Go See Kansas City
Go Explore Midtown
Kansas City’s original signature landmark, the Country Club Plaza, features beautiful towers, sculptures, paintings and mosaics inspired by Seville, Spain. Our city is known as the City of Fountains, and this area is one of the prettiest to enjoy many of our most beautiful fountains. A favorite spring tradition is taking photos with the Plaza’s Easter animals (March 26-April 26). Visitors enjoy festivals, including the Kansas City International Filmfest (April 10-14), Illuminated Waters (Memorial Day Weekend) and Dragon Boat Festival (June 8). 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.
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 Passport to India (April 14), ShuttleCork (May 3), Juneteenth (June 8) and Big Picnic (July 21). Nearby, savor a stroll through the free Kauffman Memorial Gardens, where something is always in bloom. For modern art enthusiasts, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art exhibits permanent and temporary collections with special events and workshops for families.
Swope Park is Kansas City’s gem of a green space that is even larger than New York’s Central Park. Meet exotic animals at the Kansas City Zoo as you explore the Polar Bear Passage, Helzberg Penguin Plaza, Stingray Bay, Billy Goats Gruff, Sumatran Tiger Exhibit, Africa, Australia and the Tropics exhibits. Ride the train, carousel, boat, tram and Sky Safari to enjoy terrific views of the animals. Starlight Theatre, Kansas City’s outdoor theater, hosts live theater and concerts throughout the summer. Other attractions include Go Ape KC, a two- to three-hour obstacle course that boasts 40 crossings that feature rope bridges, five zip lines, Tarzan swings and net bridges. At the part, you’ll also find the Battle of Westport Museum and Lakeside Nature Center.
Go Explore the Crown Center District
Visit Crown Center for many attractions, great shops and restaurants, and free hands-on exhibits for children, including Journey to Oz (thru May 12) and Adventures of Clifford the Big Red Dog (June 8-Sept.22). 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. Explore the museum’s most recent exhibit, Color of Memory: Fabric Art in WWI. The exhibit explores the stories behind sentiments are expressed in the fabric art stemming from World War I. Romantic and patriotic scenes were created on silk, cotton and wool felt. See incredible objects from Belgium, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, including decorative pillowcases, flags, tapestries, banners, maps and much more. 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 through downtown. Stop in the Power & Light District where you can catch a film at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a cool dine-in movie theater with a retro vibe. Stop in Cosentino’s for some fresh food or even a local souvenir, then take their elevator to the rooftop park where you can enjoy a stroll on green grass. For another great view, travel to the top of KCMO’s City Hall where you can take in 360-degree views of downtown (Mon.-Fri. 9:00-3:00). Also, stop in the Library District to explore the Central Library and its famous painted bookshelf parking garage, and the River Market District where you can enjoy many tasty restaurants and fun shopping experiences.
Go Explore Downtown KCMO
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. Every summer, they host the annual Future Stages Festival (June 16), showcasing hundreds of young performers on the Kauffman Center stages and featuring a wide range of diverse performance styles and engaging arts activities. Throughout the year, both local and traveling productions feature professional entertainers, educational programming, comedians, musicians, short plays and lectures. Before a 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 & 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. One of the newest establishments in the Crossroads is Parlor. At this urban food hall, diners enjoy a variety of culinary concepts from local chefs all under one roof. 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 in Missouri
“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, all in Independence, many of which host special events throughout the year.
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 Foam Factory, bumper cars, an arcade and more. Check out the new Case of the Ghost Diamond escape room—a thrilling adventure for the entire family. Visit Sky Zone in Lee’s Summit (additional locations available across the metro), a trampoline park with obstacle courses, ninja courses and games. Or, head to Main Event in Independence (additional locations), where you can enjoy arcades, laser tag, obstacle courses, billiards, bowling and more family fun.
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. Summer festivals include Booms & Blooms (June 29), featuring a live symphony performance and fireworks, and Festival of Butterflies (July 27-Aug. 11). On your way, stop at Cockrell’s Mercantile, a quaint mini-village of boutique shops where you’ll find special items for the home and kitchen.
Go Explore Johnson County in Kansas
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 Thursday evenings in June and July, enjoy free themed events. Shawnee Town 1929 is a slightly more modern village where families explore living history firsthand. Families also enjoy Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. The 12-acre park is home to more than 200 farm animals, gardens, a dairy barn, pony rides and much more.
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 (additional locations) is a favorite indoor trampoline park, with an indoor playground and fun for all ages with obstacle courses and games.
