Fritz's restaurant in crown center
Fritz’s Restaurant in Crown Center

If you’re planning to spend time in Kansas City with the kiddos, we’ve got you covered!

When you think of downtown, you might assume most activities are geared towards adults, but that’s where you’re mistaken. There are several venues and programs offered in downtown and midtown Kansas City, Missouri that cater to kiddos of all ages. 

So, if you’re exploring the City of Fountains as a family, you’re in the right place – us KCMO locals are sharing the best things to do with kids!

Things To Do In Kansas City With Kids

We’re sharing 20+ of the best things to do in downtown and midtown Kansas City, Missouri with children.

The suggestions listed here vary in cost – if you’re looking to keep spending tight, read our list of the best free family activities in KCMO.

1. College Basketball Experience

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Thursday – Saturday 10:00a – 6:00p, Sunday 11:00a – 6:00p
Pricing: Adults $18, Youth $16

The College Basketball Experience is a high-energy, interactive, expansive facility that spans two floors. Opened in 2007, it houses the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame where visitors can learn about and honor basketball legends.

Additionally, there are various interactive stations that simulate real basketball experiences. “Beat The Clock” allows you to attempt game-winning shots, while “Step To The Line” simulates the pressure of making free throws in a hostile environment. 

There are many more hands-on activities, like Slam Dunk courts with adjustable rim heights to accommodate different skill levels and areas for rebounding, passing, and three-point shooting. 

Visitors can also experience being a sportscaster at the ESPNU desk, providing commentary on NCAA basketball highlights. The facility is enriched with audio-visual elements, making it an energetic environment.

2. Lakeside Nature Center at Swope Park

Neighborhood: Swope Park, Eastern KCMO
Open to the Public: Tuesday – Sunday 9:00a – 4:00p
Pricing: Free

The Lakeside Nature Center is a true hidden gem in Kansas City. As one of Missouri’s largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities, it provides educational and recreational opportunities that focus on the local environment. 

display at a nature center
Lakeside Nature Center

The center typically houses about 75 rehabilitated animals native to this region, including two bald eagles, two turkey vultures, three barred owls, three varieties of hawks and two Kestrel falcons. 

With each animal exhibit, there are signs and informational panels to learn from. Additionally, there are several other areas in the center that provide opportunities for hands-on learning about local nature. Children can participate in the “scavenger hunt” and collect a stamp from the front desk upon completion. 

A ‘touch table’ near the upper displays provides an opportunity for children to interact with and investigate natural items like furs, fossils, and skulls.

The center also features nature trails – we love the two-mile Fox Hollow Trail. 

On the first and third Saturdays of each month, the center hosts events, such as a hike with a naturalist, nature storytime and crafts – sometimes with an animal appearance – and educational programming for children. Visit the calendar on their website for specific event information.

nature center in kansas city with animals and aquariums
Lakeside Nature Center

3. The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures 

Neighborhood: Midtown
Open to the Public: Wednesday – Monday, 10:00a – 4:00p
Pricing: Adults $10, Seniors (65+) $8

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures appeals to visitors of all ages. This museum boasts the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and stands proudly as one of the nation’s leading showcases of historic toys.

The museum’s mission is to educate, inspire, and delight by collecting, displaying, and interpreting toys and miniatures that weave diverse narratives and cultural heritage. Established in 1982 as the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City, the museum evolved over three decades with expansions in 1989 and 2004 and now boasts over 93,000 objects. 

The museum invites you to explore two wings, featuring five galleries that showcase miniature artistry and the nostalgic charm of historic toys. From dollhouses that take you to tiny worlds to toys that evoke cherished memories, every exhibit is a testament to the art of play and the craftsmanship of miniaturists.

As you wander through the galleries, you’ll discover the seamless blend of art and history, leaving you with a renewed sense of wonder and perhaps a touch of youthful nostalgia.

4. Explore Union Station 

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: 6:00a – 12:00a
Pricing: Free

Opened in 1914, this beautiful beaux-arts style train station could keep you busy for hours upon hours. Just walking around the historic building is an activity in itself – the ceiling in the Grand Hall is 95 feet high and features three chandeliers. 

