10 Fun Things to do in Kansas City & the ‘Burbs with Kids
Kansas City is more than just tornadoes, the Chiefs, and the best burnt ends in the world. For those who live in this beautiful part of middle-America, it’s a well kept secret that the Kansas City area is also a fun place to visit, raise kids, and plant roots. With the KC Royals bringing home the World Series pennant this past year, Kansas City is quickly becoming a tourist destination not just for sports fans but for families eager for a bit of friendly Midwest hospitality. Here are our family’s 10 favorite things to do in Kansas City and the ‘burbs with kids.
Fun things to do in KANSAS CITY, MO
1. Hallmark Kaleidoscope
Kansas City is the world headquarters of Hallmark Cards, located downtown in the aptly named Crown Center. More than just the answer to a trivia question, this little factoid plays a major part of a fun and FREE family activity in downtown KC.
Hallmark Kaleidoscope is a kid’s center dedicated completely to creative play and artistic fun for all children. Hallmark sends all the leftover material from their manufacturing and printing processes here so kids can turn them into unique and personal art projects to take home. If your kids love art, enjoy doing crafts, or just being creative, and you don’t mind them being covered in a little glitter or glue, you won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind experience. We love it so much that it’s the number one thing we tell people to visit when they ask us about things to do in Kansas City with kids.
Just make sure to check Hallmark Kaleidoscope’s calendar before visiting, as their availability for Family Art Sessions is based on area school schedules. Tickets for admission are only handed out the day of and are given on a first come basis. And don’t forget to keep in mind that sessions fill up quickly, so if you find yourself with some extra time before or after your session starts, head around the corner to the Hallmark Visitors Center.
The Hallmark Kaleidoscope is also wheelchair accessible, and if desired, you can call ahead to discuss your child’s circumstances to help determine the session that will result in your child’s experience being the most successful.
2. Hallmark Visitors Center
The Hallmark Visitors Center offers a free Hallmark tour that gives visitors an exclusive peek into Hallmark’s rich past, its current greeting cards and products, and the company’s creative future. Not only does the visitors center offer interactive displays and fun exhibits, it also makes for a great learning experience for everyone. Our family always combines our Family Art Session at Kaleidoscope with the free Hallmark tour, as my kids LOVE the Bow Machine, hence the purple gift wrap bow on top of my daughter’s head in the image above.
3. LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Another of our favorite downtown stops is the LEGOLAND Discovery Center, also in the Crown Center. With over 3 million LEGO Bricks, this model builder’s haven is suited specifically for little fingers belonging to kids ages 3-10. Our girls love the LEGO Factory Tour, where they learn all about how bricks are made. From ground plastic and molding to mixing and painting, this tour will excite kids while giving adults a reason to second-think sucking the little plastic pieces up with their vacuum hose.
Aside from the Factory Tour, attractions like MINILAND, LEGO Racers: Build and Test, and the LEGO City Play Zone ensure that kids of all abilities, interests and ages have fun. And don’t worry, LEGOLAND isn’t just for boys or older kids with great dexterity. Our girls squeal with delight at the sight of Heartlake City, home to their five LEGO Friends and a building area where cupcakes, microphones, and life as a pop star abounds.
And our 2-year old loves the farmyard inside the DUPLO Village and building towers with both soft bricks and bigger DUPLOs. If you have younger kids, consider visiting the LEGOLAND Discovery Center on a Tuesday. Every Tuesday is Toddler Tuesday and admission is only $14 for both an adult and a toddler age 4 and younger (additional adults or children over age 4 can purchase tickets for a discounted rate).
Tip: Don’t forget your socks when you visit; they are required for the LEGO City Play Zone.
4. The College Basketball Experience
Connected to the Sprint Center, the College Basketball Experience is home to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and provides a day of sweaty fun that you will never forget. If you have a basketball fan in your life, he or she may think they have died and gone to a 41,000 square foot college basketball laden heaven, as there is no place like this in the world.
Every single facet of the game of basketball has an “experience.” From skills like passing, free-throw shooting and 3-point shooting to rebounding, being heckled, and dunking, this high energy experience immerses fans old and young into the world of college hoops with unparalleled basketball activities and game-day excitement. And if you have little ones who don’t quite understand the importance of March Madness yet, there is a special Kids’ Court for them to practice their ball-handling skills on with equipment perfect for those ages 2-9.
5. Kansas City Zoo
It is suffice to say that our family loves going to the zoo, so much so that I have lost count of the number of zoos we have visited around the world! When we moved to Kansas City, the Kansas City Zoo was the first place we visited, and it has quickly become our go-to spot when we want a fun place to let the kids roam and need something easy to do in Kansas City for the day.
The Kansas City Zoo is the perfect size zoo for a quick day outing and for kids of all ages, especially younger ones who have itty bitty legs and a six-inch stride. The best part of this wonderful zoo is that there is a fantastic KidZone that is complete with the Helzberg Penguin Plaza, Polar Bear Passage, a Discovery Barn, the Peekaboo Tree and the Endangered Species Carousel that elicit oohs, aahs, and ear-to-ear grins from each of our girls every time we visit (and they make for excellent indoor fun when the weather is less than beautiful outside).
With tigers, lions, orangutans, and a polar bear to penguins, red pandas and otters, this zoo has the perfect variety of creatures and critters of every shape and size for your family to enjoy. And coming to the Kansas City Zoo in 2016 is a pair of koalas; you won’t want to miss them!
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE KANSAS CITY SUBURBS
6. Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
Our favorite location for entertaining, educating and getting kids outside is the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead located in Overland Park, KS. Built like a working family farm, there are hundreds of animals to see, feed and pet. Our kids continually talk about how much they love bottle feeding all the kids (baby goats, that is), milking the cows, and riding on the push pedal tractors.
