My family and I have had so much fun exploring Kansas City since moving here nearly three years ago, and summer is probably our favorite time to get out and be on the go (It would be Spring if we had one here). I wanted my next post to offer you some ideas for itineraries around Kansas City, but as I started brainstorming, I realized there was just so much I wanted to put in front of you! So, here is the first post in what will be a series of summer adventures – Free and Nearly Free Downtown!
First thing first, though, I strongly recommend getting each of your kids a disposable camera or two. They can document their own impressions of what they see and do. After each outing have the kids dictate (or write on their own if they can) a few notes in a journal. At the end of the summer have the photos developed and put them in with the corresponding journal entry. This way the children get to experience each trip again and further cement the memories in their minds.
City Market – Union Station – Crown Center
- Park at any of the free lots around City Market. Stroll through the shops and pick up some fun nibbles for the day.
- Take the street car down to Union Station. Walk through the free model train room (fun for all ages), and plan to stay for a while in their, always improving, play area. If you prefer to park nearer, parking is free near Jack Stacks and then you can take the bridge over the train tracks where you’re almost guaranteed to see a diesel train.
- Follow the Sky Walk to Crown Center and visit Kaleidescope, where you and your kiddos can make art with leftover supplies from Hallmark.
Art and Music
- Head to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Admission is free and so is the audio tour. Be sure to check their calendar of events first. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but offer free activities on Saturdays and Sundays. The 3rd Friday of each month offers you the chance to join the adult centered, but infant friendly, Junior Jaunts Stroller Tour. If you’ve planned ahead, you can picnic in the field surrounded by sculptures and plenty of room to run and play. Or you can eat next to one of Kansas City’s oldest fountains at Rozzelle Court Restaurant.
- Continue the day by heading over to Country Club Plaza to enjoy free live music nightly. Some of the shows begin around 4:00pm. Grab some treats at Topsy’s Popcorn and Ice Cream to replenish after getting your dance on!
Doing Good Feels Good
- Beginning with the first day of summer, ask your kids to write one card a day to a child who is sick and hospitalized. You could rent books from the library to help the kids understand how hard this experience can be for them. And include fun inexpensive removable tattoos. After you have a good collection of cards, take them down to the volunteer desk at Children’s Mercy in downtown Kansas City. My son has weekly appointments here for his Occupational Therapy. One day a family had set up a table in the lobby and was passing out boxes of crayons and a coloring page. You’d have thought he had just won a car! You can use the free valet service at the front entrance to avoid parking struggles. After the kids have helped to brighten other children’s days head outside to the adorable park right in front of the main entrance.
- Your family or a group of families can volunteer to serve a meal or a snack at the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City. You bring the food and serve it to families displaced because of childhood illness or injury. Often times there are siblings staying there who are excited to have someone to play with.
History Can Be Fun
- The National WWI Museum may not be first to your mind when you think of activities to do with your kids, but the museum has done an outstanding job of making the information accessible and entertaining to young mind. Before you go, visit their Children and Family page for tips on how to prepare for you trip, activities to do at home and what to expect when you arrive. In addition to boasting the largest collection of WWI memorabilia and artifacts, the setting is an experience in itself. Be sure to go on a nice weather day so you can explore the surrounding grounds.
- Take the family to an urban nature park where nature and history come together. At Cave Spring Park you can explore the trails, learn about the significance of this site in the history of the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the California Trail. Visit their history web page to learn about the park then check out related books from the library to deepen the experience for the kiddos.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of free (or nearly free) downtown activities, so please comment below with an additions you’d like to share with the other parents. Next up: North KC!