Go See KC
Go Explore Midtown
Kansas City boasts many remarkable art galleries, with three of her finest open to the public for free! The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, one of the largest galleries in the United States, maintains a permanent collection representing art from throughout history and around the world. Visitors enjoy the galleries and, on nice days, picnic or stroll the landscaped museum grounds and sculpture garden. Throughout the year, enjoy free festivals, including the Deaf Cultural Festival (Sept. 8), American Indian Cultural Celebration (Sept. 16), Day of the Dead Festival (Nov. 4) and Chinese New Year Festival (Jan. 27). For modern art enthusiasts, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art exhibits permanent and temporary collections with special events and workshops for families.
The Country Club Plaza, with beautiful towers, sculptures, paintings and mosaics inspired by Seville, Spain, is one of the prettiest places in Kansas City and is home to many of the city’s most beautiful fountains. A favorite autumn tradition is the Plaza Art Fair held annually during the third weekend of September. The holiday season is not complete without a visit to the Plaza to enjoy the Christmas lights. Nearby, visit the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. The museum houses a charming world of toys with interactive exhibits taking visitors on a stroll down memory lane.
Visit Swope Park, Kansas City’s gem of a green space that is even larger than New York’s Central Park. Attractions include Go Ape KC, offering treetop and private group adventures. The two- to three-hour obstacle course includes 40 crossings that feature rope bridges, five zip lines, Tarzan swings and net bridges. Meet exotic animals at the Kansas City Zoo at Swope Park, where Berlin and Bam Bam the polar bears, the Helzberg Penguin Plaza, Billy Goats Gruff, Sumatran Tiger Exhibit and the Tropics are favorite attractions. Ride the train, carousel, boat, tram and Sky Safari to enjoy terrific views of the animals.
Go Explore the Crown Center District
Visit Crown Center for many attractions, great shops and restaurants. The Coterie produces professional children’s theater year-round. Kaleidoscope is consistently ranked as one of the best kid-friendly destinations in Kansas City. Imaginations know no limits as kids create jigsaw puzzles, glow-in-the-dark art, crowns and more at this hands-on art center. Sea Life features a walk-through underwater tunnel and an enthralling journey from the fresh waters of the Missouri River to the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean. The Legoland Discovery Center provides a range of interactive play areas including a 4D cinema, classes, an exciting Lego ride and one-of-a-kind Lego exhibits.
Spend a day at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, then take a tour to the top of this iconic landmark, where you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of the city’s ever-changing and improving skyline. One of the most notable landmarks you’ll see is Union Station, home to Kansas City’s Science City with great hands-on science exhibits for children and the Gottlieb Planetarium, one of the largest 360-degree domed screens in the Midwest. Nearby, make a stop at the Money Museum, a free museum where visitors leave with a souvenir bag of shredded cash.
At Union Station, you may board the KC Streetcar for a free ride from Union Station to City Market with many stops along the way. Nearby, visit the National Archives of Kansas City with free history exhibits and staff on hand to assist with research projects. Enjoy lunch at a variety of restaurants nearby. For barbecue, enjoy Jack Stack, for Italian eat at Lydia’s and if you’re dining with kids, enjoy Fritz’s where trains deliver to your table. Wanting to eat locally grown food? Try Unforked, or for steak try Pierpont’s. These are just a few favorite restaurants in the area.
Go Explore Downtown
The jewel of downtown is the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Audiences enjoy professional performances from the Kansas City Ballet, Lyric Opera, Kansas City Symphony and touring productions. The holiday season brings annual traditions to the stage, including Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker and the Kansas City Symphony’s holiday concerts. Throughout the year, both local and traveling productions include professional entertainers as well as educational programming from comedians to musicians, short plays to lectures. Before the show, enjoy a delicious meal in the Founders’ Lounge, where they offer a three-course menu featuring modern-American cuisine.
One of Kansas City’s most famous historic neighborhoods is 18th and Vine. Two museums in the district celebrate the city’s past. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum showcases the history of American baseball from the African-American perspective, beginning in 1863, and gets you acquainted with many famous local baseball stars. Measure up against the life-size bronze statues of players in mid-game on the baseball diamond. Visitors can experience Kansas City jazz and celebrate our finest musicians at the American Jazz Museum and enjoy a live concert at the Gem or the Blue Room.
