Top 20 Places to Take Kids in and around Kansas City
Every May and June, thousands of local parents, grandparents, and caregivers weigh in on their favorite local places to take kids. This is the winner list of 2023's best places to take kids in Kansas City and the surrounding area. (Click here for the full list of nominees.)
Of course, there are literally hundreds of wonderful places to take your kids in our area, not just this year's winners! Get great ideas here at KidsOutAndAbout.com! The terrific organizations listed below are just the starting point: Browse through our site and calendar to find lots more, sign up for our fabulous weekly e-newsletter, and be sure to click on Everything That's Free.
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1. Wonderscope Children's Museum of Kansas City
Wonderscope is the region’s only accessible, nonprofit children’s museum dedicated to providing STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math – educational experiences for young children and their families. Wonderscope features 30,000 square feet of indoor exploration and 1/2 acre of year-round outdoor adventure, all with a unique Kansas City theme. The museum is easily accessible via public transportation and major roadways.
2. Kansas City Zoo
The Kansas City Zoo is located in historic Swope Park. With more than 1,700 animals and over 200 acres, the Zoo is the most affordable fun in Kansas City! With its world-class exhibits and exceptional programs, the Zoo attracts visitors from around the world and families from close to home.
3. C.W. Parker Carousel Museum
The C.W. Parker Carousel Museum opened in 2005 in Leavenworth, KS. As a Blue Star Museum, it features a newly restored, fully operational 1913 C.W. Parker carousel, originally made in Leavenworth by the C.W. Parker Carousel Amusement Company. The carousel was created during the period when this company was famous nationally and internationally for its unique amusement devices. Also on display is the oldest primitive carousel in the United States, a 1950s aluminum Paul Parker Carousel, a C.W. Parker cylinder piano, Artizan A-X-1 band organ and Wurlitzer 153 band organ. Young and old are encouraged to visit the museum, learn its history and take a ride on this wonderfully restored, 110 year old carousel!
4. Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead
The Farmstead is designed to depict a 1900's Kansas family farm. Visit the nearly 250 animals and birds of prey, learn about growing flowers and vegetables, experience a Kanza Indian encampment or a one-room school house, and take a stroll through main street to the fishing pond. Deanna Rose brings the charm of the farm to children living in the city. Children treasure such memories as bottle feeding baby goats, fishing and taking a horse drawn wagon ride through the woods.
5. Science City
Science City is a place of wonder, where kids and adults find something new with each visit. It’s hands-on fun and discovery for every age, starting with your youngest learners. Explore over 100,000 sqf of indoor and outdoor spaces designed to encourage imaginations and excite every sense. Spend a few hours or an entire day!
6. Lakeside Nature Center
Lakeside Nature Center is located at 4701 East Gregory Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri’s Swope Park. It is owned and managed by Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department.
7. KC Parks
For 125 years, Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation has provided facilities, programs and recreational opportunities for the community that contribute to an aesthetically pleasing environment and enhanced quality of life. The department maintains 221 parks, 12,242 acres of parkland, 158 miles of trails and bikeways, 29 lakes, hundreds of athletic fields and tennis courts, 103 playgrounds, and five public golf courses. Miles of scenic boulevards and parkways crisscross the city, where 48 fountains and 122 monuments and sculptures surprise and delight. Ten community centers, along with eight museums, provide the setting for socially equitable and community-driven programming.
8. Legler Barn Museum
Legler Barn is operated and maintained by the City of Lenexa and houses Lenexa’s History Museum and Archive. Guided tours are provided by trained City staff. Also in the complex are the Herb Garden, Wiedenmann Strang Line Waiting Station, the Lenexa Train Depot Museum and Caboose.
9. LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Kansas City
LEGOLAND Discovery Center is the ultimate indoor LEGO playground with 2 rides, 10 LEGO build & play zones, a 4D cinema & much more!
10. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Located in Kansas City, Missouri, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is a leading presenter of global modern and contemporary art in the region. As the first contemporary art museum in the state, Kemper Museum has connected Midwest communities with the artists of our time since 1994.
11. Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center
The Gorman Discovery Center offers eight acres of natural areas with short paved and natural trails through forest, woodland, wetland, and prairie habitats. The area has demonstration beds showcasing how native plants can be used for home landscaping and Sycamore Station, a children's natural play area. Nature exhibits are available for viewing inside the building, and free nature programs are offered regularly. Additional Building Hours: until 7PM - 1st and 3rd Tuesday evenings Free nature programs each Saturday. Free nature programs for Missouri schools by reservation.
