Exploring with Kids: 36 Hours in Kansas City

KC-Skyline2On our way from Dodge City, KS to St. Louis, MO, we made a stop in Kansas City last month. This was our first visit and I was amazed by all the things to do in Kansas City as a family. If only we had more time to explore. Whether you have just a day or two, or even a week, Kansas City is a fantastic place to check out with kids. Here’s the scoop on where to stay, what to do and where to eat. Have fun. 🙂

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, which could not have been in a better location for exploring all kinds of things to do in Kansas City with kids. It was easy walking distance to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center, SEA LIFE Aquarium and Union Station (which houses Science City), and by easy, I mean either adjacent to or across the street from these kid-friendly attractions.

The Westin Kansas City is also a part of Crown Center, a complex that includes shops, hotels, restaurants and office space. That noted, it was only a few minute walk from our hotel room to plenty of family-friendly places to eat, as well as shops like Crayola Kansas City and Chip’s Chocolate Factory.

If you like good city views, the Westin Kansas City is the place. Even from the elevator, the views of the city were fantastic. It was such a treat to ride up to our room and see the city skyline. I mean, WOW. If you like to exercise on vacation, the Westin Kansas City wins again. Thanks to RunWESTIN, you can pick up three- and five-mile running route maps. Or, join a group run that takes place three mornings a week.

KC-westin crown center

While wi-fi is not complimentary at the Westin – it’s $9.95 per 24 hours – my kids didn’t seem to notice (they look for wi-fi hotspots right away when we check in to hotels). They were too busy splashing in the outdoor heated pool at the hotel. I’m pretty sure they were in the pool until well after sunset that evening.

Self park under the hotel for $16 per day. Truly, there’s so much to do and so many places to eat that are a very short walk from the hotel that you may not need your car. There’s also a free hotel shuttle that runs from 3-10 pm to the Power & Light District, which boasts a variety of shops and restaurants.

KC-Westin Pool

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center is green too thanks to the Make a Green Choice program. Enjoy a $5 voucher to use at select restaurants, cafes and coffee shops or 500 Starpoints when you decline housekeeping (except day of departure). This offers a great opportunity to talk to your kids about the importance of energy conservation.

What to Do

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center is very close to a number of kid-friendly attractions, including the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Science City. If you go, here are a few of my top things to do in Kansas City with kids.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center. The LEGOLAND Discovery Center is a must while in Kansas City. My kids loved building and testing race cars, as well as racking up points on the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride. I loved exploring MINILAND, which features miniatures of Arrowhead Stadium and Emerald City, all made from LEGO bricks.

KC-LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Science City. Located in Union Station, kids will love the hands-on activities at Science City, like Kinderlab, Test Kitchen and Dinolab. There’s even a planetarium and a Sky Bike that lets visitors ride a bicycle suspended 30 feet above the ground on a high wire.

SEA LIFE Aquarium. Next door to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center, you’ll want to make time for SEA LIFE Aquarium (you can buy a combo pass). Look for touch pools, as well as multiple talks throughout the day to learn more about rays, turtles and seahorses. Little ones will love the new Octonauts Zone.

KC-SEA LIFE Aquarium

Kaleidoscope. For kids who love to create and use their imaginations, head to Hallmark’s Kaleidoscope. Join a family art session, make artwork from fluorescent markers and crayons or create puzzles. You’ll also want to stop in the Hallmark Visitors Center next door for even more fun and learning.

Kansas City Zoo. There’s so much to do at the Kansas City Zoo and so many animals to meet like new baby gorilla, Masika. There’s a huge Africa section of the zoo with zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and elephants. There are also plenty of shows and keeper chats in the KidZone section of the zoo.

KC-Kansas City Zoo

Lakeside Nature Center. Located in Swope Park, kids will love exploring the hands-on exhibits and educational programs available at the Lakeside Nature Center. Pick up a scavenger hunt worksheet to complete inside the nature center or join a monthly hike with a naturalist.

Where to Eat

There are a number of delicious places to eat in Kansas City that are perfect for kids and families. Here are a few to check out during your visit.

Crayola Café. Located inside Crown Center, we loved the brightly-colored Crayola Café. The food is extra kid-friendly (e.g., mini corn dogs) and my kids loved the collectable cups that came with the Kids Meal Deal. As a bonus, there is an inside passage to walk between the Westin and Crown Center.

KC-Crayola Cafe

Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant. Who wouldn’t want to watch as their meal is delivered by a toy train? Kids will love watching burgers and fries get shuttled to various tables by a toy train at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant. Order from the “Lil’ Engineers” menu and enjoy a butterscotch milkshake before you leave.

T-Rex Café. T-Rex Café bills itself as a “prehistoric family adventure” and your kids will no doubt love feasting on Jurassic Chicken Tidbits and Paleo Pizza. Kids will also be easily entertained by the aquarium filled with tropical fish, moving life-like dinosaurs and waterfalls inside the restaurant.

Waldo Pizza. Kids love pizza and Waldo Pizza is one of the best places to go for pizza, a huge salad bar and one of the biggest dessert menus I’ve ever seen. For those with dietary restrictions, you’ll also find pizza menus just for those who are vegan or gluten-free.

Disclaimer: I was recently a guest of the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center. This post also contains affiliate links. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.