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Serving: KS

A cowtown winter wonderland

Buyenlarge/Getty images the Seeyle Mansion
HOME SWEET HOME: Named one of the “8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture” by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, the Seelye Mansion is a beautifully preserved, 1905 Georgian-style mansion in Abilene, Kan. See it during the holidays dressed up in its Christmas finery.
Kansas Tourism: Abilene, Kan., offers unique experiences from Christmas on through the winter holiday season.

Abilene, Kan., got its roots as a rough and rowdy cattle town: the last stop on the Chisholm Trail. As the cattle came, so did the cowboys, saloons and dance halls. When it was all said and done, more than 1.5 million head of cattle came up the trail to Abilene.

Seeyle Mansions Christmas decorations
CHRISTMAS FINERY: A visit to Abilene, Kan., during the holidays isn’t complete without a stop at the Seelye Mansion to take in its Christmas decorations. (Courtesy of Kansas Tourism)

Those Wild West days may be long gone, but Abilene’s historic roots and Midwestern charm are now earning prestigious titles, including Best U.S. Small Town by TravelAwaits’ 2021 Best of Travel Awards, making it a perfect stop for a holiday weekend getaway!

We like Ike

The streets of Abilene have been graced by famous characters of the Old West, such as Wild Bill Hickok, John Wesley Hardin, and Jesse Chisholm. However, my most favorite person to hail from this city is none other than the 34th president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene,” said Eisenhower in his June 22, 1945, homecoming speech, which still gives me goosebumps to this day. You can watch some of his most famous speeches and learn about his extraordinary life at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home. The museum completed an intensive remodel in 2020, featuring new exhibits with interactive components. The museum has limited hours, so check eisenhowerlibrary.gov ahead of your visit for the latest information.

Seelye Mansion

Named one of the “8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture” by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, the Seelye Mansion is a beautifully preserved, 1905 Georgian-style mansion. Most of the home’s furnishings were bought at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, and more than $55,000 was spent building the 11,000-square-foot home, which equates to more than $1.7 million today. During the holiday season, the mansion is exquisitely decorated for Christmas, with trees in every room, a collection of more than 750 nutcrackers and hundreds of poinsettias. You can tour the mansion, gardens and museum all year long.

fine china setting at the Seeyle Mansion in Abilene, Kan.,
FINE DINING: While you can’t enjoy a meal on this fine china at the Seelye Mansion in Abilene, you can partake of many different delicious delights from restaurants all around town.  (Courtesy of Kansas Tourism)

 

 

Town to explore

Take a stroll on Christmas Tree Lane (with coffee in hand from Amanda’s Bakery & Bistro) to see a variety of Christmas trees and decorations. If you’re exploring on a weekend, be sure to walk in the footsteps of history at Old Abilene Town. Make your way downtown to knock out your holiday shopping list by supporting the small businesses that call Abilene home. Don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants as you eat sweet and savory crepes for a brunch at Ortus Café. For dinner, the Hitching Post Restaurant & Saloon serves hearty homemade dishes and juicy hand-cut steaks.

Sweet dreams

A weekend getaway deserves a quaint and comfy stay. Abilene’s Victorian Inn Bed & Breakfast and Engle House Bed & Breakfast are the perfect places to cuddle up after a day of exploration. Other superb attractions in town are the self-guided mural tour; “Elf: The Musical,” at the Great Plains Theatre; and the Greyhound Hall of Fame. No matter how you slice it, this town is a great getaway destination.

History is calling you to Abilene. Will you answer the call?

Sharples-Terry is public relations and communications manager for Kansas Tourism.

Kansas Tourism aims to inspire travel to and throughout Kansas to maximize the positive impacts that tourism has on the state and local communities. For more trip inspiration and to order a free Kansas Travel Guide, head to travelks.com.

 

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