This affluent suburban city is right against the Kansas – Missouri state line, a short way southwest of downtown Kansas City.
Constantly growing, Leawood has more than doubled in population since the 1980s and stands out as a shopping destination for the metro area.
That status has a lot to do with the outdoor mall, Town Center Plaza, home to several chains that can’t be found elsewhere in the KC area.
For families there are newly opened parks, an excellent summer water park and easy access to important nearby attractions like the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, Museum at Prairiefire and The Regnier Family Wonderscope.
1. Town Center Plaza
Tailored for the city’s affluent populace there’s a plush open-air mall in Leawood, with more than 90 stores, restaurants and entertainment options.
Town Center Plaza opened in 1996 and is home to several retail chains that have no other locations in the Kansas City area.
For a quick run down of the brands here you’ve got Bonobos, L.L. Bean, Barnes & Noble, Loft, Macy’s, Pottery Barn, Gap, Sephora and Banana Republic.
You can turn your shopping trip into a day out thanks to the AMC Town Center 20 and a slew of eateries, from Shake Shack to Cold Stone Creamery.
2. Park Place
This upscale mixed-use development is on the north side of Town Center Plaza, and is worth your attention for its cafes, restaurants, bars and entertainment attractions.
Unlike many projects of its kind, Park Place has the feel of an idealized city district, and this has a lot to do with its leafy sidewalks, street furniture and spacious central plaza, Barkley Square.
That space is home to a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, May through mid-October, and in the winter months there’s a romantic little ice skating rink here.
3. A Taste of Leawood
In September Town Center Plaza is the location for a food and drink festival showing off the top Leawood Chamber restaurants.
First celebrated in 1998, a Taste of Leawood is on a scale that is unusual for a city of this size, with more than 30 participants.
You can sample unlimited small bites from the many locally-owned restaurants, running the gamut from Kansas City-style BBQ to pizza to Thai food and French bistro specialties.
Admission includes four free drinks, and there’s usually live entertainment for a party atmosphere.
4. Museum at Prairiefire
The showpiece for a mixed-use development from the 2010s, is a museum in nearby Overland Park with a visually stunning building.
Widely praised for its architecture, the Museum at Prairiefire opened in 2014 and has wide-ranging exhibits dealing with natural history, art, culture and science.
This is a venue for traveling exhibitions by national institutions like the American Museum of Natural History.
Naturally, children will be dazzled by the Dinosaur Exhibit, featuring complete fossils, skeleton models and interactive experiences like a fossil dig and a station that lets you design your own dinosaur and see it brought to life on a big screen.
Also fantastic for kids is the hands-on STEAM-oriented Discovery Room, with puzzles, live animals and science experiments.
5. Johnson County Museum
For a deeper insight into the history of Leawood neighboring communities, the Johnson County Museum is a stone’s throw in Overland Park. Becoming Johnson County gives an intriguing account of 19th-century settlement and changing lifestyles down the years.
You’ll learn about the Kansas, Missouri and Osage peoples, dairy farming, suburban development and how segregated communities became diverse.
The 1950s All-Electric House is a nostalgic look at the luxuries that suddenly became available to all after WWII. Children can also explore the past at an 1870s farmstead, a market from the 1900s and a suburban community in the 1950s.
6. Leawood City Park
Enhanced with public art, this urban park is in a tranquil spot at the junction of Indian Creek and Tomahawk Creek.
Both creeks flow through undeveloped green corridors and have trails on their banks. We’ll talk about the Indian Creek Trail below, while the Tomahawk Greenway Trail cuts south from Leawood City Park for 2.5 miles.
The park is also a recreation go-to in Leawood, and is loaded with 11 soccer fields, 6 lighted tennis courts, two baseball fields, two sand volleyball courts and three basketball hoops.
The playground is a thing of wonder for families, and has brand new, accessible equipment. Leawood City Park welcomes seasonal celebrations in the summer, including all kinds of fun and festivities for the Fourth of July.
7. Indian Creek Trail
Leawood City Park is also a good place to get onto this hike/bike trail system, running through the southern KC area along a quiet green corridor.
The Indian Creek Trail follows the route of the namesake watercourse, starting at the Creek’s junction with the Blue River in Kansas City, MO, where it connects with the Blue River Greenway Trail.
The path runs right through Leawood linking a series of parks, and intersecting with the Tomahawk Greenway Trail at Leawood City Park.
