JoCo Park Tour: Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park

We visited this park with a large group of friends last week and about melted from the humidity, but fortunately the rain held off until after we left (Gretchen and I got drenched in the HyVee parking lot, uggh).  This is a really large park with plenty to explore but my review is of the large playground right next to the lake that faces Lackman (go here to see a map of the entire park.

Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park

87th and Lackman in Lenexa, KS

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What we love about Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park: This park is huge!  There is a large playground right next to the lake with bathrooms right next to it, a little island with a dragon (?) statue that you can get to by walking across the rock bridge, and a trail that circles the lake and then goes on up the hill to the other parts of the park that we have yet to explore.  The Lenexa website says there are 5 playgrounds total, but from what I can tell this playground is the largest.  There is a large playground structure with multiple slides and climbing structures as well as 4 swings (2 baby, 2 regular), and a little ride on frog.  The retaining wall that forms a half circle around the playground is also fun for the kids to walk on: back and forth and back and forth!  There is a picnic table right next to this playground and a couple of shelters nearby that can be reserved as well as other picnic tables and benches scattered along the trail.  The paved trail around the lake is great for kids to explore with their bikes and scooters.

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Other things to know about Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park:

– If you park in the lot at Cedar Ridge Christian Church there is a paved path that will take over to the playground.  When you cross the footbridge stop and look around, we saw several frogs/toads and tadpoles!  Gretchen loved scoping them out.

– If barns and historical Kansas artifacts are your thing, check out the Legler Barn Museum at the corner of 87th and Lackman.  There is a train caboose right next to it the kids can check out as well.

– This park also features a pool, disc golf course, and a skate park.

– Lenexa is hosting a concert series at this park in May and June of 2015.

– If you want to check out ALL the parks in Lenexa this summer, go check out their playground passport program.

JoCo Park Tour: Leawood City Park

This was one of our official Friday morning stops but another rainy Friday meant it didn’t happen as planned. We ended up going over the weekend to check it out when we were over in the area and I took pictures so I could share.  Spoiler alert: underwhelmed by this park.  It is in need of some TLC!  Also, no swings :(   Still, Gretchen had a good time and it had some nice elements.

Leawood City Park

10601 Lee Blvd. Leawood, KS 66206

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What we love about Leawood City Park: The dinosaurs!  Gretchen loved the 2 dinosaurs and the alligator so much we had to bribe her to explore the rest of the playground.  They dinos rock back and forth and the gator is stationary.  The playground is really large with a separate structure for younger kids next to the dinosaurs.  I really liked that there are ramps for getting on the equipment as we’ve noticed many newer playgrounds make actually getting on the equipment a challenge for kids under the age of 4 or kids that struggle with climbing.  There is a huge shelter with picnic tables and bathrooms right next to the playground.

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Other things to know about Leawood City Park:

– It’s right next to 435 so the noise from traffic can get pretty loud depending on what time of day you are there.

– We haven’t visited it ourselves, but the Leawood Aquatic Center right next to the playground looks fun.  I spotted a whale slide and a spray ground.  We may have to check it out this summer!

– You can probably tell from the pictures that the park has seen better days.  The turf has lots of holes in it and the playground structure is really faded from the sun.  Not sure what year this playground was constructed but it needs a good sprucing!

JoCo Park Tour: Brougham Park

My interest in this park was piqued when a friend mentioned “the hippo park” in Olathe.  Gretchen loves hippos so I knew it was gonna be a hit.  This park is tucked away in a neighborhood in south Olathe.  It is well maintained and has a lot of unique playground features.  We stopped by here on a Sunday evening to check it out. It is not on the official summer park tour.

Brougham Park

15501 S. Brougham Dr. Olathe, KS 66062

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What we love about Brougham Park: Gretchen’s favorite feature at this park was probably the hippo tunnel.  This park is different than many other Olathe parks in that it has a lot more to offer for big kids.  The lower tier of the play structure is great for the preschool set, but then the upper tier is well suited for elementary aged kids or little ones that are adept at climbing.  Gretchen still needs a spotter for some of the taller climbing features but she loved going down the steep slides once she made it to the top.  There is a separate climbing structure (the trees) that she is definitely too small for at this point but she still enjoyed trying and she loved watching the bigger kids climb it.  There are 2 baby swings and 2 big kid swings and a huge open field next to the playground perfect for flying a kit or running around.  This park is connected to the nearby neighborhoods by a trail that is nice for walking or riding bikes/scooters.  There is a nice shelter next to the park that is first come first serve.

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Other things to know about Brougham Park:

-There is no parking lot for this park, but you can park along the road next to it or in the evenings/weekends in the school parking lot across the street.

-There are also no bathrooms at this park, not even a port a potty, kind of a bummer.

-This is one of Olathe’s 22 neighborhood parks.  I’m  jealous of the families that live close and can pop over here in the evenings!  This is a lesser known park (I learned about it from a friend) so I imagine it’s not as busy as some of the other parks in Olathe.

JoCo Park Tour: Franklin Park

Last Friday we explored Franklin Park for the first time with a few friends.  This is easily one of my favorite parks that we’ve gone to our on park tour and I am excited to go back as soon as the weather clears up!

