This suburban city in the Kansas City area sits against the border between Kansas and Missouri.
In Prairie Village you can acquaint yourself with Kansas City signatures, tasting the famous local barbecue and tapping your toes to Kansas City jazz at the summer Jazz Festival.
Prairie Village has an upmarket atmosphere, unmistakable at shopping and lifestyle hubs like Corinth Square and The Shops of Prairie Village. Both are outdoor centers, furnished with public art that can be savored on a new Art Walk.
The community spirit shines through at Prairie Village’s many festivals, and many go down at Harmon Park, a green space brimming with amenities and merging with the Municipal Campus.
1. Johnson County Museum
Entertaining and educational for grownups and children, this museum documenting the history of Johnson County is moments away in Overland Park.
The signature exhibition is Becoming Johnson County, recounting the last 200 years through the prism of land, policy and regionalism.
The showpiece here is the 1950s All-Electric House, rekindling the sense of wonder of the post-war period when a whole new lifestyle was available to everyday people in the suburbs.
The KidsScape meanwhile is a hands-on introduction to Johnson County’s Past, sending children back to a farmstead in the 1870s, a market in 1900 and a new suburb in the 1950s.
2. Harmon Park
A place for outdoor events and everyday family fun, Prairie Village’s premier park is next to the Municipal Campus at Mission Rd & W 77th St.
The Prairie Village Pool is open from Memorial Day weekend and has a 50-meter lap pool, a leisure pool, a zero-depth wading pool, a dive pool and two water slides. The parks department is constantly updating the amenities at Harmon Park, and a new upgrade is the skate park, now a destination for the entire metro area.
You’ve also got ten tennis courts, play equipment for kids, a disc golf course and a lighted pavilion with six grills.
On July 4, Prairie Village has a charming community get-together around the Municipal Campus by Harmon Park.
On the schedule each year there’s a pancake breakfast, the Community Spirit award ceremony, a pie baking contest and a free swim until 6pm at the Prairie Village Swimming Pool.
Children will have the best time, with tons of activities around the Municipal Campus including face painting, bounce houses, kiddie rides, a petting zoo, pony rides and much more.
4. The Shops of Prairie Village
A vision of how all shopping centers should be, this outdoor mall has more than 50 stores, restaurants and services in a space laid out like a cozy little town.
The Shops of Prairie Village have shaded walkways, fountains, shrubs, benches and contemporary works of art, all inviting you to stay a little longer.
The electric lineup of shops are at the upper end of the market, with a bit of everything from designer homewares to women’s fashion, cheese & specialty foods, flowers, pet supplies, children’s clothing and baggage.
That diversity extends to the dining choices, with Southern specialities, sushi, ice cream, fresh subs, macarons, pizza, French bistro fare, bagels and more to tempt you.
5. Corinth Square
Flanking 83rd Street at Mission Road there’s another chic open-air shopping center. Designed to be walkable, Corinth Square was founded in the 1950s by KC developer J.C. Nichols, turning farmland into suburban developments for veterans returning from WWII.
In the space of a few blocks are more than 50 businesses, including one-off boutiques, a beloved independent toy shop (Learning Tree), contemporary homewares stores, a day spa, yoga studio and a diverse assortment of eateries, many with outdoor dining on sociable patios.
There’s often something happening at Corinth Square, from seasonal celebrations to in-store promotions.
6. Meadowbrook Park
This 136-acre park opened in 2019 in the very south of Prairie Village and has continued to add millions of dollars worth of improvements. Greeting you at the main entrance is a sleek 10,000 square-foot Clubhouse, hosting programs and events.
The park has three miles of trail, joining with the city’s trail system and flanked by low-impact exercise equipment.
There are also eight lighted pickleball courts, fishing ponds, three shelters, a natural playground and a sensational playground designed to attract families from across the area.
7. Jack Stack Barbecue
For carnivores heading to the Kansas City area, authentic Kansas City-style barbecue has to be in your plans. Integral to barbecue here is slow smoking, using a variety of woods (mainly hickory) and a dry rub.
This barbecued meat, be it brisket, pulled pork, beef ribs, burnt ends or pork ribs, is then served with a rich tomato-based sauce and all the classic sides. Within shouting distance of Prairie Village is a branch of the KC chain, Jack Stack Barbecue.
This is the second location for a chain founded by Jack and Delores Fiorella in 1974, breaking away from the family business, Smoke Stack Barbecue, established by Jack’s father, Russ Fiorella in 1957.
If you’re here in a group and want to sample the signatures, order the Roundup, with brisket, pork spare ribs, pulled Pork and turkey.
