16 Free Things to Do in Overland Park, KS

Overland Park

Overland Park strikes an impeccable balance between the buzz of city life and the serenity of nature.

This city is a treasure trove of beauty, waiting to be discovered.

Remarkably, many of its attractions come with no cost at all. Overland Park is abundant in experiences that are easy on the wallet but rich in memories.

From verdant parks to lively markets, here is a guide to some of the free things one can do in Overland Park, Kansas.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Vera Davis, Lori Collins, Kali Holder, Susan Galloway, Wanda Wall, Richard Moran and Anne Miller.

Unwind at the Tranquil South Lake Park

Scenic view of South Lake Park
Benjamin White, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every weekend, I escape the city's hustle to find respite in my sanctuary, nestled within the confines of Overland Park.

The South Lake Park, spread across 14 acres, has become my haven of peace.

This is a place that comes alive with the rhythms of nature.

The trail around the lake is my favorite spot.

I love starting my mornings with a leisurely walk, greeting the day with the whispers of the lake and the gentle rustling of the leaves.

The trail is also peppered with a few exercise stations, a perfect blend of nature and fitness.

Likewise, the park boasts a playground, where children's laughter mingles with birds' chirping, creating a symphony of joy.

Fishing enthusiasts will appreciate the calm and serene lake, teeming with fish.

I've spent countless hours here, rod in hand, enjoying the solitude and the thrill of a good catch.

Signage of South Lake Park
Jon Kraft / Shutterstock.com

And if you're a wildlife lover like me, you'll be delighted to spot geese, ducks, turtles, and even the occasional majestic heron!

Basketball courts and the sand playground offer many recreational activities for everyone.

I've had many delightful afternoons here, shooting hoops with friends or enjoying a picnic by the lake.

The Overland Park Parks and Recreation crew meticulously maintains the park.

Their multiple visits each day ensure the park remains clean and inviting.

The small parking lot might seem inadequate, but I’ve never had trouble finding a spot, even on busy days.

South Lake Park is an experience, a sanctuary that blends nature, peace, and recreation.

It's a joy to be part of this vibrant community and to have such a gem in our midst.

Playground at South Lake Park
Jon Kraft / Shutterstock.com

Discover the Past at Overland Park Historical Society

When I first moved to Overland Park, I had no idea about the rich history woven into this community's fabric.

That is until I stumbled upon the Overland Park Historical Society.

I was hooked by one visit to their headquarters and the exhibit space they share with the Johnson County Museum in the former King Louie Bowl.

My history-loving heart could not resist the fascinating exhibits showcasing the retail history of Overland Park, with materials from the Metcalf South Shopping Center.

Walking past the miniature replica of the White Haven Motel or the Charlie Chan Restaurant made me feel like I was stepping back in time.

And the best part? The Overland Park Historical Society exhibits are free!

Although there's a small admission charge for the Johnson County exhibit downstairs, I assure you it's worth every penny.

Plan to spend two hours immersing yourself in the past at these two locations.

The society also features exhibits of uniforms, maps, and locally made items like sauces and history books for sale.

You can even purchase a documentary DVD they made about Overland Park.

Make sure to carry some cash for these unique souvenirs!

One of the things I particularly appreciate is that they stay open later than most civic organizations.

So, if you're curious about our city or simply looking for a unique way to spend an afternoon, I highly recommend exploring the Overland Park Historical Society.

Pay a Moving Tribute at the 9/11 Memorial in Overland Park, Kansas

From the moment I first set foot on the grounds of the 9/11 Memorial in Overland Park, Kansas, I was struck by the sheer weight of emotions that washed over me.

This remarkable place is not just a memorial but a testament to the spirit of unity, courage, and resilience that defines us as a nation.

Being here, in the presence of this lovingly crafted tribute, you can't help but feel a profound sense of humility and gratitude.

The memorial captures the heartbreak of that fateful day while simultaneously honoring the countless individuals who responded with immense bravery and selflessness.

Walking through the memorial, the reflecting pools offer a peaceful respite.

I have had the privilege to witness Fleet Week here.

Seeing the promotional and re-enlistment ceremonies unfold on this hallowed ground will stay with me for a lifetime.

I have a newfound admiration for the heroes of 9/11 after visiting this memorial.

I urge you to take a moment, stop by if you're in the area, pay your respects, and remember the sacrifices made by others.

It's a poignant reminder of the enduring human spirit, a tribute that has been skillfully created and thoughtfully maintained.

Savor Nature at Roe Park

One weekend, I decided to go off the beaten track and explore Roe Park, a 40-acre oasis in the heart of my city.

I was expecting a crowd, but I found an expansive park teeming with opportunities for outdoor fun, yet not as packed as I had assumed.

The park is home to several playgrounds, each with its unique charm.

