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Best Parks in Kansas City (Outdoor Time as a Family)

For those looking to get outdoors and get moving, our metro area is full of fun parks & trails for your kids to play at. 

There’s no shortage of local parks in Kansas City, but know the best part? …they’re free!

If the weather is making you want to get out & explore the great outdoors, check out some of our favorite Kansas City parks around!

Best Parks in Kansas City

Use this list as a guide to the best parks & trails in KC to plan your next family adventure. Find fun playgrounds, refreshing splash pads, and the best trails for your family to explore.

There’s a fun park in KC for everyone in your family to love.

So, check out the best parks & trails in KC before you plan your next family adventure. There’s a fun park in KC for everyone in your family to love. Explore explore great fishing spots, the best places to camp near you, or the best playgrounds in KC. You can also find where to pick apples near you

 

Best Parks in Kansas City (& Trails)

Antioch Park

Antioch Park is Johnson County Park and Recreation District’s oldest and most popular park. This 44-acre park includes amenities such as two fishing lakes, walking paths, tennis courts, picnic shelters, basketball court, restrooms, playground, paved parking, and charcoal grills. This beautiful and well-kept park is a family favorite to many in the area.

They have plenty of things to climb on, swing on or just room to run around. 

Penguin Park

Penguin Park is another fun park on the Missouri side of KC! Located on Vivion Rd in Kansas City North.

This park is divided into age appropriate play areas but they also have a picnic area that allows you see both play areas at once! Kids LOVE the gigantic animals including a penguin, giraffe, kangaroo, and an elephant.  They have a separate area for the little ones to play and tucked away behind the park are some great walking/biking trails with a pond for fishing and watching geese.

Roe Park

This park is perfect for active families! Not only does it have age appropriate play areas, but it also has huge fields for running, pets and picnics. It even has a few soccer fields as well.

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Okay, so not exactly a park.. but this KC spot has the best trails and a small kids “play area”.

The trails at the arboretum also features their well-known “Enchanted Forest!”  Younger kids love seeing all the fairy houses and tall trees, which makes for a great adventure! Outside the forest, there are gardens, grassy areas to play, a pond with huge Koi and even a train park with a train car kids can explore.

Shawnee Mission Park

This park is great for fun, but also family photos! There’s tons of space to run, 3 playgrounds, an off leash area and observation tower. This park is definitely a crowd pleaser! Located in Shawnee Mission, KS.

This 1600 acre park includes 120 acre lake with boating, fishing, swimming, sailboarding, a giant off-leash dog park with 53 acres of land for your furry friend to run, picnic areas, shelters, playgrounds, Theater in the Park, archery and disc golf. You can even rent paddle boats, canoes and fishing boats! 

Shawnee Mission Park TRAILS

Even though it is the same place,The trails at SMP their own spot on this list!

Its miles and miles of open space and beautiful views with trails for walking, hiking, biking, horse riding and more. It’s definitely is a must visit.

Wyandotte County Lake

The trails at Wyandotte County are perfect for those that love to bike! Miles of trail circle the park in its entirety with a smaller nature trail offers plenty of stops along the way.

With a library, boat house marina and war memorial, you are sure to enjoy your visit! There are many nature areas where you can walk, bike, hike, fish, & have family fun…

Jarboe Park

Jarboe Park, located at 17th and West Jarboe, is part of West Terrace Park one of the oldest parks in the city. This park is great for play or sports practice!

One side is a playground sure to challenge your kids and the other side is a baseball diamond great for practicing or even a friendly game! Either way, your family is sure to have a good time here.

Meadowmere Park

Meadowmere Park serves as a central hub Grandview Parks & Recreation Department. Long walking trails connect a whimsical playground and shaded benches with quick access to The View Community Center, Skate Park, Community Garden and Grandview Amphitheatre.

Brumble’s Forest is a playground inside of Meadowmere park, and their playground is really unlike anything else in the area! With a theme of the wonderful outdoors, huge animal statues, swings and plenty of things to climb on, this playground is worth the drive (if you don’t live close).

McCoy Park

McCoy Park is a nice park with shelters for rent, playgrounds, spray ground, tennis courts, horseshoe pits. Located in Independence, MO. across from the Truman Library, this would be a perfect place for a birthday party or small gathering.

Black Hoof Park

First off, can you say playing with a view?! Black Hoof Park has an amazing set up to play, or makes a great spot for photo opportunities.

You and your family can play overlooking Lake Lenexa, a nature play area, second playground and an amazing view of the lake by the picnic area. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful parks in the KC metro area!

Loose Park

This is another family favorite for many reasons! This well known park in KC with 75 acres of beautiful and historic land. They have a fantastic rose garden, picnic areas, large shelter house for parties and events, and a playground with a sand pit the kids will love to dive in to! The Spray ground is open May 25th-September 2nd. And the Rose Garden is a must-see!

There are so many different things to enjoy at Loose Park so make sure you make it a day trip.

Valley Park

This park is sure to become one of the metros most popular parks, probably because it is so unique! Not only is Valley Park perfect for your most adventurous child, but it will definitely challenge those little muscles. They can climb on EVERYTHING, play on a rip-swing and enjoy a 55ft slide!

Blackbob Park

At Blackbob park, you definitely need to plan for an all-day adventure! From the castle themed playground to batting cages and trails to basketball courts, everyone will enjoy their time at the park.

