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August 22, 2019

35 Things To Do In Kansas City With Kids

My family has visited Kansas City so many times for weekends and even one-day getaways. We’ve discovered there is a lot to do in Kansas City with kids – way more than you can fit into two days. If you’ve yet to plan a weekend trip to KC, or you’re just looking for something new to do for the next visit, this list is for you!

Looking for fun things to do in Kansas City? Here's a list of kid-friendly attractions and restaurants in Kansas City. This post includes some of my favorite holiday events in KC, too! #Missouri #KC #Guide #familytravel #USA

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking the link, I receive a small referral stipend.

Kansas City attractions for kids

American Jazz Museum – The American Jazz Museum is one of those KC gems I discovered pre-kids. It’s on my list to bring the kids to one of these days, because it’s a great museum with interactive exhibits.

City Market – The City Market has a year-round farmers market that’s heated and indoors in the winter. Browse shops and visit the FREE Steamboat Arabia Museum. On our last visit, there was a mini train for the kids.

Mini train ride in the City Market in downtown Kansas City

Country Club Plaza – If you have young shoppers, this is a charming destination with unique architecture and high-end stores to choose from. This would also be the place to reserve a carriage ride.

Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead – Learn about farm life and get up close to animals at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park, near Kansas City. The farm offers hands-on experiences like bottle-feeding goats and milking cows.

Great Wolf Lodge – While technically a hotel, Great Wolf Lodge does offer day passes for families to enjoy the indoor water park without staying overnight. Plan your next family getaway now at Great Wolf Lodge. Save up to 25% on your stay of two nights or more with Promo Code WOLF2019.

Hallmark Visitors Center and Kaleidoscope – This Crown Center attraction allows kids to make art using materials from Hallmark’s manufacturing processes. Sessions last 50 minutes, and it’s FREE, so simply pick up tickets the day you visit.

Kansas City Zoo – This is one of the few zoos I know of that has a boat ride, but obviously, there are more reasons to visit the Kansas City Zoo. The 200-acre zoo includes exhibits featuring African elephants, penguins, kangaroos, and the awesome Polar Bear Punnel.

Photo courtesy Visit KC

Kemper Museum of Contemporary ArtKemper features modern works of art that may entertain or challenge your kids. This FREE museum also has a Instagram-worthy collection of outdoor sculptures.

Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Historic Farm Site – Just outside of Kansas City is Olathe, where you’ll find the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop. A living history museum and the last working stagecoach stop on the Santa Fe Trail, a stagecoach ride is in order when you visit. Plus, a big draw for kids will be the animals on the farm.

Museum at Prairiefire – There’s one particular room in Museum of Prairiefire that I guarantee your kids will love: The Discovery Room. Well, unless they love dinos

LEGOLAND Discovery Center – This place will be a hit with your LEGO-loving kid. It’s important to note that while there are two rides, LEGOLAND Discover Center is NOT an amusement park. Don’t confuse it with LEGOLAND.

Kansas City attractions for kids - Racing cars at LEGOLAND Discovery Center

There are a lot of opportunities to build and a fun climbing structure, though. Do not skip the 10-minute 4-D movie. It’s next door to SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium.

Check out this guide to Crown Center to see what else you can do there beyond LEGOLAND Discover Center!

Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank – Heads up, when you visit this museum, you receive a complimentary bag of shredded currency there as a souvenir – worth $165.

National Museum of Toys and Miniatures – This museum featuring toys from different decades will be more of a trip for you than your kids. The building is huge – more than 70,000 items are on display!

National World War I Museum and Memorial – This World War I museum is not so much a museum of war, but a reminder of a war that was declared “the war to end all wars.” It includes interactive exhibits, as well as several displays of weapons, uniforms and trenches.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum – For baseball fans, this museum provides insight into the sports unique Negro leagues.

Nelson Atkins Museum – Those famous shuttlecocks on the lawn you see in photos? Those are at the Nelson Atkins Museum. But you’ll want to venture indoors, too, and see the impressive permanent collections. Kids will particularly like the medieval area with a suit of armor. Best part? It’s FREE.

Summer things to do in Kansas City with kids - Oceans of Fun is a popular summer attraction in KC

Oceans of FunOceans of Fun is a seasonal outdoor water park connected to Worlds of Fun (so two theme parks for the price of one admission!). My strategy in the summer is to ride popular roller coasters at Worlds of Fun in the morning and when things start to get hot in the afternoon, we cool off at Oceans of Fun.

Powell Gardens – Located southeast of Kansas City, Powell Gardens is the city’s botanical gardens, covering more than 900 acres.

Science CityScience City is a science center meets children’s museum that’s fun for all ages. If the weather cooperates, don’t miss the outside space, Simple Machines At Play.

Outdoor play space at Science City at Union Station in Kansas City

Tip: Science City is part of the Association of Science & Technology Centers, and if you have a membership to Omaha Children’s Museum, you receive admission for up to four people into Science City!

Learn more about reciprocal membership benefits here.

SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium – Get up close to sharks, sting rays, an octopus and other sea life at this attraction in Crown Center. Due to the proximity to LEGOLAND Discovery Center, you can get a combo ticket to visit both.

Shoal Creek Living History MuseumShoal Creek is a FREE outdoor living history museum in Hodge Park that celebrates Missouri history (on select weekends you can find reenactments). Beyond historic buildings, there’s a bison enclosure.

Union Station – Science City is located inside Union Station, so you can explore both in one outing. Union Station has an escape room, a virtual reality game, and usually some pretty unique traveling exhibitions. Don’t skip the model train room. 

