Posted: May 3, 2012
Written by: Guest Blogger
If you’ve never heard of Overland Park, Kansas, there’s a reason. We’ve been keeping it a secret. But now, it’s finally time to share this wonderful city that my family and I lovingly call home.
Over the last seventeen years we’ve lived in Overland Park, and have watched our city grow and flourish with family-friendly activities and events. I’m delighted to share my six favorite attractions in Overland Park with you.
Ask a local for something fun to do in Overland Park, and the first place they’ll mention is the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. Sixteen years ago we enjoyed introducing our daughter to a few goats, hens, a buffalo and a Texas Longhorn that made up this delightful petting zoo. To say that Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead has grown over the years would be an understatement! Now families enjoy over 200 animals, lush gardens and turn-of-the-century buildings filled with indoor activities. Children can experience endless fun during their visit such as pony rides, bottle-feeding goats, fishing with a cane pole and worms, and mining for gems, just to name a few. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the entire day exploring and playing with your family.
The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a relatively undiscovered gem in the southern part of our city and shouldn’t be missed. This 300-acre outdoor destination boasts eight natural ecosystems with endless trails through colorful gardens and forests. The Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are continually transforming with the seasons, offering new discoveries with the changing weather. Families also enjoy the beauty of the Monet Garden, searching for turtles in Margaret’s Pond, discovering art and sculptures around every corner, watching woodland animals from the bird blind, and listening to the sounds of the interspersed water features. Kids especially love a visit to the Children’s Discovery Garden where they can put on a puppet show, climb the spiral walkway to Sky Watch Mountain, wind their way through the grass maze or learn and discover through outdoor play. The newest addition to the Arboretum is the train caboose and soon to be developed Train Garden. It’s sure to be a hit with train-loving kids! Your older kids will love the Geo-Arboretum: a high-tech treasure hunt that uses a hand-help GPS to track down two hidden secret treasures. The Arboretum also offers outdoor education classes for children and adults, and you certainly won’t want to miss Arts for Kids in October and the Holiday Luminary Walk in November/December.
If you want to spend more time outside, you’ll love Overland Park’s bike and hike trails. Miles of paved trails, varying in distance, are located throughout the city and are easily accessible with convenient parking, allowing you to pick up a trail anywhere around the city. The trails lead you along forested paths through neighborhoods, past golf courses and even to some of our favorite Overland Park attractions. The paths are wide and primarily flat; perfect for every bike rider in the family.
Looking for a day of picnicking and play? It will be hard to choose just one of our 83 unique parks. Each park is unique in size and offerings. In addition to traditional playground equipment, some parks offer ball fields, basketball, sand volleyball or tennis courts, trails, nature preserves, shelters or even a fishing hole. We also have a skate park for those older kids who like to “grind.” Our beautiful parks are tucked into quiet neighborhoods or sit on the main streets beckoning families to come and play. It’s never hard to find a place to let a little energy out around our city.
Introduce your kids to a little culture for your kids by bringing them to the beautiful Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art located on the Johnson County Community College campus. This stimulating contemporary art museum will get your kids’ creative juices flowing with new ways to create interesting art. After your jaunt through the galleries, you can continue an art walk around the campus or enjoy a delicious lunch at Café Tempo located in the museum.
Last, but not least, Overland Park is now home to one of only 11 American Girl stores nationwide. Located at Oak Park Mall, your doll can enjoy a special day of pampering at the doll hair salon while you and your lucky girl peruse the vast selection of clothes, accessories, and books. And just in case you have a little man in tow, he’ll enjoy a ride on the two-level carousel in the center of the Mall.
Explore Overland Park for some family-fun all year ‘round. I’ll be looking for you!
Brenda is the founder of Smart Mom University, a website dedicated to providing simiple ideas for real parents.
Tags: American Girl
, Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead
, kids activities
, Oak Park Mall
, Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Posted: December 27, 2011
Written by: Amy G.
Happy birthday to my beautiful 2 year old daughter! Wow, it seems only yesterday she was a little baby, and now she is a little girl with her own mind and lots of energy. For her second birthday, we decided to try My Gym, located at 133rd and Antioch just behind Sam’s Club. This was a great facility and they know how to manage a 2nd birthday party with 15 kids, ages 5 and under. I know what you’re thinking – why do I care?
At My Gym, kids can sign-up for age appropriate classes that are filled with exercise, free play and circle time. A “gym” like experience for little ones. We are so lucky in the Kansas City area to have a plethora of these types of places and constant entertainment for kids – especially in the winter when we need some way to burn off their extra energy. But, as I checked out the class schedule it got me thinking – what about working moms?
I have been doing extensive research on kids’ activities, like My Gym or tumbling classes or swimming lessons – you name it really. The trouble is, I work and I can’t take my daughter to any of these classes Monday-Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. That is when all of these businesses offer their classes for the young kids. Maybe I live in a false reality because I assume few families still have the traditional stay-at-home mom. Maybe businesses think that because my child goes to school she wouldn’t enjoy or need the extra activities in her life. Maybe few parents want the hassle of transporting their kids to something in the evenings or on Saturday mornings. Whatever the case, my daughter needs more activities – she has endless energy and goes stir-crazy sitting around the house. I don’t like for her to watch too much TV and in the winter it is often too cold to play at the park for a few hours on Saturday. What is recommended for families like ours? When will businesses start catering to the working families?
Now, My Gym does offer a few classes on Saturday, but wouldn’t open play be better – then everyone could come, not just the kids that fit a certain age range. Tell me, where do you take your kids to burn off their energy in the winter? I’m not looking for attractions, such as Wonderscope. What I’m looking for is a place that other working moms have found that cater to our schedules with structured exercise type actives for running, jumping, swimming and the like.