5 Fall KC Favorites with Tots

The warm scent of mulled apple cider wafts through the air. Autumn leaves crackle. Vibrant colors glow. Laughing children race to select pumpkins, and crisp air calls for snuggling into a favorite sweater. In celebration of the season, here are five fall favorites for family fun you don’t want to miss:

Watch Apple Cider Making

An autumn tradition you’ll want to experience is a visit to the Louisburg Cider Mill (14730 Hwy. 68, 913.837.5202; cider mill hours: Mon.-Sat., 8:00-6:00, Sun., 9:00-6:00). The delicious aroma of fresh made cider greets you from your first step on the property. Visitors watch as fresh cider is made from scratch at the cider mill every day. From start to finish: the apples are washed, pressed and processed, and finally bottled and made available for purchase. Inside the gift shop, visitors view as fresh apple cider donuts are made—be sure to enjoy a warm one before you leave!

One of the fall's best festivals is the annual Louisburg Cider Fest, the last weekend of September and first weekend of October, where you can enjoy handmade crafts, live music, barbecue, pumpkins, kids’ activities, a hay castle and farm animals. From the pumpkin patch to kettle corn, there is something for everyone in the family.

Tip: Call ahead and verify that they are making cider in the morning and that you will be there in time.

Magical & Whimsical Walks Through the Woods

enchanted forest sar-ko-parEvery autumn Kansas City’s nature centers host delightful events as their nature trails are transformed into fairytale forests where costumed characters unveil charming stories right before your eyes. A few of these events include:

  • Into the Land of Oz: Oct. 5, 2:00-9:00 at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center. You and your family are invited to help Dorothy in her quest! Remember, there is magic in the night! You never know who you are going to meet along the trail! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Admission is free. Walk-ins welcome. For more information, call 816.228.3766.
  • Magic Woods: Oct. 11, 6:00-9:00 and Oct. 12, 5:00-9:00 at Lakeside Nature Center. Take a walk on the wild side with Mother Nature and her friends as animal characters tell their stories and encourage children to love nature and conservation. For information, call 816.513.8960. $5.00/person; children under 3 are free.
  • Whimsical Woods: Oct. 12, 1:00-4:00 at Ernie Miller Nature Center. Meet with the Good Fairy and forest friends. Live animals, stories, songs and surprises will highlight childhood favorites. Reservations are required. For more information and to register, call 913.764.7759. $5/person (including adults). Paid at site.
  • Enchanted Forest: Oct. 24, 6:00-9:00 at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park. Visitors will enjoy free activities, including performances by marionette puppets, magicians and singers along the trail around Rose’s Pond and fun photos in the photo booth. Stroll the seasonal displays, visit friendly characters and enjoy performances at your leisure—no long lines this year. Admission is free. For questions, call 913.477.7100.
  • Jack-o’-Lantern Walk: Every October, families flock to Halloween Spooktacular, one of Powell Gardens' most popular events for children. The Jack-o’-Lantern Walk offers a low-key alternative that's great for all ages. Visit www.PowellGardens.org for complete event details.

Pumpkin Express

On weekends in October, the Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad offers a seasonal treat with Pumpkin Express rides aboard a 1920 passenger coach that traveled more than 1 million miles before being retired in 1984. The engine is a 1950s diesel locomotive that travels through Old Towne Belton on a 5-mile, 45-minute round trip. Volunteers decorate the inside of the train with fall decorations, and music plays as you ride. Upon arrival at the patch, children select a favorite pumpkin to purchase ($3-$10 according to size) and play fall-themed games (bean bag toss, ring toss, etc.) and earn prizes. The magic of the train is found in the heart of the volunteers. You'll meet the conductor (in costume) who greets guests and collects tickets, ladies in costume cheerfully greeting families and volunteers with a passion for trains who maintain the track and trains. The engineer greets visitors after the trip and gives them a chance to board the engine and ask questions about the train, making the trip fun and educational. And not one worker receives pay—they are all motivated by their love for the kids and the joy of seeing the smiles on their faces!

Fall Fun at the Kansas City Zoo

The zoo is decorated in the autumn with fun and spooky (not too scary for the little ones) decorations.
Enjoy Hoots and Howls at the Kansas City Zoo. The fun lasts from 10:00 to 3:00 every Saturday and Sunday in October. Enjoy zoo-mazing activities and entertainment, including face painting, hay rides, pedal tractors, a hay bale maze and costumed characters. And—an annual favorite—you can watch the animals participate in the fun by smashing pumpkins.

Then, take the kids out for trick-or-treating at Boo at the Zoo, Oct. 19 and 20, from 9:30 to 5:00. The event features entertainment and activities, including pedal tractor rides, spooky crafts and hayrides. Little ones can trick-or-treat at stations located throughout the zoo.

Leaf Peeping

Colorful autumn leaves captivate children. You’ll find many scenic trails to enjoy across the Metro, from paved (perfect for strollers) to woodchip to simple clearings in the woods. A terrific resource is the book Hiking Kansas City by William Eddy and Richard Ballentine. Eddy and Ballentine provide detailed descriptions of each trail, maps and photos.
     Visit autumn favorites for great colors and family photos in every quadrant: South—Overland  Park Arboretum; Central—Longview Lake Trails; West—Antioch Park; East—Burr Oak Woods Nature Center; and North—Parkville Nature Sanctuary.
And don’t forget the classic autumn traditions of jumping in piles of leaves and making crayon rubbings to decorate the fridge!

Autumn is Kristina Light’s favorite season for family fun! She can be found playing in the leaves with her girls, decorating pumpkins, enjoying cider donuts and celebrating at local festivals all season long!

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