Worlds of Fun – Worlds of Fun appeals to a wide range, with youngsters enjoying all the rides at Planet Snoopy and the big kids enjoying the variety of roller coasters. This park can easily occupy a full day, if not two days.

Kansas City's popular amusement park for families, Worlds of Fun

Kansas City sports and families

If yours is a sports-watching family, Kansas City is probably already on your radar. The city has three professional sports teams — the Kansas City Royals, the Kansas City Chiefs and Sporting KC — and a few minor league teams, as well.

Here’s a bit more on the three pro teams:

Kansas City Chiefs – There are certainly fewer home games when it comes to football, so if you can’t catch the home team playing, you can still tour Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City Royals – Time your visit right to take in a home game for this baseball team or, at least, tour Kauffman Stadium.

Sporting KC – For soccer fans, the Major League Soccer team Sporting KC is a hot ticket. Matches are at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Restaurants in Kansas City for kids

Kansas City restaurants for kids - Eggtc near the Country Club Plaza

There’s a great food scene in Kansas City, especially if you’re a barbecue fan. We’ve visited frequently, but have yet to have a big list of restaurants that were both hits with us adults and the kids, so that’s why this KC restaurant list is rather short.

Blue Bird Bistro – This charming breakfast spot is admittedly one I’ve only been to with Mr. Wonderful, but I loved it so much, I want to bring the kids there (though, from what I can tell, there is no kid’s menu). It’s farm-to-table goodness.

Corner Café – This North Kansas City restaurant serves ginormous cinnamon rolls, along with hearty breakfasts. 

Eggtc – This was one of my favorite breakfast spot discoveries in Kansas City. One bonus is they gave us some coffee to go after our meal. It’s like they know me so well.

Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ – This Kansas City institution has five locations. We tried the one near Union Station. It’s a great kid-friendly place to try if you’re looking for barbecue.

Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant – How can a family resist this: A model train delivers the meal to your table? It’s a hit with kids. The menu includes hamburgers, sandwiches and fries.

Family-friendly restaurant in Kansas City - Fritz's Railroad Restaurant

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – We went to the Leawood location, not the original in a gas station. It was smack-the-table good, and I recommend ordering the Z-Man Sandwich.

Looking for ice cream? Of course you are. Here’s a post on the best locally-owned ice cream shops in Kansas City.

Holiday events & holiday activities in Kansas City

Christmas is our favorite time to visit Kansas City! I wrote an entire post featuring 15+ things to do during the holidays in KC. Here are a few notable events: 

Crown Center Ice Terrace – The Ice Terrace is a popular seasonal, outdoor ice skating rink at Crown Center open November through February each year. For more Kansas City holiday inspiration, check out my Kansas City Christmas Bucket List.

Mayor’s Christmas Tree – Crown Center not only has the ice skating rink, it has a wonderful, FREE, holiday display centered around the Mayor’s Christmas Tree. There are wooden structures set up around the Christmas tree for kids to climb and play in.

Holiday events in Kansas City - Visit Crown Center to see the holiday decorations surrounding the Mayor's Tree

City Market at Christmas – We timed one of our visits to see City Market’s Whoville experience at Christmas time. It’s FREE, and extremely popular (read: expect a wait).

Christmas at Worlds of Fun WinterFest is an annual holiday event is at Worlds of Fun, and visiting the park when it’s decorated so brilliantly was a lot of fun. This is an evening event, and many of the rides are open, so it was a hit with every age in our group.

Holiday lights at Planet Snoopy inside Worlds of Fun

Christmas not that big of deal for you? Planning a visit sometime other than November or December? Got it.

Here are great annual events celebrating different holidays in Kansas City:

Halloween at Worlds of Fun – There are two sides to Worlds of Fun at Halloween. The daytime amusement park is full of playful activities and photo opps for the Great Pumpkin Fest. At night, it’s a massive haunted house. Of course, there are rides to enjoy, as well. 

Halloween in Kansas City - Worlds of Fun has the Great Pumpkin Fest by day and at night, the amusement park becomes a lot scarier.

St. Patrick’s Day in KC – The family-friendly side of St. Patrick’s Day is typically a parade, and Kansas City has its fair share of them. The big one is Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which begins at Linwood & Broadway and finishes in Westport. Westport has road races that day, including a three-block dash for youngsters.

If you’re in KC the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, Snake Saturday Parade kicks things off in North Kansas City.

Find 35+ fun things to do with kids in Kansas City, plus kid-friendly restaurant suggestions! #Missouri #familytravel #USA

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September 28, 2018

The Elms: Perfect Couples Getaway Near Kansas City

Excelsior Springs, Mo., is home to the historic Elms Hotel & Spa, a charming hotel that was like a beacon to couples. My husband and I were there this fall for our anniversary, and while the goal was just to relax and reconnect, we may have fallen in love with the hotel, too. I think you might be surprised at why we loved this hotel so much.

The historic Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs, just outside Kansas City, is a great getaway for couples. Go for the spa services & Grotto, and then stay for the food, friendly employees & history. #Missouri #USA #romantic #getaway

Disclosure: Our stay was hosted by The Elms Hotel & Spa. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

About The Elms

The Elms is designed to make an impact at first view. It’s grand and there is no other structure in Excelsior Springs that looks so lovingly restored. But, that lovely building is the third incarnation of The Elms.

Entrance to The Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri
The Elms was first built in 1888, though this current structure is the third incarnation of the historic hotel. The first two suffered fire damages. This building opened in 1912, and it’s designed to be fire-proof.

The original Elms Hotel opened in 1888 to provide luxury lodging to visitors streaming to Excelsior Springs to visit the towns newly discovered mineral springs. It was a grand wooden structure and suffered fire damage twice, so in 1912, it was redesigned in the Tudor Revival style in 1912 using fireproof native limestone.

Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs
The Elms Hotel & Spa at sunset.

Famous guests include Al Capone – who I read used to run some gambling in the basement. My favorite story is about Harry S Truman, who the hotel says was staying there the night he was elected. That famous photo of him holding up the Chicago Tribune with the erroneous headline? That was taken shortly after he checked out of the hotel to claim victory.

But, enough about famous guests. The stars of this story are the employees of The Elms. I sincerely think the employees are a big reason The Elms has so may repeat customers. We met a couple from Omaha who has been visiting for 35 years. Another couple from Kanas City started going for their anniversary but decided one year wasn’t enough and now they go every 6 months.

Everything is pretty grand when it comes to The Elms, including the service.

My encounters with the staff, and those I observed with others, were genuine and warm. I especially commend the two women working at the Royal Treatment Lounge on the weekend – Deby and Jenny. More on that experience below.

But first, let’s talk about the relaxation and escaping from obligations – what every parent wants, right?

The Spa At Elms

The Elms’ spa is one of the largest in the Midwest, when you count the indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, and (my favorite), the Grotto. You can make a day of it, really. Many people do. 

My husband and I started our day off bright and early with a couples massage.

If you’ve booked a spa treatment, it’s a good idea to arrive at least an hour ahead of time, as your personal concierge will give you a tour of the spa and locker room. After you change into your comfy robe, you’re led to the Quiet Room to wait. 

Quiet room at the spa in The Elms Hotel & Spa
I dare any parent to rest in the Quiet Room at the Elms spa and not doze off.

The Quiet Room is a slice of heaven for a parent who is used to constant chaos. There’s a small snack and drink bar with organic food, locally-sourced coffee, and a delicious coconut milk drink. You hang out in this room until your appointment. 

Good and relaxed, you have your massage or treatment, and then, the really good part starts. You’re free to enjoy the other spa amenities. Head to one of the pools, indoors or outdoors, if you want.

The indoor lap pool at The Elms is pretty uniquely designed.

But my recommendation? Make a beeline to the Grotto. The Grotto has hot tub, steam sauna with eucalyptus infused steam, a steam sauna, and a steam shower – which you’ll want to pick out your own salt scrub from the exfoliation bar to take into the shower first. And, when the heat gets a bit much, cool off in the cold plunge shower. It’s 42 degrees and feels fantastic.

The hot tub in the Grotto is spacious.

Tip: You might not be a morning person, but I recommend that first-of-the-day time slot because then you just might get the Grotto to yourself.

Hotel guests and the public can pay $55 to have access to the spa if they don’t want to purchase a treatment. I have a list of treatments I want to try, so I think I’m more likely to schedule a massage or water treatment than just the access to the spa. Here’s their list of packages. But, I see how just relaxing poolside and hanging out in the Grotto could be relaxing enough, too. 

Grotto at The Elms
Four of the Grotto’s features are pictured here. From left is the dry sauna, steam sauna, hot tub, and steam shower. To the right, just out of view, is the cold plunge shower.

Stay tuned: I heard from the spa’s manager that she anticipates some great updates to the spa in January 2019. The hydrotherapy rooms will get a makeover and some of the seating will be updated.

The Rooms At Elms

The rooms at the hotel underwent a $20 million renovation a few years ago. They retained some of the historic charm, but they’re all completely modern now. 

A king-size bed room at The Elms Hotel & Spa. Our room was on the fifth floor, where we had access to the Royal Treatment Lounge.

Our room had a king-size bed, and modern amenities like a Keurig machine. It was located on the fifth floor (for you ghost hunters – that’s rumored to be the haunted floor). There are several room types, including suites, to choose from.

Now, the perk of the fifth floor is what The Elms calls the Royal Experience. This, my friends, is worth the add-on. Available Thursdays through Sundays, the Royal Experience includes a Welcome Reception each night with complimentary wine, beer, and appetizers. You get to meet Deby, who brings in her famous poundcake on Saturday nights (don’t ask her for the recipe – she’s not telling). 

The breakfast spread on a weekend morning at the Royal Treatment Lounge, located on the fifth floor of The Elms Hotel & Spa.

The Royal Experience also includes complimentary continental breakfast with fresh fruit, pastries, juice and coffee. Throughout the day, you can stop in to grab pop or a snack, too. 

The appealing thing about this lounge is that it gets you talking with your fellow guests. We were tipped off to where the live music was (Saturday nights, June through September, you can walk to Wabash BBQ for a band). And, we found out about Dubious Claims, the new brewery that’s also an easy walk from the hotel. 

The Restaurants At Elms

We were pretty spoiled with the reception and continental breakfast that was included with the Royal Experience, so we didn’t do a whole lot of eating in the hotel’s three other dining areas.

The pastries display at The Cafe located just near the main entrance to The Elms.

The Cafe in the lobby was a nice option for a quick snack before our early morning massage, though. We got coffee and some pastries. 

We had a late breakfast at 88, the more upscale restaurant at the hotel, too. Of all of our dining experiences, this one was the least memorable. We tried the buffet, and while the omelets were superb, much of the rest of the items were not. 

The Elms’ main restaurant, 88, features a more upscale menu for lunch and dinner, as well as a brunch.

The other restaurant, The Tavern, could not fit into our short time there, so I guess we’ll just try it out next time. It look like a cozy place for a drink and pub food.

Tours and more

A lot of my readers seem to be into ghosts, as a few told me to look for ghosts while we were there. (No thanks) But, if you’re into that sort of thing, The Elms has you covered. There is a nightly ghost tour that’s $15 per person. I overheard a few people talking about it, and they loved it and said the guide was an excellent storyteller. 

