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Things to Do in Kansas City
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Outdoor Attractions That Will Make You Fall in Love with Kansas City

By Gerald Diddle on Jul 25, 2023
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As the blazing heat of summer gradually gives way to the crisp, colorful hues of fall, there's no better time to immerse yourself in the charming tapestry of Kansas City. Whether you're a local or a visitor, this vibrant Midwestern gem, that we are proud to call home, offers a delightful array of activities and attractions that capture the essence of both seasons.

From savoring sun-soaked adventures along the Missouri River to reveling in the breathtaking foliage of its scenic parks, Kansas City beckons with an enticing blend of outdoor escapades, cultural treasures and culinary delights.

Join us on a thrilling journey as our local HR team unveils the top things to do in Kansas City that will have you outdoors enjoying the beauty of the season before colder temperatures settle into the area.

RELATED: Five Spooktacular Things To Do in Kansas City This Halloween >>

Local Hiking Trails

Looking for things to do in Kansas City and want to get in touch with nature? Kansas City-area hiking trails are a great way to experience the beauty of the area while also staying physically active. Here are a few of our favorites:

Parkville Nature Sanctuary

Located less than 20 minutes from Downtown Kansas City, Parkville Nature Sanctuary boasts 115 acres of natural land for wildlife connected by 3 miles of hiking trails. Click here to view a map of The Jim Reed Trail System

Why it is one of our favorites: Old Kate Trail, the most popular trail at Parkville Nature Sanctuary, features beautiful waterfalls that provide a breathtaking photo opportunity.

Tips: Because Parkville Nature Sanctuary is a wildlife preserve, dogs, horses and other animals are not allowed as they could disturb the wildlife. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.

Shawnee Mission Park

If you’re looking for a longer hike, and one that is pet-friendly, then head over to Shawnee Mission Park where three trails loop together for 6.5 miles of scenic views. For more information, visit Johnson County Parks & Recreation District’s website by clicking here.

Why it is one of our favorites: Not only does the park feature great trails for hiking and mountain biking, but its 44-acre dog off-leash area will likely be your furry friend’s favorite attraction. While you’re there, check out the 120-acre lake (complete with boat rentals) and 18-hole disc golf course.

Tip: Don’t forget your fishing pole, tackle, and Kansas fishing license. Shawnee Mission Lake is stocked with rainbow trout, channel catfish, large and small-mouth bass, wipers, and crappie.

RELATED: It's Pumpkin Time in Kansas City; 7 Pumpkin Patches to Visit in 2020 >>

Swope Trails

Located within Kansas City’s largest park, which is also one of the largest municipal parks in the United States, Swope Trails are one Swope Park’s many attractions. The trail system provides 13.5 miles of wooded views and features rolling contours to the north and limestone bluffs to the south. The trails are open year-round and are mountain bike and dog-friendly. Click here to access a trail map and view pictures.

Why it is one of our favorites: Stunning forest views and a great nature escape, all within an urban environment.

Tip: The trails are made of dirt, rocks and tree roots, so you’ll want to wear appropriate shoes and understand it may be muddy after periods of rain. Trail changes aren’t clearly marked, so you’ll want to pay close attention. 

Exploring Parks & Nature Reserves

Kansas City boasts a variety of beautiful parks and nature reserves, such as Loose Park, Swope Park and the Overland Park Arboretum, perfect for leisurely walks, picnics and birdwatching amidst lush greenery and blooming flowers during summer.

In the fall, these same parks transform into captivating landscapes with vibrant foliage, making them ideal spots for scenic hikes and serene strolls.

Kansas City Gardens

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Powell Gardens

Located 15 minutes east of Lee’s Summit in Kingsville, Missouri, Powell Gardens boasts 970 acres of breathtaking scenic views with seven themed gardens, 100 botanical areas, three miles of hiking trails and seasonal displays.  

Why it is one of our favorites: The Festival of Butterflies takes place through August 9 featuring over 1,000 free-flying butterflies and moths. It is a must-see! 

Tip: Visitors are strongly encouraged to secure their tickets in advance for timed entry into the Gardens.

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens provides a scenic, nature escape with every season. From gorgeous summer flowers to breathtaking fall foliage and a spectacular winter luminary walk, the opportunities for a variety of experiences are almost endless. The Gardens feature over 300 acres of scenic views, 45 acres of botanical gardens, 800 species of plants and a variety of landscapes including ponds, hiking trails and sculptures. Click here for more information.

