COVID-Safe Destinations in KC for Young Children

With the recent announcement of children ages 5-11 now being eligible for a vaccine, there seems to be a collective therapeutic exhale from parents that we, as a community and country, might just be rounding the corner of this pandemic. What a long time coming! Unfortunately, we are not quite out of the woods yet. With an unpredictable Midwest winter quickly approaching, our small children (and their parents) will need outlets for exercise, family fun and adventures that also feels safe and relatively low risk when it comes to virus transmission and the probability of contracting COVID. This guide will help you navigate the tricky dynamic of seeking fun while also being cognizant of personal and public health.

The holiday season is here, and there’s nothing that small children love more than the magic and merriment of the holidays! Luckily, our city goes all out in this department!

Seasonal Destinations

Luminary Walk at the Overland Park Arboretum

A favorite amongst KCMC contributors, this event is beautiful, outdoors and feels magical. Woodland and fairy displays are perfect for young children, and the entire experience transcends any age. Traffic and parking can be a bear, so arrive early!

Festival of Lights Powell Garden

Similar to the Luminary walk, Powell Gardens hosts another local festive feast for the eyes. With a few more activities and stops along the way for the adults (read: mini wine bars along walking paths), this might slightly edge out all other holiday activities in the area. It has become one of our family’s favorite holiday traditions. Purchase tickets during a weeknight if possible to avoid large crowds.

Crown Center Ice Terrace

An easy destination, the Crown Center Ice Terrace will ensure everyone sleeps soundly afterward! It is a doozy of a workout for us parents, feels so quintessentially festive, and is set amongst the beauty of our city’s downtown. Afterward, grab hot chocolate and let your little ones run wild in the wooden train cars at the base of the mayor’s tree.

Winter Magic

A drive-thru light display, this newer to the area destination, is fun and you never have to leave the warmth of your car! Now with two locations, it is accessible from anywhere in the metro area. Last year, we stopped at the entrance for some fresh kettle corn to munch on before beginning our tour. Pro tip: dress the kids in pajamas so they can go straight to bed afterward!

Paulie’s Penguin Playground

A display at a home in Olathe, this charming stop is whimsical for any age. It is free to enter, but donations benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society can be made at the end. Before leaving the area, drive through Christmas Card Lane where the entire subdivision makes Clark Griswold look like a slacker. Your kids will LOVE it!

Santa’s Bake Shop by Martin City Brewing Company

In its second year of existence, Santa’s Bake Shop by MCBC is an effortless Santa destination, but the real reason for the trek is to eat some of their fresh baked treats.

Sar-Ko Aglow

Take a nighttime stroll around Rosie’s pond at Sar-Ko-Par Trail throughout the holiday season. There is also an official lighting event with carolers that families can attend.

See more holiday events and destinations in our Ultimate Guide to the Holidays!

Everyday Destinations

Yaya’s Alpaca Farm

There’s soft alpacas that act more like dogs with their obedience and charm than farm animals, what else is there to explain?! A bit of a drive, but it is the perfect morning or afternoon outing for small children. They also offer a holiday event in the evenings!

Wonderscope

The newly renovated Wonderscope is doing an amazing job with COVID protocals and safety. From timed tickets to estensive cleaning, it feels like a safe place to visit, especially during the week! It provides both indoor and outdoor opportunities for play.

Burr Oak Woods

Age appropriate tours are available with registration. Learn about native animals, join in on a scavenger hunt or take a guided hike to discover all of nature’s marvels. Afterward, explore the nature preserve to get out any wiggles left.

15 and the Mahomies Playground

The most beloved man in Kansas City recently uveiled a new park in the heart of our hometown. Located at MLK Boulevard and Woodland Ave, it was designed so children of all physical and mental abilities can play. This park is a true destination and a testament to the foundation and legacy Patrick Mahomes is building. Don’t forget your Chiefs gear before you head out the door!

Overland Park Arboretum

Already mentioned for it’s legendary Luminary Walk, Overland Park Arboretum is also to be enjoyed on any ordinary day. With so much to explore, everyone will enjoy the time spent.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

An iconic institution in KC that has taken safety precautions with the utmost seriousness, this is a great place for a day of learning. Each month they host a themed, self-guided scavenger hunt, and participants leave with a take home activity kit inspired by the theme of the hunt. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and hit up the clear glass maze!

Summit Lanes

Offering Mom & Me Bumper Bowling from 9:30-11:30 a.m., the alley is reserved exclusively for kids and their parents. For $3 per person, you will receive a game, a shoe rental and a drink!

Johnson County Museum

Equipped for lots of imaginative play, the Johnson County Museum has room to roam, and is perfect for pre-school aged kids to pretend they are working on a farm, performing in a theater or cooking up a storm. Visit their KidScape experience to fill up an afternoon with lots of wholesome recreation.

In addition to all of these wonderful resources available within our community, it is also beneficial to check with local Parks and Recreation departments. They have an abundance of free or very affordable activities and classes and are doing a great job of limiting class sizes and practicing strict safety guidelines. This sounds like a mom’s dream in a normal year, let alone a pandemic!

Even though the shorter days of winter are ahead, fear not fellow moms, this city has our backs! We don’t have to be stuck in the house when the weather turns. It’s time to get out an explore!

Kristin is a Lee’s Summit suburb transplant, after living in the Brookside and Plaza areas for over eight years. Raising three young boys with her husband, Jake, has helped her to embrace the messy, wild side of life where love is expressed in bear hugs and body slams. Professionally, she can be found teaching classes as an adjunct professor in the areas of Business, Marketing and PR. She is able to provide her students with applicable, real-life knowledge as she draws from several years working in the corporate sector. “Free time” (ha!, what's that again?) is spent on an occasional date night to favorite local restaurants, reading blogs on everything from home design to politics, riding her sweet beach cruiser bike and thinking of ways to convince her husband to do yet another home improvement project.

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