Freedom's Frontier Heritage Traveler

Winter on the Farm…and in the Suburbs

The charm of any heritage area is that its special places, history and people make it a unique place to explore. Winter is an especially charming time of year in Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. Keep a keen eye out for some truly one-of-a-kind opportunities this winter in the heritage area in order to celebrate the season in true frontier style in Johnson County, Kansas.

Dashing through the snow…

Mahaffie Horse Drawn Sled

Horse-drawn sled rides at Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm, Olathe, KS.

Where can you glide back in time in a two-horse open sled? Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm, of course. When the weather conditions are right, the staff at Mahaffie hitches up their horses and gives horse-drawn sled rides. Keep a watch on their Facebook page for sled ride announcements.

Can’t wait for the snow?

There is always plenty to do at Mahaffie–snow or no snow. Located at 1200 Kansas City Road in Olathe, Mahaffie is the last remaining stagecoach stop open to the public on the Santa Fe Trail. Stop in for an all-ages hands-on experience focusing on 1860s farming, frontier life and stagecoach travel.

Be sure to mark your calendar for their upcoming events!
November 28: 1860s Living History
November 29: Santa Breakfast
December 6: Christmas Open House
December 14: Holiday Tea
February 21: Winter on the Farm

Celebrate like it’s 1864…


Photo courtesy of Kansas City WildLands.

If Mahaffie’s December 6th Christmas Open House is on your calendar, why not pair it with the Kansas City WildLands 14th Annual Red Cedar Christmas Tree Event. You can help restore native prairie and decorate your house like it’s 1864.

Early pioneers commonly used eastern red cedars as Christmas trees. These days, however, red cedars are considered an invasive species that threatens the health of our native grasslands. In the past, naturally occurring prairie wildfires kept the species in check, but modern fire suppression practices have allowed cedars to spread.

Join Kansas City WildLands on December 6 between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM at Mildale Farm, 35250 W 199th Street, Edgerton to select your own tree. Bring a handsaw to harvest your tree the old-fashioned way and a rope to tie it to your vehicle. Volunteers will be on hand to provide assistance. There will even be hayrides, a bonfire, hot cider and cookies. Kansas City WildLands suggests a minimum $15 donation per tree, with proceeds benefitting natural community restoration throughout the Greater Kansas City region. You can find out all the details here.

While you’re in the southwestern corner of the county, stop by the Lanesfield Historic School, visit the Gardner Museum, and stand at the Gardner Junction, where the Santa Fe Trail split from the Oregon/California Trails.

Hike without a handsaw?

There is something special about walking in the woods during the winter. To me it always feels slightly warmer and loads more magical than the strolling down the sidewalk. To find your perfect hike, check out Johnson County Parks & Recreation’s Hiking and Biking Trail Guide. Shawnee Mission Park’s has more than nine miles of beautiful trails on its own!

Warm up and indulge…


Pumpkin Spice Povitica from Strawberry Hill Povitica in Merriam, Kansas

After all that cold weather and tree cutting, you’ll need to warm up and indulge a little. Maybe Laura and Mary Ingalls were delighted by a peppermint candy stick in their Christmas stocking in Little House on the Prairie, but these days there are hundreds of places on the prairie that you can get a sweet delight. Here are some of our friends’ favorite places for a steaming cuppa or a sweet treat.

For hot drinks and cool shopping, the staff at Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm like Kansas Coffee Cafe at 101 East Park Street and Simply Reinspired at 108 West Cedar Street, both in Olathe, Kansas.

How much more indulgent can you get than The Chocolate Lounge at Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates? The Overland Park Convention & Visitors Bureau thinks it is the perfect spot to get cozy and treat yourself to decadent delights that are sure to fill you with holiday cheer. Enjoy hand-made chocolates, gelato, specialty coffee drinks, boutique wines and craft beers.

Our friends at Explore Merriam highly recommend indulging in povitica for your sweet tooth! Slice it, dice it, share it or keep the entire 2.5 pound loaf to yourself, but hurry to Merriam’s Strawberry Hill Povitica to enjoy Food Network’s “50 best edible gifts in America”. It’s pronounced poh-va-teet-sa! No matter how you say it, Povitica is a luscious loaf of handmade, hand-rolled goodness made with grandma’s original, old-world recipe, still baked in local ovens. With over a dozen flavors to choose from, it’s the perfect appetizing gift this holiday season, for your self or a loved one. Stop in at 7226 West Frontage Road in Merriam for free samples and free hot coffee or visit to order a loaf to be delivered to your doorstep!

While you’re here, don’t miss…

Ooh and ahh at Holiday Lights on Farmstead Lane at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. Enjoy the 30+ minute holiday light show, choreographed to music. Monday – Thursday, 5 pm – 10 pm and Friday – Sunday, 5 pm – 11 pm. Learn more from the Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau!

Take a stroll through Merriam’s history at the Merriam Historic Plaza.

Check out the award winning Monticello Historical Driving/Biking Tour. Stay toasty and warm in your car or pick a mild day to bike to historic treasures in Johnson County. Pick a tour brochure up at the Monticello Historical Station.

Ever wonder where Johnson County got its name? Learn that and much much more at the Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site. Established in 1830, the Shawnee Indian Mission is a National Historic Landmark that tells the pre-statehood story of Kansas.


1950s All-Electric House at the Johnson County Museum

Celebrate like it’s 1954 at the Johnson County Museum! Explore the county’s transformation from a Permanent Indian Territory to its suburban boom.

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