Hall of Waters & Excelsior Springs Visitor's Center
The Hall of Waters is on the Excelsior Springs self-guided water springs walking tour. It’s also a pretty easy walk from the hotel.

If you’re more into the mineral springs history of the hotel and the town, there’s a self-guided walking tour. The front desk attendant gave us a map, and we visited a few within walking distance (there’s one in the parking lot of the hotel). None of the wells are open any more, but at one point, there were 40 of them. Their healing powers may have been a bit dubious (side note: that’s what the new brewery in town named itself after). 

Elms Hotel pool at sunset
Just beyond the pool and the gazebo is a great lawn to stroll, where you’ll find the chef’s herb and vegetable garden, a few tables and horseshoes.

And if tours aren’t your thing, just take a walk on the grounds of The Elms. 

If you go

Elms Spa & Spa

Where: 401 Regent St., Excelsior Springs, Mo.

Website

Looking for a romantic or relaxing couples getaway? The Elms Hotel & Spa in Missouri fits the bill - A large spa, attentive employees, and the Royal Treatment - all packaged in a historic building #Missouri #USA #ExcelsiorSprings #hotelreview

Read more about Excelsior Springs

Check back on the blog soon for a post about things to do and places to eat at in Excelsior Springs, Mo. We spent a weekend there and biked, went to a winery for wood-fire pizza, found a local brewery, visited a historic site, and went to a concert, among other things.

Dubious Claims Brewing Co. is located within walking distance of The Elms Hotel & Spa.

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December 3, 2017

24 Hours In Kansas City With Kids

One of our favorite quick Midwest getaways is Kansas City. It’s been a while since we visited during the holiday season (check out all the incredibly fun things we did when we spent a holiday weekend in KC in 2015). We returned to visit some new (and new-to-us) places, including Worlds of Fun’s WinterFest. We did it all in about 24 hours…with kids.

24 hours Kansas City guide

Here’s how you can have a fun 24-hour trip to Kansas City with kids:

Pick the right hotel: For this trip, we knew there were some definites for the trip: We wanted to try ice skating on the terrace in Crown Center, we wanted to visit the Country Club Plaza to see the beautiful lights and decorations, and we were going to WinterFest. Two places were much closer than the third.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Kansas City that was within walking distance to the shops and restaurants (and holiday lights) at the Plaza.

So, we picked Crown Center/Country Club Plaza for our hotel spot: The Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza, which is great for families. Our complimentary stay was provided by our trip hosts, Visit KC, so I can write about it (check the blog last this month!). The only downside to the hotel was that the pool was seasonal since it was outdoors, so that disappointed the kids. If a pool is a must, I recommend the Sheraton in Crown Center in the area. The rooftop heated pool is great, even in the winter.

If your activities are further afield, here are two other hotels worth checking out: DoubleTree in Overland Park, Kan., and The Courtyard in North Kansas City (a good choice to be closer to Worlds of Fun).

Kid-Friendly things to do in 24 hours: We arrived in Kansas City in the morning, and were able to see quite a bit before checking into the hotel.

Science City inside Union Station has several indoor and outdoor exhibits that are interactive and fun for all ages.

Our first stop was Science City, which is a favorite stop of our family’s, and we go nearly every time we’re in Kansas City. Our visit was complimentary.

Tip: If you have a membership to Omaha Children’s Museum, your admission is free to Science City!

Next, we walked the elevated pathways to Crown Center where there are shops, attractions like LEGOLAND Discovery Center, restaurants, and our next destination, Crown Center Ice Terrace.

The Ice Terrace at Crown Center is open throughout the winter in Kansas City.

The Ice Terrace is a seasonal, outdoor ice skating rink open November through February each year. It’s a popular activity, so expect a bit of a wait to get your skates.

We had lunch afterward at Crown Center. If you walk around, you can come across a couple kid-friendly shops like a toy store and a Crayola shop.

My son loves all things art so the Crayola store was a good stop for him.

Depending on how long it takes to eat and walk, you may have time to check out the shops before checking into the hotel.

Our next stop was WinterFest at Worlds of Fun, which is an evening-only event, so we had some time to kill at the hotel. This would be a good time for a cat nap if your kids need one; if your kids don’t nap, you can go to Worlds of Fun before the event actually starts (you can get inside at 4:30 p.m., though the event starts at 5 p.m.).

We wandered into a space that felt at home in CandyLand, complete with a candy cane lane and gingerbread men.

WinterFest started just this year at Worlds of Fun, and it was a hit with every age in our group. It runs until Dec. 30. Food is pricey–it is an amusement park–so I suggest snacks there and eating outside the park before or after.

The next day, we had breakfast at Eggtc, and arrived just in time to beat the local rush. This was one of my favorite breakfast spot discoveries yet. Another breakfast recommendation is Blue Bird Bistro. If you choose to stay at Holiday Inn, kids eat for FREE with an adult entree.

There are a couple Eggtc locations in Kansas City, and one is about a mile from the County Club Plaza and the Holiday Inn. It’s very kid-friendly.

Well fed and caffeinated, we headed for LEGOLAND Discovery Center. If you have a lengthy drive ahead of you, this is a good place for kids to let off a lot of energy before getting buckled in for ride home. You could spend about two hours there, and I recommend not skipping the 10-minute 4-D movie–the kids loved it. There are two rides, but I wouldn’t let that be a selling point. This is not an amusement park, so manage your expectations in that direction; it’s more for building, and admiring creations, and there is a sufficient amount of play spaces for kids to explore.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Kansas City has a lot of hands-on play, two rides and a 4-D movie.