Summer is the season to explore local wineries and Johnson County is home to several local favorites with tasting rooms. Stone Pillar Vineyard & Winery in Olathe is known for hosting food truck events and Friday night concerts. Holy Field Vineyards & Winery in Basehor hosts comedy murder mystery dinners throughout the year, tastings and live concerts. Aubrey Vineyards in Overland Park hosts parties to release each new wine, along with other seasonal events. You can discover even more local wineries with our guide to KC Wineries.
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. In May, Kansas Speedway hosts NASCAR Gander Outdoors 250 (May 10) and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Night Race (May 11). 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.
The city of Topeka is just over an hour’s drive from Kansas City, making it a perfect family day trip. The Topeka Zoological Park is a great way to start the day. The zoo is located in Gage Park where you’ll also find a carousel, rose garden, animal land playground and train rides. Then, head to the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, a hands-on children’s museum for young children. For a civics lesson, take a free guided tour of the Kansas State Capitol and learn about the state’s history and the legislative process. Step back in time with a visit to Old Prairie Town or visit the Kansas Museum of History.
Go Explore the Northland in Missouri
Enjoy both Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for the price of one ticket. Worlds of Fun boasts seven world-class roller coasters, including the Patriot, Mamba and Timberwolf, classic carnival rides, and water rides like Fury of the Nile and Viking Voyager. Kids love Planet Snoopy where they enjoy more than 20 family-friendly rides and attractions. In addition to great rides, visitors enjoy live shows and meet-and-greets with the Peanuts gang. Oceans of Fun offers fantastic attractions, including Aruba Tuba, Surf City Wave Pool, Buccaneer Bay, Coconut Cove and Splash Island, a 4,200-square-foot interactive water attraction!
Couples enjoy getaways in the Northland where they enjoy Mystery Dinner Theater at Belvoir Winery in Liberty, a beautiful inn, winery and garden with special events throughout the year. Or, stay at the historic Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs, hosting everyone from politicians to gangsters. Experience the area’s history on a weekend retreat. Another option is to plan a weekend in Weston, home to numerous bed and breakfasts, local restaurants, shops, wineries, breweries and orchards. Another local favorite is Parkville, with beautiful riverfront views, a historic main street with a variety of boutiques and restaurants, and local attractions.
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. On the fourth Friday of the month from 6:00 to 8:00, meet local artists at the Artisan Market, where you can browse and shop more than 500 pieces of original art (new art events every fourth Friday). 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.
Go Explore the Country
Johnson Farms in Belton, MO, is a beautiful agritourism attraction where you can shop at the beautiful nursery, pick fresh strawberries in the spring, apples in the late summer, and veggies and pumpkins in the fall. For a true celebration of all things agricultural, head to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia (Aug. 8-18). Enjoy carnival rides and attractions in the Midway, sample tasty fair foods, see a variety of livestock, vendors and fair contestants. Live entertainment includes outdoor concerts, rodeo, tractor pulls, the Homegrown Singer competition, and livestock shows. The Agriculture Building features live plants showcasing Missouri's top commodities, photo backdrops, agriculture trivia towers, exhibits, and the Youth AgZone. This is a summer tradition you don't want to miss.
Enjoy fresh-made cider at Louisburg Cider Mill, where visitors watch as cider is pressed and cider donuts are made. Cedar Cove in Louisburg, KS, is an animal refuge for endangered or rescued big cats, including leopards, cougars, wolves, bobcats, a white tiger, black leopards and caracals. On Saturdays through October, visit Powell Observatory in Louisburg for a public stargazing session through one of the largest telescopes in the region. Every spring, Miami County hosts a farm tour (May 11-12) where visitors are invited to tour 14 local farms and agricultural sites. Visit a pecan farm, bison ranch, alpaca farm, Hereford farm, goat farms, wineries and more.
The Overland Park Arboretum in Kansas is a 300-acre botanical garden offering a beautiful outdoor oasis. Explore the Children’s Garden’s whimsical garden trains, wooded paths and the beloved Monet Garden. This is one of the region’s most scenic and relaxing attractions. Enjoy special events including Enchanted Faire (June 1), Stems: A Garden Soiree (June 22) and Whirlwind: Art in Motion tours throughout the summer. The gardens are always affordable, but admission is free on Tuesdays. A few miles from the gardens, head to Rye Studio in Stilwell, KS, where you can take a photo with the “You Have My Heart” art wall. This is just one art wall in the metro; you’ll find directions to many more here.