Why it is one of our favorites: Approximately 85% of Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens’ property is solely dedicated to the preservation and restoration of natural ecosystems. While you’re there, you won’t want to miss Monet’s Garden!

Tip: The Arboretum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Upcoming free admission days are October 5, 2021, and October 9-10, 2021.

RELATED: Kansas City Area Christmas Tree Farms Where You Can Choose and Cut Your Own Tree >>

Outdoor Concerts & Movies

Many parks and outdoor venues in Kansas City host live concerts and movie screenings during the warmer months. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and relish in the community atmosphere as you enjoy music and films under the open sky.

Starlight

Whether you're a theater enthusiast, a music lover or simply looking for a memorable night out in Kansas City, Starlight promises an enchanting and unforgettable experience and always has a spot on things to do in Kansas City lists! From Broadway blockbusters to captivating concerts, the allure of watching exceptional performances under the stars makes Starlight a must-visit destination for entertainment seekers in the region.

Why it is one of our favorites: Starlight is the oldest and largest continually operating performing arts organization in Kansas City. Starlight opened its doors in 1950 and has nearly 8,000 seats today.

Visit Farmers' Markets 

Experience the flavors of the season by visiting one of Kansas City's approximately 30 local farmers' markets, which are abundant during summer and fall. Many are open year-round.

Sample freshly harvested produce, artisanal foods and handcrafted goods while supporting local businesses and farmers.

Brookside Farmers' Market

The Brookside Farmers' Market is open year-round and boasts no middlemen. Those who grow, raise or make it, sell it. Everything at the market is sourced within 125 miles of Kansas City.

Why it is one of our favorites: Brookside Farmers' Market features organic, sustainably grown produce. You can also find a variety of freshly baked breads and pastries that are vegan and gluten free. 

City Market

The historic City Market located in the heart of Kansas City is also open year-round and is the largest farmers' market in the Kansas City area. Not only can you find produce and baked goods, but the market also features import grocers, spices, shops and an abundance of arts and crafts. 

Outdoor Dining 

Experience alfresco dining at its finest by patronizing restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating. Enjoy delicious meals while basking in the warmth of summer or savoring the crisp air of fall.

Perhaps the most iconic food associated with the city, Kansas City-style barbecue is known for its rich, smoky flavors and tender, slow-cooked meats. Beef, pork and chicken are all popular choices, but the city's specialty is burnt ends, which are flavorful, crispy and juicy pieces of meat cut from the ends of beef briskets.

best kansas city barbecue restaurants

Fall Festivals & Events 

As autumn sets in, Kansas City comes alive with various fall festivals and events celebrating the season. From Oktoberfests to pumpkin patches and hayrides, there's no shortage of festive fun for families and friends.

See our full list of Kansas City pumpkin patches, haunted houses, ghost tours and more here >>

Day Trips

Weston, Missouri

Just 30 quick minutes from downtown Kansas City lies Weston, Missouri, featuring the historic Saint George Hotel, Green Dirt Farm, McCormick Country Store, wineries, one of the oldest operating distilleries in the U.S., breweries and Weston State Park.

For the best views of the Missouri River and Fort Leavenworth, take a hike along the West Ridge Trail which travels through the woods and along the edge of the bluff. Click here to visit the Weston, Missouri website.

Why it is one of our favorites: Weston, Missouri is frequently voted the number one day trip and overnight destination — and for a good reason. Historic Main Street is full of local, small shops, each one a delight. There’s no shortage of places to dine and if you’re planning on spending the night, there are plenty of Bed & Breakfast accommodations and don’t forget about the historic Saint George Hotel.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Located in Camdenton, Missouri, Ha Ha Tonka State Park features trails, castle ruins, a crystal-clear spring, sinkhole and natural bridge. Click here to visit Missouri State Parks for more information.

Why it is one of our favorites: While it is 300 steps down (and then 300 steps back up), the natural spring is well worth the exertion and provides an amazing experience.

Tip: Plan on spending a whole day hiking the park to the various sites. Bring plenty of water and pack a cooler. 

Axcet HR Solutions, Your Kansas City PEO

At Axcet, we are lucky to call Kansas City our home and have been offering PEO services to small and mid-sized businesses in the area since 1988.

We are continually amazed by the breathtaking views of nature found right here in our backyard. If Kansas City is your home and you’d like to share your favorite outdoor spots for hiking and experiencing nature, leave us a comment.

Human Resource Solutions: You have HR questions. We have HR services.

Written by Gerald Diddle

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