If exploring nature is something you enjoy and want your kids to enjoy as well, then grab your sunscreen and bug spray, this post is for you! Here’s a list of groups, programs, parks, and nature centers in the Kansas City area where you can get outside and connect with other like-minded families.
Groups to Join:
- Hike it Baby Kansas City: For a small fee ($10/year), you can get access to their calendar of hikes and join other KC moms as they explore nature with their kids. Hikes vary from carrier only to toddler led (and some of the hikes start at coffee shops, my kind of hike!) Check out our hiking with toddler tips before you go.
- Wild + Free KC: These events are open to all ages, with trailblazer adventures every Friday, nature study and journaling outings, and mom-only gatherings to get to know other moms raising their kids to appreciate nature!
- Let’s G.O. (get outside) Kansas City: This group offers 1-2 weekend hikes and park playdates a month at different spots around town. Perfect for the families that can’t get out during the week but are looking for weekend activities to do as a family!
- Johnson County Natureplay Preschool: This preschool runs year-round and is open to kids ages 3-5. Time in nature is one of the central facets of this preschool, with much of the day spent learning in the great outdoors.
- Well Wilderness Kids in South Olathe offers playgroups, camps, classes, clubs, and open play run by certified therapists (occupational, physical, music, etc.) This therapeutic environment allows kids to explore and find wellness in nature.
- Tinkergarden: These play-based classes are offered at parks in Shawnee and Merriam in KS and Blue Springs and Kansas City in MO. They have different sessions for kids from 18 months – 8 years. The sessions run for several weeks and some are offered in the evenings and on weekends too.
Parks with nature play areas
These parks have added areas to their parks for intentional nature play and exploration. More and more parks in Kansas City are embracing this concept, and I can’t wait to add to this list! (Hit the comment section if you know of any parks on the Missouri side that have a nature play area, I wasn’t able to find any!)
- Blackhoof Park: Nestled into the woods you’ll find tree stumps and logs, rocks to climb, and a small creek to play in.
- Erfurt Park: This is a new park in western Shawnee. You’ll find a sand area, rocks, and logs for kids to climb on and explore. In the summer there is even a fountain to splash in!
- Franklin Park: During the summer months, there is a man-made stream for kids to play in.
- Gezer Park: You’ll find a sand area as well as a man-made creek for play. Great for catching tadpoles!
- Roe Park: This park is amazing, and it really embraces nature play. There is a sand area, a water play area (in the summer months), logs and stumps to walk on, a little house made out of wood, and hammocks!
- Weltner Park: This is smaller compared to the other parks but there is a shady little nature play area with stumps and logs to climb on, a sand box and a slide built into a little hill.
Nature Centers, Gardens, Conservation Areas, Etc.
- Ernie Miller Nature Center
- Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
- Prairie Oak Nature Center at Ironwoods Park
- Prairie Park Nature Center