Cheap Places to Play in KC

My family loves TV. Loves.  

I know that’s frowned upon. I know I should be ashamed my toddler sings the Paw Patrol song. And the Dinosaur Train song. But gosh, it’s cute! He even does the different voices. “Ride, ride, ride, ride, ride, the Dinosaur Train! Dinosaur Train! Toot toot!” 

I promise I do make an effort to cut the screen time. For my TV-loving family, that means getting away from temptation and leaving the house. And that can get expensive! So here’s where we love to go to entertain the kiddo and not spend too much money. 

Museum at Prairiefire 
A fancy educational exhibit is great. But so is a lobby with interactive activities that don’t cost a dime! We regularly just hang out in the entryway, building dinosaurs on the touch screens and watching what we’ve created march through the Great Hall. My son runs from that to the replica of a T-Rex and just yells “Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs!”  

Sometimes we make a day of it, and walk over to Fat Brain Toys to play there, too.  

$ = Zero. 

Oak Park Mall 
I know what you’re thinking – how can you go to the mall and not spend money? Yes, we generally spring for a cookie at the food court. But my son also loves to run up and down the ramps and ride the quarter rides that he doesn’t yet realize cost money. We play at the Lego store and read books at Barnes and Noble. They also have a brand-new playground! He may be learning some bad habits from the big kids jumping off the equipment, but at least he’s getting out the wiggles. 

$ = Zero. 

Warning: The playground is right next to the carousel, so unless you have more discipline then me, you’ll probably have to pay for that.  

Deanna Rose Farmstead 
How is this place only $2 to get in??? And we get baby goats, ducks, cows, and some pretty great playgrounds. I’m counting down the days to April when it opens back up!  

$ = Minimal. 

Belton Railroad 
I found this one by accident one day. Off Main Street in Belton, there are some old trains. Some to ride for a fee, but plenty to just look at. Sometimes that’s all a train-loving kiddo needs. It’s also just a block away from a cute, old-fashioned café complete with milkshakes and malts. 

$ = Minimal. 

Union Station Model Train Exhibit  
This truly is our favorite place to go in Kansas City. And not just at Christmas time! The model trains are phenomenal. The best part of all – they’re at toddler eye level! Each table has multiple trains running, so kids always have a new train to follow. Volunteers sprinkle little kid favorites throughout the displays -Thomas, Elsa, even super heroes ride the trains! And the displays are regularly updated. I have yet to leave here without my son crying to stay. Last time, we were there 90 minutes, and he still wanted to watch more trains! 

$ = Zero. 

KC Streetcar
Remember how I said my son lives trains? He thinks the KC Streetcar is the Dinosaur Train. Sure, kid. We ride up and down downtown. Sometimes we stop for pizza and fruit at Cosentino’s. I also like exposing my child of the suburbs to some city life. I think it’s good for both of us. 

$ = Zero. 

Libraries 

I admit, this one makes me feel better about myself. I’m not sure what I did right, but my son loves to read. We’ve visited many libraries across the metro. Some shushed us – we don’t go back to those. But many are great! We love the activities at the downtown Olathe library and the 87th Street Johnson County library in particular. But nothing beats the kid section at the Kansas City Central Library. We read, play with toys, and even get to take books home for free! As long as you return them on time. 

$ = Zero. 

Jump City  
This is a new discovery. It’s literally just a giant room of bounce houses in Belton. You know – toddler heaven. Don’t worry, parents can jump too! Little kids are just $5, big kids are $8, and parents are free. We spent hours here. Got in quite the workout, too! 

$ = Minimal. 

Scheels 
There’s a playground inside the Scheels at Corbin Park that my son loves. And it smells much better than the ones at local fast food restaurants. (No judging.) There’s a giant fish tank to stare at. And of course the shopping carts with cars on them! We’ll go for a ride if we’re lucky enough to snag the police car. 

$ = Zero. 

Pet Stores 
I hate pet hair and slobber too much to actually own a pet. But I’m not above going to pretend to buy one. We’ll go to pet stores and look at the puppies and kittens. My son’s favorite part though – always the fish! Thankfully he’s young enough he isn’t begging to bring anything home yet. We’ll see how long this remains a stop on our cheap tour of KC. 

$ = Zero. 

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