They offered a lot of fun for my kids.

The playground near the splash pad was a particular hit.

Although the splash pad was smaller than it looked in the photos, my kids still enjoyed splashing around on a hot day.

One thing that still stands out is the network of hiking and biking trails, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

The trails were well-maintained, offering a perfect balance of challenge and relaxation for a weekend adventure.

Roe Park also seemed like a popular spot for summer camp programs.

While it was bustling with activity during our visit, everyone had plenty of room to enjoy.

Our visit to Roe Park was an enjoyable experience. My kids had a blast, and we will likely return for more exploration and fun.

Visit the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

If you're ever in Kansas City, stop by the hidden treasure of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.

Tucked away on the Johnson County Community College campus, this modern art facility is more than a surprise - it's a revelation.

The museum is compact, but don't let its size fool you.

Every inch of the Nerman Museum is packed with contemporary art that leaves you in awe.

The number of terrific pieces in the overall collection is remarkable.

Within 40 minutes, you can take a whirlwind tour of the exhibits, but you'd probably want to linger.

The surroundings are as beautiful as the art it holds.

Likewise, the clean, modern lines of the building perfectly complement the artwork inside.

And it's not just about the permanent collection, which has many art pieces.

The museum also hosts curated shows that change with the seasons, offering great diversity in the art displayed.

My favorite piece is a Thomas Hart Benton sketch of a house and plow.

It's an incredible testament to artistry, showing the strength of horses as they pull a plow.

The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art is, without a doubt, an outstanding star in Kansas City.

And the best part? It's free. Let me tell you, there are not many places where you can find such fantastic art without an entry fee.

So, don't miss this gem next time you're in town. It's a gift from JCCC to the community and ours to enjoy.

Hang Out at Strang Park

Signage of Strang Park
Jon Kraft / Shutterstock.com

Whenever I need a breath of fresh air, the first place that comes to my mind is Strang Park.

It's a haven for kids and adults alike. I remember the first time I walked through the rainbow gate.

I was captivated by the beautifully painted murals all around the play area.

There's so much to do and see - from slide climbing areas to inclusive ground-level activities for those who prefer to stay on flat ground.

And the fun doesn't stop at the playground.

Playground at Strang Park
Jon Kraft / Shutterstock.com

The park has oversized Adirondack chairs, checkerboards, and a fabulous giant chess set with pieces you can move! It's like being in a real-life fairy tale.

The park is also great for picnics, with plenty of benches, restrooms, walking paths, and a picnic shelter.

There are tennis courts and corn holes for those seeking more physical activities.

One thing to remember is that pets and bikes are not permitted in the playground area.

Every time I go to Strang Park, I'm reminded of why it's considered the best in Johnson County.

Go Biking and See Wildlife at Indian Creek Trail

My mornings start with a brisk walk along the Indian Creek Trail, an oasis in the city's heart and a haven for nature lovers like me.

The birds chirping and the leaves rustling accompany me on my walks.

With its public restrooms and ample parking, the trailhead park is always my starting point.

It's a great spot for kickstarting my day and an excellent place to prepare for a longer bike ride.

I often exchange my walking shoes for my bike's pedals on weekends.

I've mapped out a 25-mile loop ride that starts and ends at the trailhead park.

It's an exhilarating journey where I can get lost in my thoughts while taking in the picturesque scenery.

The trail could use a little bit of love in certain areas as the pathway is getting rough, but it doesn't deter me from my ride.

Even when parts of the trail were closed under the highway, I found alternative routes to keep my ride going.

And it's not just me who enjoys the trail.

My pet is probably the most enthusiastic walker there is!

It's an excellent place for our daily walks.

We often encounter deer early in the morning, a sight that amazes us.

It's a beautiful reminder of the world outside our urban jungle.

Indian Creek Trail is a sanctuary where I can connect with nature without leaving the city.

Visit a Peaceful Oasis in Thompson Park

I always feel like I've found a little piece of paradise when I step into Thompson Park.

The park is a breath of fresh air, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city.

Moreover, the best part is the abundance of shade, a rare find in most city parks.

Often, I pack a lunch and find a comfy spot under one of the many trees to enjoy a quiet interlude.

I love that there are plenty of places to sit, including picnic benches, perfect for those lunch dates or casual catch-ups.

For those who prefer a barbecue, the park also offers grills for cooking.

One of my favorite features of the park is the water splash/fountain area.

It's not large, but just enough for the kids to have a good time and cool off on a hot summer day.

All they have to do is push a button on a post, and the fun begins!

As the day winds down, it's not uncommon to spot performances happening on the stage located off to the side of the park.

It's a great way to end the day, savoring quality performances amid the calming ambiance of the park.

Around the area, there are plenty of on-street parking options, and it's all free.

