Outdoor Activities in Kansas City | 15 Amazing Things Kansas Has To Offer

I really enjoyed exploring all the outdoor activities in Kansas City and all the fun things to do. This city on the western edge of Missouri is well-known for its busy outdoor scene and lively energy.

It is dotted with parks and gardens, and there is something to keep every member of the family busy.

Kansas City, Missouri cityscape skyline

Spending time outdoors doesn’t necessarily have to mean being active or getting exercise. Fresh air is good for the soul and clears the mind.

It is necessary to spend some time in nature, even if you’re at peace, to just reconnect with yourself.

That is why I decided to dedicate this article to outdoor activities in Kansas City. Get out and about, it’s good for the mind, body, and soul.

 

Outdoor Activities in Kansas City

There are so many outdoor activities in Kansas City that it was difficult to pinpoint just fifteen.

I decided to split up this list into parks and gardens, art and culture, and family-friendly activities.

By doing this, you can pick and choose the activities that are most attractive to you.


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Parks and Gardens

Kansas City is known for its parks and gardens. This city is littered with beautiful outdoor spaces that are free and open to the public to visit. Just pop by and spend some time uncluttering your mind in stunning, natural surroundings.

1. Kauffman Memorial Garden

The Kauffman Memorial Garden is located in the heart of the city and it is about two acres big. This garden boasts an impressive collection of plants and various impressive water features. Admission to the garden is free and it is open from eight in the morning until dusk, regardless of the weather.

There are truly thousands of plants in this garden and it amazed me to see the wide selection. The plant beds are thriving and lush and filled with exotic and local botanicals. There are even some plant varieties on display that aren’t found anywhere else in the Midwest.

I also particularly enjoyed the stone features, fountains, and bronze sculptures housed in the garden. The plants are artfully pruned and placed around these features and it creates an aesthetically pleasing picture.

You can visit the garden at any time of the year and you’ll experience different flowers in bloom every time. The garden is constantly cycling and new and unique species are coming into flower every month.

 

2. Overland Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Overland Arboretum and Botanical Garden

The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a year-round destination that delights and excites visitors. This property is about 300 acres large and features eight different natural ecosystems.

The park was founded with the aim of keeping environmental and ecological issues top of mind for city dwellers. The foundation running the park still hosts seasonal programs, events, and experiences every year. It is a highly important cultural, recreational, and educational resource for those living in the city.

A large part of the property is dedicated to preserving and restoring the natural ecosystem. The other part makes up the botanical gardens and the visitor center.

Here you can take a leisurely stroll through a wooded area or learn something new about the plants around you. It is entirely up to you how to spend your time in this beautiful, natural paradise.

I highly recommend this park if you’re interested in plants and feel like escaping your everyday life for a while.

 

3. Hidden Valley Park Trail

Woman hiking a trail

The name of this trail says it all, and if you haven’t already guessed it, it’s a hidden gem. This beautiful outdoor space is basically a thicket of forest and it feels like another world.

Although it is very close to the city, it feels like you’ve entered a magical faraway land. The forest is full of different plants and a few very large and very old trees.

And, of course, I couldn’t allow a list of outdoor activities in Kansas City to be completely devoid of exercise. The actual hiking trail is fairly easy though and it’s mostly shaded thanks to the thick canopy of leaves.

This trail feels very private and secluded and is truly a wilderness destination. You may even see a deer or two. So, put on your hiking boots and take to the forest!


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4. Mill Creek Park

J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, by Henri-Leon Greber in Kansas City Missouri

This park is possibly one of the most popular outdoor activities in Kansas City for locals and visitors alike. Mill Creek Park is at the edge of the Country Club Plaza and in the heart of the city. It boasts one of the most well-known fountains in the city and several large open, green spaces.

Mill Creek Park is also ideal for those wanting to go for a quick jog or run, or even just a walk. The asphalt trail is almost a mile long and is easy-going.

This means that it is safe and easy enough for anyone to complete, and you choose your own distance. However, if you’re not into running or walking, you can also spend some time on their fabulous tennis courts.

There are loads of green areas for children to run and play in and you can even have a picnic. Or you can just visit the park to catch a glimpse of the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain.

