Pack a Picnic and Take a Day Trip in Kansas City
May is meant for picnics! These are a few of our favorite family outing day trips for enjoying early signs of spring and a picnic.
A Day at the Farm Strawberry Picking
May means strawberry picking. Gieringer's Orchard (39675 W. 183rd, Edgerton, KS, 913.893.9626) is our favorite u-pick strawberry farm with fresh fruit ripening mid-May. Always call ahead or verify on their Facebook page that berries are ready to pick. Gieringer's Orchard is clean, beautiful, hospitable and organized. When you head out for berry picking, dress in play clothes meant for the mess. Teach your children that "redder is better" when it comes to strawberries—leave the green behind because they are still growing! You also should bring a cooler and ice to keep berries fresh for the ride home. After berry picking, head down the road for a visit to the Lanesfield School Historic Site (18745 S. Dillie Rd., Edgerton, KS, 913.893.6645). Tip: You can pick blueberries, blackberries and peaches in the summer months at this local u-pick farm.
Picnic Spot: Gieringer's Orchard offers a nice area where you may picnic if you like (they have a picnic table guests may use). Bring your own picnic and be sure to clean up your mess. They also sell some concessions for light snacks.
A Day Downtown
Downtown isn’t just for grown-ups! With the addition of the free KC Streetcar, exploring downtown is easier than ever for families. Add to your adventure with the KC Streetcar Scavenger Hunt. Start at Union Station and enjoy a show at the newly renovated Gottlieb Planetarium and a morning of exploration at Science City. Then, take the streetcar to the Garment District and snap a picture in front of the World’s Largest Needle and Thread across from the Garment District Museum (open on Saturdays at 801 Broadway). Stop at the Central Library for a game of chess on the roof and peruse the shelves in one of the city’s most beautiful libraries. Snap a picture or two in front of the world’s largest bookshelf. Take some time to explore City Market, where you can visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum, grab dessert at Bloom Bakery or buy fresh produce. Thanks to the free rides aboard the streetcar, you can pick and choose your stops at your leisure.
Picnic Spot: Stop in the KCP&L District and view downtown’s skyline at Rooftop Park, located atop Cosentino's Market. Access may be found off of Main Street, between 12th and 13th streets. The park is open from 8:00 in the morning until dusk throughout the summer and offers green space and great views in the center of the city. You may pack a picnic or purchase one from the delicatessen at Cosentino’s. Bring a blanket (there are no tables, only benches) and eat on the lawn atop a downtown roof!
A Day of Local History and Nature
Take a break from technology and enjoy an opportunity to get back to nature at one of the most scenic state parks in Missouri. Just north of the river lies Watkins Mill State Park (26600 Park Rd. N., Lawson, MO, 816.580.3387), featuring a 100-acre lake, campgrounds, picnic areas, trails and Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site. This is a great destination for a day trip or a family campout. Tour a 19th-century three-story woolen mill and home to learn what life was like for families many years ago. The mill is the only 19th-century textile mill in the United States with its original machinery still intact. This beautiful state park features a lake with a paved bike path, fishing spots, boating, picnic tables and a swim beach. If you’d like to stay the night, you may make reservations to use the campgrounds. During the day you’ll see white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and a variety of birds (pack binoculars and a good camera). At night you’ll enjoy terrific views for stargazing. In nearby Kearney, MO, you can tour the Jesse James Home (JesseJames.org), the historic site telling the story of the notorious outlaw and preserving Missouri’s Civil War history.
Picnic Spot: The state park offers many great picnic shelters. Choose your favorite according to your planned activity: biking, kite flying, fishing, Frisbee, hiking and exploring.
A Day of Art and History
Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (4525 Oak St., Kansas City, MO), where admission is always free. The recently renovated Bloch Galleries showcase some of the finest pieces in the collection. On weekends, the Nelson offers art + family = fun programming to engage children in an appreciation for art. Make it even more fun with the Nelson-Atkins Scavenger Hunt and ask your children to tell stories about their favorite pieces. Then, take a break at the free Anita Gorman Discovery Center (4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO) and enjoy hands-on history and nature exhibits, including a replica keel boat from Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery journey. Nearby, explore the free Kauffman Memorial Gardens (4800 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City, MO), where something is always in bloom. Learn more local history on a tour of the John Wornall House Museum (6115 Wornall Rd., Kansas City, MO), the historic site that tells the story of Kansas City’s early history and role in the Civil War.
Picnic Spot: Loose Park (51st & Wornall, Kansas City, MO), a 75-acre park with a beautiful pond, fields, play areas and an exquisite rose garden, is truly one of the most picturesque parks in the city—perfect for your picnic.
Kristina Light’s family knows that May kicks off their annual picnic season, which carries on into fall!