There are many ways to enjoy Kansas City on a budget, most of which go very well for travelling families. The city has acres of lush parks that are excellent for leisurely strolls, picnics, and sports on sunny days. Art lovers can enjoy free admission to many galleries and museums on certain days of the month – these venues also host fun yet educational activities for all ages to enjoy.

    Kansas City has 200 official fountains, many of which dot Country Club Plaza, Crown Center Square and Swope Park. If you want to learn more about the city’s jazz heritage, free performances often take place at jazz clubs in the buzzing 18th & Vine district. We’ve listed some of the best ways to save money in Kansas City – all while still having fun throughout your visit.


    Get around by the KC Streetcar

    Hop on and off this free transport service

    • Budget

    The KC Streetcar travels along a 2.2-mile line between River Market and Union Station in downtown Kansas City. The route has 16 platform stops, passing through popular areas such as the Power and Light District and Crossroads Arts District.

    It provides a convenient and free way of getting around the city centre – the streetcars come every 10 to 15 minutes during peak hours. The KC Streetcar mostly operates until 5 am, so you can enjoy Kansas City’s vibrant nightlife until late and still get back to your hotel without needing to hail a cab.

    photo by Paul Sableman (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Lakeside Nature Center

    See rescued animals at this family-friendly centre

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Photo

    Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park is one of the largest wildlife rescue facilities in the USA. There are around 75 rehabilitated animals, including turkey vultures, hawks, barred owls, and kestrel falcons. You can also take part in community conservation projects and free monthly guided hikes of the area.

    Every Saturday, kids can enjoy the Mother Nature Reads programme, which includes storytelling and craft-making sessions. The centre’s resident animal makes an appearance on special occasions. Visiting the Lakeside Nature Center is free and while most programs require a small fee, they’re usually at no extra cost for kids aged 3 and under.

    Location: 4701 E Gregory Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64132, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 816-513-8960


    Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead

    Where kids can ride ponies and feed farm animals

    • Families
    • Budget

    Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead replicates a traditional family farm of Kansas, housing hundreds of barnyard animals. This 12-acre working farm is open from April to October. Families often come here on weekends and holidays – kids can learn how to milk cows, bottle-feed baby goats, and ride ponies during their visit.

    If you’re travelling on a small budget, visit Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead from 2 pm onwards to enjoy free admission. Every season, the farm also offers 2 free admission weekends – check beforehand for exact dates.

    Location: 13800 Switzer Rd, Overland Park, KS 66221, USA

    Phone: +1 913-897-2360


    photo by Paulmcdonald (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

    Free art-related activities on weekends

    • Budget
    • History
    • Photo

    Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s enormous wealth of creative inspiration is spread across 2 striking buildings, with a collection of 35,000 historical and contemporary artworks across just about every genre and style. You can see medieval stained-glass windows, 21st-century furniture, and ancient Japanese woodblock prints by the legendary Katsushika Hokusai.

    The museum is free to explore, though special exhibitions might require a fee. Every 3rd Thursday of the month, adults can take part in the museum’s Third Thursday: Not So Quiet Night at the Museum event. During the highlight from 6 pm to 9 pm, you can enjoy free live music and art programmes at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. There are also free family-friendly activities on weekends between 1 pm and 4 pm.

    Location: 4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111, USA

    Open: Saturday–Monday from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday–Friday from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 816-751-1278


    photo by Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District

    Browse art at over 40 galleries for free

    • Budget
    • Photo

    Every first Friday of the month, Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District becomes a huge art gallery for everyone to enjoy for free. The trendy neighbourhood has over 40 art galleries offering free entry on this day. Must-visits include The Bunker Center for The Arts, Cerbera Gallery, and Bredin-Lee Gallery. Some galleries even display exhibitions right on the streets, resulting in a colourful sight.

    After you’ve checked out all the trendy artwork, rest your legs at one of Crossroads’ many eclectic cafes and restaurants – expect a festival atmosphere with live performances, food trucks and sidewalk vendors, usually from 5 pm to 9 pm.

