A Fabulous Fall – Kansas City Style
Fall is the perfect time to create a family bucket list, your wish list of fun things for enjoying the season’s signatures.
Go camping! Missouri State Parks and Kansas State Parks are especially beautiful in the fall when the autumn leaves start to change. Camp at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, then enjoy nearby castle ruins at Ha Ha Tonka. Or plan ahead and make reservations for a Halloween campout on Oct. 21 at Watkin’s Mill State Park or Oct. 28 at Echo Bluff State Park, where the rangers plan special themed activities for the entire family.
Pick the perfect pumpkin at the perfect patch. Kansas City’s pumpkin patches are all one-of-a-kind, each with a unique theme and special attractions. Giant jumping pillows, petting zoos, pumpkin chomping dinosaurs, tractor rides, pumpkin cannons, live entertainment and corn mazes are just a few of the fun attractions designed with the entire family in mind. Visit our KC Pumpkin Patch Guide and tips for each local patch.
Take a hike or a scenic bike ride in Weston, where you can enjoy Weston Bend State Park with amazing autumn views. Follow your excursion with exploration of the boutiques and museums in Weston, including lunch at O’Malley’s Irish Pub and a visit to the Weston Red Barn Farm, a favorite autumn destination. The Apple Fest and Irish Fest each autumn are two favorite festivals to celebrate the season.
Attend the American Royal Rodeo, a Kansas City tradition. Watch bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding, mutton busting and more Sept. 26-30. Visit the American Royal Museum to learn more about the history of the Royal and its influence on Kansas City.
Go chasin’ waterfalls. Pack a picnic and explore Waterfall Park (4501 S. Bass Dr., Independence, MO, 816.325.7375). The 18-acre park, near Bass Pro Shops, is nestled in a wooded area overlooking a lake and waterfalls and features a fantastic playground, small rock wall, small lake, walking trails, picnic tables and the scenic backdrop of a waterfall. After playing at the park, treat the family to some miniature golf at Cool Crest (10735 US 40 Hwy., Independence, MO, 816.358.0088). Discover more Midwest Waterfalls with our guide.
Make the most of autumn weekends. Kansas City’s arts, antiques and dining districts roll out the red carpet all month long, with special hours, sales and events on weekends. Some faves include First Fridays in the Crossroads, Second Saturday Sprint Family Fun Days, Third Thursday at the Nelson-Atkins, Third Friday in Downtown Overland Park, Third Saturday Wine Walk (April-Oct.) on Delaware and Fourth Fridays in Downtown Lee’s Summit.
Watch the making of cider and donuts. Nothing says autumn quite like a nice glass of apple cider or a warm cider donut! You can observe the process at the Louisburg Cider Mill. Visitors watch as apples are washed, made into cider, and the delicious drink is bottled. Then some of the cider is used to make Louisburg’s famous apple cider donuts. The mill’s pumpkin patch, corn maze and the annual Louisburg CiderFest are some visitor favorites.
Soup for lunch! Enjoy some at a local café where it’s made from scratch. Three win a special shout-out for their high quality homemade soups: Potpie (816.561.2702), where they serve fantastic soups and entrees; Great Day Café (913.642.9090), where the proprietors are known for offering live entertainment along with their delicious lunch menu; and Happy Gillis (816.471.3663), where they buy from local farms and businesses to create one-of-a-kind soup and sandwich combinations.
Ride in a covered wagon and learn local history with Pioneer Trails Adventures on the Square in Independence. Tours go into the heritage of Independence, beginning with the history of the California, Oregon and Santa Fe Trail, the role of Independence in the Civil War and, of course, Harry Truman and his life in the Midwest pre- and post-presidency.
Enjoy farm fresh fall produce from a local farmers market. Yellow squash, zucchini, pumpkins, apples, nuts, farm fresh cheeses and other wares are available at more than 30 farmers markets. They range from small markets selling exclusively organic produce to the City Market with more than 140 local vendors. You can purchase fruits, vegetables, plants, herbs, homemade soaps, baked goods and even live animals. Discover Kansas City's farmers markets with our guide to find a new fave.
Sample kettle corn at a local fall festival. Step back in time at a festival hosted by a local historic site like Missouri Town 1855, Watkin’s Mill or Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and experience hands-on history and pioneer living. Or attend a Kansas City classic like the Plaza Art Fair or Santa-Cali-Gon Days. We have all of your local festivals featured in our online Fall Festival Guide.
Treat the kids to caramel apples from Sweet Caroline's (913.495.9993), one of the most decadent shops in the metro. From your first step inside, you'll savor the sweet scent of goodies, but the fall specialty is the candied apple! With large delicious apples, Sweet Caroline's serves up many flavors and combinations of coatings for the fruit that are almost too pretty to eat!
The Kansas City Zoo is fun year-round but special events in the autumn make for some exceptional fun. Plan ahead for fun in October as every Saturday and Sunday is Hoots and Howls with spooky, but not very scary, kid-friendly fun and Boo at the Zoo is hosted on Halloween Weekend.
Enjoy fall fun in St. Joseph. Apple picking at Schweizer Orchards is a scenic and delicious adventure as families select apples from over eighteen varieties. Round out the day trip with a visit to the Patee House Museum, the Pony Express Museum, or the Jesse James Home. Throughout September and October St. Joseph hosts several music festivals and fall festivals on weekends. For more apple orchards, read our KC Apple Picking Guide.
Kristina Light loves fall most of all! She can be found exploring Kansas City’s best autumn sites and attractions with her husband and four daughters.