When my husband and I were first married, I planned a surprise weekend trip to San Francisco over Easter. We were there for 72 hours, and I had 73 hours worth of “stuff” I wanted to do and see. It was on that trip that I earned the nickname, “The Field Trip Queen.” My husband and I had very different ideas about what “vacation” meant. For him, it meant sleeping in, taking naps, finding local pubs, and maybe hitting a couple of hot spots. For me, it meant getting up at the crack of dawn and following a rigorous schedule; cramming as much into a day as possible. Thankfully, 15 years and many vacations later, we’ve learned to compromise. I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t admit that one of the things that excited me most about having kids was all the fantastic stuff I could take them to do and see. I mean, come on … how else was I gonna get into Kaleidoscope as an adult?
Last summer, with the help of The Happy Family Movement, I devised a Summer Bucket List. I filled the list with experiences, activities, and places to visit. I tried to find a healthy balance of stuff we could do at home for little to no cost, and places we could visit. This summer, with the boys a year older, I expanded our bucket list a bit. Here are 7 toddler tested, toddler approved (and mom approved) easy field trips – several of which can be enjoyed year-round!
(Note that all of these are excellent trips for older children, as well!)
1. Deanna Rose Farmstead: My boys LOVE Deanna Rose Farmstead. It’s a great trip that can last a morning, or an entire day. We usually head out in early morning, and take a picnic lunch. If you go during the week, admission is free. You can take your stroller, or borrow a wagon on site. Toddlers love looking at the chickens, feeding baby goats, mining for treasures, riding the peddle tractors, and feeding the ducks and geese. There are plenty of big wooden swings to stop and have a snack, and several different play areas where kids can burn off extra energy!
2. Paradise Park: If you haven’t been to Paradise Park in Lee’s Summit, you’re missing out! It’s fun for the whole family. But, the part we love for toddlers is the Edutainment center. A completely separate play area for little ones, the edutainment center has creative play and discovery, as well as an outdoor area with plenty of space to climb and explore. One bonus for moms of small children; at the edutainment center, each child is given a wrist band, and the adults are given one with matching id. When you leave the center, all id bands are checked to make sure numbers match up. Genius! The middle of the edutainment center is a snack bar, so feel free to take along drinks and snacks.
3. Wonderscope Children’s Museum: After visiting the Lincoln Children’s Museum, I was devastated to learn that we didn’t have anything like it in Kansas City. After some Google searching, I found Wonderscope! Housed in an old elementary school, Wonderscope is a fabulous hidden gem in the KC area. Each room hosts a different theme, and the activities are engaging, clean, and leave lots of room for kids to use their imaginations. There is a toddler room for kids under 2, but we were so busy with the rest of the museum, we didn’t even go in. There is almost always a visiting display to check out; the site also has a picnic area for snacks or a packed lunch.
4. Little Monkey Bizness: Little Monkey Bizness is our go-to spot for rainy days, or when the weather gets cold and we need to get out of the house. An indoor play park designed for little ones, it’s the perfect combination of slides and climbing structures. It’s small enough that I feel comfortable taking 2 toddlers by myself, and letting them run free while I keep a close eye on them. Because it’s designed for little ones, I don’t worry about them getting run over by big kids. There is a special spot for the youngest toddlers at LMB, as well as a snack bar and eating area.
5. The Springs Aquatic Center: The Springs offers Splash and Play every Monday through Thursday from 9:00 to 11:30. Splash and Play is for children 5 and under only. Adults are free, and children are $5. The entire play structure open and filled with lifeguards, and toddlers have the run of the area. It’s perfect! Take some snacks or an early lunch, and be home in time for an afternoon nap! We’ll be looking forward to enjoying this one again next summer.
6. Paul Mesner Puppets: Our first experience with Paul Mesner Puppets was this summer, when my husband took the boys to a show at our local library. They LOVED it! I was shocked! These two boys who rarely sit still for more than 5 minutes, watched an entire 45 minute show and were captivated the entire time! They have talked about it ALL.SUMMER.LONG! They loved it so much, I went ahead and bought a membership and tickets to their upcoming series. Check out their website to see when and where they will hosting shows this fall!
7. Prairie Fire Museum Discovery Center: Although there isn’t much for kids to do at the actual museum, the Children’s Discovery Center is amazing! They host a 45 minute session every hour, and you have to buy your tickets at the museum (2 and under are free). During each 45 minute session, kids are encouraged to explore everything in the room. Open every drawer, dig for dinosaur fossils, try on tribal masks, pet a Corn Snake, put together a HUGE 3D dinosaur puzzle, and explore the Solar System. The size of each group is limited to ensure that children have an opportunity to try everything. If you need more time, just get your hand stamped, and come back for a later session, as long as it’s not full. When you finish at the museum, stop by Fat Brain Toys and check out all the amazing toys they have!
Kansas City is a great place to live for families with toddlers. There are so many things to do and experience! We would LOVE to know what places you enjoy taking your toddlers; feel free to share them with us here or on our Facebook page!