Affordable Things to Do with Kids in Kansas City


Best known for its barbecue scene, jazz heritage and public fountains, Kansas City is also a great place to spend time with kids.

A bronze sculpture at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Photo: Thad Zajdowicz via Flickr / CC0 1.0)

Perched on Missouri’s western edge, straddling the border with Kansas, the city is packed full of fun and exciting things to see and do. Among them are some top class activities and attractions that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. If you’re visiting Kansas City with children and would like to put an itinerary together that won’t break the bank, here are 12 affordable ideas to get you started.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Designed to showcase some of the world’s finest modern and contemporary art, this distinguished museum offers plenty of opportunities to get kids interacting and engaging with artistic themes and practices. Free to enter for adults and children alike, the museum hosts a busy roster of exhibitions, installations, lectures, workshops, day camps, and other creative programs for all ages throughout the year.

4420 Warwick Boulevard / Weds-Sun 10am-4pm Closed Mon-Tues

Kansas City Zoo

For all budding Dr. Doolittles, this acclaimed city zoo offers the chance to get up close and personal with more than 1,700 diverse creatures from across the world. Spread over some 200 acres, the zoo is divided into five themed areas: Africa, Australia, Tiger Trail, KidZone and The Valley. Among the highlights are its chimpanzee exhibits which are widely considered among the best anywhere in the US. Admission starts at $17, with kids aged 2 and under going free.

6800 Zoo Drive / Mon-Sun 9.30am-4pm

A contemplative creature at Kansas City Zoo (Photo: Care_SMC via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Located on the campus of the University of Missouri, this quirky museum leaves young visitors wide-eyed in fascination – while sending adults on an evocative trip down memory lane. Featuring the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and a similarly vast collection of historic toys, interactive and temporary exhibits sit alongside old museum favourites such as the nine-foot-tall Coleman Dollhouse. The museum also hosts special events for families. Entrance is $8 for adults, $ 5 for children aged 6-17.

University of Missouri, 5235 Oak Street / Weds-Sat 10am-4pm Closed Sun-Tues

Science City

This interactive science centre makes for a great day out with the kids, helping to encourage a passion and enthusiasm for all matters scientific. Spanning nearly 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor displays and experiences, the venue features travelling exhibitions as well as permanent areas such as at Dino Lab, which invites visitors to come face to face with life-sized dinosaur replicas and the nationally-acclaimed Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium. Entrance is $14.50, and free for children 12 months and under.

Union Station, 30 West Pershing Road / Tues-Sat 10am-5pm Sun 12pm-5pm Closed Mon

Be Bop and Beyond Walking Tour

During America’s segregation era, Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine Jazz and Baseball District blazed a trail for Civil Rights and Black Enterprise while providing a canvas for some of the country’s soon-to-be music icons. Visitors can explore this fascinating aspect of the city’s past by joining the Be Bop and Beyond Walking Tour. Run by black historian Erik Stafford, the tour delivers intricate and descriptive accounts of the struggles, accomplishments and contributions African Americans of Kansas City made to the nation’s turbulent history. Tours take place on Saturdays and Sunday evenings and run for around two hours. Adult tickets are $21.99 and visitors aged 17 and under are free. Visit for more info.

A street sign for Kansas City’s historic 18th Street (Photo: Kansas City Tour Company)

Yaya’s Alpaca Farm 

Positioned about 45 miles south of Kansas City, this farm is home to 30 alpacas, all of whom are raised for sale, show, and for the gorgeous fleece that they produce. Visitors can come and feed, photograph and pet the adorable animals, as well as learn about the history of where they came from, and feel their luxurious fibre. There are also (paid) daily 90-minute guided tours during which you can see and learn how great products are made out of their luscious fleece. General admission is free for all.

30200 East 275th Street, Garden City / Mon-Sun 10am-5pm

Parkville Nature Sanctuary

Offering respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, this 115-acre wildlife preserve and educational site is home to nearly three miles of hiking trails. An abundance of wooded bluffs, rocky ledges and clear streams make it ideal for little ones who want to splash in streams and have a hands-on experience with nature, while older children can embark on extended walks. For wildlife fans, the area is also teeming with white-tailed deer, wild turkey, wood ducks and numerous other birds.

100-198 East 12 Street, Parkville / Mon-Sat 7am-8pm Sun 7am-9.30pm

A wooden bridge surrounded by foliage at Parkville Nature Sanctuary (Photo: Laura Gilchrist via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America, this is the only museum of its kind in America. Visitors can learn about iconic players like Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige through interactive exhibits, video presentations, and hundreds of photographs and historic artefacts, before enjoying the museum’s centrepiece – a mock baseball field surrounded by 10 life-size bronze sculptures of African-American baseball greats. Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for kids aged 5-12.

1616 East 18th Street / Tues-Sat 10am-5pm Sun 12pm-5pm Closed Mon

Memorabilia on display at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (Photo: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum)

The Culinary Center of Kansas City

If you’re keen to get your kids cooking, then this unique venue, set within a beautifully restored turn-of-the-century barn, could be just the ticket. Designed to educate and cultivate an appreciation of food and culinary traditions, the centre runs a wide range of cooking classes for all ages and skill levels across two teaching kitchens. More than 600 contemporary classes are taught each year, covering a range of topics and taught by qualified, experienced instructors, all aimed at de-mystifying the art of cooking.

7920 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park / Mon-Sat 9am-5pm Sun 12pm-5pm

Lakeside Nature Center

One of many wildlife rehabilitation facilities dotted around Kansas City, this nature centre is designed to teach visitors about local native wildlife, including birds of prey, snakes, amphibians, turtles, fish and invertebrates. Set within Swope Park, a 1,800-acre wooded park that also hosts the Kansas City Zoo (see above), Starlight Theatre, Blue River, Swope Memorial, and Disco Golf Courses. Visitors can also take a dip in the public pool, play in ballparks, try some angling in the fishing pond, or find a grassy area for a picnic.

4701 East Gregory Boulevard / Tues-Sun 9am-4pm Closed Mon

By Paul Joseph