    Location: Crossroads, Kansas City, MO, USA


    Boulevard Brewing Company

    Join a free guided tour on Wednesdays

    • Food
    • Budget

    Boulevard Brewing Company was established in 1989, making it one of Kansas City’s oldest and most popular breweries. It costs around $5 per person to join a guided tour of the premise, but it’s free on Wednesdays. During the 45-minute walking tour, you get to learn about its humble beginnings and brewing techniques, as well as enjoy free samples of Boulevard beers in the Tasting Room.

    Note that the tours are offered on a first-come, first-served basis from the Tours & Recreation Center’s Welcome Desk. Boulevard Brewing Company is around 0.7 miles southwest of Union Station Kansas City.

    Location: 2501 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 2 pm to 7 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm (closed Sunday–Monday)

    Phone: +1 816-474-7095


    photo by Paul Sableman (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Money Museum

    See Missouri’s largest cash vault

    • Budget
    • History

    The Money Museum, located in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, offers interactive exhibits that are free for the public. A must-see is the Truman Coin Collection, displaying more than 450 coins that were minted under each USA President. The museum also displays the largest automated cash vault in Missouri – you can see robots carrying tons of money through the vault doors.

    Explore the $40 Million Wall, which features stacks of banknotes or try to lift a gold bar that’s worth around $500,000. At the end of your visit, you’re given a bag of shredded banknotes as a keepsake.

    Location: 1 Memorial Dr, Kansas City, MO 64198, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9.30 am to 4 pm (closed Saturday–Sunday)

    Phone: +1 816-881-2683


    photo by Xnatedawgx (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Free jazz at The Blue Room

    Catch a jamming session on Monday evenings

    • Nightlife
    • Budget

    The Blue Room is a historic jazz club in Downtown’s 18th & Vine district. It’s part of the free American Jazz Museum, where you can explore interactive exhibits and see musical instruments used by iconic artists such as Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald.

    In the evening, you can tap your toes to Kansas City jazz at The Blue Room on Mondays at 7 pm, Thursdays at 7 pm, and Saturdays at 5.30 pm and 8.30 pm. Aspiring musicians often come here with their own instruments for the weekly Blue Monday Jam.

    Location: 1600 E 18th St, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA

    Open: Monday and Thursday from 5 pm to 11 pm, Friday from 5 pm to 1 am, Saturday from 7 pm to 1 am (closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays)

    Phone: +1 816-474-6262


    photo by Jordano53 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

    Explore the park for free on Tuesdays

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Couples
    • Photo

    The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a 300-acre recreational space with over 800 species of plants across 8 natural ecosystems. It has nearly 5 miles of woodchip and paved trails leading to beautiful themed gardens, along with 2 footbridges spanning Wolf Creek that bisect the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

    Families can enjoy the Children’s Discovery Garden, where kids can find their way out of a switchgrass maze, climb to the top of Sky Watch, and see exotic amphibians in the Frog Pond. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Overland Park Farmers Market hosts over 80 vendors selling fresh produce and locally made products. The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens offer free entry to all on Tuesdays – those below 6 years old can enter for free year-round.

    Location: 8909 W 179th St, Bucyrus, KS 66013, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 913-685-3604


    Hallmark Visitors Center

    Get a free star-shaped bow as a souvenir

    • Families
    • Budget
    • History

    The Hallmark Visitors Center is a free museum that’s dedicated to the iconic greeting card company. It has interactive exhibits about Hallmark’s decade-long history and artefacts detailing various card trends from the 20th century to recent times. Check out the J.C. Hall Christmas Trees exhibit, which has a collection of 17 uniquely decorated trees. Make sure to stop by the museum’s bow machine – you can get a free star-shaped bow as a keepsake.

    The Hallmark Visitors Center offers 60-minute guided tours for groups of up to 15. Students can also watch informative films at the onsite theatre and take part in activities such as the Artifact Search and Pop Quiz on Hallmark history. Reservations are required.

    Location: 2450 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9.30 am to 4 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 (816-274-3613

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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