Plus, when hunger strikes, you'll find multiple food options and some great coffee shops nearby.

Thompson Park is a community hub, a peaceful retreat, and a fun playground all packed into one.

If you're ever in Overland Park, it's worth checking out.

Spend the Day at Sapling Grove Park

I've frequented Sapling Grove Park for over two decades, and the transformations have been nothing short of amazing.

What used to be a simple park has grown into a sought-after community spot brimming with activities.

The park now boasts an engaging splash pad, an absolute delight for the kids.

Every time they see the water jets, their faces light up with joy, making the park experience even more enjoyable.

One of the park's highlights is its shelter, which is ideal for hosting events.

I once attended a children's birthday party there, and it was nothing short of perfect.

The shelter was spacious and clean, and its proximity to the splash pad made it a hit among the little ones.

Another aspect I appreciate about Sapling Grove Park is the ample shade provided by the woods surrounding it.

It's aesthetically pleasing and practical, especially during the summer months.

This thoughtful feature makes it an excellent spot for families looking to spend a day outdoors.

The park also prides itself on its well-maintained, clean, and inviting restrooms.

Not to mention, its convenient parking access adds to the overall ease of navigating the area.

So, whether you're looking to host an event, have a fun-filled day with the kids, or enjoy a peaceful moment in nature, I can confidently say that Sapling Grove Park has something to offer everyone.

Unwind at Thomas S. Stoll Memorial Park

This is where I find solace and tranquility after a day’s work.

The park, sprawled over 79 acres, is my go-to place for outdoor recreation.

As an ardent baseball fan, I often catch local teams playing at one of the seven ball fields.

These games are exciting, and I'm often swept up in the crowd's energy.

There's something so honest about amateur baseball, and I love it.

But the park is not just about ball games.

On quieter days, I switch gears and fish at the lake.

The serenity of the water, coupled with the faint rustling of leaves, is a calming symphony that soothes my day's fatigue.

For my dog, Buddy, the dog park in the area is a paradise.

He frolics and socializes with other dogs, and it's a delight to see him so happy and free.

A stroll on the well-maintained, paved nature trail is also a must.

Surrounded by towering trees and chirping birds, it's a scenic path that winds around the park, offering a refreshing change of pace from city life.

The playground is a hub of energy and laughter that always reminds me of my childhood.

Watching kids swinging and sliding, their faces lit up with smiles, brings back fond memories.

For gatherings and parties, the park's covered areas are a boon.

They have witnessed many of my family's celebrations and picnics, each becoming a cherished memory.

Thomas S. Stoll Memorial Park is where I unwind, celebrate, reminisce, and create new memories.

Whether it's the echo of a baseball hitting a bat, the laughter of children, or the tranquil silence by the lake, the park is a symphony of delightful sounds that I wouldn't trade for anything else.

It's my little haven in the hustle and bustle of city life.

Visit Corporate Woods Founders Park

There's something almost magical about my park, the Corporate Woods Founders Park.

I say my park because I frequent this place daily.

It's as familiar to me as my home, maybe even more.

Here, I can be one with nature and be at peace.

My routine starts with jogging along the Indian Creek Trail. The trail takes me past a welcoming North Park pavilion.

It's a sight I look forward to every day. There's a water fountain there that dispenses cool, filtered water.

It's a lifesaver during summer jogs.

What I love most about the spray is the easy bottle-filling option.

It's so convenient, and what's more, my furry friend gets to quench his thirst, too.

The park isn't just about jogging, though.

Walking and cycling are a delight here. The forested trails and the open field are perfect for these activities.

My favorite part is the splash fountain.

It's a refreshing sight, and watching the water dance under the sun is a pleasure.

I usually end my day at the park with a relaxing picnic in the open field.

It's the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature.

The Corporate Woods Founders Park is my sanctuary, my escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Discover Nature at Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center

A buck at Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

There's a certain magic to be found when you step inside the Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center.

Trust me, it's not just another park.

This 116-acre nature preserve, located just outside the hustle and bustle of city life, is my place of solace and exploration.

Ever since I was a child, I've been captivated by the beauty of this park.

The paved and unpaved trail network makes for an excellent trekking experience.

I often find myself lost amid the verdant foliage, exploring the diverse range of plants and getting lost in the enchanting beauty of wildlife.

If hiking is not your cup of tea, you must visit the education center within the park. Here's the link - Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center.

I must tell you, you'd be pleasantly surprised at the range of animals, exhibits, and programs they have.

I still remember the first time I brought my kids here.

The twinkle in their eyes as they explored the exhibits and interacted with animals is something I cherish deeply.

Not only this, but the outdoor nature hike/walk is an equally fantastic experience.

Seeing the lush green woods, the sound of the rustling leaves, and the palpable freshness in the air keep calling me back.

