Growing up in California, I was somehow only aware of the coastal states and everything else was just “in the middle.” Obviously that has changed over time but one place that really surprised me was Kansas City, Missouri. I had no idea it was such a hub of business, history, and excitement until my recent visit there. Oh, and support for the city’s Royals (baseball) team was impressive!
With one full day and a couple of evenings to explore the city, there were only a handful of places I was able to go check out. However, we were on a whirlwind tour and were able to sample a number of family-friendly places in that limited time. Here’s a list of my tops picks in Kansas City that I’d like to return and experience with Frans and Munchkin.
12 Things to Do With Kids in Kansas City, MO
Hallmark Visitor Center – Displays detailing the history of Hallmark from 1910 on and unique tributes to the family can be found here. See if you remember any of the Hallmark movies or the fun toy partnerships throughout the years. Kids (and adults) will love the bow making machine. Entrance is free.
Kaleidescope – Also by Hallmark, using some of the excess paper goods, children can enjoy various creative stations at their leisure. They can draw, paint, glue, create puzzles, design art with melted crayons, and more. Entrance is free.
Sea Life Aquarium – Touch a horseshoe crab or a sea slug, view the giant rays from above or below, or enjoy the other resident sea creatures.
Legoland Discovery Center – Of course there’s a huge shop full of Legos but visitors can also see a miniature version of Kansas City, enjoy a couple of indoor rides, and play to their hearts’ content.
The Coterie Theatre – Let the young ones experience live theater with professional actors. From the Miracle Worker to Where the Wild Things Are to Madagascar the Musical, families can get a bit of the arts without breaking the bank.
College Basketball Experience – Need to work off some of that barbecue? Find out what it’s like to be a college basketball player with interactive displays and some actual hoop time. I realized that I’m super weak for 3-pointers but that my layup skills and shooting from the key were decent.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum – See how segregation shaped the way baseball was played and enjoyed by fans of different backgrounds. The pride and perseverance of players in a horribly prejudiced society was moving.
Fritz’s Railroad Diner – This is actually a restaurant but the way food is delivered is as good as any attraction for the young ones. After putting in your order via the corded phone at the table (which has no volume control – eek!), food is brought to your table by means of a miniature train that run overhead. The look on the kids across from us was priceless!
Science City at Union Station – Massive interactive museum where kids can play, discover, and learn. Found inside the beautiful Union Station train station.
Kansas City Zoo – Over 200 acres of animals means a lot of walking! At least you can take a rest on the Sky Safari, where you ride on a repurposed ski lift. The new exhibits for the polar bears (only one of the two bears is in there at a time) and the penguins are phenomenal.
National Museum of Toys / Miniatures – After an extensive multi-million remodel, this museum is open to the public. The first floor features fine furniture miniatures with details so tiny yet so exact that it’s mind-boggling. It’s all behind glass so don’t worry little hands will break anything. The second floor brings you through time by means of toys from different time period.
Kauffman Center – Symphonies, orchestras, and musical performers make use of the acoustic design of various wooden panels while entertainers and Broadway shows are booked in the more contemporary theater on the other side. Only top tier talent performs here and I fully enjoyed the ukulele performance by Jake Shimabukuro.
What else would you suggest for families visiting the area?
The Kansas City CVB gave us a quick tour around the city during the 2015 TMS Family Travel Conference, with meals and attractions included, for review purposes. All opinions are my own.