordered the family meal for two which came with five pieces of fried chicken, spaghetti, garlic slaw, German potato salad, and a basket of sliced white bread for $25. It was more than enough food for two people. Bring your appetite when dining at any of the chicken houses. They’re known for large portions. You can view the restaurants’ locations and learn the history of the fried chicken houses here.
“Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Bad Coffee” is the motto of Signet Coffee Roasters‘ owners, Dennis and Leah. The interesting part of their story, which I still can’t get over, is that they were not “coffee lovers” for much of their adult life. In fact, they admit that they didn’t know a good cup of coffee until they had one in Minnesota. It didn’t take long before they were hooked on quality coffee that came from roasted coffee beans.
Eventually, they moved to Pittsburg to join family members in the area. The couple renovated an old building on Broadway Street in Pittsburg and brought it back to life, a labor of love. They spent almost every waking hour exposing brick walls, upgrading the flooring, and adding beautiful finishes. Today, plants, mercury bulb pendant lights, and bags of coffee beans set the scene. Regulars often gather at oversized tables to discuss the latest local news over warm cups of coffee.
You know, I visit a lot of coffee shops when on the road, but I’ve never had such warm reception. Dennis and Leah made me feel like a local, a regular coffee shop visitor. They took the time to talk to me about their love of coffee and baking.
I have to admit. The homemade Caramel Latte and Cranberry Orange scone were some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The scone wasn’t dry or tasteless like so many I’ve had before. It was moist with big chunks of cranberry and a light orange flavor. And don’t get me started don’t the coffee! I regret not ordering a larger size. Plan your visit to Signet Coffee Roasters (109 N. Broadway), it’s the best place to start your day when in Pittsburg.
I was fueled up on coffee and friendship and ready to drive to the Pittsburg Farmers Market (119 E. 11 Street) to shop for fresh produce. There, I met Brian and Elizabeth, owners of The Radish Ranch. They drove down from Liberal, Missouri to peddle huge tomatoes and more. I couldn’t resist buying a $5 box of giant “slicers.” The best part of my visit to the farmers market was exchanging stories with Elizabeth about the trials and tribulations of gardening. We related about extreme Midwest climates, fast-growing plants, and the reward of harvesting tomatoes. Unlike my raised bed operation at home, The Radish Ranch is expansive with 350+ plants producing tomatoes this year.
Just beyond their table, I viewed vendors selling vacuumed sealed cuts of meat, fresh baked goods, and home decor. Open on Saturdays from 8 am-12 pm and Wednesdays from 4 pm-6 pm, the farmers market is a must-stop when in Pittsburg. Think of all the salsa you can make from fresh tomatoes.
SONDER & CO.
When I learn about a female-owned business that puts the community first, I’m there. Sonder & Co. (410 N. Broadway St.) supports local artisans, supplies earth-friendly goods, and stocks apparel, hilarious mugs, and more.
Brittan and Kailey met in college and decided to open the store in the spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity. It was obvious from the items on display that the owners individually selected their inventory and all of it was purchase-worthy. I wanted the Midwest-themed apparel, the comical cups, and one of each of the handcrafted gifts.
The owners are building a collaborative community inside Sonder & Co. and I liked everything about it. I suggest you visit their Instagram page to see more of what they carry in stock – some of it is available for online purchase.
MINERS + MONROE
By far the coolest store in Pittsburg, Miners + Monroe (214 S. Broadway St.) is a men’s store that sells quality clothing, accessories, and Americana home decor. It took me about five minutes inside the store before I noticed a framed poster on the wall signed by one of my favorite musicians, Ryan Bingham. I was in love.
From floor to ceiling, Miners + Monroe was stocked with guy-worthy clothing, leather belts, footwear, candles, vinyl records, and artwork. Interestingly, the men’s boutique didn’t feel like a retail store. It felt as though I had stepped into someone’s artfully designed living room that just happened to have tables of denim jeans and graphic tees. It was at that moment that I said out loud to Michael, the store’s employee, “Man I wish I was a dude!” The candles smelled of manly scents like Gunpowder and Oxford Tweed. It was all so very cool.
After we swapped stories about our favorite bands, I learned that the store’s owners, Davey and Kim, may have plans to expand to include a live music stage in the back of the store. If true, I’ll definitely plan my next trip to Pittsburg around their event schedule. Either way, Miners + Monroe won me over. It’s the kind of store every woman wishes her man shopped at and the kind every guy wishes he could buy everything from. For the quality and selection of goods, the prices were reasonable.
PARADISE MALL ANTIQUES
Nearby, I spotted Paradise Mall Antiques (105 S. Broadway St.). Once inside, it was obvious that it was given the name for being a picker’s paradise. The massive warehouse was filled to the brim with antiques from every decade. Love depression glass? College memorabilia? Old watches? You can find all of it and more tucked inside the booth spaces of Paradise Mall Antiques.
After spending the summer visiting antique stores, this warehouse got my attention for its size and variety of items. I think it’s fun to peruse the booths looking for items from my childhood. Should I have bought the Strawberry Shortcake drinking glasses that I once owned in my youth? Probably.
As I made my way through the store, I noticed many of the booths’ contents showcase the vendor’s preference in antiques. Sometimes you have to bend down, look around, and dig through a box to find a buried treasure. Paradise Mall Antiques is where you go shopping for yourself and that hard to buy for friend or relative.
Embellish Boutique (123 N. Broadway) carries a little bit of everything catering to female shoppers. Modern farmhouse decor, baby gifts, women’s jewelry, shoes, and apparel make up most of the store’s inventory. I witnessed the staff happily helping shoppers find great deals on denim jeans and printed tops.
Keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook page to learn about upcoming sales – like the downtown Sidewalk Sale they were having during my visit. In business six years, Embellish Boutique is easily one of the best places for women to shop in Pittsburg.