There are also gardens, wagon rides, historic buildings, a fishing pond, pony rides, a play area for kids of all ages, not to mention two playgrounds geared specifically for little ones 7 and under and also 4 and under. This is a great place for kids to run, burn energy, and even learn a little about life in the early 1900s. And if you happen to visit Monday through Thursday, admission is FREE!
7. Kansas City T-Bones and the CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
If you find yourself visiting Kansas City anytime May through September, be sure to check out the Kansas City T-Bones minor league baseball team. They play in a wonderful, cozy stadium that was twice named Field of the Year. Even if you’re not a sports fan, this is a fantastically fun family outing.
With a special kids’ play area nestled down the right-field line, parents can watch both the game and their kids at the same time. My three daughters’ favorite part of the kids’ play area is the special kids-only concession stand. Not only is it kid-sized with much shorter counters, it also boasts lower prices so that the kids can purchase their own treats during the game.
“There are far too many bathrooms,” said no one ever, and this sentiment runs true at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Unlike many sports facilities, there is a disproportionate number of bathrooms to fixed seats, meaning that there is far less time wasted waiting in line. This also translates well to having small kids who say they “have to go” but really “had to go” 10 minutes ago and are now on the verge of Niagara Falls emerging from their tiny pant legs. For those with kids still in diapers, there are even baby changing tables in every single bathroom in the ballpark…amazing, right?
With general admission ticket prices starting at $6.50, the farthest seat in the ballpark being only about 50 feet from the field of play, AND free parking, going to a T-Bones game is a fun and affordable yet amenity filled experience for the whole family.
And for you parents that don’t like baseball or sitting outside in the heat, for that matter; drop the outdoor tolerating or sports loving parent along with the kids at the game while you go wander around Legends Outlet Mall across the street. Although there’s nothing overly unique about Legends, there is plenty to do to keep you busy while the rest of the family is at the ballpark. I could easily spend hours inside the TARDIS-like Nebraska Furniture Mart; with over one million square feet of home furnishings and electronics, it’s a Midwest destination of its own.
8. T-Rex Café
And once the game is over, don’t forget to eat at T-Rex Café inside the Legends Outlet Mall. Conceptualized by the creative minds behind the Rainforest Café, T-Rex Café brings the prehistoric dinosaur period to life in an interactive dining and shopping experience. While our family rarely ever eats at big box restaurants or chains, the T-Rex Café in Kansas City is one of our exceptions.
Greeted by a gigantic T-Rex fossil at the entrance, kids of all ages become awestruck with barely a foot in the door. From the elaborately era-themed rooms and periodic meteor showers to gigantic animatronic dinosaurs and aquariums that fill up each dining area, my kids soak up their love of all things Jurassic with huge eyes and even bigger smiles.
The only thing to note is that it is a bit loud, especially with the meteor showers every 20 minutes. While bigger kids think the rumbling explosion sounds and animatronic creatures are super cool, little ones or those sensitive to sound and life-like movements might find it a bit overwhelming. However, you can always ask to be seated away from the dinosaurs and in areas by the aquariums or near places like the Ice Cave where it periodically snows on a family of Woolly Mammoths.
With the entertainment and retail experience being so superb, the food really doesn’t have to be noteworthy, but in this case, it is. The portions are huge, the price point is reasonable, and each time we have eaten here the food has been better than the run of the mill chain restaurant. While the activities and souvenirs inside T-Rex Café are not free, my kids always manage to make this area a place for a little piggy-bank spending. And because there are only two T-Rex Cafés in the United States, you won’t want to miss this roaring opportunity (pun intended).
9. Moon Marble Company
Although a little off the beaten path for some, a trip to the Moon Marble Company in Bonner Springs, KS is always a treat for our kids and a fun outing if you are looking for something unique to do in Kansas City. Visits to this one-of-a-kind store are filled with marble making demonstrations, nostalgic toys, wooden toys, and pockets full of colorful marbles. And whether you innocently played with marbles as a child, are a marble game competitor, your child’s favorite game is Chinese Checkers, or you find yourself thinking that someone in your life is “missing their marbles,” you can relish in all things marble related inside the Moon Marble Store.
The store sells marbles in every shape, size, and color and even have vintage-style toys to go with them. They also sell hard to find collectibles, retro toys by Fisher Price, classic games like Pay Day and so much more; there is literally something for everyone. Our girls love playing with marble runs, and they always get giggly at the thought of using marbles as booby traps, so this is always a fun stop for our family.
10. Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory and Education Center
Nestled south of Kansas City in the town of Louisburg, KS sits the Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory and Education Center. Operated exclusively by trained volunteers, this sanctuary is home to not only rescued big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards but also to medium and small cats like leopard cats, caracals, bobcats, and cougars as well. Cedar Cove also provides refuge to several wolves and coatis that they have taken in over the years.
Tours of the conservatory are offered on the weekends, with scheduled feedings at 2 pm (you don’t want to miss these!), and every penny of the admission price goes back directly to the care of these incredible animals. If you happen to be in the area during the week, make sure to contact Cedar Cove at least 48 hours in advance of your arrival, as they can offer private weekday tours but need plenty of notice to arrange availability of their volunteers.
Both the CommunityAmerica Ballpark and Legends Outlet Mall are a stone’s throw from Hampton Inn Kansas City-Village West, making this the perfect hotel for a family fun getaway in Kansas City, Kansas. Just minutes from the Sprint Center, Hilton President Kansas City is nestled in the heart of the Power and Light District and is the ideal location for staying in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri.
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Amy grew up in Southern California but has lived all over the globe. Her latest move brought her to Panama City, Florida, where she lives with her…