Louisburg is a small town of about 4,500 residents about 40 miles southwest of Kansas City, but don’t let its small size fool you. You can find everything from a sprawling city park, an excellent aquatic center, to an impressive feline (and other animals) sanctuary on the outskirts of town. On Saturday nights, you can also visit Powell Observatory and watch the night sky without the harsh glare of city lights.
On one of the rare, non-90°F+ weather days we’ve been having in the Kansas City area, I decided to drive out on a Sunday to check out the animal sanctuary. Let’s face, it. I wanted to see the kitties (and the wolves). In addition, I also found that the town itself has other attractions that are worth a visit.
Here are six places in Louisburg, Kansas, to explore on a day-trip from Kansas City.
The Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary offers an outdoor tour of various forms of large cats, wolves, and other animals. Except for special occasions, the sanctuary is only open for visitors on the weekends. The admission fee is $8 for adults, but they gladly take additional donations.
I was happy to note that there was also plenty of shade (for the animals; you’re in the sun). Also, although some of the cages were small, the animals are let out on different schedules to run in one of the open areas, so they are not kept caged all the time. They also appeared happy, healthy, and well-cared for. I have been to a few animal sanctuaries where I wanted to sneak out an animal in my bag due to the appalling conditions. Not so here. Well, I still wanted to, but it didn’t feel necessary to; no animals were sitting in filth, cowering, or screeching in fear. My opinion is that the limited hours of public tours help keep the animals safe and calm.
The lion, for example, was snoozing on his perch under a tree and as my tour group walked by. After about five minutes of cajoling by the guide saying his name gently, he finally decided to humor us by waking up. The beautiful creature finally lifted his head, briefly showed off his thick fur, cleaned himself appropriately, looked back at us sardonically (I swear), yawned and went back to sleep. Even the snap of cameras and cell phones didn’t faze him; he just looked at us like he was the king of the pride and we were lucky to be in his presence. No anger, no fear, just another lazy day. I had apparently found one of my cat’s relatives just a short drive away.
The tour guides openly and playfully interacted with most of the animals (that were awake) and the animals did not appear distressed or upset. The only ones in the back of their cages or houses were ones that were asleep anyway or staying out of the heat (it was getting warmer). One of the wolves even showed off a little and then laid down for a belly rub from the tour guide.
I also loved that the guides emphasized that this was a sanctuary and that these animals were wild and not “pets.” They truly loved and respected the animals and asked that the people on the tour do so as well. Feeding time on Saturday is at 2:00 p.m., so if you want to watch a Siberian Tiger eat 15 or more pounds of (donated) meat, now’s your chance!
Lewis-Young Park is a 220-acre recreation area with trails, baseball diamond, soccer fields, lakeside access, fishing, picnic areas and shelter, and playground. A native grass reserve is also located on the south entrance to the main entrance. It’s amazing how large of a park this is compared to the size of the town. Driving to the opening of the park, you also get to see multiple large corn fields. The park does not have an entrance fee, but reservations may be needed for the soccer or baseball fields.
One word of (humorous) warning about your GPS—it will take you the long way around if you are coming from Kansas City. Just humor Siri and enjoy the view. That said, I asked to see the observatory before the Lake, so maybe Siri decided to take a long way. Getting there took about 75 minutes, and I went through multiple rocky and dirt roads. Coming back took 35 minutes, and I was on a highway the entire time. Go figure.
Powell Observatory is in the Lewis-Young Park, not too far from the baseball fields and walking trails. It is only open to the public on Saturday nights, May through October. Ruisinger Telescope is one of the largest telescopes in the region. In addition to the Saturday night viewings, the observatory has scheduled events such as a tour of the night sky, different topics on astronomy, and viewing through the telescope. Be sure to check the schedule. When I was there, the complex was closed, but it was on a Sunday morning around 10 a.m. so not that big of a surprise.
Situated on the outskirts of town, the Louisburg Cider Mill is a throwback to the old general stores with a store, a working mill, an old farmhouse, and surrounded by plenty of farmland. The mill is one of the top apple cider mills in the U.S. and is open year-round. Buy yourself some warm cider with doughnut during the cold seasons and buy cold cider with other snacks during the summer months. Fall is one of the best time to visit with the ripened apples, acres of pumpkins, corn mazes, and Cider Fest.
From May through August, the city of Louisburg offers a great aquatic park for kids of all ages. The daily admission rates start at only $4 for adults. The center also offers water aerobics and swimming lessons at various times.
For those who like to shop, the Simply Selah Antique Store is a great place to find unique items. The building is an older, two-story brick commercial building that is worth a visit alone. It is larger than many antique stores and has a variety of items for sale at reasonable prices. It isn’t just old, expensive antique furniture but clothes and other things.
The downtown area is also a great little area, with its arched entrance and small stores. Wineries also dot the area. Middle Creek Winery and Graue Vineyards (4353 W 351st St, Louisburg, KS 66053) offers samples of all their wines, from dry whites to red. All in all, there is plenty to see in this small, but bustling town.