Before leaving, we had lunch at Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ, a Kansas City institution with five locations. A good thing to note: There’s one location super near Union Station with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two. It’s another great kid-friendly place to try.

The large dining room at Jack Stack in Kansas City. Serving sizes are large.

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Want more KC family vacation ideas?

Our WinterFest visit was part of a 24-hour trip to Kansas City, packed with a ton of fun, great food, and beautiful sights. Be sure to read all about our adventures:

Tips For WinterFest At Worlds Of Fun 

Where To Stay Near The Crown Plaza

5 Things To Know About LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Kid-Friendly Indoor Activities For KC Winter Getaways – Jan. 11

 

Looking for more things to do during the holidays? Here’s a post with 15+ fun things to do in Kansas during the holidays and a KC Holidays Bucket List.

If you have a little more time for your visit, check out fun things to do in the winter with kids in Kansas City or see what family-friendly activities are near Worlds of Fun.

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April 22, 2016

Thrills & History For Families Visiting North Kansas City

North Kansas City is a fun overnight destination for families. You can fit in Worlds of Fun, barbecue, and a lot of history in less than two days. If you have more time at your disposal, I recommend at least another night, but sometimes, all life gives you is a little more than 24 hours.

Kansas City thrills and history for families

Our trip was sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, as well as Visit KC.

A Day At Worlds of Fun

Leave home early in the morning and head straight for the ultimate Midwest theme park, Worlds of Fun (or for the water-loving crowd, Oceans of Fun next door in the summer). Most days, the park opens at 9 or 10 a.m., so check the schedule here.

The Viking Voyager was a ride the whole family could. Both kids laughed the whole ride.

The Viking Voyager was a ride the whole family could. Both kids laughed the whole ride.

Get there early and head for the roller coasters if your kids are old enough – lines can and will grow tremendously by late morning. If you’re traveling with little ones, head for Planet Snoopy and other popular rides that will have long lines eventually, like Le TaxiTour.

Unless you like walking around with soggy shoes, save the rides Fury of the Nile and Viking Voyager for later in the day!

We had never been to Planet Snoopy, and since there are five new rides there, we decided it’d be smart to go there first.

 

This trip was my kids' first visit to Worlds of Fun. Mooch gives Planet Snoopy two thumbs up, it was her favorite area of the entire theme park.

This trip was my kids’ first visit to Worlds of Fun. Mooch gives Planet Snoopy a thumbs up; it was her favorite area of the entire theme park.

There were a lot more rides for youngsters there than I had expected – 21 in all just in Planet Snoopy.

Mooch could’ve spent the whole day there.

My 4-year-old testing out one of the new rides at Worlds of Fun, Snoopy's Space Buggies.

My 4-year-old testing out one of the new rides at Worlds of Fun, Snoopy’s Space Buggies.

The area is definitely geared toward a younger crowd, but my 6-year-old enjoyed himself.

A taste for rollercoasters started here at Planet Snoopy, but being a smidge over 48 inches tall meant that Farley was going to prefer the bigger hills later on.

A taste for roller coasters started here at Planet Snoopy, but being a smidge over 48 inches tall meant that Farley was going to prefer the bigger thrills later on.

Once he realized he was tall enough for most roller coasters, though, he decided to venture out into the rest of the park. I wish the idea occurred to him sooner, since by mid-afternoon, everyone and their grandma were in line for roller coasters.

Lines are a fact of life for popular thrill rides, so it’s smart that you can buy a Fast Lane pass to skip the lines. After waiting to get on the Spinning Dragons, I was seeing the real value of the Fast Lane!

(Pssst: For a complete park review with little ones, visit the blog next week!)

Lunch was a small bite from the ’50s themed restaurants, Coasters Drive-In.

Coasters Drive-In was a '50s-themed diner. Peak lunchtime could mean a lengthy wait for burgers, fries and shakes.

Coasters Drive-In was a ’50s-themed diner. Peak lunchtime could mean a lengthy wait for burgers, fries and shakes.

The line for food there was long, too, but that was the case everywhere since it was the typical lunchtime.

There are a lot of choices for meals, from barbecue and fried chicken, to turkey legs and street tacos, plus a ton of chain restaurants.

Street tacos, pizza and tons of other food choices are found throughout the park. I heard the turkey drumsticks were must-tries.

Street tacos, pizza and tons of other food choices are found throughout the park. I heard the turkey drumsticks were must-tries.

Dessert was fudge from Peppermint Patty’s Candy Shop. We sampled a couple free bites before settling on a chocolate square to split. It’s worth stopping in even just for a taste – it’s so good!

Many people can spend a full day at the park, but it’s tiring for little ones. At around 5, our kids (who are 4 and 6, to give you perspective) were turning on us. I might’ve been losing my mind too.

Embarrassing my kids is my specialty.

Embarrassing my kids is my specialty.

It was time to leave.

We had no other plans for the night besides takeout dinner and pool time.

Staying Overnight In North Kansas City

There are dozens of hotel choices near Worlds of Fun, including on-site on the theme park’s resort complex. We wanted someplace nearby for a quick escape from the park, and Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff was a great option.

In a city known for its fountains, Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff can brag about the one near it.

Kansas City is the city of fountains so naturally Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff has one.

After about a 10-minute drive from Worlds of Fun, we were checking in. Before long, it was pool time.

Sunset view from the hotel's small whirlpool. I'll take it after a full day of walking around Worlds of Fun.

Sunset view from the hotel’s small whirlpool. I’ll take it after a full day of walking around Worlds of Fun.