The nature center is a haven of information.

You're bound to learn something new every time you visit.

I remember when they helped my kids understand the importance of biodiversity through engaging activities.

Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center is an experience that takes you closer to nature and helps you appreciate the beauty that lies in it.

And as someone who frequents this place, I can assure you, a visit here is worth every moment.

Discover Nature at Lakeside Nature Center

There's no denying the allure of the Lakeside Nature Center, tucked away in the heart of Swope Park.

From the moment you step into this wildlife-filled sanctuary, you'll be captivated by the fascinating array of creatures and informative exhibits.

I've spent countless hours helping my kids with their scavenger hunt pages, finding animals, and answering the intriguing questions posed along the way.

The variety of exhibits ensures something for everyone, making it a regular family favorite.

One of my favorite parts about this center is the well-maintained trails that wind around the area.

We must pull on our hiking boots and explore the outdoors after we've made our way through the indoor exhibits.

I've found that the trails are in excellent condition, and the facilities are always spotless.

We've even started planning our visits so we can hike first and then take a stroll through the indoor section afterward.

And let's not forget about the brilliant picnic area! It's covered outdoors and just perfect for a family lunch.

If planning a larger event, you can even rent an indoor space.

They also provide scheduled tours, adding another layer to the experience.

Trust me, you'll want to see the wildlife sanctuary.

It's one of the must-visit spots in the center.

Although it's fantastic for kids, I've found the center to be just as enjoyable for adults.

The walks around the center are lovely on sunny days, and seeing the well-cared-for animals is heartwarming.

This peaceful community space provides a cozy area for kids to sit by the windows, observe the animals outside, and engage in fun activities.

I've attended meetings in the conference room and enjoyed BBQs on the patio.

You'll love the trail here if you want nature hikes, like I do. The interesting rock formations make for a fantastic walk.

One of the best things about the Lakeside Nature Center is that it's free to visit.

So, if you're looking to get those steps in or want a day filled with fascinating wildlife, there's no better place to go.

Unwind at Gezer Park

Waters of Gezer Park
Richard Purdon / Shutterstock.com

It's easy to lose track of time in Gezer Park.

Every time I visit, the tranquil surroundings slow the clock, allowing me to truly embrace the beauty of nature and enjoy a leisurely day.

The park, located in Leawood, is a hidden gem I've enjoyed exploring many times.

For example, the fantastic trail around a serene lake is one of the park's main draws.

This trail is perfect whether I'm up for a brisk jog or a calming stroll.

The playground is a delight, not only for children but also for adults seeking a bit of nostalgia.

It's well spread out and boasts an impressive rock river feature.

With its gentle running water, this mini river is just the right size for kids to play in.

The park doesn't just cater to outdoor enthusiasts but also to those who appreciate well-manicured landscapes.

I've caught myself several times just standing and admiring how carefully tended each plant and tree is.

It's a sanctuary for peace seekers and a playground for children who want to swap their devices for a day of outdoor adventures.

The stream that runs through the park is a particular favorite of mine.

Watching children attempt to catch something in it, their laughs echoing around the park is a sight and sound I never grow tired of.

It represents the innocent joy of childhood and our shared human connection to nature.

Apart from the natural attractions, the park also has a few practical amenities.

Moreover, the fact that the entire park is themed around Israel only adds to its charm.

So, whether it's for a walk, a play date, or to soak in the beauty of nature, Gezer Park is a local haven that never fails to delight me.

A Day at Heritage Park

I didn't truly appreciate the gem in my backyard until I started visiting Heritage Park.

Waking up early to birds chirping, lacing up my sneakers, and heading out for a morning jog along the park's walking trails has become my cherished routine.

The peace and tranquility that envelop the park is a true city escape, offering a slice of serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

As the day starts to warm up, you'll find me at one of the park's picnic spots, enjoying a sandwich while basking in the sun's warm glow.

The playground is a hub of laughter and joy, with children clambering over the equipment, their faces lit up with pure delight.

I've spent countless afternoons there, watching my kids have the time of their lives.

Saturdays mean flag football with the KCFC youth.

The wide-open area is perfect for running and throwing the football around.

Heritage Park is also a haven for nature enthusiasts like myself.

The diverse range of bird species that flock to this park is remarkable.

Each visit is a chance to discover a new species or observe familiar ones in their natural habitat.

So whether you're an active sports enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone just looking for a quiet place to unwind, Heritage Park has something for everyone.

It's a place that brings the community together, a place that feels like home.

Final Thoughts

Overland Park has a wealth of free activities to offer, many of which I have personally explored and enjoyed.

Whether you love nature, art, or history or want a pleasant afternoon, Overland Park's free attractions will impress and inspire you.

So, next time you have a free day, why not check out some of these beautiful spots? You'll be glad you did.

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