Kansas City Spring Break Staycation
When was the last time you had fun exploring your own hometown? This spring break, hit up favorite Kansas City tourist hot spots and see the city through the eyes of a visitor.
Destination #1: Downtown
The Coterie on Level I of Crown Center is known for high quality professional children’s shows. This March, they are presenting Mr. Popper's Penguins. In this charming musical adaptation of the beloved book, Mr. and Mrs. Popper’s lives take an adventurous turn when a mysterious box arrives on their doorstep with a penguin inside. Not long after, the local aquarium sends over a female penguin and soon the Poppers are hearing the patter of 20 little feet. What starts for Mr. Popper as a giant bill for canned shrimp leads to an imaginative journey across America – one that ends in the Antarctic to place the penguin colony in a “life they were meant to lead.”
While you’re at Crown Center, be sure to treat the kids to lunch at Fritz’s, where trains deliver food to your table, or split a pizza at D’Bronx. Play for free at the Journey to Oz: A FREE Exhibit at Crown Center thru May 12, 2019: One of the world’s beloved movies turns 80 this year, and Crown Center is celebrating by bringing the magic of the big screen to you! Families can tour the enchanting world of the Munchkins, follow Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, sneak into the Wicked Witch’s castle and much more. Open Monday – Friday, 10am to 6pm; Saturday, 10am – 7pm; Sunday, 11am to 6pm.
For more free fun, pop over to Kaleidoscope, one of the best destinations in Kansas City, according to our readers and their kids. This free hands-on art center, courtesy of Hallmark, invites visitors into a magical realm of creativity, where kids can create jigsaw puzzles, glow-in-the-dark art, crowns and more.
Next door to Kaleidoscope, experience the story of Kansas City's own Hallmark, from its founding in 1910 to today. Visit the Hallmark Visitors Center and watch as greeting cards and wrapping paper are made, then participate in hands-on fun as you make a souvenir gift bow with the push of a button.
In addition to fun at Crown Center, you'll find more adventures nearby. Rides aboard the KC Streetcar are always free (use our KC Streetcar scavenger hunt for more fun), and many stops include attractions with free admission. Tour the National Archives (near Union Station) and explore their free exhibits. Watch a miniature train display at Union Station with the KC Rail Experience. Visit the Central Library and explore one of the most enchanting children’s library departments in the area. Visit the Money Museum and take a free tour leaving with a souvenir bag of shredded cash.
Destination #2: Midtown/Country Club Plaza
The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is one of the most fun and engaging museums in town. The first impression is incredible: A giant rotating spiral of backlit toys greets visitors who delight in finding their own favorites and discovering new ones on the animated real-life collage. The dollhouse displays are beautifully lit and presented, and the Coleman dollhouse, in a new home, will still open every December, maintaining a special holiday tradition. New and improved exhibits throughout include a Grandma’s Attic display showcasing toys and presenting their individual stories as treasures to be discovered. Visitors will enjoy interactive exhibits, learning more about the process of making both miniatures and toys.
Then take a stroll through Kauffman Memorial Gardens (4800 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City, MO). The 2-acre garden features more than 7,000 plants and flowers. This free attraction is part of the Kauffman Legacy Park in the heart of Kansas City. Powell Gardens, in partnership with the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, manages and maintains the garden.
Just a few miles away, visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, voted the best museum in the United States on Yelp.com. Home to one of the largest galleries in the nation, the museum maintains a permanent collection representing art from throughout history and around the world. Visitors enjoy the galleries and, on sunny days, picnic or stroll the landscaped museum grounds and sculpture garden.
Top off the day with a nice lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants on the Country Club Plaza. From March 16 to April 12, watch the Plaza’s annual transformation into an Easter wonderland. Every year, beautiful bunny and springtime animal sculptures decorate the Plaza’s courtyards and street corners. Visit CountryClubPlaza.com/event/plaza-bunnies/ for a map.
Destination #3: Kansas City, KS
Stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, KS, (866.640.6353) an indoor water resort with a four-story interactive treehouse water fort, winding lazy river and numerous slides, including the Triple Twist, a high speed, five-story drop into a huge funnel followed by twists and turns. All of this is housed in a luxurious hotel!
Nearby, visit the Legends Outlets for local shopping and dining.
Take in a little sightseeing as well. History buffs will enjoy a tour of Grinter Place (1420 S. 78th St., Kansas City, KS, 913.299.0373), the oldest home in Wyandotte County, for a look at frontier life along the Kansas and Missouri border.
Destination #4: Independence, MO
Independence was home to the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman. Learn about his presidency at the Truman Presidential Library. There, visitors participate in interactive exhibits, including a replica Oval Office. They also explore Truman artifacts and special exhibits.
For a treat, head over to the Independence Square for ice cream at Clinton’s Soda Fountain or lunch at a local restaurant. Take a mule-drawn wagon ride with Pioneer Trails Adventures and listen to the history of the town where three trails began, two Civil War battles raged and, of course, Harry Truman lived.
Independence offers a variety of historic sites to tour. Learn more about President Truman on a tour of the Truman Home. Or visit the National Frontier Trails Museum, which tells the story of Lewis and Clark and the Westward Expansion on the Oregon, California and Santa Fe trails through artifacts and the journals of early pioneers. Vaile Mansion is a beautiful Victorian mansion telling the history of one of Independence’s original wealthy families, and the Bingham-Waggoner Estate was home to Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham and tells the story of the Civil War in Missouri. Be sure to visit kid-favorite Puppetry Arts Institute, a puppet museum that performs live puppet shows for children and offers puppet making workshops.
Bonus afternoon field trip
Driving through Kansas City, you may find your curiosity piqued by a building with an airplane curiously mounted on the roof. What could it be? That airplane has become the trademark of the Roasterie, known for selling premier air-roasted coffee. The business offers one of the most fun free tours in town. Visitors watch as coffee goes from bean to brew. Call 816.931.4000 for reservations. Then, dine at a locally-owned restaurant in the Crossroads.