Kansas City’s 10 BEST Places for Leaf Peeping
There’s nothing better than autumn: the crispness in the air, the crunch beneath our feet … and the vibrant fall colors everywhere! The season of pumpkins and apple cider calls forth the nature lover in everyone, drawing us to our favorite spots around Kansas City to see and celebrate this feel-good time of year.
While some enjoy the comfort of local parks to gaze at the striking colors of fall, others opt for the excitement of local pumpkin patches and apple orchards. Whatever you prefer, Kansas City is filled with wonderful places to take in the season!
“One of my favorite places to see the fall colors is Vaughn’s Apple Orchard in Weston. Just the trip up to Weston, Missouri, is beautiful, and once you arrive, there are all kinds of things going on,” Gladstone resident Jeana Tetzlaff says.
- Weston, Missouri: When it comes to fall foliage, Weston promises beauty to all peepers – even those just passing through. The drive through Weston in the fall is breathtaking, and there are plenty of places to stop to take it in up close, such as Weston Red Barn Farm. At the farm, you can hop on a hayride to enjoy the views, or simply gaze at the colorful surroundings while frolicking around the pumpkin patch or visiting the farm animals. Weston Bend State Park is also a great place to view the fall colors. Take a walk on this 1,133-acre park’s hiking trail. The trail meanders through the woods and along the edge of the bluff with spectacular views of the river and changing leaves. “I love the hills off of 435 and 45 Hwy., east of Weston and west of Parkville,” Overland Park resident Julie Hohimer-Johanson says.
- Overland Park Arboretum: (8909 W. 179th St., Overland Park, KS) This 300-acre park is a perfect place to gaze at the colors of autumn. With botanical gardens, nature trails, picnic areas and water gardens to enjoy, your family can make a day of it. And best of all, it’s free!
- Loose Park: ( 51st & Wornall, Kansas City, MO) Take in autumn in this 75-acre park, where you’ll find a beautiful pond, an exquisite rose garden, large fields for playing and picnicking and tree-lined walkways surrounding the park. Ride your bike, take a stroll, play ball or simply stretch out on a comfy blanket and enjoy!
- English Landing Park: (Parkville, MO) Hop on your bicycle, walk or jog along this park’s scenic 3-mile walking trail that runs parallel to the Missouri River. English Landing Park is filled with stunning views of fall and activities for everyone, young and old, including a large playground area, boat ramp, picnic shelters, a disc golf course and baseball and soccer fields.
- Ernie Miller Nature Center: (909 N. Hwy. 7, Olathe, KS) Ride your bicycle or walk along the hiking trails to take in the colors of autumn. The nature center offers both paved and unpaved trails, both ideal for leaf viewing!
- Shawnee Mission Park: (79th & Renner Rd., Shawnee, KS) This 1,250-acre park is home to a number of wonderful amenities along with a beautiful 120-acre lake, all perfect for leaf peeping. Take in autumn colors while riding in a canoe or pedal boat, fishing, sail-boarding , horseback riding, picnicking or walking the trails.
- Longview Lake Park: (11100 View High Dr., Kansas City, MO) Enjoy autumn on land or in the water! Take in the season while power boating, water skiing, fishing, relaxing in a pontoon boat or enjoying the trails. Bring along your bicycle, picnic lunch or even your horse for a ride in the horse park!
- Park University: (8700 NW River Park Dr., Parkville, MO) Located in historic Parkville, Missouri, the university sits high on the bluff overlooking the scenic Missouri River. The beautiful campus is surrounded by trees that promise the perfect fall setting. Enjoy a picnic outside one of the historic campus buildings, including the chapel, while taking in the amazing colors of fall. “I love Park University’s campus in the fall: the smells, the colors and the buildings. MacKay Hall is like a renaissance castle surrounded by fall foliage,” Lee’s Summit resident Shaun Pfannenstiel says.\
- Parkville Nature Sanctuary/White Alloe Creek Conservation Area: (Hwy. 9 & 12th St., Parkville, MO) Located just down the road from Park University and English Landing Park, the Parkville Nature Sanctuary is the perfect place to leaf watch. Hike the many trails, view the waterfalls and enjoy the adjoining White Alloe Creek Conservation Area. Gaze at the autumn colors while picnicking, hiking or bird watching in this mostly forested area.
