15 Best Things to Do in Johnson County, KS

This article was written by local contributor & ed ited by the Travel Lens team.

Johnson County, KS

Johnson County in Kansas is the perfect area to explore for nature and history lovers.

It used to be a part of the Shawnee Indian reservation and was opened to settlers in 1854 following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

In 1855, the county was created by the Kansas Territorial Legislature and became one of the first 33 counties established in the state.

It was named after Reverend Thomas Johnson, who founded the Shawnee Methodist Mission.

Today, the county is home to almost 620,000 people as of the 2022 census.

One of its cities, Overland Park, is the second-most populous city in the entire state.

The county now provides endless opportunities for recreation, especially outdoor activities.

If you like the small-town atmosphere, then this is a great place for you.

It has plenty of open spaces and greenery that may be a great escape from the usual hustle and bustle of city life.

With its rich history, there are also several spots to discover that will expand your knowledge not just about the county but also the nation.

If you want to travel to a unique destination, I would recommend that you look more into this region.

Listed here are some of the best things to do in Johnson County, Kansas!

Explore Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead

Goat drinking water at Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead
Melanie_J / Shutterstock.com

You should add Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead to your list of stops when you visit the area if you want to get a glimpse of what living in a farm looks like.

The farm is located at 13800 Switzer Road in the city of Overland Park.

Here you may be able to meet over 250 animals and see various plants and vegetables.

It also features a one-room school and a Kanza Indian encampment.

View of the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead
Melanie_J / Shutterstock.com

If you want to relax, feel free to have a stroll on the property and see the fishing pond.

The place offers several activities for visitors to try, including bottle-feeding of goats, fishing, and other educational tours.

If you’re traveling with kids, I would definitely recommend going to Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead for a day filled with learning and fun!

Outdoor decoration at the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead
Melanie_J / Shutterstock.com

Spend a Day with Nature at Sunflower Nature Park

If you want to take a break from the bustling city life and just spend a quiet time with nature, then you should stay at Sunflower Nature Park.

It is located at 103rd Street and Edgerton Road in the city of De Soto.

The 57-acre park is the perfect place to destress and relax while surrounded by greenery.

It features a one-mile paved loop trail, a picnic shelter, a small pond, and two ball fields.

It’s also convenient that the park has parking slots and a restroom.

I’d suggest that you pack meals and stories and bring your family or friends to this park for some quality time together!

But if you want to spend some time alone, you’re also welcome to stay at Sunflower Nature Park.

Pick Some Delicious Fruits at Gieringer’s Family Orchard & Berry Farm

Experience picking out the freshest fruits at Gieringer’s Family Orchard & Berry Farm.

It is located at 39345 W. 183rd Street in the city of Edgerton.

The place started out as an orchard in 2001.

In 2004, owners Frank and Melanie Gieringer had added peaches and eventually, other fruits.

Today, the orchard and farm also harvests blackberries, strawberries, sweet corn, tomatoes, and pumpkins, depending on the season!

Gieringer’s Family Orchard & Berry Farm offers visitors the option to try U-Pick, or the picking of produce straight from where it was planted!

If you’re bringing kids, you should take them to the farm-themed play area!

I’m pretty sure travelers of all ages will enjoy the experience of visiting Gieringer’s Family Orchard & Berry Farm!

Stop by the Merriam Historic Plaza

When you’re visiting the city of Merriam, the fascinating Merriam Historic Plaza will greet you.

It is situated at 6304 E. Frontage Road.

The 1.6-acre plaza was constructed in 2006 to pay homage to the 1880 Merriam Park.

A bear sculpture and fountain titled "Motherhood" by artist Kwan Wu is the centerpiece of the plaza.

It features a paved path with 12 stations outlining the history of the city from pre-settlement to contemporary time.

You may also spot the Merriam Visitors Bureau where you can get maps for tours and destination referrals.

Learn About Local History at Shawnee Town 1929

Step back in time when you visit Shawnee Town 1929, also known as the Shawnee Town Museum.

You may find it at 11501 W. 57th Street in the city of Shawnee.

The open-air museum depicts the day-to-day life of the farm community of Shawnee in the 1920s.

Here you will truly be immersed in history and learn based on experience.

The museum features exhibits, artifact collections, events, and educational programs.

Some of the buildings in the grounds are a farmhouse, a barn, a smokehouse, and a schoolhouse.

Explore history like never before when you visit Shawnee Town 1929.

See the Beautiful Plants of Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Bridge at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Matt Fowler KC / Shutterstock.com

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is the place to visit if you’re a plant enthusiast.

You may find it at 8909 W. 179th Street in the city of Overland Park.

The 300-acre property is known as a botanical education resource in the region.

It features gardens with over 1,700 plant species, beautiful landscapes, and a 180-acre open prairie.

Cascade at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Jon Kraft / Shutterstock.com

If you like hiking, the park also has about six miles of wood chip and paved trails!

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens hosts various programs, so be sure to watch out for scheduled events.

To have a full experience of the place, I recommend booking a guided tour in advance.

Boardwalk at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Cindy Lee / Shutterstock.com

Play Outdoors at Big Bull Creek Park

If you want to try outdoor activities while in  the area, feel free to visit Big Bull Creek Park.

It is located at 20425 Sunflower Road in the city of Edgerton.

With up to 2,060 acres of land, the park is the largest in the Johnson County Parks and Recreation district system.

Here you’ll find opportunities for playing and learning while surrounded by nature.

