All too often we take for granted all of the amazing opportunities for fun and exploration that live right in our own backyards. Recently my family dusted off the ol’ suitcases (remember those?) and spent the weekend exploring the Johnson County area in fun and safe ways and had an absolute blast!
We started our staycation off on the right foot with a visit to the Johnson County Museum. The Kidscape, which currently requires registration to ensure appropriate numbers, was a hit with the kids. This small townscape features different businesses you’ll find in a town and the kids run from one spot to another using their imaginations playing in the diner, theatre, schoolhouse and more. I personally love the all-electric house and was fascinated by their current exhibit Thrift Style that features popular upcycling of items like flour sacks created into clothing and other home goods from the 1920s-1940s.
After playing hard at the museum we were ready for a snack and hit up Pretzel Boy’s. This establishment creates warm and delicious soft pretzels in various shapes and forms. Pair it with one of their tasty homemade dips and you’ve got yourself a treat!
With pretzels in hand, we made our way to our hotel for the weekend. It had been over a year and a half since our family of five had stayed anywhere together that wasn’t our home, so we were beyond giddy for our stay at The Inn at Meadowbrook. This gorgeous Inn is nestled in Meadowbrook Park located on Nall between Somerset & 95th Street. One step into the Inn and my family and I felt like we were instantly transported to New England, a place near and dear to our hearts! We stayed in the stunning family suite which gives you a gorgeous dining and family room, a room just for the adults and the pièce de résistance, a kids suite with custom full-size built-in bunk beds and their own television. My kids were ELATED when they walked in and saw that and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Cruiser bikes are available at The Inn to explore Meadowbrook Park and once it’s warm enough, they have a gorgeous pool that overlooks the pond behind the Inn.
For dinner, my family checked out Strang Hall; a collective of six chef-driven restaurants under one roof. For my family, there was something for everyone! My husband enjoyed a humongous meatball sub and my daughter, creamy mac and cheese with bacon from Norcini, I devoured tacos from Fénix while my other kids enjoyed burgers from Solstice. It was perfect!
I woke before the rest of the family and made my way to Downtown Overland Park to grab donuts from DOP Donuts. This funky and fun outdoor donut and coffee shop is the first of its kind around here and is nestled between two buildings. At the back of the space sits a vintage airstream-styled trailer slinging delicious coffee and donuts-try the wedding cake donut!
I chose to grab breakfast from The Market at Meadowbrook that was conveniently located in our lobby. Their extensive grab-and-go section is an amazing place to grab breakfast or lunch on the run, and their kitchen hosts delicious menus that run throughout the day that you can enjoy in their charming restaurant or take as carryout. I went with coffee, fruit and one of their cheddar and herb scones and I’ve been dreaming of that scone every day since.
We then started off our day by heading to The Museum at Prairiefire. This center for science, culture, art and natural history is such an amazing asset to the area. Towering over you immediately in the Great Hall is a tyrannosaurus rex which takes the breath away of any dino-loving kid. Speaking of that a favorite of my kids is the dino computers where they can design and name their own species of dinos and then virtually set them free into the Great Hall where on video it looks as if they roam amongst us. We then made our way up to The Discovery Room where we explored the natural history of where we lived, checked out some fun animals and learned all about our solar system!
We then grabbed a quick lunch at one of my faves, Twisted Fresh. This fast casual dining establishment is soooo good and hosts sandwiches, salads and wraps-try the Buffalo chicken wrap and broccoli salad. Yum!
We were then excited to get outdoors and soak up some sunshine at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. The paved and woodchipped trails were the perfect places to explore and run off some steam with the kids. The pandemic has introduced me to a new love of bird watching, so the bird watch area was what dreams are made of as we were surrounded by various species of birds including the most vibrantly red cardinals! And my kids were in complete awe of the gigantic koi fish swimming just under their feet on the bridge crossing the pond. We began to see the first green shoots of spring emerging from the ground while we were there and we all got excited for the warmer days ahead!
After the Arboretum, we couldn’t resist heading south a bit to Miami county and grabbing some apple cider and cider donuts from Louisburg Cider Mill! Open year-round, it’s always a good time for cider!
We then made our way home, but not before one last stop- a pick-up order from Limitless Brewing just for the adults! We toasted a great weekend, a long-overdue escape from our home as a family, and a promise to do it all over again soon!