Posted: September 28, 2012
Written by: Liron B.
This past weekend I spent a beautiful fall afternoon at the Plaza Art Fair. The talent found at this annual Kansas City festival never ceases to amaze me. To my incredible luck, one of my favorite photographers from Chicago had an exhibit booth. Now based out of Colorado, David Mayhew is a phenomenal landscape photographer and let’s just say that if he’s looking for gallery space in Overland Park, he can use my house any day! His photographs have captured everything from powerful lightning strikes over the Chicago skyline, to powerful tornados forming over the Kansas plains, in addition to snow storms over the Grand Canyon.
This year, I saw one of David’s most amazing pieces featuring Aspen trees in Colorado after their leaves have turned into a gorgeous golden yellow. When admiring the photograph up close, I thought to myself where I can I take a picture like this in Kansas? According to weather.com, normal peak times for fall foliage in our region should occur around mid to late October. However, due to our dry and hot summer, it might occur earlier.
And so, since fall has officially started, let the picture taking begin! Here is my game plan:
1) Head to the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens since fall colors have started to emerge in our area. The variety of trees that line the winding paths should certainly make for a striking photo.
2) Thanks to my coworker’s endorsement, in mid-October I’m going to drive north along the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway to capture the scenery between Leavenworth and Atchison and continue up to White Cloud, KS. Who knew that a look-out existed where you could see Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas…all from atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River!
3) After researching the State of Kansas Tourism website, I will head south by late-October to the Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area & National Wildlife Refuge. Located just 40 miles south of Kansas City, the Refuge offers thousands of acres of scenic landscape and a variety of animals.
I’m on a mission and would love your participation. Where is a can’t-miss place to capture beautiful fall foliage in Kansas? If you take a photograph, please share it on the Visit Overland Park Facebook Page! Enjoy these beautiful warm days and cool nights, gather your friends and family, and explore the beauty our region has to offer.
Posted: July 12, 2012
Written by: Amy G.
Chugga-chugga, choo-choo. The summer heat has rolled into to Kansas City early this year, keeping most of us scrambling to stay indoors or hit the pool. And, to be honest, we’ve done a little of both at my house. One hot Sunday afternoon, I was looking to give my daughter some much needed outdoor time and didn’t have time to get ready for the pool. I was looking for something a little different that would last about 30 minutes to an hour. We headed to the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens to explore the newest attraction – a Train Garden.
Located near the Children’s Discovery Garden, the Train Garden boasts a red caboose to welcome visitors as they approach and highlight its features. (Eventually, it is planned that this will be used for hosting birthday parties or other small gatherings at the Arboretum.) After visiting “Thomas the Train” at the Midland Railway in June, my daughter is obsessed with trains. When she saw the caboose, she took off running towards the garden and was stopped in her tracks when she saw the model train (seven g-scale) weaving in and out around mountains, countryside and through “downtown Overland Park.” She thought it was so funny that a train would go through a city. Her favorite part of the garden was the Plexiglas walk-ways that the train goes under as it moves from one side of the sidewalk to the other side. She would race from one walk-way to the next and back to watch the train. We spent about 30 minutes exploring this garden and watching the train, but my daughter could have spent the whole day I believe.
So, this summer, if you’re looking for a little outdoor time, say all-aboard and head out to the Arboretum to visit the Train Garden. I know we’ll be back again soon.
P.S. – According to the Arboretum staff, additional features will be added to the Train Garden in coming months.
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