Kansas City’s arts, antiques and dining districts roll out the red carpet all month long with special hours, sales and events on weekends. You’ll find a complete schedule of events on KCParent.com when you search “Weekend Guide.” Top picks include First Fridays in the Crossroads, enjoyed by more than 10,000 people who head to the cultural arts district for free peeks at galleries and studios, delicious treats from food trucks and restaurants and entertainment from street performers. Third Saturday Wine Walk on Delaware is an adult favorite in the River Market. On a tour of the Arabia Steamboat Museum, also in the River Market, learn about the excavation of the 1850s steamboat and her treasure on display at the 25,000-square-foot museum.
Go Explore Eastern Jackson County
“The Man from Missouri” and 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman hailed from Independence. You can learn about his childhood at the Truman Farm, his humble lifestyle at the Truman Home in Independence and his presidency at the Truman Presidential Library. There, visitors participate in interactive exhibits, including a replica Truman Oval Office; they also explore Truman artifacts and special exhibits. Visit other historic sites including Vaile Mansion, the Bingham-Waggoner Estate, the Jail Museum and the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, many of which host special events throughout the year and are decorated for the holidays.
Experience one of the area’s botanical gardens while you’re here. Powell Gardens is home to a beautiful island garden, rock wall garden, conservatory, Heartland Harvest Garden and acres of trails overlooking beautiful flowers, plants and prairie. In the fall, enjoy scarecrows in the gardens, Glow: A Jack-o’-Lantern Festival and cooking demos by local chefs. During the holiday season, make reservations for the annual luminary walk. Nature lovers also will enjoy a visit to Burr Oak Woods Nature Center where you can walk miles of trails and enjoy their annual Halloween event and free workshops.
Downtown Lee’s Summit is home to shops and boutiques, including bookstores, hobby shops, clothing boutiques, art galleries, cooking stores and more. At Paradise Park in Lee’s Summit, your family will enjoy laser tag, rock wall climbing, miniature golf, the Exit Room, the Foam Factory, bumper cars, an arcade and more. Visit Sky Zone in Lee’s Summit (additional locations available across the metro), a trampoline park with obstacle courses and games. Or, entertain the gang at Main Event in Independence, where you can enjoy arcades, laser tag, obstacle courses, bowling and more family fun. Landmark Skate is a classic roller skating rink. Take a spin on the ice at Summit Ice the city's newest outdoor rink or indoors at Centerpoint Community Ice open year-round.
Go Explore Johnson County
Living history museums are a favorite local attraction, with several historic sites telling the area’s history through reenactments and hands-on education. Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm in Johnson County brings 1850s farming to life with tours and programs all year, including stagecoach rides, family programs and a working blacksmith shop. On snowy Saturdays, enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides on the property. Shawnee Town 1929 is a slightly more modern village where families explore living history firsthand. Families also enjoy Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead before it closes for the season in October. The 12-acre park is home to more than 200 farm animals, gardens, a dairy barn, pony rides and much more.
BYOB paint-your-own-canvas shops are a fun trend across the city, each offering diverse calendars with a variety of masterpieces you can create following simple step-by-step instructions. In Johnson County, Thirsty Palette in Leawood is one of our top picks. Customers sign up for a class, bring their own beverage and spend an evening creating a personal work of art to take home and display. Create family keepsakes at Paint, Glaze & Fire, Ceramics Cafe and more paint-your-own pottery shops. Patrons select and paint their own ceramic masterpieces—anything from piggy banks to plates, mugs to picture frames and many holiday pieces, as well.
Adventure lovers enjoy iFly KC, an indoor skydiving facility. The indoor skydiving is a simulation of true freefall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel. The dream of flight becomes a reality! This is a top pick for visitors who have come to town for an event at the Overland Park Convention Center. Nearby, be sure to spend an evening at Topgolf, an entertainment complex for golf enthusiasts. Play point-scoring golf games for anyone from experts to children and enjoy the luxury of indoor play on a 240-yard outfield with dartboard-like targets in the ground. Urban Air Overland Park is a favorite indoor trampoline park, with an indoor playground and fun for all ages with obstacle courses and games.
Go Explore Kansas
Head west to Legends Outlets for a day of shopping and local attractions. The shopping center features tributes to local celebrities with banners, statues and artwork. You even can walk the Yellow Brick Road, a tribute to Kansas’ literary fame in the Wizard of Oz. Catch a movie at the theater or listen to a concert on the Lawn. Play your favorite arcades and enjoy delicious food at Dave and Buster’s or enjoy Kansas City barbecue at Arthur Bryant’s. Then, visit Nebraska Furniture Mart, the largest furniture retailer in the region, and Cabela’s, an outdoor store with an amazing aquarium and animal exhibits.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience at Kansas Speedway allows fans to take a ride or get behind the wheel of a 600 hp NASCAR race car on the 1.5-mile tri-oval track at speeds of up to 155 mph. Or watch a NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway as professional drivers race to the finish line. Then, head to Zip KC in Bonner Springs, where you can take a tour that mixes hiking and zip lining. For an unforgettable experience, spend the night at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park and resort hotel with seasonal fun, including a giant gingerbread house for the holiday season.