From Leawood the trail passes through Overland Park before reaching its western trailhead in Olathe, for a total length of 26 miles.
8. Leawood Aquatic Center
Open Memorial Day weekend through mid-August, Leawood has a wonderful public water park, set in Leawood City Park and dotted with trees.
The main pool is Olympic size (50 meters), and there’s also a zero-depth pool for younger and less confident swimmers, as well as a baby pool, slides, diving area, splash pad and plenty of deck chairs if you want to relax.
The pool dates to the 1970s and has been updated a couple of times since then. Now, three generations of Leawood residents have learned to swim here.
9. Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
This wonderful summertime attraction is next door in Overland Park and packs a load of fun and educational activities for children.
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead was founded in 1978 and brings to life a Kansas farm from the turn of the 20th century.
Along with flower and vegetable gardens, a one-room schoolhouse and a quaint old fishing pond there are almost 250 animals at the farmstead, including birds of prey.
April through October there’s a packed schedule of educational programs, along with pond rides and horse-drawn wagon rides.
10. Gezer Park
One of Leawood’s sister cities is the Gezer Regional Council in Israel’s Central District, and this 10-acre park, inaugurated in 2009, honors that relationship.
Along those lines you’ll find lots of interesting features to explore at Gezer Park, including a wadi (seasonal riverbed), Havdalah garden and an archeological dig site replicating Tel Gezer, which has vestiges dating back 3,000 years and is an Israeli National Park.
These elements are all marked with interpretive signs, and there are two pieces of public to appreciate: Harvest Tablet and Stones and Steps. Gezer Park has two shelters, along with amenities like a picnic area, BBQ grills and restrooms.
11. Ironwoods Park
This 115-acre park in the south of Leawood has a little more than you might expect from a typical community park. One large facility here is the Lodge at Ironwoods, an events venue able to hold up to 500 people.
You’ve also got the Prairie Oak Nature Center, which hosts a range of educational programs, and the historic one-room Oxford School House, which has been relocated here.
Something else that is out of the ordinary is a challenge course, made up of a rock wall, giant swing and alpine tower.
Among the other amenities there’s a large children’s playground, a multi-use trail, a pond and an amphitheater for outdoor events in summer.
12. Breakout KC Escape Rooms
The best-rated escape room attraction in the KC area is at the Park Place shopping center. For those who are new to escape rooms, working as a team (2-8 people at Breakout KC), and using a range of skills, you’ll have an hour to solve puzzles to get out of a themed room.
At Park Place, Breakout KC offers four different rooms, ranging in difficulty from 7/10 to 9/10, with evocative names like National Security, Undercover, Y2K and Civil War.
Full of humor and surprises, the puzzles should be challenging but will never feel impossible, and you can always ask the staff for hints.
13. The Regnier Family Wonderscope
Another child-oriented attraction effortlessly close to Leawood is this children’s museum focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).
Aimed at kids under eight years old, the The Regnier Family Wonderscope has ten engaging indoor exhibits, such as the floor-to-ceiling Wonder Climber, KC’s littlest grocery store at WonderMart, Kansas City Café to roleplay everyday situations and the Creation Station, combining design & technology and arts & crafts.
The museum also has an outdoor area, available in summer and designed to evoke the Kansas City region’s urban, suburban, rural, agricultural and natural landscapes.
14. Blade & Timber Axe Throwing
Along with escape rooms, another concept that has swept the country since the 2010s is axe throwing and you can try this out at Town Center Plaza by Macy’s.
You’ll need to sign a waiver first, and will get a quick but detailed preliminary training session, explaining basic safety and throwing techniques.
There are 12 lanes at Blade & Timber, not too different from a bowling alley, except with a target, cages and a whiteboard to keep score. There’s a full menu, specializing in craft beer and BBQ, although understandably there’s also a three-drink limit.
15. Ironhorse Golf Club
In the conversation for the best public golf courses in the Kansas City area, Ironhorse Golf Club has a four-star rating from Golf Digest.
This links-style course is widely praised for its excellent condition, with well-kept tee boxes, pristine zoysia fairways and soft but slick greens.
The course architecture is also great, with subtle changes in elevation on rippling terrain that is easy on the eye. Amenities are up-to-date and include golf carts equipped with GPS and multiple refreshment stations.
Among the practice facilities there’s a driving range, a chipping green and a separate putting green.