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: April 19, 2012
Written by: Jerry C.
The spring of the year! What a glorious time. And, for those of us who live in Johnson County, KS, the spring of 2012 has been simply fabulous! So fabulous, that if we do not pause and experience it in some sense of solitude and serenity, it will quickly dissipate into the tablets of our memories. The question then becomes, do we have the internal discipline to carve out some time to enjoy this priceless gift of nature? Do we make the commitment to devote purposeful time, either with family and friends, or even by one’s self to get outside for exercise, education, meditation, relaxation, friendly bonding or all of the above?
I have made such a commitment several times in the past three weeks. My most recent staycation hike was just minutes from my home on the Tomahawk Creek Greenway. I entered the hiking/biking trail system just north of 127th Street and Nall in Overland Park. It was a beautiful crisp morning encased in a perfectly blue and cloudless sky. To choose a southerly route or northerly trip was the most difficult task. On this day I chose to saunter north. And, I can guarantee that I would have had a most similar glorious experience had I chosen the southern option. While human sighting was limited at this time and place, it was most gratifying to observe facial expressions of peace and happiness, just like mine, as we met on the trail. When I purposefully paused several times along the greenway, I could not help but be most grateful for nature’s concert of splendid sounds. And, if my pause was lengthy and quiet enough, I was quickly entertained by a variety of nature’s creatures. What a wonderful gift! What a rewarding experience! I am pleased that I remembered to take pen and paper along as the magic of thought flowed abundantly through my imagination (an imagination by the way, which is quite limited in the hurriedness of a normal work day). I was reminded several times, on this morning, of the great lines of Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959):
God Made This Day for Me
“…This is jes’ my style o’ weather – sunshine floodin’ all the place,
An’ the breezes from the eastward blowin’ gently on my face;
An’ the woods chock full o’ singin’ till you’d think birds never had
A single care to fret ‘em or a grief to make ‘em sad.
Oh, I settle down contented in the shadow of a tree,
An’ tell myself right proudly that the day was made for me…”
Well, the days and this place are made for us. If only we would slow down our hectic pace from time to time and simply enjoy it. We have come to believe that vacations away from home are for all the items I mentioned in my opening lines. However, they are right in our own back yards for us to find. A staycation in Johnson County you might question. However, try it once and I am certain you will repeat the experience on our many miles of hiking/biking trails. Learn more these opportunities on our hiking/biking webpage or the Johnson County Park & Recreation District. And remember, the days are made for you.
, Johnson County Park & Recreation District
, Johnson County Parks
, Johnson County Parks & Rec
, Tomahawk Creek Greenway
, trails system