Johnson County may not have had much of a summer in 2020, but 2021 is shaping up to be different.
Unlike last summer, Johnson County residents will be able to more fully enjoy city pools, farmers’ markets, professional sporting events and other diversions this summer.
What’s more, there’s new restaurants to try, regional attractions returning to form and a selection of city-sponsored events.
The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated individuals can go most places and do most things without a mask.
While the county lifted its mask mandate, many local businesses are still asking patrons to wear masks and maintain social distance when appropriate.
If you are unvaccinated, long-standing safety guidance like masking and physically distancing still apply. And health officials say families with kids 11 and younger (who are not currently eligible to get vaccinated) should also take precautions with their children.
And despite rising vaccination rates, Johnson County and the wider Kansas City region are far from reaching herd immunity, so health officials warn that COVID-19 can still spread.
Those caveats aside, here are 12 things to do this summer in and around Johnson County:
Head to a city pool
While nearly every city pool was closed in summer 2020, most city pools in Johnson County will be open for the 2021 season.
Here’s a full list of what city’s pool plans are this summer.
Go to the petting zoo
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is back up and running after being closed in summer 2020 due to COVID-19.
Shawnee Mission Post Editor Kyle Palmer’s two sons have already given the farmstead some test runs this year.
The farmstead is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and guests are currently required to maintain social distance and wear face masks while they’re there.
Sip on a daiquiri
KC Daiquiri Shop recently opened up a new location in Overland Park in the former Boardroom Family Pub on Metcalf Ave.
There’s a number of different daiquiri flavors to try — and some Cajun-style food like crab legs and gumbo to accompany it.
You can just taste summer, can’t you?
Spend the day at an amusement park
Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, landmarks for Kansas City area kids for decades, are opening for summer 2021.
Reservations will be needed ahead of time for Oceans of Fun, but not for Worlds of Fun.
Guests will be required to wear masks unless eating or drinking, but there won’t be any ride capacity limitations.
Tickets can be purchased online here.
Check out a farmers market
Several Johnson County farmers markets will be fully open this summer, such as Merriam Farmers Market and Overland Park Farmers Market, which is still being operated from the Matt Ross Community Center parking lot.
Fresh produce, locally sourced meat, homemade crafts, sweet treats and a variety of flowers are just a few of the items that can be found at markets this summer.
Grab a scoop of ice cream
Check out places like The Golden Scoop, an Overland Park ice cream shop that employees adults with developmental disabilities.
The Golden Scoop has a number of flavors, but also has a scoop of the month each month, a flavor chosen by their “Super Scooper” of the month.
Take in some history at the National World War I Museum and Memorial
The National World War I Museum and Memorial, located in Kansas City, Mo., will be open daily this summer from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Guests not only will be able to attend the museum, but can participate in a number of upcoming events such as a Kansas City Symphony Concert happening on June 25.
Visitors can also check out the museum’s new immersive virtual reality experience of trench warfare, “War Remains,” produced with the help of popular “Hardcore History” podcaster Dan Carlin.
A full list of upcoming events can be found online here.
Attend a Juneteenth celebration
STAND Up for Black Lives+ Prairie Village, the Johnson county NAACP and Prairie Village’s diversity committee are hosting the city’s first-ever Juneteenth Celebration and Poster Contest this summer.
Children ages five to 12 and their families can participate in the contest to learn more about the Juneteenth holiday and can submit a poster for the event by June 14.
The Juneteenth celebration will take place June 19 at Franklin Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature entertainment, face painting and a poster contest awards ceremony.
Try some Korean barbecue
There’s a few different places to try out some Korean barbecue this summer, but Chosun Korean BBQ recently opened a second location in northern Overland Park.
Located at the former Sobhan Korean restaurant space, Chosun offers a lunch special daily that comes with a meat option, dumplings, rice and vegetables.
You can also try out Ssong’s Hot Dogs in Overland Park, which offers a unique twist on a popular Korean street food.
Celebrate Fourth of July
VillageFest, the city of Prairie Village’s annual Independence Day celebration, is back in 2021 — drive-thru style.
VillageFest To Go will feature surprises and goodie bags courtesy of the city.
Unfortunately, the Northeast Johnson County Fireworks Display — one of the county’s biggest Fourth of July shows, held each year at Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park — has been canceled for the second straight year.
Take an outdoorsy day trip
If you’re in the mood to get out of town, then you can pack up the car and take any number of easy day trips from Johnson County.
Places like Clinton Lake near Lawrence or Powell Gardens in Missouri are less than an hour away and can be fun for the whole family.
Attend a pro sporting event
That’s right, pro sports are back … with crowds!
Kauffman Stadium has returned to full capacity, though Royals tickets must still be purchased in advance and stadium vendors will not accept cash. The Royals COVID-19 protocols can be found online here.
The Monarchs are selling up to 7,000 tickets a game and will require masks and social distancing, KMBC 9 News reports.
Sporting KC matches at Children’s Mercy Park are also back to full capacity, according to a press release, with increased COVID-19 safety protocols such as mobile entry and cashless payments.
The Kansas City National Women’s Soccer League team KCWoSo is also playing at Legends Field this summer. Tickets can be purchased online here.