Exploring the Neighborhood


Article by Molly Buchanan

Photography by Molly Buchanan

Between the swampy heat of the Summer and the icy chill of the Winter, Kansas City is gifted the most perfect creation in this Midwestern world: Fall. 

If we’re lucky, we get a few weeks of the most beautiful weather that exists this side of Heaven. Yes, frequent are the Fall days of putting on a sweater and seat warmers in the morning, only to sweat your face off in the afternoon. But it’s all worth it to get the days made for patio sitting, falling leaf watching, apple picking, pumpkin patch strolling, cider donut eating, and meandering the parts of our city that come to life during this season.

With the cooler temps, I found myself wanting to explore the KC suburb that I’ve called home for almost 10 years—Olathe. Yea, yea, my whole little bubble is here, so I feel like I’m “exploring” this place all the time. But I’m talking about real, Downtown Olathe. Because although I’ve been to a few of the municipal buildings, shame on me, I had yet to visit the local spots that line the streets that surround them. 

Downtown Olathe is a hidden gem, not just within the community, but within the city. There is enough to see, do, and eat, all within a few walkable blocks, so you can enjoy a full day of fun on those streets.

The first stop of your day is to Park Street Pastry to grab your walking fuel. Owner, Executive Pastry Chef, and Johnson County Community College Culinary Professor, Douglas Flick opened this adorable café, offering luxury pastries with a hometown feel. They have a full coffee menu, a pastry case filled with sweets and treats, and other breakfast and lunch dishes. They have a charming dining room, with the in-house staff to match. But with this weather, take your treats outside to one of their patio tables to watch the downtown streets in the sunshine. 

Now that you’re awake and ready to stretch your legs, walk down the street to one of Kansas City’s favorite gift shops, Junque Drawer. Junque Drawer is three floors of unique gifts and fun finds, and you could probably spend your entire day exploring their store. Along with offering a wide variety of unusual products, the store also offers a variety of classes and events, so you could certainly plan your visit around one of these. This store is my go to for greeting cards, gifts, party favors, home décor, seasonal decorations, and just to treat myself when I need a little extra joy.

After you’re finally ready to leave Junque Drawer, walk right around the corner to what looks like your Great Aunt Sally’s Victorian house. But you will see from the sign in the yard that it is really the home of Three T Baker’s Boutique, a one stop shop for all your baking supplies, sweet treats, parties, and events. You can shop their wide range of baking supplies and decorations, and you can partake in their cookie case that is stocked with sweet treats daily. Each treat is individually packaged for freshness, so grab a couple of Chiefs cookies for the road before you leave. Keep Three T in mind for the future, because they do gift boxes, custom orders, catering, and classes and events in their beautiful renovated space.

Unless you already started to dig into those cookies, you’re probably starting to get a little hungry. If you’re just in the mood for something light to keep the hangry monster away, Cherry Street Nutrition is your spot. CSN, as they are more commonly known, offers energy boosting teas, protein coffee, and meal replacement shakes. Choose a tea and shake from one of their dozens of flavors (I highly recommend the Reese’s Cheesecake shake.), and you’ll be ready to continue your day.

If you’re craving something a little more substantial, but also quite delicious, keep walking down to Vader’s Bar and Deli, a restaurant offering deli sandwiches, burgers, beer, and cocktails in a laidback, space. You can get a table inside their brick walls, or you can enjoy a seat on their adjoining patio. However, I highly recommend taking part in their offer for takeout and enjoying a picnic on the greenspace across the street. 

Right in the middle of Downtown Olathe is the Olathe County Courthouse, and its adjoining expansive green lawn. This has been the site of many of our family picnics, and it is a personal favorite for family pictures and photo shoots. There’s a huge clocktower, an impressive fountain, a shaded gazebo, and if you’re lucky, a great view of an occasionally passing choo choo train.

You can end your day here and still call it good, but if you’re not quite ready for the fun to end, you have a few options for pitstops on your drive home. You can head West about a mile to Lone Elm Antique Mall to explore the large square footage of fantastic finds. Or you can keep your tummy happy with a trip to your East, with stops at Red Crow Brewing for hometown craft beers or Sweet Thang for incredible ice cream creations.

Anything you choose is sure to be a great time and a fun way to switch up your regular spots. Stay up to date on all things Downtown Olathe through their Instagram, because word on the street (literally in my case) is that big things are coming!

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