KC's Memorial Day Weekend Planner

2017 Edition

Kick off summer fun with these great ideas for Memorial Day Weekend!



  1. Attend Celebration at the Station May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at Union Station (30 W. Pershing, Kansas City, MO). The Kansas City Symphony’s 15th annual patriotic concert event is the largest FREE Memorial Day weekend festival in the Midwest, and this year welcomes singer Patti Austin as our special musical guest and host. From a moving Symphony concert to the city’s grandest fireworks display, nothing celebrates our military and veterans quite like Bank of America Celebration at the Station. We’ll recognize the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I, and we’ll celebrate the 100th birthday of Ella Fitzgerald with her World War II-era songs that inspired and entertained a nation. Make it an all-day family affair with pre-concert musical acts, food trucks, Lee Jeans Family Zone, the Grantham University Veterans Place with services for veterans, plus activities inside Union Station and the National World War I Museum and Memorial. At dusk, swell with pride as your Kansas City Symphony builds to a grand finale featuring Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” with live cannons and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Blankets and lawn chairs welcome. The event site opens at 3 p.m. Concert begins at 8 p.m.

  2. Honor Those who Served, May 26-29 at  National World War I Museum and Memorial. Admission to the Museum is free for veterans and active duty military personnel, while admission for the general public is half-price all weekend (Friday-Monday, May 26-29). The Museum offers several events during the course of the weekend for people of all ages and interests, including a free public ceremony at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day featuring renowned photographer Michael St Maur Sheil, whose exhibitions of contemporary photographs of World War I battlefields have been seen by millions of people across the world. Half-price admission on Friday is courtesy of Sports Radio 810 WHB. Additional support for Memorial Day Weekend activities was provided by Armed Forces Insurance and the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund of Kansas City, Mo. As the commemoration of the Centennial of World War I (2014-19) continues, the National World War I Museum and Memorial serves as a fitting place to honor and recognize the men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving their country during Memorial Day weekend.

  3. Check out Gardens of Myth: at Powell Gardens May 27 thru Oct. 22. Fantastic beasts from around the globe, inhabit Powell Gardens in an exhibit of mythical proportions. Encounter creatures as small as tiny fairies and as large as a fearsome 25-ft long dragon. Each sculpture was imagined by St. Louis-based artist Kendall R. Hart who, with the help of his team, hand-crafted each piece in his own Grimstone Studios.

  4. Be the first to visit Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails at Crown Center May 27 thru Sept. 10. FREE Admission. Hours: Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sun, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All aboard for fun learning adventures with Thomas The Tank Engine as you help him be a "Really Useful Engine." Explore the sights and sounds of the Island of Sodor: visit Knapford Station and the Sodor Steamworks, climb inside Thomas' cab, fix Percy's wobble wheels, pull levers for train noises, and race trains along a giant track. This free exhibit is an imaginative adventure for the whole family!

  5. Explore an Enchanted Forest at Overland Park Arboretum May 29-Sept. 4, 2017. Discover the mystical domains of gnomes, fairies, trolls, elves, sprites and other garden creatures along a trail in the woodland gardens. Throughout the summer, the arboretum will host special events in conjunction with the exhibit, including fairy tale story times, build-a-gnome-home classes and a Faery Faire with live entertainment, costumed characters and more.

  6. Spend Memorial Day Weekend at the Kansas City Zoo! The Red Pandas are BACK and beginning on Saturday, May 27, visit the Zoo starting at new opening time, 8 am. Take advantage of the early morning hours through Labor Day. Memorial Day weekend, enjoy these special events at the Zoo: Species Spotlight to learn more about orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and gibbons. Penguin March at 11am, as the penguins parade around the Helzberg Penguin Plaza, enjoying the fresh outdoor air. Get an up-close encounter with Humboldt penguins as they strut their stuff for all Zoo guests to see. Celebrate Masika's 2nd Birthday. Come out the Zoo for a very special birthday party on Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28. Masika and the rest of her gorilla family will receive birthday treats and presents during the 11 a.m. Zookeeper chat. If you’ve been missing the Zoo's red pandas, the wait is over! During the past several months, they have been giving the red panda exhibit a facelift. Memorial Day Weekend, the two red pandas, Randy and Kate, will explore their new and improved digs. The first major change you will notice is how light and airy the exhibit is now. The sky light was replaced with a new one that allows lots more natural light into the exhibit. New man-made trees were added because these pandas love to climb. The viewing glass was also replaced, improving visibility along with a defogger to keep the glass from fogging up on those hot summer days. The exhibit is air-conditioned since red pandas are adapted to live in cold temperatures. Randy and Kate are a breeding pair and have been together during the breeding season from January to March. The exhibit is equipped with nest boxes for any future offspring. Fingers crossed for red panda cubs as soon as this summer!