 

5. Parkville Nature Sanctuary

 

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The Parkville Nature Sanctuary is an area of approximately 115 acres and it has three miles of trails. This is the ideal place for anyone wanting to get active and out and about during their holiday.

The trails are all fairly short and are very well-maintained. You are likely to see other people and families with children enjoying the fresh air in this park.

I particularly enjoyed the trails in the Parkville Nature Sanctuary because of the water features. There are many streams and waterfalls on many of the trails.

These offer ideal spots to rest and simply sit and admire the cascading water. It is perfect for soaking weary feet and catching your breath before continuing on your journey.

 

Art and Culture Places to See in Kansas

Kansas City is known for its rich, unique history and there are several places of historical significance in the city.

It is always fascinating to visit arts and culture attractions on your travels. By visiting these places, you gain insight into how the locals live and used to live.

6. The City Market

City Market

This is the largest farmer’s market in the area and more than 600 000 people visit it every year. The City Market features more than 140 farmer stalls and merchants that sell a wide variety of goods.

It is hosted outdoors and you can expect to see them host events from April to October. The market is in the heart of the River Market neighborhood, a historic area, and is open seven days a week.

Expect to find flowers, meats, baked goods, specialty foods, fresh produce, and gift items. There are also authentic restaurants on the premises and the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

The museum boasts the world’s largest collection of pre-Civil War artifacts and is fascinating to see. The events that are held at the market include food celebrations, kids’ activities, and concerts.

Whether you spend a day or a week in Kansas City, I suggest making the City Market a priority.

 

7. Explore the Fountains

Kansas City is also known as the City of Fountains and for good reason. The city is home to no less than 200 fountains and water features. I highly suggest taking a day and exploring as many of the fountains as you can.

The water sculptures and statues celebrate generations of Kansas Citians and are a part of the history of the city.

Although Mill Creek Park houses the most famous fountain, and I’ve already mentioned it, there are many more. I highly suggest visiting the Fountain of Bacchus, the Pomona Fountain, and the Eagle Scout Memorial Fountain.

The Fountain of Bacchus is a delight with a sculpture of the Roman god Bacchus surrounded by nymphs and satyrs.

The Pomona Fountain features a life-size bronze sculpture of Pomona and it came from Italy. She stands on a marble pedestal and a reflecting pool surrounds her, truly beautiful.

The Eagle Scout Memorial Fountain is 22 feet high and features a wreath, a female figurine, and an eagle. It also features several water jets and an enlarged version of the Boy Scout badge.


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8. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Kansas City, Missouri - Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Although the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art isn’t technically outdoors, I still included it for a good reason. The museum is dedicated to inclusivity and diversity and it is a phenomenon in and of itself.

The museum has spectacular, rotating exhibits and there are more than 40 000 pieces of art to see. You can view anything from modern art to intricate Chinese ceramics.

The museum building itself is an impressive display of architecture and visitors will delight in the collections inside. Because the displays are rotated and the collection constantly expanded, you’re bound to have a unique experience every time.

This museum is on a list of outdoor activities in Kansas because of the golf course. The 9-hole course is an artist-designed mini-golf experience and it is in the sculpture park.

Each hole represents a work of art that is in the museum’s current collection. And afterward, be sure to take a picture with the giant shuttlecocks on the southern side of the lawn.

 

9. Dodge Town in Antioch Park

Antioch Park is the oldest and most popular park in Johnson County. It is a beautiful green park with walking paths, two lakes for fishing, tennis courts, picnic tables, restrooms, and a basketball court. However, the very interesting aspect of Antioch Park is Dodge Town and this is a fantastic activity for the kids.

Dodge Town is a historic playground and children will love it. It features an old-fashioned schoolhouse, pony express, bank, general store, city hall and clock tower, train station, and a blacksmith. There are also faux cows and horses and children can get interactive with the exhibits.

 

10. Mahaffie Stage Coach Stop and Farm

 

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This is a historic activity and although most of it is featured outdoors, there is a small indoor museum too. The farm is modeled after the 1860s and it is fascinating for children and adults alike.

The old-style farm allows you to see how things worked in the past and you can participate in various activities.

There are old-school games to play, animals to interact with, and pet, and you can go on a stagecoach ride! I highly recommend the stagecoach ride because it was definitely the highlight of my visit.