While one of us took the kids to the pool and whirlpool, the other picked up our takeout order from one of my family’s favorite Kansas City barbecue spots, Smokehouse Barbecue (the Gladstone location). We split orders of ribs, smoked turkey, brisket, barbecue beans (you must try these), steamed veggies and cheesy corn. It was overindulgent and so good.

Historic Adventures In North Kansas City & St. Joseph

Our morning in North Kansas City – after an early jaunt to the pool – started with breakfast at a popular North Kansas City spot, Corner Café.

Four people couldn't finish this cinnamon roll on top of regular breakfast orders. Plan accordingly.

Four people couldn’t finish this cinnamon roll on top of regular breakfast orders at Corner Cafe. Plan accordingly.

Service was quick and we were soon on our way to our first destination of the day: Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Hodge Park. Shoal Creek is a free living history museum that celebrates Missouri history (on select weekends you can find reenactments).

We were stuffed from breakfast so the tranquil walk around the trails was welcomed.

Shoal Creek Living History Museum is a free historical park to explore in North Kansas City. It's so peaceful there!

Shoal Creek Living History Museum is a free historical park to explore in North Kansas City. It’s so peaceful there!

It was like the ying to Worlds of Fun’s yang. Quiet and open space, with nothing but the sound of birds and my daughter yelling at my son to break the tranquility.

It also has an American bison enclosure.

American Bison once freely roamed the very plains Shoal Creek Living History Museum is located on. Now, they're safely kept in a huge enclosure at the park.

American Bison once freely roamed the very plains Shoal Creek Living History Museum is located on. Now, they’re safely kept in a huge enclosure at the park.

That was a pleasant surprise – I knew we’d see the old buildings, but didn’t expect this kind of wildlife.

They were used to people, and came up to the fence. Word to the wise, though, at least one was a little surly and charged at my camera-wielding husband.

Relaxed and a little worn from the hike, we finished our trip with a stop in St. Joseph, Mo. The city is located between Kansas City and Omaha.

The Patee House Museum is ranked one of the Top 10 Western Museums in the US. It's located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The Patee House Museum is ranked one of the Top 10 Western Museums in the US. It’s located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

We were headed to the Patee House Museum first. It’s not located right off Interstate 29 so you’re forgiven for not stopping here before. It was a first for us too. Don’t let the neighborhood steer you away. The area has seen better days, but this museum is well worth a visit.

I can’t stress that enough! This museum is ranked among the Top 10 Western Museums in the country, and it was the best I’ve ever seen.

Patee House has had many lives over the years: Hotel, headquarters of the Pony Express, girls college…etc. Now it’s a western museum stuffed to the gills with colorful and well-preserved artifacts. It’s a historical wonder house.

And the great thing is, it’s a wonderful place to bring the kids, with opportunities to get climb onto a steam engine, make a mini carousel play and peek at oddities from yesteryear.

My 4 -year-old is in the background waving at me to "Come on!" There's so much to take in when you enter the main hall of the Patee House Museum!

My 4 -year-old is in the background waving at me to “Come on!” There’s so much to take in when you enter the main hall of the Patee House Museum!

Two floors are filled with rooms and recreated scenes from our past, with large train engines filling the center of the museum. You’ll want to photograph it all.

For kids, the highlights will undoubtedly be the train in the middle of the main floor, the working carousel and the Buffalo Saloon.

Don't miss the Buffalo Saloon inside the Patee House Museum. You can order $1 soda or sarsparilla, and popcorn. But, the favorite thing in the room was the Nickelodian that played random tunes for a quarter. My daughter had a dance party!

Don’t miss the Buffalo Saloon inside the Patee House Museum. You can order $1 soda or sarsparilla, and popcorn. But, the favorite thing in the room was the Nickelodian that played random tunes for a quarter. My daughter had a dance party!

The saloon was my family’s favorite spot, where we threw down a $1 for sarsparilla and several spins on the nickelodian (25 cents was a small price for such entertainment). You can also get some popcorn there.

Be sure to venture into some of the other rooms, though, as my daughter found the toy room where she could turn on a miniature carousel with a touch of a button.

We could’ve easily spent two hours here, but my son started getting sick, so we wrapped things up early. While he rested, my daughter and I walked to the final historical site of the day.

Literally out back of the museum is the Jesse James House. It’s the infamous house where the outlaw was shot and killed – the bullet hole is easily visible.

Jesse James House 5

I wouldn’t recommend bringing small children here – mine didn’t know who Jesse James was and so without any background for them to go on, they were uninterested in touring the house. It was all a little macabre to walk around the small house and seeing a replica of his scull (post-gunshot) and photos of him dead.

Of course, my daughter immediately sees this display at the Jesse James House.

Of course, my daughter immediately is drawn to this display of Jesse James’ teeth castings at the Jesse James House.

Soooo, this one’s more of a specialty stop for Jesse James aficionados. If you fall into that category, you’d be better reading posts by The Walking Tourists (see this recent one touring a bank once robbed by the Jesse James Gang or this one recapping a visit to St. Jo).

If you go

Worlds of Fun

Where: 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave, Kansas City, Mo.

Website

 

Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff

Where: 4000 N. Mulberry Drive, Kansas City, Mo.

Website

 

Shoal Creek Living History Museum

Where: 7000 NE Barry Rd, Kansas City, Mo.

Website

 

Patee House Museum

Where: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph, Mo.

Website

 

Jesse James House

Where: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph, Mo.