In addition to the impressive architecture, Union Station has several programs and exhibits available that are kid-friendly. We detail them in the following five items. 

old mail carrier at union station
Union Station

5. Model Train Exhibit at Union Station

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: 10:00a – 5:00p
Pricing: Free

Children visiting Union Station will like the model train gallery – with more than 80 trains moving along the tracks, from tiny N-scale model trains to the big G-scale giants of the model train world, it’s worth a visit to see the expansive gallery of model railroading.

Model Train Exhibit Union Station
Model Train Exhibit Union Station
model train exhibit union station
Model Train Exhibit Union Station

6. Planetarium at Union Station

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Schedule-Based
Pricing: $8/ticket

The Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium is Kansas City’s connection to the night sky and beyond. At the planetarium, they utilize state-of-the-art technology, 4K Cosmos Projection System, and a surround sound system – each aspect ensures an immersive experience. 

They offer daily public shows, including live guided star tours, astronomy programs, and educational documentaries. In the evening, there are laser concerts set to musical artists like The Beatles, Taylor Swift, and Queen, among others. 

In addition to regularly scheduled programs, they offer special events, like live telescope viewings and eclipse watch programs. Check their schedule online for up to date information.

blue light entryway to the planetarium at union station
Planetarium at Union Station

7. Science City at Union Station

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00a – 5:00p, Sunday 12:00p – 5:00p
Pricing: $16/ticket

Science City is a place of wonder – it’s hands-on fun and discovery for every age, starting with the youngest learners. The expansive space includes more than 50 interactive STEM exhibits. 

Discover the world of energy in The Science of Energy, create a masterpiece in the Maker Studio, explore the animal kingdom in the Nature Center, or be completely mesmerized by a six-foot suspended carbon fiber sphere projecting a powerful visual perspective of Earth and the solar system in Science on a Sphere. 

STEM exhibit at science city in union station
Science City
STEM exhibit at science city in union station
Science City

8. Featured Exhibits at Union Station

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: 10:00a – 5:00p
Pricing: Adults $18, Children $15

Union Station features rotating exhibits throughout the year. Oftentimes, they are family-friendly – in 2024, they had Bricktionary: The Ultimate Lego A – Z and an exhibit about Walt Disney. Visit their website for more information on current exhibits. 

ticket booth at union station for featured exhibits
Featured Exhibits at Union Station

9. Regnier Extreme Theater at Union Station

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Showtimes Vary
Pricing: $8, mid-day matinee $5

Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre is a one-screen theatre inside Union Station measuring an impressive eighty feet by fifty-three feet. It is the largest screen in the region.

The theatre shows educational films, classic movies, and current kid-friendly movies. There is a concession stand available. 

concessions stand at regnier theatre
Regnier Theatre at Union Station

10. Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium

Neighborhood: Eastern KCMO
Open to the Public: Monday – Sunday 9:30a – 4p
Pricing: $19 – $22; Jackson and Clay County Residents $9.50 – $11

We love the Kansas City Zoo – and the addition of the aquarium in 2023 has made it even better! The zoo, located in historic Swope Park, features more than 1,700 animals over 200 acres. Visitors can partake in safari boat rides, stingray feedings, and discussions with zookeepers. 

The zoo is expansive, and it would be easy to spend an entire day exploring all the various regions and animals. 

They offer special events and programs – like the Penguin March every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00a when the penguins come outside and wander around their outdoor plaza. 

11. Explore Crown Center

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Monday – Saturday 10:00a – 6:00p, Sunday 12:00p – 5:00p
Pricing: Free

Crown Center – referred to as a “City Within A City” – is home to the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. 

The three-level Crown Center Shops feature more than thirty shops and restaurants. The center hosts free activities, such as children’s exhibits as well as occasional live music, seasonal markets, and ethnic festivals in the outdoor Crown Center Square. 

And while you’re there, dine at Fritz’s – your food will be brought to you on a train!

Crown Center
Crown Center
Fritz's restaurant in crown center
Fritz’s Restaurant in Crown Center

12. Crown Center Ice Terrace

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Sunday – Thursday 10:00a – 9:00p, Friday – Saturday 10:00a – 11:00p
Pricing: $9 Entrance Fee, $5 Skate Rental

From November to March, the Crown Center Ice Terrace is open to visitors of all ages. The rink is located outdoors in the Crown Center Square. 

