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National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Sandover National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

The best things to do with kids in Kansas City

Keep the whole family busy year-round with the best things to do with kids in Kansas City

By Lori A. May
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Whether Kansas City is in your backyard or a getaway destination, one thing is for sure, this Midwestern hub is packed with family-friendly activities year-round. From immersive museums dedicated to baseball, jazz, and toys to outdoor activities and hands-on learning experiences, you’ll find amazing things to do with kids in Kansas City. Plan to visit wildlife, play with puppets, and break a sweat on the playground. In addition to the best events in the city and our favorite downtown activities, this collection of top kid-friendly activities is sure to engage the whole family.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Kansas City

Best things to do with kids in Kansas City

National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

What is it? The Midwest’s largest collection of antique toys. 

Why go? Kids will love this museum dedicated to the art of play and imagination. The collection includes more than 72,000 objects ranging from doll houses to dump trucks and fine-scale miniatures to antique figurines. Hands-on activities include creating shadow puppet theaters.

2. Crown Center

What is it? An entertainment center with multiple attractions and local eats

Why go? Crown Center is home to SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium, which homes more than 5,000 aquatic creatures and houses several interactive learning zones, as well as the massive 30,000-square-foot hands-on play area at LEGOLAND Discovery Center. While here, be sure to sample KC’s famous bites at Burnt End BBQ or dine at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant where burgers are delivered by overhead electric trains.

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3. Kaleidoscope

What is it? A free interactive creative arts studio for kids

Why go? This multi-sensory interactive play zone invites kids of all ages to design, decorate, and craft their own artistic masterpieces. It’s totally free, with all supplies sponsored by locally based Hallmark Cards, and includes six hands-on art sessions scheduled daily. 

4. The Money Museum

What is it? A free interactive experience at the Federal Reserve Bank

Why go? Take a one-hour tour of the region’s largest cash vault, design your own family currency, or try to lift a gold bar worth nearly $400,000. Or witness today’s currency being processed or explore special exhibits about legendary entrepreneurs. Plus, take home a free souvenir bag of cash.

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Kansas City Union Station
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jim Nix

5. Union Station

What is it? A historic landmark which is home to a science center, theaters and exhibits

Why go? One of the most-loved local attractions in Kansas City, Union Station houses an interactive science center, model railroad experience, planetarium and performance halls. Special exhibits tour the gallery spaces in this architectural masterpiece built in 1914.  

6. Museum at Prairiefire

What is it? A natural history museum with interactive family programming

Why go? Just 20 miles outside the downtown core, Museum at Prairiefire introduces kids to dinosaurs, zoology, space walking and science experiments. Try hands-on encounters with bugs and artifacts or try a thrilling virtual reality experience. Entrance to the museum is free, while some workshops require sign-up.

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Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Tim Samoff

7. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

What is it? A free museum housing international art and an outdoor sculpture park

Why go? The massive collection at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art spans over 5,000 years of humanity and has been a staple in the Kansas City community since the Great Depression. With free admission, families can explore art from around the globe, or take a stroll through the outdoor sculpture park home to larger-than-life artworks and a glass labyrinth.

8. Swope Park

What is it? The largest park in KC with bike trails, playgrounds, a pool and museum

Why go? Spend a sunny afternoon enjoying Swope Park, home to hiking and cycling trails, sports fields, and a community swimming pool and splash pad for youngsters. Visit Lakeside Nature Center for interactive exhibits and educational programming, try out the zipline adventure park or explore history at the Battle of Westport Museum.

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Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Chris Murphy

9. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

What is it? An interactive museum celebrating Kansas City baseball history

Why go? Spend the day exploring KC’s 18th and Vine Neighborhood where legendary players are honored with interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations and an expansive memorabilia collection. Greet 10 life-sized bronze statues playing out a game on the Coors Field of Legends. Then round out the day with a Kansas City Royals home game.

10. National Frontier Trails Museum

What is it? The only US museum dedicated to the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails

Why go? Just ten miles outside downtown Kansas City, visit Independence to experience the jumping point for three historic trails. Kids will enjoy interactive exhibits about Lewis and Clark, exploring covered wagons and trail diaries or getting creative in the children’s activity room.

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American Jazz Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Brent MacAloney

11. American Jazz Museum

What is it? A collection of historical artifacts and memorabilia within a performing arts center

Why go? Jazz plays a big role in Kansas City history, and this interactive museum will appeal to the whole family. Explore album covers and listen to iconic recordings, or tour special exhibits honoring jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker. Kids will love the jazz storytelling programs while everyone can dig the smooth sounds of free jam sessions.

12. Kansas City Zoo

What is it? More than 200 acres are home to thousands of critters from around the world

Why go? Say hello to penguins, polar bears and stingrays in this family-focused zoo. Join zookeepers as they feed and care for camels and lorikeets or take a ride on the African Sky Safari to leisurely tour above giraffes, rhinos and ostriches. Pop by the preschool science hour to learn about animals and make handmade crafts.

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13. Stone Lion Puppet Theatre

What is it? A professional non-profit puppet theater focused on imagination

Why go? Stone Lion Puppet Theatre is based in KC but is also widely known as a Smithsonian Institute touring performance company. Puppetry styles include a range of marionettes, masks, shadow, mouth, and rod puppets. Families can take in an interactive performance or create their own puppetry magic with hands-on workshops. 

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