Go Play Outside: 10 Great Parks in Kansas City

It's officially summer! Not really, but it is officially time to take your inner kid, or actual kid(s), out to see the light of day. These Kansas City parks can be home to a relaxing Saturday, a long walk/run, or a game of Ultimate Frisbee. We covered parks across the city for your convenience (you're welcome), but don't be afraid to travel a bit to explore something new.

One of the oldest (and most historically significant) parks in the city, Loose Park is home to the famous Rose Garden, several ponds, shelters, and historical markers from the Battle of Westport. Shelters are of course reservable, but a picnic on one of the many rolling hills is just as enjoyable. Loose Park is also one of the most popular destination for engagement and graduation photo shoots, so practice your photobombing poses.

Berkley is best known for its big events, but it's a great place to swing by on a weekend trip to the River Market. As you'd guess, it's right along the river, so all biking, running, picnicking and exploring come with a great view. If you're coming from the River Market, head down Main Street and come via the Town of Kansas Bridge. As far as those big events, check out one of these this summer: May 7: Kansas City On Tap Craft Beer Festival, May 21: Wanderlust 108 Run/Walk, Yoga and Meditation, June 3-6: Pridefest Kansas City, July 30: KC Nanobrew Festival

What started as a one-off penguin decoration for a Christmas display grew into a 25-foot Northland landmark. Other animals have been added since the park's inception, as well as play equipment and a reservable shelter. Penguin Park is also home to Storytime in the Park on July 20, so bring the kids out this summer.

Cave Spring Park (officially known as William M. Klein Park) in Raytown is a beautiful little-known spot with four miles of hiking trails, a Harry S Truman exhibit, and even a reservable camping spot. The ruined cabins and buildings and the miles of trails make this park feel straight out of a Mark Twain book. Cave Spring Park also hosts hiking safety, rock collecting, and astronomy classes. And they even have a small waterfall.

Even though it's located behind the FBI Building, Mulkey Square isn't sketchy. It's charming. Home to a baseball diamond and the Hereford Bull (that cow statue you can see from the highway), Mulkey Square is a nice quiet park tucked away in Kansas City's Westside neighborhood. The small shelter and playground have great views of Downtown and the West Bottoms.

One of Kansas City's most prominent parks, Penn Valley Park sits between major highways, developed areas, and the World War I museum. The historic area was one of Kansas City's first parks and has been home to everything from a tent city during World War II to a massive crowd when the Royals won the World Series in 2015. A tennis court, skate park, and dog park are just some of Penn Valley Park's offerings. Pairs well with a Crown Center visit.

Kansas City's largest park spans 1805 acres. And it's not just the Kansas City Zoo taking up all that space (although the zoo is amazing). Ten rentable shelters, the Starlight Theater, a soccer complex, a golf course, hiking trails, and a mountain bike trail are all crammed into this crown jewel of Kansas City. They even have a cricket field. And if you really want to dig into Kansas City history, the 32-mile self-guided tour of the Battle of Westport begins here.

Right across the street from Park Hill High School up north, Barry Road Park is a relaxing little spot. A playground, a half-mile long trail, and a reservable modern shelter make this green spot a great area to spend an afternoon. And if hiking or swinging isn't your jam, the eight tennis courts may have you set.

Johnson County's oldest park, Antioch Park, is 44 acres crammed full of park-y goodness. Fishing ponds? Check. Tennis courts? Check. Reservable shelters? Check. Basketball courts? You get the idea. Oh, and don't miss the gorgeous rose garden. Since it's opening in the 50s, Antioch Park has remained an incredibly popular park, boasting over 700,000 visitors a year.

Way down south, Frontier Park is a 22-acre green spot near the Indian Creek Trail in Olathe. Two first-come-first-serve shelters will supply all your picnic needs. Softball and soccer fields serve the neighborhood. In the summer, Frontier Park hosts the City of Olathe's summer concert series. But the community's favorite part? The playground area has shade!

Photo cred:  grandview parks

Photo cred: grandview parks

A classic kid's wonderland, Meadowmere Park in Grandview is home to an amazing playground. The top-notch outdoor-themed playground features treehouse slides, giant mushrooms, enough swings for everyone even a skate park for the older kids. And adults, don't worry, the trails and shelters are great, too. Grandview's biggest park also has an outdoor pool!

Another ancient entry (the first iteration was opened in 1895 as North Terrace Park), Kessler Park overlooks Downtown Kansas City with a strip of gorgeous green right up against the trainyards of the East Bottoms and the Missouri River. Cliff Drive is the most famous part of the park. This scenic and twisty road is open only to pedestrians and bikes on weekends:  it's "conveniently located at the North end of Kansas City, but feels like a whole other world," according to their website. Locals adore the road and have even begun a petition to permanently close Cliff Drive to regular traffic.

Another behemoth on this list, Heritage Park clocks in at over 1200 acres. And it has the amenities to fill it. Ten reservable shelters, a 40-acre lake, a much-loved off-leash dog park, trails, play areas, outdoor exercise equipment, and more are sprinkled throughout. Most sports have a home here as well. An expansive disc golf course and real golf course round out this south KC staple. 

Photo credit:  home4rent.com

Photo credit: home4rent.com

Second only to Swope Park on the other side of the state line, Shawnee Mission's 1600 acres make this a true gem of the Johnson County parks department. The main attraction is Shawnee Mission Lake, which hosts boating, fishing, swimming, canoeing, pedal boating, and more every year. There's a massive 53-acre dog park, reservable shelters and trails for biking, running, and walking. The Theatre in the Park is billed as the biggest outdoor community theater in the country and puts on Broadway shows and plays every year.