Kansas City has no shortage of fun and exciting places to explore with kids. You will often find me with my two young kiddos playing at the Plaza Library or walking the Kansas City Zoo. My oldest is crazy about trains, so Union Station is always a hit!
We call the Eastern part of Kansas City home, and while we’re generally up for a drive when it comes to fun things to do – occasionally it’s nice to stick a little closer to home and explore our own neck of the woods. Especially with Fall and Winter looming on the horizon, I am always on the hunt for nearby activities that will keep kids busy and me sane. Being easy on the wallet is just a bonus!
These are just a few of our favorite cheap (or free) things to do with kids in Eastern Jackson County:
Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmer’s Market (Lee’s Summit): The Farmer’s Market in downtown Lee’s Summit was recently ranked the #1 Farmer’s Market in the State of Missouri, and we happen to agree! The weather will start getting cooler soon, but this market runs from April through November. Downtown Lee’s Summit is a fun little area (see Jessica’s recent post on how to make a day of it!), and my kids love exploring the various vendors and tents. Some vendors offer free samples, and the family selling local honey likes to show off their bees! Our usual routine is to start at nearby Whistle Stop Coffee on Main to grab coffee for mom before walking the two blocks to the market.
My tip: If your kids are old enough, involve them in purchasing some farm-fresh eggs or produce! The vendors love talking to kids and it’s a great way to learn about where our food comes from.
Burr Oak Nature Center (Blue Springs): Located just north of I-70 off Highway 7 in Blue Springs, Burr Oak is a great (free!) place to go year-round. When the weather is nice, we enjoy walking the trails or having a picnic. Indoors, kids will love checking out fish, snakes, turtles and more. There are educational exhibits and hands on activities such as trying your hand at a turkey call or identifying animal tracks. My kids always enjoy their indoor play area, complete with a slide and pretend tree house! There are plenty of puzzles and books on animals and wildlife on hand.
My tip: Sign your kids up at the front desk for a free kids magazine subscription published by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Also, confirm their hours before going – they are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Barnes and Noble (Independence): The kids area at the Barnes and Noble in Independence is equipped with a Thomas the Train table, which my train-obsessed 3-year-old loves! There is also a LEGO table with toddler-friendly Duplo blocks. You can check your local store’s events calendar online for story times. Especially on rainy days I enjoy grabbing a coffee at the in-store Starbucks and letting the kids play.
My tip: Sign your kids up for the free B&N Kids Club! It comes with several fun incentives, including a free cupcake on their birthday.
Sontown Play Area/First Baptist Raytown (Raytown): I discovered this hidden gem when I became a member at their fitness center, but the great news is that you don’t need to be a member to play! This indoor and outdoor play area is equipped with play equipment including slides (indoors, too), small pretend town buildings, smaller activities for littler ones, building block tables and kid-friendly video games. The floor is padded and the entire area is secured, requiring a key card to get in. This would be a great location for an indoor play date during colder months. Sontown is free and open to the public on weekdays from 1:30 p.m. -8 p.m.
My tip: Since this play area is also utilized by their preschool and childcare, it wouldn’t hurt to call ahead to confirm it is in fact available that day. To access Sontown, go in the ROC Fitness Center entrance and visit the front desk. They will hook you up with an access card and point you in the right direction!
I hope you have fun exploring Eastern Jackson County! If you have anything to add to this list, please share in the comments.