While most people know the Wizard of Oz from the movie they watched when they were younger. What they don't realize is that there is so much more to this classic film. L. Frank Baum actually wrote several additional stories about the adventures in OZ and the community of Wamego, KS brings the magic of OZ to life throughout the town!
Coming into town on the corner of HWY 24 and HWY 99 you see the white farmhouse depicting Auntie Em's house where Dorothy was living when the tornado hit landing on the wicked witch. For those who have watched the movie, you will see her striped stockings and shoes sticking out from the bottom of the house.
Heading South on HWY 99 into Wamego's downtown, on your right, you will see The Columbian Theatre. Originally opened in the 1890s, The Columbian Theatre houses various art shows throughout the year, but the most famous murals are from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. This Columbian Exposition was sometimes called, "The White City" and is said to have inspired the Emerald City that was the collaboration in 1899 between L Frank Baum and W W Denslow. While The Columbian is not always open, you can check their website to set up a time to view or better yet. You can keep an eye out on their performance schedule and while you take in a show you can also enjoy these historical murals!
Next up is the OZ Museum. The OZ Museum opened to visitors in 2003. Visitors to the Oz Museum will enjoy viewing various costumes and props from the movie. Adaptations of the Wizard of Oz have also been made into two Broadway plays and one TV series, all of which you can also learn more about in the Oz Museum. There are also plenty of photo opportunities for visitors while at the museum. Or, do you want to feel the speed of the winds during a tornado? Take a step inside their Tornado Machine and let the winds swirl around you!
Almost across the street from the Oz Museum, you will find the Yellow Brick Road. This pathway takes you from the Downtown area on HWY 99 to The Friendship House and then across the street to Wamego's City Park. On the Yellow Brick Rd, you are greeted by one of the 15 Toto statues placed throughout town. This Toto is one of my personal favorites, the Emerald hue that reflects the Emerald City of Oz greets visitors as they begin.
Toto is of course Dorothy's beloved dog and loyal companion in the movie. The Toto's Around Town is an initiative by the Wamego Chamber. The Toto's are "adopted" by various businesses in town and it has become popular to find all the Toto's while snapping pictures on your adventure!
While exploring, it is always important to grab some great food! One of my favorite places in Wamego is Toto's Tacoz! Toto's Tacoz is a popular spot for locals and visitors to grab a quick lunch or dinner! Their menu is Cal-Mex and as they say, "The Best Cal-Mex on the Yellow Brick Road!" After you stop and grab a bite to eat, you can continue on your final stop on the Wizard of Oz tour, The Oz Winery!
The Oz Winery has been serving up their local Kansas Wines since 2007. The Oz Winery offers customers a variety of red, white, blush, sparkling, and dessert wines all made on-site! Some of the favorites include A Witch Gone Good, Drunken Munchkin, and Yellow Brick Road. The Oz Winery also offers guest tasting flights or the option to host an event at the space. If you are looking for a fun gift, the Oz Winery has several options from chocolates, Wizard Of Oz merchandise, Wine accessories, Cigars, and more!
I hope you enjoy your time in Wamego, KS! It truly is a wonderful community, if you still have a little time left in your day after experiencing ALL things Wizard Of Oz. Take a quick trip through the Wamego City Park. They have so much more for visitors to see and experience!
As always, enjoy exploring, and feel free to share your adventures and photos in the comments below!