By Jenah Wieczorek, Army Spouse
Welcome to the Midwest! Fort Leavenworth is known for its small town charm while being close to a large city. What do you need to know before you put on a Royals jersey and PCS to the middle of the country? Below is a list of pertinent information, unique traditions, and local points of interest all within your reach!
Fort Leavenworth Post Info
Off Post-The Town of Leavenworth was the first city established in the state of Kansas and sits on the border of Kansas and Missouri separated by the Missouri River. A charming historic downtown features murals painted on walls, re-purposed historic brick buildings, and lots of local shops and restaurants. Just down the road from this great area sits a large Federal Penitentiary. It’s an eye sore, but you will get used to it after a few months. The town hosts parades for almost every holiday, has a weekly local farmer’s market, and hosts outdoor concerts on the river during the summer months.
On Post-Ft. Leavenworth is a very small and well-maintained post that dates back to 1827. The housing ranges from brand new to pre-Civil War era homes. The historic homes are said to be haunted so proceed with caution at the housing office!
This post might be one of the oldest military installations, but it does have modern amenities such as a golf course, pool, gyms, stables, an air field, and hosts numerous family activities and programs. It’s also a very active post! On any given day you will see Fit Leavenworth and Stroller Strong Moms out doing their workouts. Not in the mood to break a sweat? Head to the movie theatre for a free showing on Friday and Saturday nights. One downside of this post is the lack of an emergency room. While there is a hospital for appointments, the ERs are located out in the town.
Fort Leavenworth is known as the intellectual hub of the Army, home to the Command and General Staff College, the School of Command Prep, The Army Management Staff College and the School of Advanced Military Studies. Most families come to attend a school and then leave. There is a constant turn over to include international students from all around the world. In addition to all of these great schools, Fort Leavenworth is home to the 15th MP Brigade and Army Disciplinary Barracks. So many prisons here!
Post housing on Fort Leavenworth features over twenty neighborhoods of 3 and 4 bedroom homes. All homes include washer/dryer hookups, window blinds, and central heat and air conditioning. Check out photos and reviews of many of the neighborhoods on PCSgrades.com.
The climate in Kansas is unpredictable. On any given day it can sunshine, rain, and tornado. The summers are hot, and most families spend them outside at one of the local state parks or farms. Spring and Fall bring welcome cooler temperatures and seem to have the most thunderstorms. Winter will bring snow and ice to the area. A great resource to check road conditions before heading out is the Department of Homeland Security website. The last thing to note about the weather here is the wind. The Midwest is mostly flat making the wind strong year round. It takes some getting used to!
Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam! Next to the Federal Penitentiary is a field with a small heard of bison. You can’t pet them, but you can see them close enough to appreciate their size. Of note in the Midwest are hawks who typically perch on fence posts and light fixtures and just wait. One might mistake them for the Jayhawk that is typically associated with Kansas, but that’s a term that was coined during the Civil War days when Kansans would cross over to Missouri and steal slaves back to freedom. The birds you see here are just different species of hawks, and they seem to be everywhere. The last notable creature is the dreaded oak mite. These insects fall from oak trees in the area and leave a nasty bite and rash that itches for days on end.
While this installation mirrors other Army posts with the typical chains and fast food, the downtown area in Leavenworth is home to excellent local cuisine. On Saturday mornings you will find a long line at Meriweather’s for their famous donuts. The families here are also always in a great debate whether Momma Mia’s or Luigi’s has the best Italian food. Try both and join the great debate! Pullman’s Place and The Depot are charming restaurants boasting train themes and great food. And when one thinks of food in Kansas City, bbq is often the first thing to pop into your mind. Jack Stacks and Oklahoma Joes are absolute musts to try.
Customs and Traditions
Ft. Hood has the bluebonnet fields and Fort Leavenworth has it’s sunflowers. The sunflowers here bloom late summer typically for two weeks. During this timeframe, hundreds of families will flock to Grinter Farms to have their photos taken. It gets so congested that it isn’t uncommon for the local sheriff’s office to close it down. Make sure to go early and knock out that annual family photo! Another tradition on the Army post is to take a haunted tour of the old disciplinary barracks at Ft. Leavenworth. The tours run in October and are great fun! Lastly, everyone should leave Ft. Leavenworth with a quality piece of furniture hand crafted by the United States Disciplinary Barracks Sale Store. They can custom make you anything! Might we suggest a piece of solid wood furniture to hold up during those PCS moves?
Points of Interest
Your weekends will be filled with great fun between the farms, apple orchards, local events, state parks and shopping areas. Below are a few highlighted areas though you can make sure you don’t ever miss an event by following the Facebook page Stationed at Fort Leavenworth.
Legends– 25 minutes straight out of the main gate towards Kansas puts you at a great outdoor shopping area known as Legends. The outlet mall has every store from Carters to Coach and everything in between. There are numerous restaurants and across the street is your local Target…I repeat this is the closest Target. You can also catch a local baseball game, Go T-Bones!, or a Sporting Kansas City soccer match.
Zona Rosa– Take a right out of post and go 25 minutes into Missouri and end up at Zona Rosa which is another outdoor shopping area. Summer months bring outdoor concerts, AND this area is breathtaking during Christmas. Zona Rosa also likes to host vintage markets and has tons of restaurants.
KCMO (Kansas City, MO) – Beautiful down town Kansas City is home to over 200 fountains. They are on almost every corner and give the city a very Italian feel. Kansas City has great museums and Nelson Atkins is our favorite with free admission for the whole family. The National World War I Museum and Memorial is another point of interest. You can climb to the top of the tower and have a 360 view over the entire city. Across the street from the WWI Museum is Union Station. The train station has a Science City, local exhibits rotating through, and a back room filled with model trains that will entertain kids for hours.
Looking for a sporting event? Check out a Royals or Chiefs game! If you’re not into sports, there is the Kansas City Zoo, the Kansas City Ballet, Crowne Center’s Legoland and Sea Life Aquarium. There is also shopping in Country Club Plaza or eclectic stores in Westport.
There are so many sites and attractions around this post that you can easily fill every weekend with fun and excitement. So much so that the challenge will be to knock it all out in a year! Last, but not least, one must mention the incredible energy in the people on and around Ft. Leavenworth. Whether you are on post or off, you can make fast friends with you neighbors. You will also see this energy in the customer service at any of the on post agencies. Everyone takes pride in their job and goes out of their way to make your experience at Ft. Leavenworth a memorable one!
Have you spent time at Fort Leavenworth? Head over to PCSgrades and leave reviews about the post, or any other area your military journey has taken you. PCSgrades.com is a community of military and veteran families helping each other with our biggest relocation needs through trusted reviews. Help us help each other and submit your reviews today. Together, we can truly make a difference!
PCSgrades Author: Jenah Wieczorek, PCSgrades Community Outreach Director, is an Army spouse, mother of 2 boys, dental hygienist, and volunteer. Jenah is a two-time recipient of the First Cavalry Division Commander’s Award for Volunteer Excellence, the Department of the Army Award for Patriotic Civilian Service, and is a member of the U.S. Cavalry and Armor Association’s Order of St. Joan D’Arc. She currently resides in Fort Leavenworth, KS with her family.