Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Kansas City, KS

  • Published 2023/01/09

Kansas City in Wyandotte County is one of the top destinations in Kansas.

It is located northeast of the state, where the rivers of Kansas and Missouri meet.

The city traces its origin to several separate towns consolidated in 1886.

Home to neighborhoods with diverse cultures and rich histories, the city offers a variety of unique experiences and activities that everyone can enjoy.

There’s the Kansas Speedway for racing enthusiasts, mouthwatering barbecue and various cuisines for foodies, and historic sites for history buffs.

With its bustling downtown, numerous parks, and unique museums, there are plenty of ways to experience the city without hurting your travel fund.

To help you make the most out of your getaway to the heart of America, check out some of the free things you can do in Kansas City, Kansas:

Enjoy the Outdoors at the Wyandotte County Lake Park

Deers grazing at Wyandotte County Lake Park

Michael Siluk /

Spend a day amid nature without leaving the city at Wyandotte County Lake Park.

Spanning over 1,000 acres, this expansive park features a wooded area, a lake with fishing access, trails, and play areas.

You can enjoy its beautiful landscape throughout the year.

Explore the trails and enjoy the fresh air and serene nature views in spring.

Birds at Wyandotte County Lake Park

Michael Siluk /

In summer, you’ll enjoy scenic views of pontoons and sailboats.

The park is also a great spot to see the fall foliage if you happen to visit the city during the season.

You can find Wyandotte County Lake & Park along 91st Street.

Aerial view of Wyandotte County Lake Park

Lectrician2, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Armourdale Hike & Bike Route

Stretch and prepare for an active day exploring the Armourdale Hike & Bike Route.

Running along the Kaw River levee, this trail for biking and hiking offers over a mile of river and wildlife views amid the city’s urban atmosphere.

Hop on your bike and cycle along the route for fresh air and fascinating views.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed pace of exploring, you can opt for a hike along the trail.

You can access the Armourdale Hike & Bike Route via 18th Street.

See the Fascinating Collection at the Mule Deer Country Museum

Check out the world’s biggest collection of trophy mule deer at the Mule Deer Country Museum.

Located at the expansive outdoor gear store Cabela’s, the museum has over 11,000 square feet of space showcasing a large collection of the iconic deer of the American West.

You can see the deer displayed in a beautiful setting of their natural surroundings.

If you’re a hunting enthusiast, don’t miss out on seeing the world records and state records they have on display.

You can find the Mule Deer Country Museum along Cabela’s Drive.

Learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition Stop at Kaw Point Park

Captain William Clark marker at Kaw Point Park

Mike Seberger /

Enjoy a day in the woods at Kaw Point Park and learn about the Lewis and Clark expedition stop in Kansas.

A point on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, this 10-acre park along the river shore features an educational pavilion, trails, a boat ramp, rock gardens, and an amphitheater.

In 1804, the expedition camped along the confluence of the Kansas River and Missouri River.

You can check out the park’s interpretive signs to learn more about this history.

Tribal markers at Kaw Point Park

Mike Seberger /

Of course, don’t miss out on enjoying the park’s lovely surroundings and scenic views of the waterfront.

Explore the trails, spot the native plants around the park, and take in some fresh air.

You can find Kaw Point Park along Fairfax Trafficway.

A gazebo at Kaw Point Park

Mike Seberger /

Stroll around Downtown

There’s no better way to experience the city’s culture than visiting its downtown.

As the heart of the city, the area is home to many business establishments, governments, and various organizations.

Stroll around and admire the lively sights, sounds, and energy of the city.

See the colorful walls with various paintings celebrating the city’s culture and history.

The downtown area is also teeming with eateries and restaurants, so you can scout places or check menus for dining during your stay.

Check Out the Anthology of Argentine Mural

Take a peek into the local art scene and see the Anthology of Argentine Mural.

This colorful mural showcases the history and culture of the city’s Argentine community.

Admire the 220 yards of colorful paintings on the wall, beginning with the depiction of the Hopewell Tribe.

One of the largest in the state, seven artists worked on the mural over several months.

You can find the Anthology of Argentine Mural along 30th & Woodland.

Get a Glimpse into the Past at the Quindaro Ruins & Overlook

Flags at Quindaro Ruins & Overlook

Gabe S., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drive to Quindaro Ruins & Overlook for sweeping views and a peek into the area’s storied past.

Founded in the mid-19th century, Quindaro was a town that once served as an entry point for immigrants entering Kansas.

The town was abandoned when the Civil War broke out.

Marker at Quindaro Ruins & Overlook

Gabe S., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the overlook, you can view the ruins of the once-historic town, which include brick and stone foundations.

You can reach the Quindaro Ruins & Overlook via 27th Street.

Visit the Clendening History of Medicine Museum

If you’re into science museums, stop by the Clendening History of Medicine Museum.

This museum is a unit of the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine at The University of Kansas.

It showcases an extensive collection of medical history.

You can see various American medical instruments used from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Learn about medical practice in the state, the history of anesthesiology, and medicine during various wars.

The Clendening History of Medicine Museum is located along Rainbow Boulevard.

Go Sightseeing in Strawberry Hill

Head up to Strawberry Hill and explore its historic streets.

A diverse group of European immigrants originally settled in this lovely neighborhood in the 1800s, making it rich in history and culture.

Explore around and see the beautiful storefronts along the streets.

