Book Now

Ready to escape this World? Try Humboldt, Kansas. Really. (The Pitch, Kansas City)

There is something remarkable happening in tiny Humboldt, Kansas. Just a little over 100 miles southwest of Kansas City, Humboldt is like a lot of other rural Kansas towns, except that Humboldt is now undergoing a major transformation...

Ready to escape this world? Try Humboldt, Kansas. Really.

November 4, 2020

April Fleming

Photo of a cabin on the water at Base Camp in Humboldt, Kansas.

One of the cabins at Humboldt, Kansas’ BaseCamp. // Photo by April Fleming.

I’m deviating slightly from regular food and drink programming this week because of, well, reality. I know more than a few of us who are yearning for escape from the relentless and exhausting fire hose of news and the understandable accompanying doomscrolling. We all need something peaceful and beautiful—a place where there are no “NPAs” or big red and blue touchscreens or counts or breathless tallies to catch up with. No matter what happens over the next few days and in the upcoming weeks, this need won’t go away.

I know a place.

There is something remarkable happening in tiny Humboldt, Kansas. Just a little over 100 miles southwest of Kansas City, Humboldt is like a lot of other rural Kansas towns, except that Humboldt is now undergoing a major transformation from typical Kansas small town to a town with more cool stuff going on than many of our dense urban neighborhoods.

In recent years, the Works family, a local family that owns a very successful trailer hitch manufacturing company, has been embarking on an unusual and exciting redevelopment of Humboldt’s downtown area. They have purchased several century-old buildings in the town square, and have been planning and working on an “experiment” that could very well lead to something of a renaissance for itty bitty Humboldt. Currently under construction: a music venue, a small boutique hotel, bars, and even a maker space. The town already boasts a solid coffee shop and mercantile, as well as a pretty great old-school fried chicken restaurant named Opie’s.

The next several months will be fascinating in Humboldt as the newer projects come to life.

Photo of a cabin on the water at Base Camp in Humboldt, Kansas.

Photo by April Fleming

For now though, Humboldt is well worth the trip just to visit a place called BaseCamp, which is managed and operated by Stephanie Marchesi, formerly of the late, great Myers Hotel Bar in Tonganoxie. Marchesi and her partner, Kate Frick (the face of the Myers and the brains behind its great cocktails) moved down to Humboldt after the closure of the Myers this summer to join the Works’ experiment in Humboldt. At BaseCamp, they are managing something entirely different from the Myers. Here, you’ll find rental cabins that feel much more out of Scandinavia than Kansas, a BMX course, a public green space with kayaking, hiking, and fishing and front-door access to the brand-new Southwind Rail Trail, part of the Rails to Trails bike project. Primitive camping spots with access to showers will also be available most likely next spring or summer.

Photo of the interior of a cabin at Base Camp in Humboldt, Kansas.

Photo by April Fleming

BaseCamp is a remarkable, lovely place, and it seems as though it will just be the beginning of cool things happening with Humboldt, as well as Marchesi and Frick. In the coming months, Frick will be opening Noon, a healthy grab-and-go eatery, and will be managing a cocktail bar in the aforementioned boutique hotel. BaseCamp will be expanding, and hopefully will be able to host events, once the pandemic lifts.

A graphic for the upcoming restaurant Noon in Humboldt, Kansas.

Image courtesy of Noon

So, if you need an escape, consider this little rural Kansas town. It’ll fill you with some hope and much-needed beauty. And if you’re really lucky, a cocktail or two. Or more.

Keep Reading

Humboldt, Kansas, was an example of a Midwestern town that had overcome the Great Recession and a loss of population by improving the quality of life in town with community pitch-in projects.

In eastern Kansas, a dedicated family has launched an effort to update a tiny town in big-thinking ways.

There is something remarkable happening in tiny Humboldt, Kansas. Just a little over 100 miles southwest of Kansas City, Humboldt is like a lot of other rural Kansas towns, except that Humboldt is now undergoing a major transformation...