A visit to this endearing laid-back town might be just what’s needed for a getaway. Located less than an hour’s drive from Downtown Kansas City, Paola presents all the amenities expected from the county seat – a historic downtown complete with a 100-year-old park square, unique local boutiques, down home restaurants for every craving and ample opportunities to explore the outdoors.
The most revered part of Paola is the historic Park Square. Built in 1867, the square was gifted to the City of Paola by Baptiste Peoria, one of the city’s founders. Complete with benches and mature trees for shade, the Square also has an enchanting Victorian gazebo, bubbling fountain and monument. The Square hosts numerous events, concerts and festivals that include the Music and the Market hybrid live concert and farmers market every Saturday that run from May through August starting at 6 p.m.
Located adjacent to the Square, Town Square Event Design is a classic, warm space with exposed brick and hardwood floors. This beautifully restored two-story building can accommodate up to 350 guests for large events including weddings, fundraisers and receptions. It also has pockets of spaces and a mezzanine that allows smaller groups to gather in a more intimate setting.
Around the corner, Little Town is perfect for intimate groups – up to 40 people – for baby showers or business meetings.
Attracting as many fans to the Square as Paola’s population is the annual Roots Festival, which originally started as a community picnic. COVID-19 caused it to take a break in 2020, but this year’s live music festival returns Aug. 27-28. Just as the name implies, this two-day festival is packed with blues and bluegrass, from the best performers across the country.
Paola Town Square
A hidden gem near the Square, the Miami County Historical Museum educates visitors on the county’s history and holds one of the largest collections of American-Indian artifacts in the state.
Home to more than 30 restaurants, Paola has a surprisingly impressive restaurant scene.
Rated 5 stars on Yelp, Paola Eatery is known for its comfort food ranging from American chicken fried steak to Italian lasagna to authentic German Schnitzel. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the eatery serves generous portions and complimentary made from scratch cinnamon rolls served warm before your meal.
Milo’s Steakhouse is home of the biggest pork tenderloin. Daily dine-in specials include half-price burgers on Wednesday and all-you-can-eat shrimp on Fridays. Be sure to save room for a slice of homemade cheesecake or get it to-go. Another Yelp favorite is Spudley’s Family Restaurant where the potato is king. Spudley’s serves potatoes all sorts of ways from scalloped potatoes and ham, Irish nachos, and more. Beyond potatoes, the restaurant also serves burgers, sammys and other hearty entrees. El Potro not only offers traditional Tex-Mex, but their outside seating area is the perfect place to sip a margarita when the weather gets warm. If you are hankering for soul food, Southern Eats serves fried chicken, collard greens, fried catfish and okra, peach cobbler and more.
If you want to nosh where the locals go, Circle C Café serves pancakes bigger than your face, biscuits and gravy and smothered pork chops. Café Latte is the local spot for hot and cold coffee and espresso drinks, as well as sweets and lunch options. Blend: Smoothie and Tea Shop offers healthy smoothie options to fuel your day. But if fried sweet goodness is the ticket, head to the highly addictive Daylight Donuts. A truly unique view is offered at We-B-Smokin where they serve up hardy BBQ and breakfasts adjacent to the Miami County Airport’s runway. Simple Simon will satisfy your craving for Italian food with their menu of pizza, pasta, calzones. strombolis and more.
After a great meal, it’s time for some retail therapy. On the historic Park Square, visitors will find a collection of locally-owned, independently-operated specialty shops and boutiques. Adorned on Gold sells girl’s and women’s clothing, home décor and antiques. The shop also provides a sauna and spray tanning. Other shops on the Square offering new and antique items are Park Square Emporium and Town Square Antiques & Gifts. Fire Lake Soapery features made-on-the-premises soaps, candles as well as various kitchen and bath items.
Let’s not forget about man’s best friend. Pet grooming and more is offered at All God’s Paws. Take home a bottle of their organic shampoos or soaps (made by Fire Lake) or browse the full line of organic dog treats. Pamper yourself at Be Well Spa, an environmentally friendly and health conscious spa. Opt for a natural nail, face or body care treatment or participate in a yoga class. To score a hidden treasure, stop in Twisted Roots, a boutique and salon. JKCC Print & Design is a one-stop shop for printing, t-shirts, and other promotional products.
Whether indoors or outdoors, Paola’s allure is its idyllic respite from big city life.
The ever-peaceful Canaan Oaks B & B offers the tranquility and quiet of the country life only minutes away from Paola. While Paola Inn & Suites offers traditional hotel comforts right off the highway.
During the third week in July, Paola hosts the Miami County Fair and Rodeo which celebrates the area’s agricultural heritage. A parade, mutton bustin’ for children, rodeo, auction, food vendors and 4-H exhibitions offer entertainment for the entire family.
Adjacent to the Miami County Fair is Wallace Park. Indulge in a variety of recreational activities – playground, biking, basketball and tennis courts, baseball field, swimming pool and skateboard park.
Or head to scenic Lake Miola for plenty of water sports – boating, skiing, swimming, or fishing on the 200-acre lake. If you prefer to stay on land, trek the seven-mile hiking trail around the lake or camp. Pick up all your fishing and archery supplies at Roth Outdoors. You can even perfect your archery skills at their indoor archery range.
A casual stroll on the Panther Trail, which is part of the Paola Pathways series of trails, is marked with panther prints and is less than a mile long.
Experience a movie under the stars at the Midway Drive-In, which is one of only five drive-in movie theaters still operating in Kansas.
Fossil Springs Winery is one of several wineries between Paola and Louisburg that you can safely tour on the Miami County Trolley. Located upon a giant limestone, this winery produces elderberry wine straight from its own elderberry patch.
This fun and friendly town will instantly charm you, while its lively boutiques, restaurants and attractions are more than enough to keep visitors engaged for an afternoon, full day, or entire weekend.