Many adults might head to Kansas City for their famous barbecue restaurants and jazz clubs, but there are many fun things to do with kids in Kansas City. The self proclaimed City of Fountains (there are over 200 throughout the metropolitan area) is a Midwestern gem, home to the Kansas City Royals, a Spanish themed outdoor shopping area, and a thriving art scene. Visitors will be thrilled to find there are plenty of fun things to do with kids in Kansas City.
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11 Fun Things to Do in Kansas City with Kids
1. Let their imagination run wild at Kaleidoscope
Located in the Crown Center, Hallmark operates this family art center where families are encouraged to explore their creativity. The place is full of hands on craft projects, whimsical creatures and displays, and best of all, it’s free! Kids will enjoy making their own puzzles, painting, exploring the glow in the dark room, and using their imagination! Next door is the Hallmark Visitors Center (also free), which displays the history of Hallmark with exhibits featuring keepsake ornaments, the Hallmark Art collection, and probably your kid’s favorite, a bow making machine!
2. Kids can show off their skills at the College Basketball Experience
The CBE is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, part Hall of Fame museum, part interactive play area. Located at Sprint Center, this place is a kid’s dream. They have the opportunity to shoot hoops on a full size court, play timed skill games, dunk a basketball, and play basketball arcade games. There is a section for Hall of Fame inductees, but most kids won’t be interested. I’m a huge college basketball fan and will say I was a bit disappointed because it is not a College Basketball historical museum as one might expect, no real artifacts, etc. (Just my opinion). Of course, most kids aren’t looking for a history lesson and would gladly spend hours here, so bring some comfy shoes and join in the fun!
3. Have some hands-on fun at Science City at Union Station
Our family loves science centers and Science City at Union Station has many hands-on activities for kids to explore. Kids will love the Sky Bike, a dinosaur dig site, and Mr. E’s Hotel of Illusions. Plan on spending a couple of hours here so kids can truly enjoy this interactive museum.
4. See what it was like to grow up on a farm at the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
Located in nearby Overland Park, this farm was designed to represent a typical farmstead in the early 1900s. Open seasonally (April through October), the farmstead has over 200 animals, a one room schoolhouse, gardens, wagon rides, a dairy farm, and more. Kids can have an opportunity to fish in the pond or feed a goat, the experience is whatever your family wants to make of it. So plan for the day or go for a couple of hours and see what life was like on the farm!
5. Learn powerful history lessons at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Located in the 18th & Vine Museum complex (along with the American Jazz Museum), this museum showcases the history of African-American baseball. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you will appreciate the stories of the players, their struggles, and their success on and off the field. School age children will hopefully appreciate and understand the difficulties these players faced as they tried to gain acceptance in a world that didn’t embrace them because of their race. The exhibits are very educational, and the artifacts tell a story. I would highly recommend this for kids ages 8 and above (due to the fact there is a lot to read).
6. Kids can get soaked at Schlitterbahn
Located in Kansas City, Kansas, Schlitterbahn Waterpark is perfect for a day out with kids. There’s a Boogie Bahn, a surfing ride, and a river that isn’t so lazy with rapids and tidal waves. There are four tubing slides and chutes, 13 mini slides for younger kids, beaches, and everything else you could need for a day of water fun! Just be sure to bring the sun screen!
7. Learn the value of money at the Money Museum
At the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, kids can learn about money in a very fun way! This interactive museum feature’s a giant vault filled with millions of dollars, President Truman’s coin collection, and bags of money for every visitor to take home (shredded money, that is). Visitors can take a self guided tour or take an audio or iPad guided tour. Free admission makes this worth a stop!
8. Kids will go crazy for LEGOLAND Discovery Center/SEA LIFE Aquarium
LEGOLAND Discovery Center has everything a Lego fan could love: a factory tour, rides, building opportunities, and a 4D theater with Lego movies. Younger children will probably enjoy this more, but everyone can appreciate the work that goes into the LEGO models and creations. Adjacent to LEGOLAND is SEA LIFE, a fun, delightfully decorated aquarium allowing visitors to pet starfish, walk through a shark tunnel, and learn about marine life. The aquarium is not very large, but the exhibits are well laid out and younger kids will love the Octonauts room!
9. Let kids discover the theater at The Coterie Children’s Theater
Located in Crown Center, The Coterie brings the live theater experience to children of all ages. Children sit on the floor at the edge of the stage for an interactive experience. Kids will love being part of the show and the actors and performances are always top notch.
10. Learn about the Great War at the National World War I Museum and Memorial
This museum is the only museum in America dedicated to those who fought in the Great War and it is one of my favorite historical museums. We visited a few years ago with our children, and they were fascinated everywhere they turned, from the field of poppies at the entrance to the life size trenches, to the tank, they loved every minute of it. One of our favorite parts was taking the elevator (and stairs) to the top of the tower for a view of Kansas City. Grab an audio guide for kids because it’s worth understanding the displays and artifacts. Be sure to eat before your visit, because you will definitely want to spend at least a couple of hours here.
11. Amuse the kids all day at Worlds of Fun
Kansas City’s amusement park has a water park (Oceans of Fun) right next door, so it’s a full day of fun when families visit. There are plenty of roller coasters and thrill rides, Planet Snoopy, and rides for the young ones too. If theme parks are your thing, your family will want to head to Worlds of Fun to experience all the excitement!
Note: Kansas City does experience a change of seasons, so some of these attractions are only open during the warmer months. Many of these activities are indoors, so there should be plenty of fun choices for a rainy day or during the winter.
Accommodations in Kansas City for Families
Families that want to be in the heart of the action might want to stay at The Westin Crown Center or Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center. If your family wants to shop, try the Hampton Inn and Suites – Country Club Plaza. There’s also a Great Wolf Lodge near Worlds of Fun if your family wants an indoor waterpark experience.
Kid Friendly Restaurants in Kansas City
Families looking for family friendly restaurants might want to try one of these: Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant (inside Crown Center, where your burgers and fries are delivered to your table by train), Jack Stack BBQ (everyone has their favorite bbq, we happen to like this restaurant in the Country Club Plaza area for its delicious ribs and great service (with other locations throughout KC)), or head to Cosentino’s Market & Deli (the perfect place to grab food for a picnic with their soup and salad bar, deli, and fresh sushi).
*This post originally appeared in October 2015, but was edited in March 2018.