They offer six-week ice skating lessons as well!

banner for the ice terrace at crown center
Crown Center Ice Terrace

13. LEGOLAND at Crown Center

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Monday – Thursday 10:00a – 4:00p (last entry 2:00p), Friday – Sunday 10:00a – 5:00p (last entry 3p) 
Pricing: $25/ticket

LEGOLAND Discovery Center is ideal for those who can’t get enough of LEGOs. It features an ultimate indoor LEGO playground with two rides, ten LEGO build and play zones, and a 4D cinema. 

Visitors of all ages can partake in a 30-minute Master Model Builder workshop. 

Legoland entrance at Crown Center

14. Kaleidoscope at Crown Center

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Tuesday – Saturday
Pricing: Free

Kaleidoscope is a free art studio that combines creativity with imagination. Families can sign-up for 50-minute studio sessions that allow for children ages fourteen and younger to create self-directed art projects. They will create with bows, cardboard, jazzy junk, puzzles, and melted crayons – among other items! 

Visit their website or call to reserve a studio session. 

15. SEA LIFE Aquarium at Crown Center

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Monday – Thursday 10:00a – 4:00p (last entry 2:00p), Friday – Sunday 10:00a – 5:00p (last entry 3p) 
Pricing: $23/ticket

SEA LIFE offers visitors a showcase of aquatic life. This aquarium features an underwater tunnel where you can gaze up at schools of vibrant fish, as well as turtles, eagle rays, and reef sharks. The aquarium includes ten zones dedicated to different kinds of creatures.

aquarium with ship wheel at sealife kansas city

In the Rockpool Experience, you gain an up-close and personal look at an array of sea stars, sea urchins and crabs.

If your child is really into aquatic life, we recommend visiting the aquarium at the Kansas City Zoo, as it is larger and offers more. If you are wanting to stay downtown, SEA LIFE is your best option.

exhibit at sealife
freshwater exhibit at sealife

16. Coterie Theatre at Crown Center

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: Showtimes Vary
Pricing: Adults $18, Children $14

The Coterie is a non-profit organization, established in 1979, that offers a variety of live theatre performances, many of which are geared for children. These include performances like The Lightning Thief, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

The Coterie also offers acting classes and programming for kids. 

entryway to the coterie theatre with show posters on a wall
Coterie Theatre at Crown Center

17. Arabia Steamboat Museum

Neighborhood: River Market
Open to the Public: Monday – Saturday, 10:00a – 5:00p; Sunday, 12:00p – 5:00p
Pricing: Children (ages 4 – 14) $6.50, Adults $16.50, Seniors (60 and older) $15.50

The Arabia Steamboat Museum tells the story of the Arabia, once a bustling vessel that navigated the challenging waters of the Missouri River. It met its fate in 1856 after hitting a snag just north of Kansas City.

Buried beneath a Kansas cornfield for over a century, the boat’s cargo hold, loaded with 200 tons of supplies for frontier life, was rediscovered in 1988. Dubbed the “King Tut’s Tomb of the Missouri River,” the artifacts found inside are a time capsule of frontier existence.

In 1988, an excavation group unearthed the Arabia’s buried treasure, recovering the largest collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world. The self-guided museum showcases these remarkable finds, from glass bottles containing preserved fruits to weaponry and clothing, providing an unparalleled glimpse into frontier life.

Additionally, the museum’s location within City Market means there’s plenty to see before and after visiting the museum. 

18. Boulevard Drive-In Movie Theatre

Neighborhood: Kansas City, KS
Open to the Public: April – October, Showtimes Vary 
Pricing: $30/Car

This classic drive-in theater opened in 1950 and offers a unique blend of retro charm and modern 4K cinematic experience.

The theater boasts a large screen with clear visuals, and the sound is transmitted directly through your car’s radio. The Boulevard Drive-In is a beloved Kansas City institution, offering a unique way to enjoy the latest films. 

They offer several kid-friendly movies each week and have a snack bar on-site.

19. Federal Reserve’s Money Museum

Neighborhood: Midtown
Open to the Public: Monday – Friday, 9:30a to 4p
Pricing: Free

The Federal Reserve System in the United States consists of twelve regional banks, each serving a specific district, one of which resides in Kansas City! 

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has a small Money Museum where children can get a real-life lesson on economics, currency processing, and the history of money. 

