May 16--Forest Park is nearly twice as big as New York'sCentral Park. It spans 1,371 acres and contains many of the city's biggest tourist attractions, including the zoo, Science Center, Art Museum, History Museum and the Muny. Also find the Jewel Box, the Boathouse at Forest Park (a restaurant and boat rental facility) and the World's Fair Pavilion. Fun activities include bike rentals, fishing, snow sledding on Art Hill and ice skating at Steinberg Skating Rink. Info: 314-367-7275.
The Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the nation's oldest botanical gardens, is home to the Climatron, a geodesic dome that houses 14,000 tropical plants; the 14-acre Japanese Garden; the Children's Garden, which includes a cave, slides and a treehouse; and much more. This summer, the garden also features "Nature Connects," an exhibit of Lego sculptures in the Climatron; the Whitaker Music Festival, an outdoor concert series on Wednesday nights; and the Japanese Festival, an annual cultural event on Labor Day weekend with Japanese food, taiko drummers and sumo wrestlers. Garden admission is $8 for adults, free for children 12 and under. Special exhibits may have an added ticket price.
Creve Coeur Park in Maryland Heights offers a sand beach (volleyball anyone?) boat and bike rentals, zip-lining, picnics, walking trails and more. Kids will love the new Go Ape treetop adventure course, which includes a skateboard zip line ($35-$55).
-- Karen Deer and Jody Mitori, Post-Dispatch
Mill Creek Park can be a tranquil spot to grab a bench and relax, just across J.C. Nichols Parkway from the Country Club Plaza. Or it can be a people-watching bonanza, with pickup soccer games, volleyball tourneys and something called "friz," a flying disc game on bicycles. One loop around the park path, which features exercise stations, is 1.2 miles.
For wider wide-open spaces, Loose Park is nearby, a few blocks south of the Plaza. The 75-acre swath of undulating meadows was formerly a golf course. A pond and fountain sit next to Wornall Road. The park's loop paths are a little under 2 miles. Highlight: Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden, begun in 1931 with recent updates, features some 4,000 roses in 150 varieties.
One of the biggest municipal parks in the country, Swope Park, is more than twice the size of New York'sCentral Park. Its 1,805 acres attract 2 million visitors a year, particularly to the Kansas City Zoo and Starlight Theatre. Don't leave without visiting Lakeside Nature Center, a wildlife rehabilitation and education center (eagles, vultures and owls, oh my) and the Thomas H. Swope Memorial, a 1918 colonnade and the hilltop resting place of Swope, who donated much of the land for the park.
So you want to bike or jog along the Missouri River? Yeah, so do the rest of us, but our waterfront isn't the friendliest. Still, the riverfront below the downtown bluff is way more inviting than just a few a years ago. Go to Second and Main streets in the River Market neighborhood and head north on Main to a pedestrian bridge, at the end of which is a river lookout and an elevator -- really -- down to the Riverfront Heritage Trail.
That's the site of the original Town of Kansas and from there a wide, paved path stretches east through Berkley Riverfront Park.
If you're in the downtown area, you can grab a bicycle for rent at a dozen B-cycle stations from the River Market to Crown Center. A one-day pass is $7, plus a $2 fee every half hour after the first 30 minutes.
-- Edward Eveld, The Kansas City Star
Karen Deer is a ?Home & Away reporter. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/deals and Twitter at twitter.com/kmdeer.
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