There are also various demonstrations and because all of the staff dress in period costumes, it feels very authentic. Be sure to catch the blacksmith demonstration and they may even let you help stoke the fire!

 

Family-Friendly Activities and Animal Exhibits and Interactions

I am rounding out my list of outdoor activities in Kansas City with family-friendly items and animal exhibits and interactions. This is because a lot of families travel with their children and it’s important to have something for everyone.

It is important to keep children occupied and entertained but animal interactions delight both children and adults alike. And I included both options in this list.

11. Ernie Miller Nature Center

A beautiful shot of cute roe deer in Ernie Miller Nature Center, Olathe, Kansas City

The Ernie Miller Nature Center is ideal for families and there is so much to do to keep everyone busy. The Whimsical Woods is specifically for children with costumed characters doing stories and live animal demonstrations.

There is also a family scavenger hunt that will have you looking for animal tracks, animal scat, and fungi. This is an ideal opportunity for children to learn about nature and the world around them.

I would suggest visiting this nature center if you love animals and spending time outdoors. It is perfect for anyone that wants to trailblaze or learn more at the educational exhibits.

 

12. Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary

Kids playing at the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary

The Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary is a beautiful outdoor adventure and it offers fun for the whole family. There are hiking trails, wildlife and plants, summer camps, scout programs, and preschool and school programs to look forward to!

If you’re on a family holiday, I highly suggest checking out their hiking trails.

The hiking trails are perfect for geocaching, which is an exciting adventure for children of all ages. There is a geocache specifically located at the sanctuary and you can look for it on the Woodland Trail.

There are also live animal exhibits where children can learn more about wildlife and the natural world. And there are also programs that they can join at certain times, so be sure to check the schedule!

 

13. Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead

A child is feeding a baby goat with a milk bottle.

Well, the name says it all and you can expect to find an entire farmstead housed in a park here. The Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is in the Overland Park area and is approximately twelve acres big.

It is a fun and entertaining place for children of all ages and opens daily from April through October.

Children will get to experience farm life firsthand here and can explore animals and other features. They will get to bottle-feed baby goats and fish using cane poles and worms.

Afterward, they can take a horse-drawn carriage ride, pan for treasure, and visit the old schoolhouse. This is a very unique attraction and definitely not one to miss!


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14. Gieringer’s Family Orchard and Berry Farm

Modern family picking blueberries on a organic farm

The Gieringer’s Family Orchard and Berry Farm is owned and operated by a family. It is a wonderful destination year-round and you can expect different pickings every time.

If you visit in the summer, you can expect to find blueberries and blackberries, ripe for the picking. In spring, you can scour the fields for strawberries and in fall, it’s the pumpkin-picking time!

This is a fantastic activity that gets kids outdoors and you’ll even return home with bulging bags of fresh produce.

 

15. Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun

Young friends on thrilling roller coaster ride

I cannot finish this list without mentioning Worlds of Fun, It is a huge amusement park complex in the Midwest. The park has hundreds of acres of fun and laughter, giggles, and thrills.

The park is broken up into six sections: Africa, Americana, Europa, Orient, Scandinavia, and Planet Snoopy. There are also thrill rides and rollercoasters, live entertainment, and various experiences available.

Oceans of Fun is in Worlds of Fun and it is the best thing to do with children in summer. There are waterslides, super tubes, geysers, and rivers. It is the biggest water park in Missouri. If you visit during the summer, I highly suggest popping in here for some water-based fun and games.

 

What to Do in Kansas City?

There are so many things to do here, and especially so many outdoor activities in Kansas City, that you can just take your pick. Regardless of the time of year, you will find a host of activities and attractions to keep you busy.

Kansas City, Missouri, USA downtown city skyline and park in the daytime.

Luscious parks and gardens, art and culture, and family-friendly activities are what makes Kansas City. I highly suggest looking at this list and picking a few of your personal favorites to make up your itinerary. You won’t go wrong.

My personal favorites were the City Market, the Botanical Gardens, and the Ernie Miller Nature Center. But feel free to pick and choose your own!

If you have gone and done all the outdoor activities in Kansas be sure to check out our website TravelCroc for more amazing destinations you can visit locally and abroad. Thank you for reading.