Hello, fellow travelers! As a family of five on our way to Colorado from Missouri, we recently had the opportunity to explore the beautiful state of Kansas.
OK, the state isn’t entirely beautiful. It’s usually a long, boring drive, staring at windmill after windmill.
I’ve often referred to driving between Missouri and Colorado as “paying the Kansas Tax”, because the drive is so boring. But I was wrong. If you stop and smell the roses, Kansas is worth exploring.
We discovered a plethora of activities that catered to our three young children, ensuring they were thoroughly engaged and happy.
Some of these we did, others we found when researching but didn’t get a chance to visit but I researched for our 5000-mile family road trip.
Here’s a list of some activities to do with kids while driving through Kansas.
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Wilson State Park
Wilson State Park, located in the heart of the Smoky Hills in Kansas, is often considered the most beautiful park in the state.
Its location about 60 miles west of Salina and roughly 10 miles north of Highway 70 makes it an accessible yet secluded gem.
Despite being a frequent traveler through Kansas, discovering Wilson State Park was like uncovering a hidden treasure, even my friends from Kansas City, which is approximately 200 miles east, were unaware of its existence.
Its unique features and diverse recreational activities set Wilson State Park apart from others. The park is set around Wilson Lake, known as the clearest lake in Kansas.
This clean, blue water is perfect for various water activities such as fishing, with excellent striper fishing opportunities and water-skiing. It’s also a great spot for boating or enjoying a peaceful day by the water.
For those who prefer land-based activities, the park offers numerous hiking trails. These trails provide a great way to explore the park’s beautiful landscapes and get up close to the local wildlife.
The park’s rugged terrain, contrasted with the otherwise flat Kansas topography, makes it a unique spot for outdoor enthusiasts.
Camping is another popular activity in Wilson State Park. The park offers a variety of camping options, making it ideal for families looking for an outdoor adventure.
The highlight of our trip through Kansas was undoubtedly a visit to this park. Its undisturbed beauty, plethora of activities, and the serene environment made it a memorable experience.
The fact that it remains relatively unknown adds to its charm, providing a sense of discovery and tranquility away from crowded tourist spots.
So, if you’re planning a trip through Kansas, don’t miss out on Wilson State Park.
It’s a testament to the state’s natural beauty and offers something for everyone, making it one of the best state parks in Kansas.
Great Wolf Lodge Kansas City
Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City is more than just a hotel – it’s an adventure-packed destination that offers a unique blend of fun and relaxation for the entire family, making it a must-stop if you’re traveling through Kansas with kids.
One of the main attractions at Great Wolf Lodge Kansas City is its massive indoor water park.
Regardless of the weather outside, the climate-controlled environment allows for year-round swimming, splashing, and sliding.
The water park features a variety of thrilling rides, including the double whirlwind and river canyon run, catering to both adrenaline junkies and those who prefer a more leisurely pace. It’s not just about the slides though.
There’s also an obstacle course in the pool, which can provide hours of entertainment and challenge for your little ones.
The resort is known for its family-friendly atmosphere. With spacious rooms designed to accommodate families of all sizes and a variety of on-site dining options, it’s a place where convenience meets comfort.
Its location is another advantage. The lodge is just a short drive away from Legends Outlets Kansas City, giving you easy access to shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
The lodge is located in the heart of the country, offering a unique opportunity to explore the Midwest’s charm and hospitality.
Its combination of exciting water park attractions, comfortable accommodations, and family-friendly amenities make it a worthwhile stop on your journey through Kansas.
Instead of simply driving through, why not create lasting memories with your family at this remarkable resort?
Oz Museum, Wamego
If you like Wizard of Oz, then check out the Oz Museum in Wamego. This museum, dedicated to all things ‘Wizard of Oz’, is a magical experience.
Kids will love the memorabilia and historical exhibits.
Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City
Travel back in time at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City. The Wild West came alive with gunfight reenactments and a variety of exhibits.
The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center is a fantastic destination for families with kids journeying through Kansas.
The zoo has a strong focus on conservation, providing an excellent educational experience for children. They can learn about various species, their habitats, and the importance of conserving wildlife.
