The first stop on my 5-month road trip of the Western US is Olathe, Kansas. After a summer full of fun surprises like Marietta, Roseville, Detroit and Fort Wayne, I was eager to explore another Midwest destination! I never previously considered suburban areas a vacation destination, but this summer’s adventures definitely changed my mind!
Just minutes from Kansas City, Olathe is much larger than I expected, with a population of almost 140,000. Olathe has a ton of history as the spot where the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails converged. If history is your jam, you’ll definitely want to dig into some of the activities available in Olathe.
As is the case with most of my travel, I left feeling like I could have used a few more days exploring the area, as there are so many things to do in Olathe, KS.
Eat in Olathe
Sweet Tee’s Coffee Shop is tucked away in a strip mall off Santa Fe Street. This is a great spot to grab a coffee and light breakfast to start your day. They had a selection of delicious quiches, and a ton of interesting scone options – lavender lemon, butterscotch coconut, and several more.
You cannot visit the Kansas City area without sampling some BBQ. I had so many recommendations for various BBQ joints, but ultimately chose The Rub as they had outdoor dog-friendly seating. In addition to serving up delicious BBQ, the Rub offers classes, which sounds like a must-do for a return visit!
Play in Olathe
I have been wanting to try one of these painting classes forever, so I jumped at the chance to attend one in Olathe. Pinot’s Palette started in Houston in 2008 and has since grown to over 195 franchise locations in the US and abroad. The Olathe location is conveniently located to several nearby restaurants and the confirmation email even suggested a few good spots to get your drink on before the painting begins. The instructor was great, and there was also a helper walking around and giving pointers. I had a blast painting, in part due to the 80’s rock and roll playing in the background, which sets a nice beat for your brush strokes. This location also offers black light classes, which sounds pretty cool!
This would be a great activity for a group of friends, or even a family activity. One dad brought his teenage daughter because art isn’t offered in her school, so this was a great way to make up for it!
Shawnee Mission Park
Nearby Shawnee Mission Park is part of Johnson County parks and is a great place to escape the urban hustle. The park is huge, centering around a 120-acre lake. The park also has shelters, picnic areas, nature trails, play areas, an archery range, a 53-acre off-leash dog area, a frisbee golf course, plus mountain biking and horseback riding trails. During the summer, the marina also offers boat rentals. You could definitely spend the better part of a day here.
Lake Olathe Beach
When local friends told me Olathe had been voted as a Best Beach Town by Wallet Hub, I had to see this for myself! Lake Olathe is part of the Olathe Parks & Recreation department. There are park shelters, playgrounds, fishing docks, boat ramps and disc golf, but I could not find a beach. So, the Best Beach Town award was either ironic humor, or brilliant marketing on the part of Olathe. Either way, it’s a lovely park and we enjoyed strolling along the shores lined by sandstone bluffs.
Olathe offers a surprising number of parks and dog parks, so be sure to schedule some outdoor time during your visit!
Stay in Olathe
My home base for this visit was the Candlewood Suites hotel. I love extended stay hotels, even for short stays, because they offer more amenities than a typical hotel. I had such a great experience at this hotel, I stayed at another Candlewood Suites the following week! My favorite perk here was the lending locker where you can borrow all kinds of items you might need like a crock pot, blenders, board games and even a bags/cornhole game. While breakfast is not served at Candlewood, there is a pantry where you can purchase grocery items. The hotel also offers a gym and free guest laundry, which I definitely took advantage of! (The laundry, not the gym, ha!)
Our 1 bedroom suite had a kitchen w/ stovetop, microwave and dishwasher, a desk area, living room and separate bedroom. The rooms all come with a DVD player and you can check out an assortment of DVD’s from the front desk.
The location of our hotel was just off the expressway, and nearby a shopping area with a Target, Home Depot, Aldi and some restaurants like Red Robin. As I mentioned, Olathe is pretty large and spread out, but fortunately Kansas City traffic is pretty mellow, so most places were reachable within 10-15 minutes of our hotel.
Ready to plan your Olathe visit? Start at visitolathe.org where you’ll find a ton of resources and can order a Visitor’s Guide.Olathe, Kansas is a fun Midwest destination worth checking out! #VisitOlathe #NoPlaceLikeKS @OlatheCVB Click To Tweet
I was a guest of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.