Spend an afternoon in Lenexa, Kansas and you’ll learn why the locals love it. From the Barbeque contests to the baseball games, there’s plenty to keep the cooks—and the kids—in your life busy.
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Size: 34 square miles
Major employers: Coca-Cola bottling, T-Mobile, Consolidated Communications (formerly SureWest), United Parcel Service, Kiewit Power Engineers, Co.
When it comes to public schools, Lenexa is a triple threat with three excellent school districts in the area: Shawnee Mission, De Soto, and Olathe. There are also a handful of private schools to choose from.
With all of the diverse dining options located in Lenexa, your taste buds can travel the world without even leaving the city. This is because the town is filled with restaurants serving food from far away places. From Red Kitchen Tamales (Mexican), Sweet Siam (Thai), Holy Land Café (Mediterranean), Sushi Uni (Japanese) and KC Grill and Kabob (Persian), you don’t have to worry about falling into a pizza and burgers rut.
Not that there’s anything wrong with pizza and burgers! Especially when you can explore the tasty combo of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine from Papagallo Italian and Mediterranean Express. From Shrimp Diablo to Chicken Shawarma, this family-run restaurant is serving up some serious good food. If you’re in the mood for something a little funkier, sink your teeth into the new Grinders at Stonewall. The New York-style pizzas, Philly cheesesteaks, and eclectic beer tap were once only found in the Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. However, now you can have the Grinders experience right here in Lenexa (10244 Pflumm). You can also score some flatbread favorites at Spin! Neapolitan Pizza (95th and Renner).
Whether you’re Team Costco Wholesale or Team Sam’s Club, buy in bulk at either one of the two big-box stores in Lenexa. Because let’s be honest, you never know when you’re going to need a lifetime supply of Ketchup.
You also have options when it comes to scoring designer deals. DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse and Nordstrom Rack are located conveniently close to each other near 95th and Quivira, so may the best bargainer win. For every sports fan in your life, there’s Kansas Sampler down the street.
Get your game face on for the annual Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle. This meat fest started in 1982 with 12 contestants and 12 judges. Now nearly 200 contestants fire up their grills and 240 judges put their taste buds to the test. The two-day cook-off, complete which children’s activities and live music, calls barbequers from across the map to compete for the grand champion title—which usually involves a ribbon and unlimited bragging rights for the year.
Master the art of family bonding at other annual events, such as Movie in the Park, the Midnight Bike and Hike, Chili Challenge, Spinach Festival, Community Days Parade and the Old Town Lighting ceremony—which is guaranteed put a spark in your holiday season.
If you’re in the mood for some good music and even better coffee, head to Black Dog Coffeehouse where artists and coffee lovers unite. Blending and brewing Kansas-roasted coffee, the independently owned and operated espresso bar proudly serves their drinks with a soundtrack of local live music.
If you’re craving a drink that’s a little bit stronger, take a load off at Jerry’s Bait Shop. You can catch live music at this rock n’ roll watering hole almost every night of the week.
Parks and Recreation
Whistle for your little engineers and hop aboard the railroad caboose at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park (87th and Lackman Road), complete with a swimming pool and lake. Picnic areas, walking trails, playgrounds and courts for sports are also available for those of you looking for an adventure—or an extremely lazy game of sand volleyball.
Afterward, don’t just take your kids out to the ballgame—get them on the field with Johnson County 3&2 Baseball Club. From kindergarten coach-pitch to 12th grade tournaments, your mini George Brett can test his batting average on one of the nine-lighted fields. The baseball complex offers spring, summer and fall ball, in addition to coach clinics and camps for kids. No. 1 fans can recharge with Cherry Icees and concession stand cheese fries, nachos, and popcorn.
Then trade that foam finger for a grip glove and hit the greens at Falcon Ridge Golf Course or the nine-hole Falcon Valley Golf Course. Whether you’re a pro or just so-so, you can test out the manicured, hilly course and tackle frequent elevation changes. Putters can also perfect their backswing at the Golf Club of Kansas, a public, 18-hole, regulation length course across from an abandoned rock quarry and lake. Or you ditch the itchy sweater vest—and dramatically increase your chances of getting a hole-in-one—and mini golf at Smiley’s Golf Complex.
Pardon our French, but you must check out the dam views at Lake Lenexa in Black Hoof Park. The dam and spillway meet to form fountains and cascading pools. (Hop on the pedestrian bridge for a front row seat.) The completion of this 35-acre lake helped community members complete their mission to reduce flooding, protect water quality and habitat and preserve the forest, prairie and wetlands in this area. You may even make friends with deer, coyotes, red foxes and lizards that are known to roam the park.
Get your feet moving—and work off that large German Cake latte—at the All American Indoor Sports facility. This soccer station, complete with five fields of grass-like turf, offers adult and pony (kids only) leagues for all ages and levels of play.