Forts, farms, gardens and trails: Kansas City green spaces to explore with kids this summer

·3 min read

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer. And with sun and blue skies in the forecast, it’s the perfect time to get outside with the whole family.

There are green spaces—sometimes hidden in plain sight—all over the metro, and most are free or low cost.

If you’re looking for some fresh air for your kids this holiday weekend and once school lets out, check out these outdoor adventures.

FORTOPIA

The Powell Gardens in Kingsville itself is worth visiting to see the variety of landscapes and flowers. And there’s a new attraction on the way that is sure to bring new light and views to the garden.

Starting on May 26 and running until Oct. 16, Fortopia invades the Powell Gardens. Forts designed by local artists are decorated across the gardens, taking adults back to their childhood days of building protective bases using pillows and blankets and helping create new memories with their kids.

Fortopia is included in any general admission ticket, which costs $10 for adults and $4 for children ages 5 to 12. You can get tickets ahead of time. Kids under the age of five are free. Be sure to scroll to the date you’re planning to visit.

The Fortopia exhibit is open at Powell Gardens all summer.
The Fortopia exhibit is open at Powell Gardens all summer.

ANITA B. GORMAN CONSERVATION DISCOVERY CENTER

With over eight acres to explore, the free discovery center right in the midle of the city in Kauffman Legacy Park offers plenty of natural areas to explore and admire.

There’s a children’s natural play area on the outside and you can take them inside the building to view exhibits about nature.

It’s open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. It’s closed on Sunday and Monday.

DEANNA ROSE CHILDREN’S FARMSTEAD

The Overland Park farmstead was established back in 1978, and you can see more than 250 animals, including horses, pigs and birds of prey.

It’s open now until Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Tickets only cost $3 for each individual, but admission is free after 2 p.m. There are also two free weekends each season:

  • June 4-5

  • Aug. 6-7

ERNIE MILLER PARK

If that doesn’t fill your outdoor quota, take a journey to the Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center in Olathe. The park and trails are open, making this spot a prime destination for your active kids to get that energy out.

THE BEANSTALK CHILDREN’S GARDEN

This garden’s moved a couple of times, but it has a permanent home in Swope Park in the city. The Beanstalk Children’s Garden is the perfect place to take your kids and introduce them to how fruits and vegetables grow.

With seven different sections dedicated to teaching young children about garden sights and smells, they’ll learn something new, even on summer break. Admission is free, but if you want a guided tour of the garden, it’ll cost $2 per person.

Starting on June 1 and going until mid-October, it’s open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and it’s closed on Sundays. It’ll also be closed on July 3.

If you’re interested in booking a tour, call 816-931-3877 or email tours@kccg.org.

LAKESIDE NATURE CENTER

Also out in Swope Park and just a 9-minute walk away from the Beanstalk Children’s Garden is the Lakeside Nature Center, where you can learn about their birds of prey and hike any of these trails:

  • Lakeside nature trail

  • Fox Hollow nature trail

  • Lakeside’s marsh trail

It’s free to attend, but be aware that the office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday through Sunday.

WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?

If that isn’t enough and your family’s looking for more adventures, check out this list of free hiking trails around Kansas City.

Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and hydrate. It’s going to be a hot and bright one this summer.

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