12. Lanesfield Historic Site
Lanesfield Historic Site consists of a historic schoolhouse, some outbuildings, and a visitor center. The schoolhouse, which served the now-defunct town of Lanesfield, is the main attraction. In addition to providing a glimpse of rural education during the nineteenth century, the site also allows visitors to experience a small mail stop along the Santa Fe Trail.
13. Louisburg Cider Mill
In the spring of 1977, just outside of Louisburg, KS on K-68 Highway, the groundwork began for the opening of a fledgling roadside Apple Cider stand that was to be called the Louisburg Cider Mill.
Planted through the vision of a serial entrepreneur named Emmett O’Rear, and cultivated for decades by visionary leaders Tom and Shelly Schierman and an incredibly loyal team of associates, the Louisburg Cider Mill has grown to become one of Kansas’ premier attractions, and a draw throughout the Midwest.
14. KC Pumpkin Patch
Visit KC Pumpkin Patch for the ultimate Fall experience! A short drive from Lawrence, Lees Summit and Topeka, KS. Experience a day of adventure as you slide, climb and play your way through acres of farm fun. With attractions to entertain all ages, the whole family will enjoy the fresh air and wide open spaces. You’ve never seen a pumpkin patch like this before!
15. Union Station
You can still catch the train at Union Station's AMTRAK STOP and head out across the country. You'll also find a permanent model rail gallery, touring exhibitions produced by the Smithsonian, National Geographic and other internationally-awarded organizations, a PLANETARIUM, an interactive science center SCIENCE CITY and a vibrant Theater District featuring GIANT-SCREEN MOVIES, LIVE THEATER, and so much more.
16. Atkins-Johnson Farm and Museum
Originally a two story log cabin built between 1831-1834, this home is recognized as one of the oldest continuous occupied homes in Clay County. The original one-room log home was converted into a four-room I-house in 1853 by the Atkins family. The home is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as a 1900 era Missouri farmstead. The current museum displays original family heirlooms and artifacts discovered during the restoration process and a number of special exhibits related to farm life and local history. A heritage garden is on site to give visitors a taste of heirloom produce that was traditionally grown on farms. Visitors can appreciate the amount of time and labor it took to meet basic needs such as food provision.
17. Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site
As the only working stagecoach stop left on the Santa Fe Trail, Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm offers unique experiences and opportunities that engage visitors of all ages in discovering 1860s farming, life on the Kansas frontier, and stagecoach travel.
18. The Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and Museum
The mission of Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center & Museum is to commemorate and interpret the African-American diaspora particularly in the State of Missouri, the City of Kansas City, MO, and its surrounding areas through fostering educational and cultural programs regarding the past, present and contemporary contributions of African Americans who served to shape the city and state’s history and culture. A major component of contemporary and future interests involves the conscientious development of the state environmental policies.
19. Alldredge Orchards
Pick your own apples, choose a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, take a hayride and have fun in our play area! Visit the barnyard, where friendly animals are waiting for a treat, or visit the Orchard Cafe for a treat of your own! Be sure to come into the rustic barn store, where all the delights of the fall season await - apples, pumpkins, huge mums, local honey and more! We're the perfect fall destination for families with small children!
20. Shawnee Town 1929 Museum
An understanding of our past enriches our lives today. Shawnee Town 1929 invites visitors to experience a typical day in and around the farm community of Shawnee, Kansas, in the 1920s through authentic and engaging exhibits, programs, events, and historical collections.
Winners in Special CategoriesIn the second part of our survey, we asked readers to select their favorites in the categories of arts education, sports/physical education, and STEM education. These were the winners:
Top Arts Educator: Kansas City Young Audiences
Kansas City Young Audiences believes that every child deserves access to the transformational spark the arts ignite! For more than 62 years, KCYA has provided interactive arts education programs for children in their schools and also at our location: the Community School of the Arts on Main Street. By partnering with the best professional teaching artists in Kansas City, we offer classes and camps, classroom workshops and school assemblies in dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts to engage all youth, promote creativity, and inspire success in education.
Top STEM Educator: Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
The 300-acre Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is an educational, recreational and cultural resource for the Kansas City region. At the Arboretum, visitors may experience and explore: 13 gardens with more than 1,700 species of plants.