Affectionately known as the “City of Fountains” by sightseers and locals alike, Kansas City is home to a stunning variety of family-friendly activities. Although the best Kansas City activities for your child will depend on their specific taste, you’ll be hard-pressed to fit all of this city’s possible excursions into just a few afternoons. The activity options below provide a healthy mix of physical adventure, mental stimulation, and opportunities to learn about Kansas City’s rich artistic heritage.
1. Science City
As one of America’s top science and discovery centers for children, Science City offers a hands-on experience that is sure to pique your child’s curiosity and engage their mind for hours on end. Activities available at Science City include a test kitchen for inventing new concoctions, a planetarium for learning about the solar system, and a fossil lab for investigating bone samples from ancient animals.
Science City is located in Kansas City’s famous Union Station, and its normal weekday operating hours are from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The center is typically closed on Mondays, and Sunday hours are from 12 P.M. to 5 P.M.
2. Crown Center
Crown Center is one of Kansas City’s largest shopping and entertainment complexes. With a variety of tasty restaurants to choose from, Crown Center offers several ways for your child to enjoy one of KC’s signature barbeque dishes. Crown Center’s live theater features year-round performances in a variety of genres, and the Hallmark Visitor Center is a great place to pick up a free map and lay out your plan for the day.
3. The American Jazz Museum
Kansas City’s American Jazz Museum is a great place to go if your child is musically inclined. Featuring exhibits with authentic historical artifacts from Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, and other famous musicians, this museum has a rich and classy feel. If you schedule your visit on the weekend, then you’ll probably be able to catch a spot or two at The Blue Room, the museum’s live jazz club.
Exhibits rotate throughout the year, and every one of them effectively combines masterful storytelling with visual stimulation and auditory examples. If The Blue Room is booked when you’re in town, then take a look at The Gem Theater. Restored to its original 1912 outside appearance, this 500-seat theater offers museum visitors the chance to experience authentic Kansas City jam sessions with some of KC’s most talented musicians.
4. Worlds of Fun
As its name suggests, Worlds of Fun is a great time for the whole family. This child-friendly theme park has several roller coasters, but it has some gentler rides too. Worlds of Fun’s Planet Snoopy section is designed just for kids, so don’t be surprised if your child wants to spend all day there once they get inside.
Next to all of the main attractions at Worlds of Fun is the Oceans of Fun waterpark with more than 20 different slides. If the waterslides aren’t enough to keep everybody in your family enjoying themselves all day, Oceans of Fun also has a giant wave pool and a lazy river that’s perfect for a relaxing float in an inner tube.
5. Kansas City’s National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
For the child who is artistically inclined, there is The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Handmade miniatures and detailed dollhouses are all on display at the museum, but there are plenty of modern toys available to play with too. Lately, the museum has put a focus on science puzzles and engineering games to help pique children’s interests in all of the STEM fields.
Every child who visits the museum seems to love the section with different types of model trains, and there’s also a live arcade station that’s guaranteed to be fun for the whole family. Featured exhibits can last anywhere between four months and two or three years, so make sure to check the museum’s current schedule before you purchase your tickets.
6. The Kansas City Zoo
As the home of orangutans, penguins, and over 900 other animals, The Kansas City Zoo is always a favorite destination of young people who visit the city for the first time. In 2008, this zoo’s “African Animals” exhibit was ranked number one of its kind in the country. Jane Goodall, the famous female primatologist, remarked several years ago that KC’s zoo has one of the best chimpanzee exhibits on the entire content. These days, however, the Kansas City Zoo has tons of monkeys scattered across different parts of its grounds.
The Great Ape House is the zoo’s oldest building, and it has been considered one of Kansas City’s signature architectural masterpieces since the structure’s original completion in 1996. Close to the Great Ape House sit The Discovery Barn and Helzberg Penguin Plaza. In total, Helzberg Penguin Plaza houses more than 125,000 gallons of water for its penguins, and the main building also has smaller exhibits featuring various coral species.
All in all, the zoo stretches out over slightly more than 200 acres. The Kansas City Zoo’s KidZone section is probably where your child will want to spend most of their time, but don’t be surprised if the blue monkeys at the “Tropics House” also catch their attention. The zoo’s numerous animal collections are arranged by country and by climate, but you’ll be able to find your way quite easily if you pick up a map when you first arrive.
Do you have a child that loves to build and work with their hands? The LEGOLAND Discovery Center has interactive exhibits for aspiring engineers of all ages. If you get to the Discovery Center early enough, then you’ll be able to reserve a same-day spot for one of LEGO’s famous Factory Tours. During this guided tour, your child will learn how LEGO’s signature building components are constructed, and all tickets include access to LEGOLAND’s four-dimensional theater.
LEGOLAND also features more than ten unique rides, a hands-on LEGO train station, and a complete LEGO art gallery. Life-sized LEGO characters circulate throughout the Discovery Center all day long, and they are always more than happy to pose for family photos whenever you’d like. The Discovery Center’s normal operating hours are from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. on weekdays and 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. on weekends.
7. SEA LIFE
Located right next door to LEGOLAND is the Kansas City SEA LIFE aquarium. With more than 5,000 underwater animals living in the aquarium, SEA LIFE has some of KC’s most intriguing exhibits. From giant underwater turtles to glowing jellyfish, the aquarium’s numerous tanks are both intriguing and exciting.
Combo deals for tickets to both LEGOLAND and SEA LIFE are available all year.
9. Zip KC
Located a short distance outside of Kansas City proper, Zip KC is the perfect place to take an especially adventurous child. Although this is definitely one of Kansas City’s most exciting attractions, it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. With a complete menu of hiking tours and ziplining courses, Zip KC appeals to budding mountaineers and camping enthusiasts alike. If your child is in the scouts, they’ll absolutely love what Zip KC has to offer.
To help accommodate family vacation itineraries, Zip KC has recently started offering a special “Ninja Training Obstacle Tour” where your child can flip tires, swing from ropes, hike through the backwoods, conquer other outdoor challenges in a safe, supervised environment. As you can guess, the waiting list for various activities fills up fast in the summer. Thus, we recommend making your reservations at least two months out.
10. Lakeside Nature Center
Although Kansas City’s Lakeside Nature Center might not offer all of the same thrills that Zip KC does, it’s still definitely worth a visit. The Lakeside Nature Center is located in the 1800-acre Swope Park, and it sits in an area that’s absolutely teeming with amphibious life. Turtles, fish, and birds all live around the center, but it’s the snakes that seem to capture the most attention.
Lakeside Nature Center is quite close to the Kansas City Zoo, so you can save a lot of time by putting both of them on the same day’s activity list. If there’s time left over after spending time with the animals at the zoo and taking a few hours to see what the Lakeside Nature Center has to offer, check out Swope Park’s Disco Golf Courses for some zany fun to cap off the day.
11. Mesner Puppet Theater
Mesner Puppet Theater offers puppet shows, book shows, live workshops, and much more. If your child is especially interested in theater, you might want to sign them up for the theater’s “Commission a Puppet” program and give them the chance to build their own character from scratch. After your child is registered for the program, the theater’s artists will work hand in hand with them to design the initial build sketches, select the best materials for the puppet, and bring the character to life through a live performance.
Kansas City Moving Services
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