With reasonable admission rates (free for children under 2, and tiered pricing for other age groups), families can enjoy an enriching experience without breaking the bank.
The zoo’s location within Gage Park adds another layer of attraction. Beyond exploring the zoo, families can enjoy other amenities in the park, making it a comprehensive stop with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.
The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center offers a blend of education, entertainment, and affordability that makes it a worthy stop for families traveling through Kansas.
Instead of just driving through, stopping at the zoo provides an opportunity to create lasting memories and learn about wildlife conservation.
Cedar Bluff State Park
For outdoor enthusiasts, Cedar Bluff State Park is a great choice. This park provides camping, fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities. Entrance fees are $5 per vehicle.
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, Overland Park
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, located in Overland Park, Kansas, is an exceptional stop for anyone driving through the state.
This unique attraction provides an immersive educational experience by recreating a 1900’s farm and town setting.
It’s not just a place to visit, but a place to learn, grow, and have fun.
The farmstead spans across 12 acres and offers a wide range of attractions that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages.
There’s plenty to see and do from farm animals and birds of prey to show gardens and butterfly gardens. A nature trail adds to the outdoor adventure, offering a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of Kansas.
One of the highlights of Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is its emphasis on education through entertainment.
The farmstead cultivates an appreciation for farm life and the environment by providing various activities, attractions, and programs.
The admittance fee is quite reasonable at $5 per person for those aged three and older. Children two and under can enjoy the farmstead for free. Even better, admission is free after 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is more than worth a stop when driving through Kansas. It combines education, entertainment, and the serenity of nature in one location, making it an ideal place for a family outing or a peaceful retreat.
Kansas City Zoo
The Kansas City Zoo was another highlight (even though it is in Missouri and not Kansas).
With a wide variety of animals and exhibits, it kept us entertained the entire day. Adult tickets are $16, and child tickets are $13.
Our kids loved the Stingray exhibit. You are allowed to touch live stingrays and sharks. We actually spent more time in this exhibit than anywhere else at the Kansas City Zoo.
If you are going to the Kansas City Zoo, be sure to check out Pogo Pass. We used our Pogo Pass to save on admission.
Sternberg Museum Of Natural History in Hays, Kansas
The Sternberg Museum of Natural History, located in Hays, Kansas, was one of the unexpected highlights of our trip through the state.
Nestled in what seems like (and is) the middle of nowhere, this museum is a remarkable testament to the fascinating world of natural history.
The quality and value of this off-the-beaten-path museum genuinely took me aback. From the moment we stepped through the doors, it was clear that the Sternberg Museum is a well-funded institution.
The exhibits were not only informative but also immersive and interactive, offering a wealth of knowledge about paleontology, geology, and regional wildlife.
The museum was immaculately clean, adding to the overall pleasant experience. It’s evident that great care is taken to maintain the facility and its exhibits, reflecting the dedication of those who work there.
What struck me most was how engaged all three of our kids were during our visit.
The museum’s displays, particularly the life-size replicas of prehistoric creatures and the interactive exhibits, captured their imagination and curiosity.
Whether they were marveling at the fossilized remains of ancient sea creatures or exploring the Discovery Room filled with hands-on exhibits, their enthusiasm never waned.
Another impressive feature of the Sternberg Museum is its collection of Cretaceous period fossils, including a world-class selection of fish-within-a-fish fossils.
These unique exhibits provide a rare glimpse into life millions of years ago.
The Sternberg Museum of Natural History is more than just a museum. It’s an educational adventure. Despite its remote location, it delivers a memorable and engaging experience for visitors of all ages.
If you find yourself traveling through Kansas, I highly recommend making a stop at this hidden gem.
Worlds of Fun Water Park
Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, located in Kansas City, Missouri, are an impressive combination of an amusement park and a water park, making it an excellent stop for families driving through the region.
One of the key reasons why this destination is worth stopping at is its sheer size and variety of attractions.
With more than 235 acres of space, Worlds of Fun offers an array of family rides, thrill rides, roller coasters, live shows, and attractions.
It’s the largest amusement park and water park in the region, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
Adjacent to Worlds of Fun is Oceans of Fun, a tropically-themed water park that spans over 60 acres.
