OVERLAND PARK, Kan. --- If you find yourself in the second largest city in the state of Kansas, Overland Park, there are four places you must check out.
Stop 1: Prairiefire
Prairiefire is located off 135th and Nall Streets, this outdoor shopping mall is anchored by one of the most unique buildings in Overland Park: the Prairiefire Museum. It is the first building in American to feature dichroic glass, which is a light-bending material developed by NASA meant to protect astronaut’s eyes from the radiation of the sun. Fiery red and orange glow on the outside windows while inside, there are a host of treasures including a kid’s exploration area and virtual reality. They also host rotating exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, which sends exhibits currently not showing so those living in the Midwest can see it.
Stop 2: Overland Park Arboretum
The Overland Park Arboretum is located off 179th and Antioch, this natural paradise boasts 300-acres of flowers, ponds, trees and wildlife. They have gnomes scattered throughout the park, and a Monet garden honors the artist who loved to paint waterlilies. There are a lot of paths people can walk as they escape from technology and the stress of life to soak in the beauty of nature all around them.
“Studies show that being in nature even for twenty minutes a day can give you a psychological boost and increase your calmness and mindfulness,” said Katharine Garrison, Executive Director of the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. “There’s nature trails where you can get a little lost and be among the trees or you can sit in the gardens here.”
The Arboretum is open year-round except for Christmas Day, and the cost to get in is three dollars for those 13 and older.
Stop 3: Johnson County Museum
The Johnson County Museum is located inside the former King Louie bowling alley and ice-skating rink at 87th and Metcalf, the museum showcases the history of Overland Park and Johnson County. It has a 1950’s all-electric house; a play area for kids called Kidscape; an indoor theater where they play musicals nine months of the year; and art studios for the community. The museum originally sat in Shawnee for decades but moved to Overland park a few years ago when city and county officials decided to renovate King Louie and rename it the Arts and Heritage Center.
Stop 4: Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
And our final must-see is the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. Located at 138th and Switzer, the farmstead has more than 250 animals on property including goats, cows, pigs, fish, buffalo and geese. There is a one-room schoolhouse, an Indian encampment, a dairy farm, working blacksmith, as well as a bank and barber shop from the turn of the 20th century. Besides learning, kids can also feed baby goats and fish in the pond.
Created back in 1978 as a petting zoo and turn of the century farm, it was named after the first female police officer in Overland Park to die in the line of duty. Over the years they have added on to it, giving families a lot to do and see whenever they visit.
“I think what brings people to the farmstead is the sense of getting away from electronics. Spending time with your family,” said Kathi Limbocker of Deanna Rose. “We receive generational visitors because we’re in our 41st year, we’re seeing people come back that came as a kid and now they’ve got their own kids.”
The Farmstead averages around half a million visitors every summer. The cost per person is $3, but it’s free to get in after 2 p.m.