It has hiking and biking trails, equestrian trails, a disc golf course, a campground, a nature play area, a small splash pad, and two large shelters.

You are sure to find something to do in different areas of the expansive Big Bull Creek Park.

Book a Tee Time at Tomahawk Hills Golf Course

If you’re a golfer, don’t miss out on playing at Tomahawk Hills Golf Course when you find yourself in the area.

The golf course is located at  17501 Midland Drive in the city of Shawnee.

It has been ranked as one of the most challenging public golf courses in the area.

Tomahawk Hills features an 18-hole, par 70 championship course that stretches up to 6,000 yards,

Its fairways and driving range have Zoysia and Bentgrass greens, making them both beautiful and functional.

If you’re visiting soon, check out Tomahawk Hills Golf Course!

Appreciate Local Artistry at Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

If you are an art and history enthusiast, you should explore the local art scene at Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.

You may find it within the campus of Johnson County Community College, specifically at 12345 College Boulevard in the city of Overland Park.

The museum is regarded as one of the most important cultural institutions in the region as it houses world-renowned collections of contemporary art.

In fact, it welcomes about 100,000 visitors annually.

Some of the museum’s permanent exhibitions include artworks donated by Marti and Tony Oppenheimer, the Oppenheimer Brothers Foundation, and the Barton P. and Mary Davidson Cohen Charitable Trust.

Art enthusiasts cannot leave the area without at least stopping by the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art!

Get Fresh Produce at Lenexa Farmers Market

When you’re in the area, pick up some fresh produce and local products at Lenexa Farmers Market.

It is located at 17201 W. 87th Street Parkway in the city of Lenexa.

The market features vendors selling locally grown and raised vegetables, fruits, and meat.

You may also find some baked goods and other handcrafted products.

If you’re visiting a new city, I would recommend stopping by a farmers market to truly feel what it’s like to be a part of the community.

Take a Break at Kill Creek Park

People relaxing at the Kill Creek Park
Jcoff / Shutterstock.com

Kill Creek Park is another one of Johnson County’s unique and wonderful open spaces.

It is located at 11670 Homestead Lane in the city of Olathe.

The park occupied 897 acres of land featuring various spots for laid back activities as well as recreational opportunities.

It has four picnic shelters where you can stay and pass time.

Kill Creek Park during fall
Jcoff / Shutterstock.com

I’d recommend bringing a book and finding the spot for reading, may it be near the trees or the beach.

If you want to stay active, you may also enjoy swimming at the beach and marina or go mountain biking and hiking on the trails.

For a magnificent view of the entire park and its nature, you may go up the Russell and Helen Means Observation Tower.

The TimberRidge Adventure Center is also located within the Kill Creek Park which you should explore before leaving the place.

Juniper berries at Kill Creek Park
Jcoff / Shutterstock.com

Try a New Activity at Blade & Timber Axe Throwing

If you’re looking for a new and unique activity, go to Blade & Timber Axe Throwing.

One of its locations may be found within Leawood Town Center Plaza at 5203 W 117th Street, Leawood.

The center has 12 lanes where you can practice and enjoy axe throwing for a 90-minute session.

It also has a full bar where you can get signature cocktails, craft beers, and other spirits.

If you get hungry, you may also order snacks from the menu and have it delivered to your table.

Even if you’re a beginner to axe throwing, you don’t have to worry because the place has capable coaches that are all certified to keep you safe.

If you enjoy new experiences, then you are sure to have a blast at Blade & Timber Axe Throwing!

Wine and Dine at Wandering Vine at the Castle

Wandering Vine at the Castle will give you a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

It is located at 12401 Johnson Drive in the city of Shawnee.

Whether you’re celebrating a special day or you just want to explore a unique restaurant, I recommend that you reserve a table at this place.

The building that houses the restaurant was constructed in 1905 as a grand home inspired by the Chateau Chavaniac in France.

Dubbed “The Castle,” it was originally owned by Remi Caenen, a Belgian immigrant and dairy farmer.

In 2006, the building became a part of the Kansas Register of Historic Places.

Today, Wandering Vine at the Castle provides guests with a romantic and grand experience not just through the beauty of the place but also through its menus incorporating American West flavors.

Stop by the Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site

If you’re traveling for history, you should stop by the Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site.

You may find it situated at 3403 W. 53rd Street in the city of Fairway.

The site played a significant part in local history as one of the mission centers or training schools attended by kids from Shawnee, Delaware, as well as other Indian nations between 1839 and 1862.

The 12-acre grounds also once served as an overland trail campground for migrants.

Today, it is a National Historic Landmark that you can visit and learn from.

Have a Dinner at The Restaurant at 1900

If you’re looking for a sophisticated restaurant, dine at The Restaurant at 1900.

It is located at 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway in the small city of Mission Woods.

The restaurant serves amazing food by Linda Duerr, an award-winning chef.

Its modern American cuisine is influenced by Italian and French cuisines.

The restaurant boasts inventive lunch and dinner menus, all updated seasonally to use ingredients of best quality.

You may also pick from The Restaurant at 1900’s exciting beverage list, which includes a variety of wines, beers, and other spirits that come from all over the world.

Be sure to reserve a table so that you may taste the best of The Restaurant at 1900.

Final Thoughts

If you want an adventure filled with nature, history, and art, give Johnson County a chance.

Aside from providing a satisfying journey for learning, it also has great spots for dining and outdoor recreation.

If you’re planning on visiting soon, bookmark this list of the best things to do in Johnson County, Kansas.

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