Overland Park — or OP as the locals like to call it — is not only the birthplace of talented human/everyone’s imaginary BFF Paul Rudd, but it’s also making the suburbs look cool again (yeah, we said it). As the wave of millennials moving here from bigger cities have found, what’s great about the OP is that, while yes, many commute into Kansas City for their jobs, Overland Park is anything but a bedroom community. This growing city offers access to arts and culture (like the world-class Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art), enviable shopping and a park system comprised of 83 individual parks that encourages residents to hike, bike and blade everywhere they go.
Top Industries and Employers: Telecommunications is the biggest piece of the economic pie in the OP by far, thanks to decades of being home to the Sprint headquarters. Even with the recent T-Mobile merger, the city still offers a host of opportunities for those who want to get into the ever-changing telecommunications industry.
Best Coffee Shop: Pilgrim Coffee has all of the hallmarks of a great coffee shop: good lighting for studying, baristas who can do latte art in their sleep and nitro coffee on tap for those who need a serious infusion of caffeine.
Best Local Beer/Brewery: Not only is Brew Lab a hotspot for some delicious and uniquely named brews (try not to smile while ordering the Freakin’ Festive AF or the Vanillin), but it’s also a theme park of sorts for brewery enthusiasts with the option to brew your own beer. With their YouBrew opportunities, you can take a few hours to work with beer experts to cultivate your own personalized brewskies.
Must-Have Meal: If there’s one thing this region of the world does best, it’s definitely barbecue – and Burnt End BBQ’s burnt end bowl, which has a mixture of burnt ends, beans and cornbread croutons topped with crispy onion straws – is the comfort food OPers crave (and go to the gym for).
Best Co-Working Space: GRID Collaborative Workspace has everything you’d need in a co-working space (plenty of tables, offices and meeting rooms) as well as regular member events and an in-house chef.
Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Rival your friends on the bowling lanes or indoor bocce courts at Pinstripes before hanging out by the fire pit or grabbing a drink or bite to eat in their bistro.
Creative Hub: The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, part of the Johnson County Community College campus, is inspiring both inside and out — with 11 galleries of art housed inside a stunning minimalist building constructed out of Kansas limestone.
Favorite Weekend Activity: The Overland Park Farmers Market, which Cooking Light magazine deemed the best in Kansas.
Free Way to Have Fun: The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (free on Tuesdays) has over 1,700 species of plants and hiking trails in that beautiful wide-open Kansas prairie.
Local Dream Job: A project consultant for Black & Veatch, an engineering company with a 100-year history in the Kansas City area that focuses on innovations in sustainable infrastructure.
- Jamie Birdwell-Branson