It’s a self-guided, engaging tour through several different rooms and includes features like lifting a real gold bar valued at nearly $400,000 and the historic Harry S. Truman Coin Collection, a dazzling display of 450 coins minted throughout history.

The exhibits are interactive and teach valuable insights into the U.S. economy.

You can catch a glimpse of the Federal Reserve’s cash processing area and the vault. It’s an interesting look for all ages into this important piece of the American economy!

Federal Reserve Money Museum kc
Federal Reserve Money Museum
Federal Reserve Money Museum KC
Federal Reserve Money Museum

20. Ride The KC Streetcar

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: 7:00a – 11:00p
Pricing: Free

Explore Kansas City’s downtown neighborhoods with the modern streetcar!

Running from the River Market on the north end to Union Station and Crown Center on the south, KC Streetcar connects all the downtown neighborhoods with 16 platform stops and 2 miles of track. 

It’s free to ride and makes it easy to travel through downtown – strollers and bikes are welcome!

21. Children’s Library at Kansas City Central Branch

Neighborhood: Downtown
Open to the Public: 9:00a – 5:00p
Pricing: Free

The Kansas City Public Library’s Central Branch has a great children’s library on the second floor. They have a wide collection of books, movies, and audiobooks. 

brightly colored children's library in kansas city missouri
Children’s Library at Kansas City Public Library Central Branch

The early literacy space has several interactive toys, games, and activities to keep the littles occupied! The space is bright and welcoming. 

The library offers weekly storytime and events – you can see their current offerings on their website.

book themed entrance to children's library
Kansas City Central Library

22. Youth Studio Classes at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Neighborhood: Midtown
Open to the Public: Saturdays
Pricing: Tickets Vary $75 – $300

The Nelson-Atkins offers Youth Studio Classes that range from two to six week sessions, always offered on Saturdays. There are a variety of classes offered with differing skill levels. Classes are available for children ages three and up.

23. Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center

Neighborhood: Midtown
Open to the Public: Tuesday – Friday 8:00a – 5:00p, Saturday 9:00a – 4:00p
Pricing: Free

We may be surrounded by quite a bit of concrete, but at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, children can be immersed in nature. The center houses interactive exhibits and diverse gardens that provide hands-on learning about our region’s plants and animals, fostering a love for the environment from a young age.

fake animals in a landscape indoors at the anita b gorman nature center in kansas city
Anita B Gorman Conservation Center

The outdoor area of the center features beautifully maintained native gardens. These gardens serve as outdoor classrooms where children can learn about native plants, pollinators, and the importance of biodiversity. The butterfly garden, in particular, is a favorite.

There is a natural playground where children can build forts and other objects out of natural tools and items. 

There are also eight acres of natural areas with short paved and natural trails through forest, woodland, wetland, and prairie habitats. Throughout the trails, there is signage that provides an educational opportunity to learn about what is in the garden and the local ecosystem.

The Discovery Center offers regular events and programs throughout the year, including naturalist-led walking tours, storytimes, and activities for children, typically on Saturdays. Visit the calendar on their website for specific event information.

wooden boat in a building
Anita B Gorman Conservation Center

24. Negro League Baseball Museum

Neighborhood: 18th & Vine
Open to the Public: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm
Cost: Adults $10, Seniors (65+) $9, Children (5 – 12) $6

Do you have a kiddo who loves baseball? The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) stands as a testament to the resilience, talent, and impact of African-American baseball players who, against the backdrop of segregation, created a legacy that echoes through American history.

This museum is probably best for children who are able to read the exhibit descriptions.

Negro League Baseball Museum
Negro League Baseball Museum

The museum, established in 1990, uses multimedia exhibits to take visitors on a chronological journey from the origin of the Negro Leagues after the Civil War to their end in the 1960s.

The NLBM is laid out as a timeline intertwining the history of the Negro Leagues with the broader context of American history.

Negro League Baseball Museum
Negro League Baseball Museum

Exhibits feature hundreds of photographs, historical artifacts, and interactive stations that bring to life the stories of Negro Leagues legends, and a documentary film narrated by James Earl Jones delves into the leagues’ history with vintage footage. 

Negro League Baseball Museum
Negro League Baseball Museum

And That’s A Wrap!

We hope you found this list of the best activities for kids in Kansas City, Missouri helpful! As always, thanks for supporting local!

And help us spread the word that Kansas City is worth visiting!