School’s out! Summer’s the time to be wild and free, with the emphasis on FREE!
Raising kids isn’t cheap, and with summer comes with a lot of expensive ways to fill their days – various forms of technology, week-long camps and high-dollar admission to amusement parks, to name a few. For families on a tight budget, it can be a challenge. News flash, parents! Having fun doesn’t have to cost a thing.
Check out these cool ways to have fun, while keeping money in your pocket:
Attracted to Animals? Go Wild!
Lakeside Nature Center
4701 E Gregory Boulevard
Kansas City, MO
Owned and managed by the Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department, the Lakeside Nature Center is one of Missouri’s largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities. It is unique in that it combines its rehab efforts with educational programming.
Home to about 75 animals, you can expect to see two bald eagles, two turkey vultures, three owls, three varieties of hawks and two falcons. You will even see an 80-year-old box turtle named “Wilma.”
You’ll learn about local native wildlife, including:
- Birds of prey
Other features include wildflowers, scenic trails and a butterfly garden.
You may explore the exhibits on your own, or for a small fee, sign up for a wildlife program.
Hours of Operation
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed Mondays and some holidays
Gettin’ Hot? Get Wet!
Roe Park Splash Pad
10400 Roe Avenue
Overland Park, KS
Wear your swimsuit and prepare to cool off! The splash pad is officially open sunup to sundown, seven days a week.
The pad, which sits on the former Roe Pool site, has several fountains and spray features that can be activated by pressing or stepping on large buttons on the ground.
If squeals and giggles are your thing, this destination is a “must.”
Other park features:
- Sports courts, including tennis courts
- Soccer and softball fields
- Nature play area
- Hiking/biking trail
For park hours and more details, visit: opkansas.org.
Ever Wonder How All Those Colors and Patterns Get Inside a Tiny Glass Marble?
Come and Find Out!
Moon Marble Company
600 East Front Street
Bonner Springs, KS
Watch as artisan and owner Bruce Breslow demonstrates his marble-making magic. You’ll be up close and personal as he explains the process of glass working, marble history, and other marble trivia.
- The company also houses a retail shop, specializing in vintage toys and games for all ages.
- Hundreds of machine-made marbles are also sold in a multitude of colors, designs and sizes.
- Located near the intersection of Highway K-32 and Highway 7 in Bonner Springs, the drive is an easy trip from anywhere in the KC metro.
For hours and demonstration schedule, visit moonmarble.com.
Is Your Summer Boring? Escape Into the World of a Good Story!
Johnson County Library Youth Summer Reading Program
Johnson County, KS
Stop in at any JoCo library to register for the summer reading program. You’ll get a reading log to track your summer reading and a free book (while supplies last) just for signing up.
For details, visit: jocolibrary.org.
Need a Break From All That Reading? There’s More at JoCo Libraries!
Your local library isn’t just for bookworms. Check out the many other activities taking place this summer, including movies and games.
What Do Thrill Rides and Giant Tomatoes Have in Common?
They’re Both at the County Fair!
Ignore the stereotype that county fairs are just for farmers and kids in 4-H.
The tradition of the county fair is to bring people together to celebrate a sense of community and showcase the hard work of local gardeners, cooks, photographers, artisans and more. Exhibits are open to the public. Prizes are given in a variety of categories. Have you ever heard someone say they bake a blue-ribbon pie? That’s what they mean!
Most fairs include amusement park rides, special musical performances and contests like demolition derbies and tractor-pulling contests, not to mention giant drinks, foot-long hot dogs, cotton candy and funnel cakes!
Check out the links below to find a county fair near you:
Wyandotte County, KS,Details TBA
Finally, want to connect to the great outdoors? Then do it!
Explore the eclectic range of parks found throughout the KC metro. For the best in green space, playgrounds, trails, sports courts and more, check out our blog post about KC's best parks.
Summer goes way too fast, and the clock’s ticking. On your mark, get set, go wild!