BOOKS AND BURROW
If there is an independent bookstore in a town, I’m bound to find it. Opened less than a year, Books & Burrow ( 212 S. Broadway) sells hardcover and paperback reads in a comfortable setting. It is the only store like it in town selling new books. The owners were inspired to open the bookstore by their daughter an avid reader.
Interestingly, the owners are dedicated to highlighting Indigenous authors and stories as they are proud members of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. Besides books, the store also sells gifts for readers and non-readers alike. Check out their event schedule here.
DROP THE H BREWING COMPANY
Some breweries are only great a beer-making and fail at food. Drop the H Brewing Company (107 E. Rose St.) nails both. The one-of-a-kind brewery’s restaurant owners, Mark and Cathy, have provided Pittsburg with a go-to spot for delicious craft beer and pizza. Originally named after Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the town of Pittsburg, Kansas dropped the H in the late 1800s.
Drop the H Brewing Company’s rotating taps, craft cocktails, and wood-fired pizza keeps patrons craving more. The staff is willing to provide a few samples of beer so you can try the likes of Dorada Pampeana or Rose Street Red Ale. Another plus? If you’re not a beer drinker, they usually have a cocktail drink special worth asking about.
We sipped on Langdon’s Lager and the Belgian Wit during the lunch hour. With the kitchen in sight, it was time to order pizza. Our server told us that the most popular specialty pizza on the menu (they serve nine varieties) is the Drop The Piggy! The homemade crust and sauce were surprisingly good reminiscent of the pies we dine on when in New York. The large pizza was covered in Canadian bacon, pepperoni, Italian sausage, and traditional bacon. Loving every bite and not wanting to leave a morsel behind, we asked for a to-go box.
Later, the manager gave us a private tour of the brewing equipment. Drop the H Brewing Company’s quality beer and pizza competes with the best. In fact, it received Best New Restaurant and Best Pizza locally as reported in the Pittsburg newspaper, The Morning Sun. Do yourself a favor and enjoy a pint and a pie at Drop the H Brewing Company.
KANSAS CROSSING CASINO
If you’re feeling lucky or simply can’t resist the slots, Kansas Crossing Casino (1275 S. Highway 69) is your ticket to a good time. The casino floor is brightly lit with dozens of slot machines surrounding blackjack and craps tables. On the weekend, they host live music above the casino floor. Bronco Bar offers signature cocktails and Two Brothers Mining Co. serves up big-sized portions of menu favorites. Ask about the Brutus Buster Challenge.
MURALS & SCULPTURE TOUR
Pittsburg has a legacy of namesakes that made the town’s success in the coal mining industry possible. The town sits on a coal bed. The work was dangerous and lives were lost. Today, the Miners Memorial (200 W. Walnut St.) honors their sacrifice. Granite monuments are inscribed with the names of individuals who worked the Pittsburg-Weir coalfields.
We also discovered other sculptures of note in town including two on the Pittsburg State University campus. The Night Song Sculpture (E. Cleveland Ave.) is a bronze sculpture of a Native American playing flute designed by Joe Beeler. It sits not far from the bronze gorilla sculpture in front of PSU’s Student Center. Note: You will see gorillas everywhere on campus and around town since PSU is “Home to the Gorillas.”
On the hunt for some of the town’s colorful murals, I spotted one that I felt conveyed the town’s love of all things Pittsburg. The postcard greeting (4th & Pine) is eye-catching and hard to miss. To map a public art and go on a self-guided mural tour, check out the chamber’s website.
FUN DEPOT ZONE
A family-friendly event venue. Fun Depot Zone (104 N. Locust St.) was preparing for a Back 2 School Block Party Bash the day of our visit. It is the place to take your kids to burn off energy. The one-time historical train depot is now the home base for games, concessions, bouncy houses, pop-a-shot basketball, and a 28″ climbing wall. I spied a Ms. Pacman arcade game in the corner with my name written all over it. Kids of all ages would enjoy the Fun Depot Zone.
The entertainment center is open to the public when it is not reserved for birthday parties and special events. Plan your visit Thursday-Saturday 11am-3pm & 4pm-8pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm. Parents can park for free on the north side of the building. View admission rates are viewable here.
SCHLANGER PARK DISC GOLF COURSE
Exploring the outdoors is made more fun at Schlanger Park (725 E. 4th St.). The home of a disc golf course, dog park, playground, and splash pad, it provides hours of entertainment for the entire family. If you choose to play the 18-hole course, expect the wooded areas to offer a bit of a challenge. The course is a mix of open fields and covered trails. All 18 holes are a par 3. Are you ready for a game?
BRICK + MORTAR
Before heading home, we had to make one last stop. It was a building that caught our eye and so we peered through its windows only to discover a restaurant with just the kind of ambiance we appreciate, Brick + Mortar Social House (401 N. Broadway). The gastropub’s interior was impeccably decorated with navy blue booths, gold finishes, and a large horseshoe-shaped marble bar.
Our bartender treated us to a few samples of craft beer (they have over 25 on tap). Eventually settling on Midwest beers, we split the Prime Rib French Dip sandwich and parmesan fries for an early dinner. The quality of food and drink at Brick + Mortar is high-end, but the menu prices are shockingly affordable. I’m glad we took a chance on a restaurant that wasn’t on our itinerary. It turned out to be one of my favorite stops in Pittsburg.
If you haven’t traveled to Pittsburg, you need to see discover why it’s considered one of the notable places on the Kansas map. With a concentration of fun destinations and excellent dining, you’ll most likely wish you had planned for more time while in town. Take it from me, Pittsburg is one fun town. It continues to evolve to include the best in shopping, entertainment, and lodging accommodations. When will you visit?