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Kansas City for Kids

Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri: These distinct Midwestern cities bearing the same name combine to form not only the Kansas City metropolitan area but also a dynamic destination for student groups 

When it comes to student travel, this area in America’s heartland may seem like a surprising choice. However, its ease of access and abundant museums, recreation and cultural heritage make it an excellent place for students to visit. These destinations on either side of the Missouri River offer student groups plenty of opportunities for learning and fun. 

Zip KC

For a thrilling student travel experience, groups should head to Zip KC, which is in the woods just outside the city on the Kansas side of the border. At this park, students can enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of the bluffs surrounding the Kansas River while staying active and experiencing the thrill of zip lining. They can choose from the park’s nine zip lines, which can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, and enjoy a scenic zip-line tour of the area. 

The park also offers other adventures for students, including guided hikes through the woods and a ninja training obstacle course. This popular course teaches students to trust one another as they work their way through obstacles such as balance beams, climbing walls and teeter-totters. 

“They like the team building aspect of it,” said Kerry Green, services manager at Visit Kansas City, Kansas.

Children’s Mercy Park

Kansas City is known as a hub for many different sports, but on the Kansas side, it’s becoming famous for its bourgeoning soccer scene. Children’s Mercy Park is home to Sporting KC, Kansas City’s professional soccer club, and more recently, it has served as a temporary home to Kansas City’s women’s soccer team. This makes it an excellent place for student groups to experience more of the city’s culture. This soccer-specific, open-air stadium seats over 18,000 and has covered seats so fans can enjoy matches in all weather. 

Students can tour the park, including the owner’s suite, the locker rooms, the press box and the pitch to learn about the history of the stadium, famous athletes and the importance of the sport to the region. The stadium offers several different tour packages, some of which include features like guest speakers. Student groups can also have their lunch in the Budweiser Brew House as part of their tour. 

“Soccer is a big deal in Kansas City,” Green said regarding Sporting KC and its importance in Kansas City culture. “When they built their new stadium, they built it state-of-the-art.”

Country Club Plaza

Modeled after Kansas City’s sister city — Seville, Spain — Country Club Plaza is a 15-block shopping center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. This opulent destination is part of the Country Club District and was designed in 1922 to mimic shopping districts in Europe. Its romantic Spanish-style architecture, sculptures and murals, and dazzling fountains are all part of what makes this gorgeous area a must-see for any group traveling to Kansas City. It’s also a hub for entertainment and local activities such as concerts and festivals. 

Student groups can peruse the high-end retail shops or hunt for local souvenirs. In addition to shopping, Country Club Plaza contains more than 30 restaurants ranging from cafes to fine dining, including many options suitable for group dining, making it a lovely place for groups to grab a bite. Whether they spend an afternoon or an entire day in the plaza, student groups are in for a treat and an enchanting local experience.

Museums at 18th and Vine

On the Missouri side of the city, the museums at 18th and Vine include both the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum, which are next door to each other. Both museums use interactive exhibits to educate students about important facets of Kansas City culture and American history.

“It’s a great one-stop shop for multiple experiences under one roof,” said Klaus. 

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum gives insight into a lesser-known period of our country’s history when Jim Crow laws and racism led to the creation of a separate professional baseball league for Black Americans. This museum chronicles the league, its players and the legacy it left on America’s favorite pastime.  

Just across the courtyard, the American Jazz Museum uses interactive exhibits to educate visitors about another integral part of Kansas City culture: jazz. The history of the musical genre in Kansas City is demonstrated with educational films, artwork and artifacts from famous musicians. The museum also includes the Blue Room, a working jazz club accessible to student groups.

National World War I Museum and Memorial

For a powerful and educational experience on the Missouri side, student groups should check out the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The Liberty Memorial was completed shortly after World War I, and the modern museum, opened in 2006, sits beneath it. Both are dedicated to honoring the memory of those who fought in the Great War.

The museum’s re-creations of No Man’s Land, a walk-through crater and life-size trenches make history come alive for student groups. The museum also houses one of the most expansive collections of authentic artifacts from the war. 

“It’s very hands-on, and it provides a really fantastic point of view for an area of history that many people don’t have a personal connection to,” said Derek Klaus, a spokesperson for Visit KC.