Exploring Kansas City’s Natural Beauty This Fall
Exploring Kansas City’s Natural Beauty This Fall
The air is crisp, the trees are lovely and nature beckons families to come explore. This autumn, take your family on an outdoor adventure to make irresistible new discoveries!
Where to Explore:
Kansas City's nature centers offer great free family outings. Take a class, participate in a puppet show, story time or program, go for a nature hike or enjoy indoor activities like watching aquariums, animal exhibits and playing at hands-on learning centers for children. Every nature center in Kansas City is free and open to the public.
Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center: (4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO, 816.759.7300). The discovery center offers terrific educational programs, and their trails lead to Kauffman Memorial Gardens (a beautiful free garden where something is always in bloom).
Burr Oak Woods: (1401 NW Park Rd., Blue Springs, MO, 816.228.3766). Burr Oak Woods is one of our favorite family field trips in Kansas City! One of the largest nature centers in the area, Burr Oak Woods features an animatronic Smokey Bear teaching children fire safety, a large aquarium of Missouri's freshwater fish, snakes, turtles, toads and more, and wonderful hands-on educational exhibits for children. The nature center also features miles of beautiful trails for walking or bicycling, an outdoor Discovery Room for hands-on learning and great classes and events all year.
Burroughs Audubon Nature Center: (7300 W. Park Rd., Blue Springs, MO, 816.795.8177). Located in Fleming Park with Lake Jacomo, the Burroughs Audubon Nature Center is a library and bird watching center complete with guides to identify local birds, binoculars and great viewing areas.
Cave Springs Nature Center: (8701 E. Gregory Blvd., Kansas City, MO, 816.358.CAVE). This is a small nature center with historic exhibits and scenic walking trails leading to a wildlife habitat pond.
Ernie Miller Nature Center: (909 N. Hwy. 7, Olathe, KS, 913.764.7759). Ernie Miller Nature Center offers children's activities and programs, as well as live animal displays and the chance to participate in hands-on activities and explore nature trails.
F.L. Schlagle Nature Library: (4501 West Dr., Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS, 913.299.2384). This is a year-round interactive library, nature center and nature trail offering scientific, educational, cultural, informational and recreational opportunities to visitors of all ages.
George Owens Nature Park: (1601 S. Speck Rd., Independence, MO, 816.325.7115). Enjoy a small nature center, programs for children, fishing dock and trails.
John Barkley Visitor Center: (7900 Renner Rd., Shawnee, KS, 913.888.4713). Local and national parks exhibits, fishing dock and trails.
Kemper Outdoor Educational Center: (8201 Jasper Bell, Blue Springs, MO, 816.229.8980). The Kemper Outdoor Educational Center is situated near Blue Springs Lake and surrounded by beautiful gardens! Enjoy reptile displays, rock and fossil exhibits, trails, butterfly and water gardens, an arboretum, pond and more.
Lakeside Nature Center: (4701 E. Gregory Blvd., Kansas City, MO, 816.513.8960). The staff at the center rescue injured animals and keep them in a safe environment. See falcons, owls, eagles, toads, frogs, fish, insects and wonderful exhibits on the animals in our city and in our homes. The nature center also features a gravel trail for walking and exploring.
Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Center: (407 N. Lafrenz Rd., Liberty, MO, 816.781.8598). The center is home to nature displays featuring plants and animals, and nature trails.
Parkville Nature Sanctuary: (12th & East streets, Parkville, MO, 816.741.7676). Wildlife preserve and education site featuring hiking trails.
Prairie Park Nature Center: (2730 Harper St., Lawrence, KS, 785.832.7980). This nature center features fantastic animal exhibits, from reptiles (iguanas, alligators, snakes and more), to amphibians (several species of frogs and toads), to birds (including native birds of prey) and mammals. The hands-on center for preschoolers features nature puppets, puzzles and hands-on activities. The park includes grassland, forest and lake with trails for walking and exploring.
Prairie Oak Nature Center: (14701 Mission Rd., Leawood, KS, 913.681.0902). The small nature center in Ironwoods Park is home to live animals, displays, hands-on activities and nature trails.
What to Bring:
Enhance your fun with a few simple tools:
- Nature journal (Leave treasures behind because plants and animals belong in their natural habitats, but do draw or write about what you discover!)
- Your smart phone, because yes, there’s an app for that!
- Our scavenger hunt: Download the 20 Amazing Things Nature Hunt PDF
Five Favorite Mobile Apps to Enjoy Nature
- MO Fall Colors (Free, Android and iPhone) Browse up-to-the-minute fall color scenes from places nearby and around the state. Use the GPS info to navigate to them.
- Map My Hike GPS Hiking (Free, Android and iPhone) Map your hike using this app to track where you’re going and where you’ve been, including distance hiked.
- WildObs (Free, Android and iPhone) Report sightings and identify species through the National Wildlife Federations’ Wildlife Watch website.
- iNaturalist (Free, Android and iPhone) Log your wildlife sightings with photos and notes.
- Plantifier (Free, Android and iPhone) Take a photo of a plant and upload it where experts will help you identify the plant by name.
Kristina Light and her girls enjoy nature photography and journaling year-round, but autumn is their favorite!