- Powell Gardens (1609 NW US Hwy. 50, Kingsville, MO) Enjoy more than 915 acres of lush, rolling hills and beautiful meadows, a 3.25-mile nature trail with frog-filled ponds and fields of flowers, and breathtaking gardens and fountains, all while taking in the hues of autumn. “I love Powell Gardens! They have this picturesque little church set in the woods that’s magnificent,” Independence resident Erin Swartz says.
“I like to visit Squaw Creek (30 miles north of St. Joseph) in the fall. It’s great for hiking and bird watching, and the colors are beautiful. St. Joseph also has a beautiful parkway system that crisscrosses through the city. It’s very pretty in the fall,” Kansas City resident Kelly Henry says.
These aren’t the only places in Kansas City to view fall foliage, of course. Other great places include Burr Oaks Nature Center, George Owens Nature Park, Antioch Park and many more. With so many places to choose from, you just have to get out and leaf peep this fall season!
Don’t just stand there, have fun while leaf peeping!
- Weston, Missouri: Hayrides, apple picking, hiking
- Overland Park Arboretum: Hiking, picnicking
- Loose Park: Picnicking, playing ball, bicycling, strolling
- English Landing Park: Picnicking, bicycling, boating, jogging, walking, disc golf
- Ernie Miller Nature Center: Bicycling, walking
- Shawnee Mission Park: Fishing, horseback riding, pedal boating, canoeing, picnicking, walking, dog park
- Longview Lake Park: Fishing, boating, horseback riding, bicycling, dog park
- Park University: Picnicking, walking
- Parkville Nature Sanctuary/White Alloe Creek Conservation Area: Hiking, bird watching, picnicking
- Powell Gardens: Hiking, picnicking
Gina Klein is a writer and photographer whose favorite season is autumn. She resides in Kansas City with her husband and two daughters … and they’re all leaf peepers!
This article first appeared in KC Going Places Magazine Fall/Winter 2011-2012.
You may read the Digital Edition here:
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More MoKan Day Trips & Vacations!
Fall is our favorite season for Day Trips! Many of our favorite destinations are under 2 hours away and feature apple picking, pumpkin patches, historic sites, and hiking trails!
- 20-30 Min. East: Independence: Log Cabins & Trails West
- 20-30 Min. East: Downtown Lee's Summit: The Great American Main Street
- 45 Min. Northeast: Sibley: Lewis & Clark Country
- 45-60 Min. Northwest: Parkville: Tea Parties & Shopping
- 45-60 Min. North: Liberty: Jesse James & the Historic Square
- 45-60 Min. North: Weston: Autumn Splendor
- 1 Hour North: St. Joseph: Wild West in our Backyard
- 1 Hour Northeast: Lexington: Civil War in Missouri
- 1-2 Hours North: Jamesport: Amish Country
- 2- 3 Hours South: Carthage: Classic Rt. 66 Road Trip
- 2 1/2 - 3 Hours Southeast: Springfield: Ozark Country
- 4-5 Hours South: Branson: Vacation Capital of the Midwest
- 4-5 Hours East: St. Louis: Gateway to the West Kansas
- 10-20 Min. West: Overland Park: Historic Downtown Overland Park
- 20-30 Min. West: Bonner Springs: Be a Kid for a Day
- 30-60 Min. South: Louisburg: Apple Cider, Star Gazing, and Pumpkins
- 30-45 Min. West: Lawrence: Eclectic College Town & Family Fun
- 30-45 Min. Northwest: Leavenworth: First City of Kansas.... Carousels, Trolleys, and History!
- 45-60 Min. Northwest: Atchison: History & Mystery
- 60-90 Min. West: Topeka: More than a Capital City
- 60-90 Min. South: Fort Scott: National Historic Site
- 3 1/2-4 Hours Southwest: Hutchinson: Soar to Outer Space