Website

 

Read about our experiences in the places mentioned above:

6 Truths Parents Learn at Worlds of Fun

Where to Stay If You’re Going to Worlds of Fun

Exploring the Patee House Museum With Kids

Exploring the Shoal Creek Living History Museum With Kids 

 

January 18, 2016

Downtown Kansas City Hotel Review – Sheraton

Updated: Sept. 27, 2018

There’s no shortage of hotel options in Kansas City – I’ve tried many of them. Our last couple of overnight stays have been at the Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center. We’ve stayed there for a Radiohead concert at the Sprint Center; and this time around, we stayed there because it was centrally located near several of the family-friendly attractions we planned on seeing.

Disclosure: Our stay in Kansas City was hosted by the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

The Sheraton at Crown Center is totally decked out for the holidays. It's quite a sight to walk into.

Our most recent stay at the Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center was in December – how’s that for holiday decorations?

And by centrally-located, I mean we could walk to them! How’s that for convenience? Park once and see it all.

What’s At The Sheraton Hotel

The Sheraton is quite tall – 40+ floors. The elevator ride impressed the kids.

The view from the top floor of the Sheraton...on a rainy day.

The view from the top floor of the Sheraton…on a rainy day.

The top floor of the tower is the lounge for Starwood Preferred Guests. If you are one, you can enjoy complimentary continental breakfast with a view.

…which my kids ignored because, TV!

Seriously, kids, avert your eyes from the TV for one second.

Seriously, kids, avert your eyes from the TV for one second.

There are a couple other dining options there, including a bar & grill kind of restaurant and a cafe.

The hotel is designed for large gatherings and meetings, so several floors are taken up by those spaces. It’s kinda awkward taking the elevator down from the tower with all the rooms, scrambling across the mezzanine to find the other elevator that will take you to the pool area. Pack a good swimsuit cover, is all I have to say about that.

Speaking of the pool. You guys. It’s a heated roof-top pool.

Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center's rooftop pool.

Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center’s rooftop pool. It was an unusually warm December weekend for us – no snow!

So you could be swimming in the middle of a snow storm, if things timed out right. Or a rain shower, as was the case for us.

In case you’re wondering, it’s not that heated (by my wimpy standards). While my crazy family swam in the December rain, I was in the hot tub, thank you very much.

The short tunnel amused the kids too.

OK, I'll admit, the tunnel was fun for me to swim through too.

OK, I’ll admit, the tunnel was fun for me to swim through too.

You can order food to be delivered to the pool area, which sounds like a good idea if it’s summer and you’re in the mood to lounge around all afternoon.

The rooms are pretty comfy – we had two double beds. We lucked out with a partial view of Crown Center and the Ice Terrace skating rink. It’s a charming scene at nighttime.

Attractions Near The Sheraton

Sheraton is connected to being connected to Crown Center and Union Station attractions by the climate-controlled Link system.

Sheraton Crown Center is an easy walk from Crown Center attractions thanks to the Link system over the streets.

Sheraton Crown Center is an easy walk from Crown Center attractions thanks to the Link system over the streets.

Use it! Parking can get pricey, so if you just pay for your hotel parking ($17-$24/day), you can go to attractions like SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium, LEGO Discovery Land and Science City.

Here’s a roundup of what’s walkable from the Sheraton – walking with two kids under 7, with a pit stop for lunch at Crown Center.

–  SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium (Crown Center district)

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center (Crown Center district)

– The FREE Hallmark Visitors Center and Kaleidoscope (Crown Center district)

Ice Terrace (seasonal outdoor ice skating rink at Crown Center)

Coterie Theatre (Crown Center district)

Musical Theater Heritage (Crown Center district)

Union Station – Be sure to check what traveling exhibition is there!

Science City (located inside Union Station) 

Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium (located inside Union Station) 

Model Railroad Experience (located inside Union Station) 

Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre (located inside Union Station) 

H&R Block Stage (located inside Union Station) 

The National World War I Museum and Memorial

The Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank (you receive a complimentary bag of shredded currency there as a souvenir – worth $165).

– City Market is 2 miles away

– Country Club Plaza is about 3.5 miles away

– Crossroads Arts District is less than a mile away

Restaurants

One of the best breakfasts I had in KC was at the Blue Bird Bistro, a little more than a mile from the hotel. Another good and quirky choice for breakfast is You Say Tomato, also a little more than a mile from the Sheraton.

You’ll find a handful of restaurants at Crown Center, which is a mix of chains like Panera and unique kid-friendly spots like Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant and, on the other end of the spectrum, the upscale The American. I know people who swear by Fritz’s – it’s where the model train delivers your food to the table. Personally, the food was not worth the wait to me, but yes, the kids loved it.

Union Station has a couple restaurant choices, including Harvey’s at Union Station (I hear brunch is good there). Jack Stack BBQ has a location that’s near Union Station and I’d recommend it.

If you head to Crossroads Arts District, you’ll find some unique places to eat including Lidia’s KC (if you’re a big PBS fan, you know who she is). The Sundry and Cafe Gratitude were recommended to me, but I don’t know if any of those are kid-friendly. When it was just me and Mr. Wonderful in Kansas City, Crossroads was a fun place to visit, and if we get another couples-only vacation to KC, we’ll go back there.

If you go

Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center

Where: 2345 McGee St., Kansas City, Mo.

Website 

Want to read more stories about Kansas City with a family-friendly focus? Check these out:

15+ Fun Things To Do During A KC Christmas Getaway

Magic At DreamWorks Ultimate Santa Adventure (Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan.)

Exploring the Museum at Prairiefire (Overland Park, Kan.)

Family Fun At Science City (Kansas City, Mo.)

Lego Store in Overland Park (Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan.)

A Family Guide To Crown Center (Kansas City, Mo.)

Best Winter Weekend Getaway To KC With Kids

DoubleTree Hotel (Overland Park, Kan.)

