"We're doing THAT again?"
"I don't care. What do YOU want to do?"
Do all of these sound familiar? As a parent and former Big, I have heard these comments thousands of times! In retrospect, as a child, I probably said those phrases, too. As the frost melts away, and the sun comes out again, there is SO MUCH to do in Kansas City! I am the Queen of Cheap, and also willing to try about anything to get my kids out of the house, so here are some of my favorite outings in Kansas City and surrounding areas. Most are low cost, some are free, and few require any exceptional skills or agility.
Explore the fountains! Kansas City is the Paris of the Plains, and our classy architecture and fancy fountains are certainly contributing factors. While I don’t advise hopping into the fountains, one can certainly get misted on a windy day at some of the larger fountains. Some locations are common for photo shoots, so try not to photobomb any newlyweds or prom goers. Here is an extensive list, which includes some suburban fountains as well: http://www.kcfountains.com/fountains
Ride the streetcars! This is a mostly downtown activity, but there is so much to see and do. Park anywhere near Main between Union Station and the City Market, and explore all of the neighborhoods in between. The streetcar is free, and it runs at approximately 15-20 minute intervals at all stops. Need a challenge? Try this scavenger hunt: http://www.kcparent.com/KC-Going-Places/Fall-Winter-2016/Kansas-City-Str...
Explore local nature! The Kansas City Zoo is always amazing, and if you haven’t been there, you should definitely go. However, if you’re in the same neighborhood but short on cash, you can still get your nature fix at the Lakeside Nature Center. They are always free, and they offer some seasonal events that allow for hand-on exploration of local flora and fauna. They are also a mini-zoo and have an extensive collection of rehabilitated animals from local and foreign habitats. Check out http://www.lakesidenaturecenter.org/ for hours and programs.
Build something! The first Saturday of each month, Home Depot offers free classes for kids to build and take home different projects. Enrollment is required, and classes fill up quickly. Sign up at http://workshops.homedepot.com/workshops/kids-workshops.
Leave your mark! Kansas City has not one, but 2 annual Sidewalk Chalk festivals. You can unleash your artistic side at either. The smaller, neighborhood-based festival is located in NE KCMO, on April 29-30. It is free to walk around and view local masterpieces. You can bring your own chalk or pastels, or make a small donation to use their supplies. The website is http://www.northeastartskc.org/chalkwalk. The larger festival is held at Crown Center on Sept. 9-10. Admission is also free, and there are stations for kids to release their inner artists. You can view past art at http://kcchalkandwalk.org/.
Explore the arts! You may not be aware, but admission to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is always free! They do, of course, appreciate donations, and parking in the indoor garage does cost $8. So much to do, so much to see at this world class gallery. Did you know just a fraction of the art owned by the museum is actually on display? Wander around and find your personal favorite artwork. Pack a picnic lunch for the massive front lawn on a nice day, or plan to attend an outdoor yoga class. Visit http://www.nelson-atkins.org/, or try https://issuu.com/nelsonatkins/stacks/94a05b259e0c42babdc1de2d9baff3e5 to check out a specific area of the museum, or for a scavenger hunt!
Walk the Crossroads! Free gallery openings, street performers, and (not free) but delicious food trucks await every First Friday at the beginning of each month. You can park anywhere in the area of our office, and walk around for hours taking in local culture. Please be advised some galleries have wine tastings and show more…mature art, so use discretion if attending with younger kiddos. You can check out http://kccrossroads.org/first-fridays/ to see what is happening monthly.
Get out of the city! We have so many great trails and nature centers just outside of the city proper. Here are a few of my favorites, including their websites:
- In Liberty, Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary. Recommended donation is $5 car, or $1 person, whichever is greater. http://www.naturesanctuary.com/
- In Smithville, any of the parks up at the lake. $8 per vehicle. https://www.claycountymo.gov/Parks/Smithville_Lake
- In Blue Springs, try Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center. It is free. https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/burr-oak-woods-ca
- In Overland Park, try the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Regular admission is $1 for ages 6-12, $3 for 13 and up. They are free on Tuesdays and March 25-26 and Oct. 7-8. https://www.opkansas.org/things-to-see-and-do/arboretum-and-botanical-ga... for more details.
I’m certain there are hundreds more things to do in Kansas City, but as spring looms near, these are some of my personal favorites. Anything that allows kids to unplug and explore or create is wonderful and essential for development. Have a great time exploring our fun city!