If you’re into it, be sure to plan ahead for a game of miniature golf!

Listowel Park

If your kids’ love playing pretend or pirates, you have to check this park out! Listowel Park is another themed park that really goes above and beyond when it comes to expanding your kids imagination. Not only does it have picnic tables that face the equipment but it is Pirate themed!

What is more fun than playing pirates?!

Swope Park

As one of the oldest and biggest parks in Kansas City, Swope Park has it all. Trails, playgrounds historic buildings, amazing sites and even a ZipLine! This park is family, pet and adventure friendly!

Variety KC Parks

Several park locations in KC are adapted so that children of all abilities have a safe place to play. Kansas City is dedicated to serve all children & give special needs children a safe place to play and have fun. 

Smooth surfaces, adaptive swings, fencing, ramps on the play equipment, stainless steel slides and roller slides, sensory activities involving musical chimes and drums. 

Located in Independence, Leawood, Olathe and Tiffany Springs. There is also a Variety KC Park inside The Kansas City Zoo!

Maple Woods Nature Area

Although surrounded by the City of Gladstone and the greater Kansas City metro area, Maple Woods is a reminder of the wild lands that once dominated this area just 200 years ago. This old-growth forest is a National Natural Landmark provides fabulous views in every season. This area offers trails of varying difficulty.

The special element to this area is the waterfall and river that flow just inside the entrance of the park. The water is easily accessible and is the perfect place to watch water bugs and frogs. This area is a designated nature area, and has been since 1978. The large forest area is great for cooling off in the hot sun during the Summer. Trails also wind through the forest so you can have a leisurely stroll during the day without all the heat.

Pro Tip: The trail on the left side is the easier trail…the right choice if hiking with kids!

Franklin Park

If you’d rather stay close to a playground, Franklin Park in Prairie Village, Kansas offers a nature stream element in the playground so kids can splash, fill cups, and race twigs and leaves.

Line Creek Trail

Located in Platte County, this 8 mile trail is perfect for a long walk alongside nature on paved, mainly flat walkway. Creeks and waterfalls are the perfect place to cool your toes.

Jerry Smith Park

This park in Jackson County, Missouri, is the perfect place to explore. Whether you love to skip rocks on a lake, examine old stone walls and markers, explore a log cabin or abandoned house, or jump on one of two swings that overlook the tall grasses, these trails offer something for everyone.

Cave Springs Park

Located in Raytown, Missouri, this park has 4 miles of trails, a water garden, small waterfall, a cave, nature center, and historic ruins. The park is a park of the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails.

The houses and buildings that once stood in the park are long gone, but the chimneys and some walls are still standing. This definitely adds interesting scenery to your walk or play time. 

Thomas H. Swope Memorial

Located in Swope Park, KCMO, next to the Swope Memorial Golf Course, this stunning colonnade with elaborate carvings, fountain, bronze details, and stunning views is worth the visit.

Funfact: You can see the memorial from the Sky Safari at the Kansas City Zoo. Try the ERTA trail for hiking or biking, it has two (small) waterfalls, large rock formations and more great views of the surrounding area.

 

Interact with Animals in KC:

Yaya’s Alpaca Farm

Visit alpacas to learn how they live & explore the farm! Your family can take 90 minute farm tours any day of the week, so head to Garden City for a unique experience!

You can also book these online. Only $8 per person. 

 

Goat Yoga & Puppy Yoga 

Paradise Park hosts goat yoga & puppy yoga events throughout the year!

Check their online schedule or Facebook page to find the next session. Their yoga events with animals fill up fast, so keep your eyes out. 

 

Bridger Urban Conservation Area

Get up close and personal with elk, bison, and white tailed deer. The animals love special treats and will happily eat apples, pears, and carrots through the fence. The park also has well maintained trails. The conservation area is conveniently located next to Lake Jacomo, Kemper Outdoor Education Center, and Burroughs Audubon Nature Center and Bird Sanctuary.

 

Lakeside Nature Center

Just outside the KC Zoo is the Lakeside Nature Center. It has a gorgeous facility with books, puppets, live animals, and knowledgeable staff. Outside the center there are trails to hike, rocks to climb, and you’ll definitely see some wildlife! Look for weekly events held at the Center and go in to meet Wilma, the 80 year old box turtle.

Tips for a fun (with kids) in nature

  1. Print a nature scavenger hunt to keep kids interested during a hike.
  2. Bring a small bag or envelope to collect items like twigs, leaves and bark to create art at home.
  3. Ask questions about what they hear, see, and smell to engage kids with their surroundings.
  4. Bring a bike/scooter (where accessible)
  5. Clean up the trail! Encourage your child to care for nature by keeping it tidy.

 

There are so many parks, trails, & nature conservation areas throughout the KC metro area. This list doesn’t even come close to getting them all.

So, get out & explore KC with your family!

Take advantage of the nice weather. When you do, be sure to share your favorite spots with us – we love hearing about your family adventures!

Our favorite thing about the fun parks and trails in KC is that this is fun that is free and cheap.. Two of our favorite words!

Luckily, we’ve also got your go-to list of  places kids eat free around KC, so you can make it a dinner (or lunch) after your outside fun.

We hope your family enjoys your little nature adventure 😉

From our family to yours, iFamilyKC

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