Best Kansas City Parks & Trails for Your Family to Explore (Outdoor Play Time!)

The Best Kansas City Parks & Trails:

Best Kansas City Parks & Trails

KC is full of the best parks & trails for your kids to play at. There’s no shortage of fun Kansas City parks & trails, but want to know the best part?

…they’re free! 

& lots of fun.

If the weather is making you want to get out & explore the great outdoors, here are fun park options all around the metro!

So, check out the best parks & trails in KC before you 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:

If your family loves the outdoors, explore great fishing spots or the best places to camp near Kansas City!

You can also find the best playgrounds in Kansas City.

Antioch Park

This just may be our favorite park in Kansas. I grew up going to this park and outside a few major updates, every time we visit, I feel like a kid again! They have plenty of things to climb on, swing on or just room to run around. This is definitely a family favorite.

Penguin Park

This is possibly our favorite Park on the Missouri side lol. I love the fact that it 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. Located on Vivion Rd in Kansas City North.

Roe Park

This park is perfect for really 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 it’s not a park – but it has awesome trails and a small kids “play area”. One thing that is really cool about the trails at the arboretum is the “Enchanted Forrest”! My kids loved seeing all the fairy houses and tall trees. It really was a great adventure! Once you leave the forest, there are gardens, grassy areas to play, a pond with huge Koi and even a train park with a train car they can explore.

Shawnee Mission Park

This park is great for those autumn family phots! Tons of space to run, 3 playgrounds, an off leash area and observation tower. This park is definitely a crowd pleaser! 1600 acre park includes 120 acre lake with boating, fishing, swimming, sail boarding, 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!  What more could you ask for? Located in Shawnee Mission, KS.

Shawnee Mission Park TRAILS

Even though it is the same place, I gave 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 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!

Jarboe Park

This park is great for play or 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, you’re sure to have a good time here!

Meadowmere Park

Brumble’s Forest is a playground inside of Meadowmere park, and this playground is really unlike anything you have ever seen! 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

Nice park with shelters for rent, playgrounds, spray ground, tennis courts, horseshoe pits. Located in Independence, MO. across from the Truman Library.

Black Hoof Park

First off, can you say playing with a view?! Black Hoof park definitely has an amazing set up! 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! Well known park in KC with 75 acres of beautiful and historic land.  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! Spray ground open May 27th-September 4th. Located on Wornall Rd. Large space, trails, playgrounds and my favorite, the ROSE GARDEN! 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! Valley Park is by far the most unique park I have ever seen. 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 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! Make sure you plan ahead for a game of miniature golf!

Listowel Park

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.  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,

Maple Woods Nature Area

Located in Gladstone, Missouri, this area offers trails of varying difficultly. 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.

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.


Explore Animal Encounters with your Kiddos:

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. Get out & explore KC with your family, and take advantage of the nice weather…while it lasts.

We hope your family enjoys your little nature adventure 😉


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