Cedar Cove in Louisburg, KS, is an animal refuge for endangered or rescued big cats. See leopards, cougars, wolves, bobcats, a white tiger, black leopards and caracals. Enjoy fresh-made cider at Louisburg Cider Mill, where visitors watch as cider is pressed and cider donuts are made. The mill is also home to a seasonal pumpkin patch and corn maze. On Saturdays through October, visit Powell Observatory for a public stargazing session through one of the largest telescopes in the region. The Overland Park Arboretum is home to a Monet garden, train garden and beautiful trails to explore. The gardens are glorious with fall foliage, and their holiday luminary walk is a favorite tradition for many families.
Go Explore the Northland
The Village at Briarcliff in the Northland features Tuscan-style architecture and offers spectacular views of Downtown Kansas City and an upscale boutique shopping and dining experience. From Nell Hill’s to Made in KC, Lillian’s to Boutique Collective, the village offers a variety of clothing, decorating and boutique-style shops. Piropos restaurant serves authentic Argentinian cuisine, Trezo Mare is a favorite for Italian dining, and you will find casual dining options as well. With spas, salons, event spaces and even Pinot’s Palette, a painting experience, visitors have a lot to see and do. Throughout the year, enjoy ladies night out events, fall open house, holiday open house and shopping specials.
Winter sports are beloved in Kansas City. You can take a spin on the ice at one of the local rinks, including Line Creek Ice Rink and Linden Square Ice Rink in Gladstone. In November, families compete in turkey bowling on the ice at Line Creek Arena. Weston’s Snow Creek is a short 45-minute to one-hour drive from downtown KC, appealing to skiers and snowboarders alike. You’ll find ice skating rinks and a guide to the best sled hills in Kansas City on KCParent.com. While you’re in Weston, enjoy boutiques, farms and wineries.
Historic Downtown Liberty is home to the Jesse James Bank Museum, site of the first recorded daytime bank robbery. On the square, enjoy local cafes, boutiques and shops, including Blanc Palette, a paint-your-own masterpiece studio where pet paintings are a favorite project. For entertainment, catch a live show at the Corbin Theatre, where you can enjoy musical theater, live music and stage shows. Throughout the year, catch a performance with the Liberty Symphony, whose annual holiday concert is a family tradition for many Northlanders.
Go Explore All Around Town
Creative juices flow at Create-It. the Makery and Pinspire Craft Studios, new local businesses specializing in all those Pinterest-inspired projects you want to try but never get around to creating. For fun vintage art, connect with friends at Eat Drink & Stitch, where you can participate in embroidery happy hours, workshops and parties. Restoration Emporium is an eclectic shop selling vintage and repurposed art. They also offer workshops to learn how to paint signs, make wreaths and craft using repurposed materials. The Studio in historic Overland Park is the place for knitting, crochet and needlepoint classes.
Test your puzzle solving skills at one of the city’s many escape room entertainment venues. You’ll find Exit Room at Paradise Park and Union Station, Breakout KC in the River Market district, the Escape Room, Tick Tock Escape and more. Players are given one hour to solve puzzles and unravel codes to escape a real-life scenario. Or, participate in an interactive murder mystery with a live show at a local restaurant courtesy of Mystery Train. Holyfield Winery in Bonner Springs and Belvoir Winery in Liberty also host regular murder mystery events. You’ll find more on KCParent.com.
Enjoy classic fun with a visit to one of Kansas City’s fun centers. Adults enjoy a bit of nostalgia at one of the area’s arcades. Local restaurants also feature gaming, including Tapcade, Draftcade, Up-Down Arcade, Pawns & Pints, Throwback KC and Dave & Buster’s. Miniature golf, go-karts and arcades are all the rage at Cool Crest. Aaron’s Fun Center in Belton offers bowling, arcades and miniature golf. Little Monkey Bizness is the ultimate indoor attraction for tiny tots, with indoor play equipment and a hands-on art room. Main Event boasts three locations with bowling, billiards, laser tag, arcades, obstacle courses and more.