It’s no secret that I love my city. I’m very proud of the city Kansas City has grown to be in my lifetime, and I find myself craving to explore the city and learn about new places. As the city grows, so do parking and traffic problems which sometimes makes navigating with young kids stressful.
Thankfully Kansas City has started to invest in more public transportation, and as you may know, the city debuted the Kansas City Streetcar in 2016. The streetcar allows you to travel from the River Market area down to Union Station and back, for FREE! The streetcar is my absolute favorite way to explore the city and my family and I have discovered great places and made many new friends on our streetcar journeys. Plus, it requires me to get outside of my comfort zone which I desperately need some days.
The KC Streetcar has 10 stops between the River Market to the north and Union Station to the south along Main Street in downtown Kansas City, MO. Each stop has both a northbound and southbound stop for you to jump on and off. The streetcar is stroller friendly, kid friendly, grandma and grandpa friendly, it’s everyone friendly. And if your child is a Daniel Tiger fan like mine is, they’ll find great joy in riding “Trolley.”
We love to introduce friends and family to the streetcar and have converted quite a few people, even Grandpa who was kind of skeptical, in to streetcar riders. I love sharing what we have learned about riding, exploring and making the most of a day on the KC Streetcar. Here are my best frequent rider tips:
- Use their website and social media. Their website has a huge FAQ section that usually addresses just about everything you could need to know. They also have the stops listed, running times, weather info and events. Their Twitter account does a good job of alerting riders to a problem with the streetcar and is a great resource while you’re out and about.
- Don’t try to park at the really busy places. A trip to the City Market for shopping, food or just a nice walk is often in our plans, but I never park down there. It’s always so busy and some of the time parking is not free. My secret for busy weekends is to use the satellite lots on the east side of Main between 7th and 8th and jump on the streetcar at the 8th and Main (Northloop) stop. You can park for as long as you like, for free, in the lots on the weekend. Even if your destination isn’t the River Market area this parking tip works really well to ride anywhere the streetcar goes. We’ve used this more than once during Union Station trips as well. The ride back to the car is a nice way to end the day. Just make sure you give yourself enough lead time to avoid any tired toddler meltdowns. Trust me. I did this research for you.
- If you’re available during the weekdays and looking for some culture, the KC Streetcar offers live music while you ride and at some of the stops at various times throughout the year. The schedule is on their website. If you work downtown and need a midday break, there’s really no better choice.
- Have a general plan. Unless we are heading to an event, we typically just kind of wing it on our streetcar adventures. But before we head out we make a loose game plan. It might be a certain restaurant we want to try, a store someone wants to check out or a certain area we want to head to. That gives us a little bit of direction for our day. If we need food suggestions I use Yelp or Open Table to find new places near our destination. It’s a huge plus that on the streetcar line there are dozens of great choices for kids and adults.
Some of my family’s favorites along the KC Streetcar include KC Soda Co. and Cascone’s Grill at the City Market stop; Betty Rae’s at the River Market West stop for the best ice cream in Kansas City; The Milwaukee Delicatessen Co. and The Kansas City Public Library’s Central Library at the aptly named Library Stop; Johnny’s Tavern, Insomnia Cookies and BRGR at the Power & Light stop; Raygun Shirts, Bizz and Weezy Confections and Christopher Elbow Chocolates at the Crossroads stop; and Union Station’s Science City plus everything that Crown Center has to offer just across the skywalks.