Frontier Park in Prairie Village, KS

8706 Roe Ave. Prairie Village, KS 66208

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What we love about Franklin Park:  THE SHADE!  I don’t think I’ve ever been to a park this shaded.  So many big trees offer a canopy of shade for the whole playground.  I hate playgrounds where you bake in the sun and the equipment is burning up before noon.  This park has a ton for the kids to do.  Gretchen is obsessed with swings right now so we spent quite a bit of time over there.  There are 2 baby swings, 2 big kid swings, and a tire swing
(which she loved!)  Gretchen’s other obsession at this park were the ride on toys, a turtle and a duck (at least that’s what she called it, not sure it’s actually a duck!)  There are two large play structures, one geared more towards younger kids, one for older kids.  The real stars at this park are the sandbox and the nature stream.  The huge sandbox is loaded with buckets, shovels, and other fun toys.  The nature stream has a little man-made stream and lots of logs and rocks for the kids to climb on and explore.  Sadly we went too early in the season to enjoy the stream.  Not sure when it gets turned on, maybe after Memorial Day?  We will go back later this summer to check that feature out and I’ll try to update my post at that time.

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Other things to know about Franklin Park:

-There is a large shelter next to the playground with bathrooms and water fountains next to it.

-This park is popular and can get really busy. I spoke with a mom that said it was a rare day there wasn’t a line for the swings!  I imagine it will be busier once school is out for the summer and the nature stream opens.

-In addition to the shelter there are several picnic tables right next to the sandbox and plenty of green space and shaded spots for a picnic.  With so much to do at this park you could easily spend a few hours here.

-The parking lot filled up fast but there appears to be street parking available adjacent to the park.

JoCo Park Tour: Blackbob Park

Our official playdate at this park got rained out but we’ve been going a couple of times a week with friends so I thought I’d go ahead and blog about it.  We are fortunate to have several friends that live right near the park, so it’s a great meeting spot for us to get together once or twice a week!  I love that it’s just down the street from Starbucks so I can get myself a beverage on the way!

Blackbob Park in Olathe, KS

14500 W 151st St. Olathe, KS 66062

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What we love about this park:  Gretchen loves the “castle park” as she calls it.  The unique castle structure is fun for kids that like to play pretend.  There are 4 slides, 2 bridges, and lots of climbing features for little and big kids to enjoy.  Instead of mulch or sand there are plastic tiles with some bounce to them (not sure what exactly they are called) beneath the play structure.  I like this as a parent as it means I don’t have to stop and empty my shoes (or my kid’s shoes!) in the middle of play time.  Gretchen’s is currently obsessed with swings and this park has 2 baby swings and 2 regular swings.  There is also a shelter that can be reserved for parties, a water fountain right next to it, and bathrooms are just a short walk away.  There are 3 benches and a picnic table near the playground where you can sit and enjoy a picnic.

Other things to know about Blackbob Park:

-It is home to Blackbob Bay, an awesome pool to enjoy during the summer.  I love the mini me swimming sessions in the mornings that allow you to enjoy the kid areas without the big kids.  You just pay for one adult to get in and 2 kids under 5 get in with you for free.  I also love to go on the evenings that they do water walking in the lazy river, it’s a low impact but effective work out.

-In the summer there are also batting cages and a mini golf course you can use.

Debbie Howard’s Gym

I thought I’d blog about one of our favorite places to go burn off energy and meet up with friends here in Olathe.  Debbie Howards Gym is a little north of Santa Fe off of Mur-Len, so really only 5 minutes from our house.  Deb offers classes, birthday parties, and Friday morning (sometimes Saturday) open gym.  Open gym is only $5 per kid over the age of one and there are two age ranges, 1-6 and 7-12, so you don’t have to worry about the big kids trampling the little ones.

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What we love about Debbie Howards Gym:  It is huge, so the kids have lots of room to run around and explore without being on top of each other.  There are so many things to do: bouncy castle, climbing structure, balance beams, trampolines, the foam pit, and lots and lots of ride on toys like cars, wagons, and one of Gretchen’s favorites: a big yellow fish.

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Other things to know about Deb Howards:

Debbie is really fun and energetic.  She clearly loves kids and is passionate about what she does.

She also offers open gym sessions for children with special needs.

If you have a birthday party here you get the entire gym and party room to yourself, and all of the equipment is open to you to use.  We’ve been to 2 birthday parties here this year and they were both fantastic.

Debbie REALLY likes frogs.   Gretchen calls this place “the frog gym.”

She only takes cash/check, so make sure you bring more than just your credit card!

Summer Fun List!

The term “bucket list” creeps me out, so summer fun list it is!

  • Weekly visits to Deanna Rose Farmstead
  • Visit the farmers market
  • Ride on an outdoor carousel
  • Make lemonade
  • Get a treat from the ice cream truck
  • Feed the ducks
  • Picnic in a park
  • Outdoor concert
  • Do a fun summer craft
  • Wash a car
  • Make popcicles
  • Visit a farm
  • Go to a zoo
  • Visit a museum
  • Check out a new pool
  • Plant flowers
  • Explore a new park
  • Go to a Royals game
  • Visit the Beanstalk Children’s Garden
  • Check out the new Crown Center storybook exhibit
  • First Fridays
  • Strawberry picking
  • Blueberry picking
  • 3 year photos