8. Lawrin Gravesite
If you’re visiting Corinth Square and have an interest in horse racing history, there’s a site of real importance in a residential cul-de-sac just a couple of minutes away.
At 59 Le Mans Court is the resting place of Lawrin (1935-1955), winner of the 1938 Kentucky Derby, and the only winning horse of this race to have been bred in Kansas.
Lawrin was buried next to his sire, Insco (1928-1939) on the land where they were bred. Woolford Farm, covering 200 acres, was a specialist thoroughbred breeder that operated right here in the first half of the 20th century.
The owner was Herbert Wolf, heir to a chain of clothing stores, and whose cousin was married to Virginia Woolf, the famous author.
9. R. G. Endres Gallery
The Prairie Village Arts Council, overseeing a colorful local arts scene, is responsible for this gallery at the Prairie Village Municipal Offices.
The R. G. Endres Gallery is an exciting and dynamic arts space, with well-curated bi-monthly exhibitions for regional artists.
There are also no fewer than four juried exhibitions each year: Future of the Arts (January), Art Of Photography (March), State of Senior Art (July) and State of the Arts (October). The gallery’s well-attended art receptions take place on the second Friday of the month from 6pm.
10. Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
The curtain is raised on the holiday season in Prairie Village with a tree lighting ceremony at Corinth Square.
This event has been observed every year for well over three decades, bringing the community together for a good cause.
Usually there’s an appearance by Santa Claus and the K.C. Wolf, as well as open houses at Corinth Square, Dickens carolers, a children’s choir, a drumline, cheerleaders, sweet treats and hot chocolate.
The event raises money for the Mayor’s Holiday Tree Fund, which helps disadvantaged local residents with maintenance and food and utilities assistance.
11. Art Walk
First launched in 2021, the Prairie Village Art Walk is a summer initiative organized by the local arts council as a way of showing off the city’s sizable collection of public art.
One of the champions of the Art Walk was resident Jessie Cartwright, daughter of Anna Belle Campbell, who produced the city’s signature Homesteaders sculpture in the 1950s.
Along a 3.6-mile trail, from the Homesteaders to Corinth Square, each piece is labeled with an informational placard. You can also download an app for an interactive guide.
12. Franklin Park
Named for a former mayor, Franklin Park is a lovely green space towards the south of the city. A trail connects this park with Meadowbrook Park, and winds through the grassy spaces in the shade of hardwood trees.
The pavilion is available for rental either as a whole, or just the north or south end. There are grills at each end, along with four electrical outlets and restrooms nearby.
For a casual picnic you’ll find tables spread throughout Franklin Park, while for recreation you’ve got baseball and soccer fields, playground equipment, a sandbox and a play stream that children will adore.
13. Overland Park Farmers’ Market
Often praised as the best in the entire state, Overland Park Farmers’ Market is just a few minutes away and needs to be in your plans during the summer.
The market is held on Saturdays and Wednesdays and is a giant event with more than 70 vendors, bringing in shoppers from all over the KC area.
The venue is a newly expanded dedicated plaza with an imposing steel-framed pavilion where you can find a wide choice of ultra-fresh produce and artisanal specialties.
This might be seasonal fruit and vegetables, herbs, cheeses, free range eggs, spice rubs, flowers, nuts, cookies, olive oil, enticing prepared food, herbal skincare products, wine, candles, seasonal decorations or any number of other finds.
The market publishes a vendor map each year, and the vast majority are based within a 50-mile radius of Overland Park.
14. Jazz Festival
In early September, the hill in Harmon Park is the venue for a one-day jazz festival that attracts music lovers from far and wide.
Fans of the genre will know that Kansas City is a cradle of jazz, with a distinct style that evolved in the 1920s and 1930s at the transition from big band to bebop.
You can pay tribute to this century-old heritage with an evening of sensational music, paired with great food and drink.
Normally the gates open in the afternoon, and you’re encouraged to bring a lawn chair and picnic blanket for an evening of entertainment until after dark.
15. John Wornall House Museum
Across the state line you can visit one of the five surviving antebellum residences in Kansas City.
This Greek Revival mansion was built in 1858 by John B. Wornall, who came from a farming family and went into real estate, banking and politics as the 19th century progressed.
The Wornalls had arrived in Kansas City from Kentucky, and there were five enslaved people on this property as late as 1860. It’s likely that much of the house was built by slave labor.
Following the Battle of Westport (1864), the property was used as a field hospital by both Union and Confederate forces.
The house was last renovated by the Jackson County Historical Society in 1967, as it was turned into a museum showing off the domestic life of a prosperous family before the Civil War.