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What to expect at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel, located near Crown Center. Kids will love the rooftop pool and you'll like the easy access to attractions like LEGOLAND Discover Center, Science City and shopping. #Missouri #familytravel #hotelrecommendations
November 30, 2015

Kansas City Holiday Bucket List

Growing up in the Midwest, I often saw picturesque image of Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza at Christmas time.

It doesn't get much more Christmas-y than this photo of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

It doesn’t get much more Christmas-y than this photo of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

It looked magical. It looked like that was where Christmas happened. I knew families that went down there each December – to shop, to play.

I wanted to go there.

I see similar pictures now and it still looks magical. 

Yep, I still want to go there. Photo courtesy Visit KC

Yep, I still want to go there. Photo courtesy Visit KC

You know where this is going…I started finally planning a trip to KC at Christmas time. I’ve studied up on some sites that know how to do Christmas right in Kansas City (for starters, Visit KC and Visit Overland Park). If I had unlimited time to spend there, unlimited money to play, here are the items on my bucket list I’d like to check off:

 

Kansas City Christmas Bucket List

Kansas City Holiday Bucket List

Plaza Lights – Obviously. The lights come on at 5 p.m., which means we can go to the Plaza with the kids early enough to not have a late-night meltdown. Now, since this is a pie-in-the-sky bucket list, I’d say we’d see from a carriage ride that magically keeps my feet warm. There’s also the option taking a tour by flight, for those who really want to go all out. They’ll twinkle nightly through Jan. 17, 2016.

Experience the virtual sleigh ride flight school and Ultimate Santa Adventure at Dreamworks DreamPlace Experience at Overland Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan. Overland Park has invited my family to try this out – got my flight passes already! – and I’m so excited to see how my kids react when Shrek and his pals take us on the experience.

And while we’re exploring Overland Park, we might just have to check out the FREE 30-minute drive-through tour, Holiday Lights on Farmstead Lane at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.

The free 30-minute Holiday Lights on the Farmstead tour is in Overland Park, Kansas.

The free 30-minute Holiday Lights on the Farmstead tour is in Overland Park, Kansas.

Shop unique shops in the Crossroads District for special gifts. Mr. Wonderful and I got a quick glimpse of the area and we definitely want to go back! Read about that quick date night here. While we’re there, and since money is no matter, I’d get a box of chocolates as a gift (to myself) at Christopher Elbow chocolates and look explore Webster House, a 19th-century schoolhouse turned antique emporium.

Devour some BBQ. Those who’ve known me for years, know that I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time. I recently started adding back a little meat into my diet and lemme tell you, I’m so ready to try some of the famous Kansas City barbecue. I had friends on Facebook throw out some suggestions – how do these sound: Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, Fiorella’s, Char Bar or Arthur Bryant’s? Which would you suggest?

How 'bout a big, heaping plate of barbecue at Arthur Bryant's? Photo courtesy Visit KC

How ’bout a big, heaping plate of barbecue at Arthur Bryant’s? Photo courtesy Visit KC

Speaking of food, I’m a bit of a PBS geek, so I’d love to also dine at Lidia’s Italy Kansas City (yeah, I’m talking about Lidia Bastianich). Maybe we can gorge ourselves at the brunch there sometime?

See “A Charlie Christmas.” I don’t know if The Coterie performs this short live theater production of Christmas season or not, but don’t you think it’d be a cute kid-friendly show to see? It’s at the theater in Crown Center through Jan. 3, 2016.

Finally see Union Station. Been to KC many times and I’ve never been inside Union Station. There’s a lot to do there any time of year, but Christmas time looks like an extraordinary time to visit. There’s the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, which at 100 feet makes it one of the tallest in the U.S. Union Station will also be home to the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train Dec. 16-20. Wish we were there that weekend – trains impress my kids still, especially ones that carry Santa and elves.

The classic exterior of Union Station in Kansas City. There are a lot of holiday activities held there every year! Photo courtesy Visit KC

The classic exterior of Union Station in Kansas City. There are a lot of holiday activities held there every year! Photo courtesy Visit KC

Revisit Crown Center in its holiday splendor. We’ve stopped by Crown Center in the past but I feel like our family really hasn’t seen much there – we haven’t seen SEA LIFE Aquarium or LEGOLAND Discovery Center even. At Christmas time, there’s the FREE interactive exhibit, Santa’s Gingerbread Station and Gingerbread Village, plus the Crown Center Express Train Engine and outdoor ice rink. 

Check out the Mayor's Tree at Crown Center in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

Check out the Mayor’s Tree at Crown Center in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

My friends at The Walking Tourists suggested we check out Whoville Holidays, a fun Dr. Seuss-inspired celebration at The City Market. The kids love the Grinch and since it’s FREE, how could we not stop by?

There are FREE Holiday Trolleys on the first three weekends in December taking visitors around Downtown KC. Along the ride, we can take a picture in the life-size snowglobe, see light displays, attractions and other cool stuff. Since the kids get excited sitting on a shuttle bus, this would be a fun way to get around town.

We haven’t been to the Kansas City Zoo yet, and I read if you time your visit well and stop by on a Saturday in December, you just might catch Santa diving in a wetsuit. Between you and me, I might hold off our visit until warmer temperatures because I’d love to go on a boat ride at the zoo.

I could wait to see this big guy in warmer weather, but I'm guessing a polar bear is really in his element this time of year in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

I could wait to see this big guy in warmer weather, but I’m guessing a polar bear is really in his element this time of year in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

I came across a lot of my inspiration for our upcoming Kansas City holiday adventure at Visit KC. What’s missing? What should I add to our bucket list of things to do?

Your turn: What are the not-to-miss holiday experiences in the Kansas City area?