  7. Guests to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun enjoy admission to both parks for the price of one. New in 2017, enjoy two new rides at Worlds of Fun. Plus, Oceans of Fun opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend. Worlds of Fun welcomes two new unique and thrilling rides in 2017, as well as a completely redesigned front gate and new events. The rides are Mustang Runner, featuring three arms with seven gondolas per arm turning one way while the base of the ride spins the other way, and Falcon’s Flight, “a hair-raising thrill at nearly 100 feet above the ground.” This ride spins and rises simultaneously while carrying 50 riders at once. This year, the park will add a new family tradition of WinterFest, a holiday festival with light displays and entertainment, transforming the park into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. It’s the perfect time to buy a season pass and enjoy the fun all year long.

  8. Experience Illuminated Waters May 26-27 at Theis Park. Building on the success of the past eleven seasons—this year visitors and puppet-makers will encounter a brand new innovation—a festival, called Illuminated Waters. Puppets—both on and off the actual waters of Brush Creek—will perform with the audience, as they’re illuminated from within. This unique, free, two-day water festival will combine everything we have all learned to love—a giant puppet play, food trucks from around Kansas City, interactive art, games and music. Everything will be at Theis Park right next to Brush Creek. You’ll have the same fun you’ve always had—only this year our puppets will GLOW, illuminating the park with art and even float some on the waters of Brush Creek themselves.

  9. Schlitterbahn opens for the season Memorial Day weekend. Parking is always free, picnics are welcome, and memories are made. At Schlitterbahn Waterpark Kansas City, families enjoy shared experiences, such as an interconnected river system that takes them through more than a mile of rapids, currents, and tidal waves. Guests challenge towering water slides and a thrilling water coaster, then ride the wave on the Boogie Bahn surf ride.

  10. Attend Turtle Fest at Sea Life May 26-29. SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium invites your family to Turtle Fest! Included in regular admission price, visit the aquarium to catch one of our educational talks about sea turtles and the threats they face in the wild. Say hello to our rescued green sea turtle, Gertrude, swimming happily in our Ocean Tank! Then, complete the Turtle Quiz Trail as you navigate the aquarium in search of answers for your very own quiz book.

  11. Enjoy Downtown Lee's Summit. May 26 is the 4th Friday Art Walk: Fourth Fridays Art Walks in Downtown Lee’s Summit are packed with a variety of activities including artist receptions, artist showcases, Music in the Park at Howard Station Park - this month is Kids Music Night, street theater, Yoga in the Streets, and even some surprises! 

  12. Take advantage of your final chance to see Pompeii at Union Station. The exhibit leaves on May 29. Featuring nearly 200 artifacts — some never before seen in the United States—including vibrant frescoes, detailed mosaics, lifelike statues and precious personal objects, Pompeii: The Exhibition tells the story of a city hidden from view and forgotten for centuries until its rediscovery over 250 years ago.

  13. Attend the Lawrence Busker Festival May 25-27. Experience three days of family fun with some of the most talented freaks, geeks, artists and musicians around.There will be 5 different street stages with over 25 different acts playing for tips and applause.And while our festival may be large, planning your visit is easy.Check out our performance schedule to make sure you don't miss your favorite acts.And for an even more up close and personal experience, come check out Busker Ball on the Thursday before our big weekend.

  14. Visit Paradise Park where you'll see their new exhibit: Playful Kinetics by Dave Eames, on display Memorial Day through Labor Day. This exciting new exhibit features kinetic art--3D sculptures with moving parts that can be powered by wind, water, a motor or even you!  It's touchable art that's fascinating and fun, created by local artist Dave Eames especially for Paradise Park!  Enjoy a day at the Park with family and discover the captivating fun with kinetics! Try the treasure hunt, find them all and win a cool treat! Meet the first "fleet" of creatures in our Children's Discovery area Memorial Day weekend! (admission required) Dave will be building more throughout summer. Follow their arrivals all season long on our Facebook page!

  15. Participate in Visit Kansas City Kansas' Summer Selfie Scavenger Hunt. Explore Kansas City, KS with this family-friendly Selfie Scavenger Hunt and learn about all the fun things to do and see in our city.  Challenge yourself to see how many selfie's you can capture!  Win cool prizes by sharing your selfies with us on social media using #KCKselfie.  You can find your published photos in their #KCKselfie photo gallery.

  16. Local outdoor pools open for the season. Our faves are featured in our KC Water Fun Guide or visit KCParent.com and click “Going Places” for a complete guide.

And, check out our 100 Ways to Enjoy Summer with Kids in KC for more ideas!


FREE Newsletter: Giveaways, Coupons, and KC Top Picks for Weekend!

* indicates required

You Might Also Like