Family Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend – Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. One-click purchases may receive a small commission at no additional cost.
Explore Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, and more with this travel guide of things to do in Kansas with kids. These Midwestern destinations have a small-town American vibe, and each offers great kid-friendly activities in their own neighborhoods. Check out the best places for families in the Sunflower State.
Family Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend
During a recent road trip to Kansas, my kids (ages 6 and 10) and I visited three cities: Lawrence, Topeka, and Manhattan. Each of these cities is about a 45-60 minute drive away, making Kansas a great destination for a Midwestern road trip.
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Tip: Consider flying into Kansas City, Missouri for optimal flight times and more rental car inventory than smaller airports. This border town is just a few minutes drive from Kansas.
Downtown Lawrence (Massachusetts Street) is the number one attraction when touring Kansas with kids. This walkable block has been a popular spot since its founding in 1854. Signs in the storefronts reflect the diversity of the center, including its LGBTQ+ friendliness.
Tip: Street parking in downtown Lawrence requires meter change. Add the ParkMobile app to your smart device for convenient payments. Or use the free 2-hour public car park on Vermont Street.
Housed in a former bank building, the Watkins Historical Museum showcases life in Kansas since Lawrence’s early days.
Kansas City, Kansas
Conversation starters include vintage collections and exhibits about the state’s struggle for freedom that began before the Civil War. Don’t miss our daughter’s favorite, the fully restored Victorian Playhouse.
Toys and books for all ages are displayed on three floors, including a wall of classic toys and stuffed animals.
Tip: Your child will want a souvenir or two. Whether you want to set spending limits, give your kids their own money, or let them get what they want, plan your strategy before you enter the house.
The exhibition is spread over four floors, with an impressive panorama just inside the entrance. The impressive collection of fossils, bones and wildlife is a great way to learn more about the Great Plains.
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The museum is free, but donations are welcome. We plan to spend a few hours here. Challenge yourself in our scavenger hunt for kids to win free prizes.
Another free activity in Kansas, the Spencer Art Museum is located on the campus of the University of Kansas.
The museum is currently undergoing renovation, so it’s a short visit, but well worth the stop. Choose the perfect “BINGO” game for kids of all ages, return it and win prizes.
The sandwiches are packed with your choice of protein, including Andouille sausage, shrimp, chicken, catfish and alligator. Indoor and outdoor seating.
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Artisan pizzas with freshly baked dough and fresh local ingredients. The indoor/outdoor patio dining area has sports TVs and a small play area.
Handmade waffle cones and creative flavors made with quality ingredients are a must-stop (kids or not).
This store had the longest line of all the stores I visited on this trip, so plan ahead. Indoor seating only, but most families just eat their snacks outside.
Thousands of bottled soft drinks and vintage sweets from around the world are sure to please. Most bottles are marketed chilled and ready to drink with various flavors.
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With a full kitchen, dining table, living room and Jacuzzi, our spacious Junior Suite offers enough space for your family to relax. Kids loved the multi-level indoor saltwater pool.
This Massachusetts Street hotel is an excellent choice for families looking to stay close to downtown.
Kansas Street is the main hub of downtown Topeka, with many family-friendly activities just a short drive away. With civil rights ties, unique entertainment and a thriving arts scene, Topeka has a lot to offer.
Visitors can park on Kansas Avenue for 2 hours on weekdays and free all day on weekends.
Dates & Hours
Tip: If you visit in the summer, enjoy Eats and Beats on Wednesday afternoons at Everzy Plaza. With live music, food trucks and a kid-friendly water fountain, it’s the perfect warm-weather activity. Keep an eye out for other special events held on the square throughout the year.
Kansas was a “free state,” but racism still existed throughout the country. This includes Monroe Elementary School, which is now the visitor center for the National Historic Site.
The videos about museums and civil rights education are aimed at children in upper elementary school. The 5th graders were very curious and took a closer look at each section.
Your child will earn a Junior Ranger badge and certificate upon completion of the program. Check in with a local park ranger when you enter the visitor center.
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Tour guides are available throughout the week to lead groups through the Visitor Center and floors of the Capitol. The tour inside the dome (296 steps!) is currently cancelled. My children and I took a self-guided tour to see the Indigenous Peoples Hall of Fame and the sword of abolitionist John Brown.
All tours are free, but reservations are recommended. The underground parking is free for 2 hours. You will be required to undergo security checks, including baggage inspection.
Walk outdoors around Capitol Square to see the statue dedicated to the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who grew up in Abilene, Kansas.
As a boy growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, Ebel Niebel was an icon. I even played with the Ebel Niebel doll! Apparently I’m not the only one. TripAdvisor lists the Yibel Kniebel Museum as the #1 attraction in Topeka.
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The museum houses a significant collection of crash helmets, original jump bikes and a fully restored ‘Big Red’ Mack truck.
Set aside at least an hour to visit the museum. In addition to the wealth of memorabilia, the exhibition also contains video footage of jumps (landings and crashes).
A sign explains the extent of his injuries and an interactive X-ray display of his fractures. These cool details are what make this museum exciting, especially for daredevils.
Known for its vibrant murals and public art exhibits, NOTO (North Topeka) is a colorful shopping and entertainment center. Stop for a photo in front of the ‘Topeka’ mural in Red Bud Park.
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Be sure to visit on the weekends when the Saturday City Market shops are open and there is live music. The weekday afternoon visit was quiet as most of the shops in Noto were not open.
Every place we visited in Kansas had a great urban park. With green areas, playgrounds, water games and aquatic centers, these parks are a must when traveling with children.
An enriching experience that combines the gastronomic offer with an authentic golf challenge. Your family will be set up in one of four separate golf simulation bays using the latest systems. Seasoned golfers can challenge one of the best courses and kids can play a lively point-based game.
In addition to the sporting aspect, it is also not to be missed that there are great dining options. Ask for the beer cheese pretzels!
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This out of the way restaurant is a hidden gem. Burgers are a big hit here, and options include beef, veggie, turkey, ground chicken, vegan and gluten-free.
For longer stays, the spacious space has a full wardrobe, separate sitting area and a pull-out bed for extra sleep. Kids will love the free hot breakfast and indoor pool.
The location of this first class hotel is perfect for families who want to stay in the heart of the city centre. Rain showers, on-site dining, and an outdoor deck with a fire pit are highlights after a busy day of sightseeing.
Manhattan, Kansas, nicknamed the “Little Apple,” is a city with an energetic vibe and small-town charm. From a vibrant downtown to rolling prairies, Manhattan offers a great mix of indoor and outdoor entertainment.
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On the same day, visitors can shop for fresh produce at the farmers market, browse art galleries and cheer on the Wildcats at a K State University football game.
Visit Aggieville, the oldest commercial district in the state. Over 100 restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and retail stores are within a few blocks of walking distance. The area bustles with activity (and lots of university students) during school weekends.
Tip: Want that perfect Instagram-worthy photo of sunflowers? In Kansas, sunflowers usually bloom from mid-August to mid-September. Several farms in the Manhattan area are open to the public to view these beautiful flowers.
The 10,000 square feet of interactive exhibits focus on the surrounding Flint Hills region and ecosystem, including cultural history, animals and grass burning. Pick up a scavenger hunt flyer and complete the challenge to use your prize.
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The renovated Prairie Playscape on the second floor is popular with the little ones with free games and interactive exhibits. The Major League Baseball temporary exhibit was a big hit with my sports loving son and he probably spent an entire day here.
Don’t miss the immersive experience in the theater.
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