This water park offers a wide range of water-based activities, including slides, pools, and other aquatic attractions, providing wet and wild times for the entire family.
The fact that access to Oceans of Fun is included with admission to Worlds of Fun adds significant value to the experience.
Furthermore, the thematic design of both parks further enhances the visitor experience. Worlds of Fun features unique themed areas, adding an element of exploration and discovery to the mix. Meanwhile, Oceans of Fun’s tropical theme helps create a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere.
The parks’ location just off the east loop of the I-425 makes them conveniently accessible for those driving through Kansas.
Even though they’re technically in Missouri, their proximity to the state line means they’re still an excellent choice for travelers in the region.
Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun offer a blend of thrilling rides, engaging shows, and refreshing water-based activities, all within a conveniently located and thematically rich environment.
Stopping here provides a fun-filled break from the road and creates lasting memories for the whole family.
Things To Do In Cottonwood Falls, Kansas
Located in the heart of the scenic Flint Hills, Cottonwood Falls is a delightful small town that offers an authentic slice of Americana.
The Chase County Courthouse, which happens to be the oldest operating courthouse in Kansas, is a stunning piece of architecture that you can’t miss.
Its French Renaissance style stands out against the prairie backdrop, making it a unique photo opportunity.
Walking down the historic main street, you’ll discover charming shops and local eateries that encapsulate the spirit of this quaint town.
Things To Do In Larned, Kansas
Larned’s Santa Fe Trail Center Museum and Library presents an intriguing look into the history of the Santa Fe Trail and the Old West.
Through various exhibits, artifacts, and educational programs, visitors gain insight into the lives of the pioneers who traveled this significant trade route.
Things To Do In Sterling, Kansas
If you’re a nature lover or outdoor enthusiast, Sterling is definitely worth a stop. Sterling Lake is a haven for recreational activities, offering fishing, boating, camping, and hiking opportunities.
Whether you’re looking to catch a big one or simply enjoy the serene surroundings, the lake provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle.
Things To Do In Abilene, Kansas
For history buffs, Abilene is a must-visit destination. It’s home to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home.
Here, you can explore the life and legacy of the 34th President of the United States through a variety of exhibits and archives. The boyhood home offers a glimpse into Eisenhower’s early life, providing context for his journey to the presidency.
Things To Do In Atchison, Kansas
Atchison is best known as the birthplace of famed aviator Amelia Earhart.
A tour of her childhood home provides a fascinating look into her early years and the environment that shaped her adventurous spirit.
Atchison is reputedly one of the most haunted towns in Kansas. A haunted trolley tour offers a thrilling way to learn about the town’s ghost stories and paranormal activity.
Things To Do In Council Grove, Kansas
Council Grove is rich in history and natural beauty. The Neosho Riverwalk is a picturesque trail that winds along the river, offering beautiful views and a peaceful ambiance.
The Kaw Mission State Historic Site provides insight into the relationship between missionaries and the Kaw tribe.
And don’t forget to dine at the famous Hays House Restaurant, which has been serving delicious food since 1857.
Things To Do In Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City truly embodies the spirit of the Wild West. The Boot Hill Museum offers a lively and immersive experience, complete with historical displays, gunfight reenactments, and a variety of artifacts.
It’s a fun and educational stop for the whole family.
Things To Do In Lindsborg, Kansas
Lindsborg, affectionately known as “Little Sweden,” is a charming town that celebrates its Swedish heritage with festivals, traditional Swedish cuisine, and more.
The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery showcases the work of its namesake artist, a Swedish-American painter known for his distinct Post-Impressionist style.
Things To Do In Lucas, Kansas
Lucas, dubbed the “Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas,” is a delight for art enthusiasts. The town is home to the whimsical Garden of Eden, a fascinating folk art site featuring concrete sculptures.
Another must-see is the World’s Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Largest Things, a quirky museum that pays homage to roadside attractions in miniature form.
Each of these destinations offers unique attractions and experiences that make Kansas more than just a drive-through state.
Things To Do With Kids In Kansas
Kansas offered us so much more than we expected. The state is filled with kid-friendly activities that are not only fun but also educational.
So if you’re planning a trip through the Midwest, don’t forget to include Kansas in your itinerary. Safe travels!
Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.