With no ocean, no beaches, no mountains, and no renowned national parks close by, where is one to turn when you find yourself looking for things to do outside in Kansas City. 10 things to do outside in Kansas City will help you plan for a day outside in the City of Fountains or an entire week.
The City of Fountains
With more than 200 fountains, Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains. You could easily make a day out of visiting many of these fountains and while you’re at it, check out some of the things to do on our list of 10 things to do outside in Kansas City.
10 Things to do outside in Kansas City
#1 – Mill Creek Park
Mill Creek Park is located on the eastern edge of the Country Club Plaza. Here you will find abundant open green space, a .96 mile asphalt trail, and one of the most recognized fountains in Kansas City, the formerly named J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain. Located in the heart of Kansas City and in the touristy County Club Plaza area, Mill Creek Park is frequented by both locals and travelers alike.
If you are looking for a location where you can go for a quick walk, jog, or run or you just want to enjoy one of Kansas City’s most iconic fountains, Mill Creek Park is the place to visit.
#2 – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has an incredible art collection and its free! But one of my favorite things about the museum is not the art at all, but instead, the incredible grounds the museum sits on. The meticulously manicured area is great for a leisurely stroll or a shaded picnic under the trees. And the large open area makes it easy to find your own little space. Take a walk around the grounds on the paved trails, admire the gardens and statues, and then enjoy a morning or afternoon on the Nelson lawn.
If you are looking for an outdoor space where you can take a leisurely stroll and spread out for a picnic, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is the place to visit.
#3 – National World War I Museum and Memorial
The National World War I Museum and Memorial is dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding World War I. If you are in Kansas City, you should plan to set aside some time to visit. The Museum and Memorial grounds are a great place to explore during the day or in the evening for one of the many events they put on.
#4 – Loose Park
Jacob L Loose Park is a 75 acre park located right in the heart of Kansas City, just south of the Country Club Plaza. The park is the perfect place for so many outdoor activities. Loose Park has a walking or jogging trail, tennis counts, a stunning pond, and plenty of shelter. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the day with a picnic or just hanging out in a hammock. The 1.5 acre Rose Garden is a big draw and has about 3,000 roses and 130 varieties. The Park is extremely popular. Expect it to be more crowded than many of the other destinations on our list of 10 things to do outdoors in Kansas.
#5 – Kauffman Memorial Garden
The Kauffman Memorial Garden is another gem hidden right in the middle of Kansas City. Not far from the Country Club Plaza, Kauffman Memorial Garden is the final resting place of one of Kansas City’s most well-known and influential couples who’s most enduring legacy is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. This free garden will have you feeling like you have traveled far away to Europe. It has meticulously cared for gardens, sculptures, and of course, fountains. Plus, there is even a resident cat! The Gardens are open to visitors year around to enjoy.
#6 – Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
The 300 acres of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens grounds include trails, prairie, botanical gardens, and sculptures. It is the perfect place for a walk with almost six miles of paved and wood chipped trails or a picnic. Plus, the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens often puts on special events for those looking for something more.
#7 – Hidden Valley Park Trail
Hidden Valley Park Trail really is a hidden gem. I’ve lived in Kansas City for quite a while, but it took a pandemic and my interest in finding new and interesting outdoor places near the city to come across this spot. And I am so glad I found it! Once you enter the forest you immediately feel transported to somewhere far away from the city. You’ll see all kinds of plants and some very old and very large trees. The rain forest like canopy means the trail is mostly shaded. If you’re lucky, you might even seen a few animals like deer. One thing you won’t see much of, other people. This adds to the feeling that you really have found a hidden treasure!
Hidden Valley Park Trail is the perfect option if you are looking for a more secluded destination. The park will have you feeling like you are really out in the wilderness and away from the city.
#8 – Parkville Nature Sanctuary
The Parkville Nature Sanctuary covers 115 acres and boasts nearly three miles of trails. Along the trails you’ll find streams and waterfalls and you may occasionally come across some wildlife. Parkville Nature Sanctuary is a one of the busiest outdoor locations on the list. It is easily accessible with short, well maintained trails and you’ll see many families with children and groups here.
#9 – Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center
Located in Olathe, Kansas, Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center is a 116 acre nature park with approximately three miles of easy to walk, well maintained trails. The trails cross little streams several times. However, they are fairly easy crossings and one even has a really cool bridge. Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center is busier than some of the other outdoor locations on our list. You are bound to cross paths with many families with children. While this location has more people, you can still get a glimpse of the wildlife. We got lucky and saw quite a few deer from the trails; they seem to be pretty comfortable around people.
Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center is a good option if you are looking for a relaxing and easy to navigate outdoor option.
#10 – Shawnee Mission Park
Shawnee Mission Park is located in Johnson County, Kansas, just outside the core metro area. Shawnee Mission Park is a 1,600 acre park with a 120 acre lake. The Park has so many options for activities, there is something for everyone. Here, you will find a disc golf course, dog park, fishing, a lake with a beach and marina, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, archery range and more. While it is the most visited park in Kansas, there is plenty of space to find your own area.
Are you planning yet?
Planning a trip to the City of Fountains and looking for things to do outside in Kansas City? Don’t worry! TravelHive has you covered with everything you need to know to about this awesome city. If you are looking for more things to do outside in Missouri, check out our post, Things to do outside in Missouri: Long Branch State Park.
And, if you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the TravelHive team and Contact us.