Nature and Outdoor Activities for Kids and Families in Kansas City


The Fortopia exhibit opens on Memorial Day weekend.

The Fortopia exhibit opens on Memorial Day weekend.

Courtesy of Powell Gardens


Memorial Day weekend around Kansas City

Whether you’re staying in town or heading out for the holiday weekend, here are some stories that we hope will help you ring in the unofficial first weekend of summer.

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Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. And with sunshine and blue skies predicted, it’s the perfect time to get out 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 after school is out, check out these outdoor adventures.


Powell Gardens in Kingsville itself is worth the trip to see the variety of scenery and flowers. And there is a new attraction on the way which is sure to bring new light and view to the garden.

From May 26 until October 16, Fortopia invades Powell Gardens. Forts designed by local artists are decorated in the gardens, taking adults back to their childhood by building bases for protection using pillows and blankets and helping to create new memories with their children.

Fortopia is included with any general admission ticket, which costs $10 for adults and $4 for children ages 5-12. You can get tickets in advance. Children under five are free. Be sure to scroll down to the date you plan to visit.

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


With over eight acres to explore, the free discovery center in the middle of the city in Kauffman Legacy Park offers many natural spaces to explore and admire.

There is a natural playground for children outside and you can take them inside the building to see nature exhibits.

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


The land park closed was established in 1978 and you can see over 250 animals including horses, pigs and birds of prey.

It is open until October 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tickets are only $3 per person, but admission is free after 2 p.m. There are also two free weekends each season:


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


This garden has moved several times, but it has a permanent residence in Park Swipe in the city. The Beanstalk Kindergarten is the ideal place to take your children and introduce them to the cultivation of fruits and vegetables.

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

From June 1 and until mid-October, it is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and it is closed on Sundays. It will also be closed on July 3.

If you would like to book a tour, call 816-931-3877 or email [email protected]


Also in Swope Park and just a 9 minute walk from the Beanstalk Children’s Garden is the Lakeside Nature Centerwhere you can learn more about their birds of prey and hike one of these trails:

  • Nature trail by the lake

  • Fox Hollow Nature Trail

  • Lakeside Swamp Trail

Admission is free, but be aware that opening hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.


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

Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and stay hydrated. It’s going to be hot and bright this summer.

This story was originally published May 25, 2022 12:01 p.m.

Joseph Hernandez is a member of The Star’s duty journalism team. A Kansas City native, Hernandez is a graduate of Cristo Rey Kansas City High School and the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously wrote for the Columbia Missourian and The Pitch.


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