As part of the TMS Family Travel Conference, I was able to experience a number of things to do with kids in Kansas City at no cost. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase and/or click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
Admittedly, I don’t get to travel to the midwest as much as I’d like to. I’ve always enjoyed my trips there – there are so many fantastic museums, family attractions, and other things to do. A few weeks ago, as part of the TMS Family Travel Conference, I had the opportunity to travel to Kansas City Missouri. Throughout the conference weekend, I also was able to experience some of the best things to do Kansas City with kids.
Things to Do in Kansas City with Kids
The Two Kansas Cities
If you aren’t familiar with the midwest, it can definitely be confusing when you realize there are two Kansas Cities. In addition to the one in Missouri, there’s also a Kansas City in Kansas. You can easily visit both Kansas City locations while on your vacation, and there are plenty of free things to do in Kansas City, Kansas.
I flew into the Kansas City Airport, which is about 15 minutes from downtown KC. It’s mostly serviced by Southwest Airlines and Delta – I took Southwest for my trip.
We stayed at the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, which is located just steps away from some of the best family activities in the city. Hallmark Kaleidoscope is a free experience where kids can create their own arts and crafts. Hallmark provides a variety of art supplies and crafting stations, so kids can really explore their creative spirit. Although it’s free, tickets are required and are available daily (except on Sundays, when Kaleidoscope is closed).
Just around the corner from Kaleidoscope is the SEA LIFE Aquarium Kansas City. Like other SEA LIFE Aquariums (including SEA LIFE Arizona, which we’ve reviewed), the SEA LIFE in Kansas City is incredibly family-friendly, and offers kids the opportunity to get up close with fish and other sea life. For younger kids, there is a brand-new Octonauts Zone. It’s indoors, so it’s a great place to visit when it’s rainy or the weather is otherwise uncooperative with outdoor plans.
Adjacent to SEA LIFE Aquarium Kansas City is the Legoland Discovery Center Kansas City. Featuring over 3 million LEGO bricks, this indoor discovery center is a LEGO fan’s dream. In addition to LEGO figures, there’s a 4D cinema and two different rides. It’s best for kids aged 3-10, although I know my 11 year old would also have loved it. If your kids enjoy building with LEGO bricks, this would definitely be a family must-do in Kansas City.
Crown Center also offers several restaurants, shops, and the world’s only Crayola Cafe. You could easily spend a day just there, although I’d definitely recommend booking the specific attractions in advance.
Although I didn’t visit the National World World I Museum, I had the perfect view from my hotel room. The museum and memorial is both a memorial and an interpretive center telling the story of WWI and those who fought in the war. It’s open daily in the summer and Tuesday-Sunday in the regular season.
On our second evening, we visited the museums at 18th and Vine, right in Kansas City, MO, home to both the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum. Both museums help tell an important part of American History. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum offers a self-guided tour, the centerpiece of which is the baseball diamond featuring life-sized bronze statues of some of the top players. There’s also a documentary film which is narrated by James Earl Jones.
Across the hallway within the same building is the American Jazz Museum, which offers both permanent and traveling interactive exhibits. The museum also includes performance space and a nightclub. These two museums are both fun to visit, and should definitely be included in any list of things to do in Kansas City.
Adjacent to the Sprint Center in Kansas City is the College Basketball Experience. Part college basketball hall of fame, and part interactive experience, the CBE is fun for basketball-loving fans of all ages. Explore the first floor, then head upstairs for some fun on the courts.
Other Family Things to Do in Kansas City
My trip to Kansas City was short, and I missed seeing some of the other family things to do in Kansas City. Here are a few of the places I’ll definitely want to visit on my next trip:
Oceans of Fun / Worlds of Fun
The Worlds of Fun amusement park features lots of great rides, including family rides and thrill rides. For more family fun, you can also visit Planet Snoopy, which offers 21 kids attractions for little ones.
Admission to Worlds of Fun also comes with a admission to Oceans of Fun, a water park adjacent to the park. It features water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, as well as an area for little ones.
Worlds of Fun also hosts special events for Halloween and Winter so the fun doesn’t have to end when the weather gets colder.
The 202-acre Kansas City Zoo offers a variety of different animal exhibits, along with animal encounters and special events. It’s most known for its African animals, but you’ll also find penguins, stingrays, and much more.
Older toy lovers may appreciate a visit to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, which features world’s largest fine-scale miniature collection. You’ll also find antique toys, and can attend various lectures and exhibits which change throughout the year.
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
In nearby Overland Park, MO, you can visit the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, where kids can learn more about nature and animals.
Nelson Atkins Museum
This free art museum would be a great place to visit to teach kids about art. Because it’s free, you can visit for just a short time, and not feel pressure to stay too long. My kids always loved visiting art museums for a short visit.
Near Crown Center is the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Money Museum. This free museum lets you see cash processing, the vault, and various exhibits.
Where to stay in Kansas City
I would definitely recommend staying in the Crown Center area of Kansas City. There, you’ll be able to walk to a number of these attractions, without having to worry about driving. I loved the Westin Kansas City, which was comfortable (as are all Westins) and was so conveniently located.
Other popular hotels are:
- The Crowne Plaza Hotel Kansas City Downtown
- Drury Inn & Suites Kansas City Stadium
- InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza
Have you traveled in Kansas City, MO? If so, what have been your favorite family-friendly attractions?