Situated on the bluffs overlooking the rivers of Kansas and Missouri, this neighborhood also offers a great spot for enjoying sweeping city views and scenic nature vistas.

Strawberry Hill is located near the city’s downtown area.

See the Rosedale Memorial Arch

Daytime view of the Rosedale Memorial Arch

Melissa Kothe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a trip up the hill and visit the Rosedale Memorial Arch.

Completed in 1923 and originally built as a tribute to World War I soldiers, it also serves as a monument to Rosedale soldiers who served in World War II and in Korea and Vietnam.

At first look, you might find that the arch looks quite familiar; that’s because it was designed based on the famous Paris landmark Arc de Triomphe.

Snap a photo with the arch in the background as a souvenir of your visit.

You can also enjoy beautiful city skyline views at the site.

The Rosedale Memorial Arch is located along Springfield Street.

Go on a Picnic at Big Eleven Lake

Pack some lunch and head to the Big Eleven Lake.

This lovely park features a manmade fishing lake, with surrounding picnic spaces great for a family day out.

Unwind in the park’s serene atmosphere while bonding with family and friends.

The park is also home to a memorial to Kansas City native and renowned jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Big Eleven Lake is located along North 11th Street.

Catch an Exhibit at the Kansas Community College Art Gallery

Go on a day of art appreciation at the city’s Kansas Community College Art Gallery.

This gallery showcases the works of various local artists.

Catch an exhibit and get a glimpse of the art scene in the community.

It also hosts various events throughout the year, such as film screenings, art lectures, and receptions.

The Kansas Community College Art Gallery is housed at the Jewell Building on the campus.

Explore the Legends Outlets

Building at the Legends Outlets

Jon Kraft /

Get to know the city’s legendary personalities when you stroll around the Legends Outlets.

This outdoor shopping area and lifestyle center is known not only for great outlet shopping but also as a destination worth exploring for its attractions.

The area is home to tributes to the state’s famous personalities in the form of various art pieces such as sculptures and murals.

Jewelry store at the Legends Outlets

Jon Kraft /

Take a leisure walk around the courtyard and corridors and learn about the leaders, artists, explorers, and other notable people who made a mark in Kansas.

If you happen to visit in December, you can also enjoy the lovely holiday lights illuminating the area.

You can find the Legends Outlets in the Village West area.

Coach storefront at the Legends Outlets

Jon Kraft /

Take the Kids to Pierson Park

Head to Pierson Park for a relaxing day out.

The 125-acre park is home to a fishing lake, tennis courts, a play area, and a splash pad.

Pack the family’s favorite picnic food and enjoy the sprawling park on a summer day.

Take the kids to the splash pad for some fun and beat the heat.

Pierson Park is located along South 55th Street.

Visit the F.L. Schlagle Environmental Library

Go on an educational and fun tour of the F.L. Schlagle Environmental Library, one of the country’s two public libraries dedicated to an environmental learning center.

This library and nature center is an interactive venue ideal for kids interested in exploring their natural surroundings.

You can explore the nature trails, watch the birds at the feeding area, and check out other family-friendly activities.

The library also offers seasonal programs for children, such as scout programs and summer camps.

You can find the F.L. Schlagle Environmental Library along West Drive.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

Cities and towns surrounding Kansas City and the metropolitan area are home to many attractions and interesting spots.

Check out some of these free things you can do nearby:

See the Collection at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

Exterior of Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

Ganeshkumar Durai /

Take a short drive to Kansas City, Missouri, and immerse yourself in art at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, 14 minutes from Kansas City.

This museum features an expansive and wonderful collection of artworks, spanning from the ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman period to contemporary pop and conceptual art.

Marvel at European sculptures and paintings, including works of the old masters and impressionist pieces.

Giant shuttlecock sculptures at Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

Rachael Martin /

Admire decorative arts and design pieces from 18th and 19th century America and Britain as well as from Kansas artists.

The museum also has in its collection Japanese works of art going as far back as the 7th century.

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art is a nine-mile drive from downtown Kansas City.

Statues at Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

EQRoy /

Visit the Historic Union Station

Exterior of the Historic Union Station

Sean Pavone /

Complete your Kansas region experience with a stop at the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, 10 minutes from Kansas City.

Opened in 1914, this century-old train station is an iconic destination with a rich history.

Marvel at the station building’s stunning beaux-arts architecture.

Water fountain in front of the Historic Union Station

djr8 /

If you’re stopping by late in the day, you’ll be treated to the wonderful sight of the beautifully illuminated station building.

In 1972, the station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its historic, architectural, and engineering significance.

Union Station is a 4.2-mile drive from downtown Kansas City.

Interior of the Historic Union Station

APN Photography /

Unwind at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park

A woman admiring the view at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park

Matt Fowler KC /

If you’re looking for a nearby spot for some outdoor recreation, head to Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park in Lenexa, 20 minutes from Kansas City.

This 50-acre park offers plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

It has almost two miles of walking trails, a barn museum, a skate area, and sports courts.

Enjoy the relaxing greenery and peaceful atmosphere as you walk along the trails.

There’s also a fishing pond stocked with bass, catfish, sunfish, and bluegill.

Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park is a 14-mile drive from downtown Kansas City.

Final Thoughts

Kansas City is a lively destination worth visiting for its rich cultural heritage.

From checking out the arts and culture scene to diving into history, days of leisure and relaxation await you in this lovely city at the heart of the country!

Start planning your getaway now, and be sure to explore some of the free things to do in Kansas City, Kansas.

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