Overland Park, KS
Overland Park is both a suburb of Kansas City and the second-biggest municipality in the state of Kansas. In 2006 Overland Park ranked 7th on Money magazine's list of best places to live in the U.S. and in 2009 was named one of its 10 best places in America in which to grow up.
This Midwestern burg is located just southwest of Kansas City, Kansas, and its population in 2010 totaled 177,000. Visitors to Overland Park feel right at home with the locals in 250 area restaurants and 80 public parks.
In keeping with its family-friendly vibe, Overland Park offers attractions for all ages. On a warm, sunny day, visitors can start touring at the 300-acre Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Located on the city's south side, most of this preserve is devoted to the flora and fauna of eight ecosystems. The remainder encompasses trails, traditionally maintained botanical gardens and a visitors' center.
Among Overland Park's attractions is one of metropolitan Kansas City's best and possibly edgiest art museums, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. Its 12,000 square feet include both permanent and temporary exhibits plus a showcase for local artists. A new-media section focuses on electronic media. Grab a bite before perusing the galleries at on-site Café Tempo.
Kids will love the one-acre Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead, a farm established in the late 1800s that now contains animals, a butterfly garden, vegetable gardens and a one-room country schoolhouse. Visitors can ride on a horse-drawn wagon or take pony rides, and there is a Prairie Playground for kids. In rainy weather, kids four to 14 can play at Emerald City Gym, an indoor gymnasium and playground. Its centerpiece is a 5,000-square-foot horizontal and vertical climbing wall called Monster Mountain.
Wonderscope is a children's museum in the next-door town of Shawnee. It is particularly suitable for younger children, with hands-on exhibits about art, nature and science, music, space, and other kid-friendly areas of interest. A "baby nursery" debuted in 2012 that features dolls and provides children with the look and feel of a real baby nursery. Similarly, the museum has a play "vet's office," in which kids act out roles involving veterinary medicine.
Visitors to Overland Park should not miss the one-of-a-kind Incred-A-Bowl. The 65,000 square-foot complex offers laser tag, miniature golf and bowling, including "bumper bowling" for little ones. Adults can rent smaller six-pound bowling balls for kids and control the side bumpers to help youngsters develop aim and coordination. A full-service restaurant and bar on site make this a great place for weary Overland Park visitors to unwind.
The 25 blocks that make up downtown's Overland Park are among must-sees for shoppers. The zone includes a mix of both locally owned retailers and national chain stores. From April through October, shoppers at Overland Park Farmers' Market can buy fresh produce and—on Wednesday and Saturday mornings when the market is open—enjoy free concerts at the downtown clock tower.