Subscribe to our email list
It's the perfect time for a picnic at one of these top spots in Kansas City
It's the perfect time for a picnic at one of these top spots in Kansas City

KC's Best Picnic Spots

This past year was no picnic for anyone, but with warmer weather and the increasing rate of vaccinations, a picnic may be the perfect way to usher in a hopeful Spring. 🌷 It's also a great way to catch up with friends and family in a safe setting.

The Kansas City area boasts plenty of green spaces to host your pastoral feast, and you probably don’t have to travel too far to find a suitable spot. 🏞️

And, designing the perfect picnic meal is now easier than ever. Sure, you can pack a traditional wicker basket with delightful treats, but there are a wealth of ready-made options, too, from farmers markets, food trucks or grab-n-go meals from grocery stores. 🥡 And your favorite restaurant has likely perfected its curbside pickup service, so you can enjoy a gourmet meal just about anywhere. 😋🍽️

Some things to consider when planning your perfect picnic: Determine closest restrooms before deciding on a spot, check for nearby parking (how far do you want to schlep that loaded basket?), and, if you want to bring your canine friend, check for any restrictions — most parks, but not all, allow dogs on leash. 🐕

Here are some ideas for your next picnic — and when you grab your blanket and basket, don’t forget the bug spray, hand sanitizer and sunscreen. Bon appetit! 👨‍🍳

Penn Valley Park and the WWI Museum and Memorial
Pair your picnic with one of the finest views in the city. 🏙️ Penn Valley Park was acquired in 1898, making it one of the oldest public parks in the area. 🏞️ There are some picnic tables along Liberty Memorial Mall, and plenty of green space and shady trees throughout the park to throw down your picnic blanket. The Penn Valley Park shelter, located near the baseball fields, is first-come, first-serve. 

One picturesque spot is on the hill near the statue of the Pioneer Mother, which makes a rustic meal even more meaningful as you sit just a few hundred yards from where the Santa Fe Trail passed.

If you don’t feel like packing a meal, the Over There Cafe, located in the museum, currently has grab-n-go options. It’s open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. when the museum is open.

📍 Penn Valley Park: 2 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, MO.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art & Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park
Sadly, there will be no Big Picnic on the Nelson-Atkins lawn this year, but the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park is a top spot for many Kansas Citians year-round. Rozzelle Court Restaurant is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday-Monday (when the Museum is open) and meals can be boxed for takeout by request. 🥡

To access the restaurant, and the rest of the museum, visitors need to reserve tickets ahead of time. The Nelson-Atkins recently opened up its Art Course for the season, adding a fun dimension to your outdoor entertainment. ⛳ It also announced Tivoli Under The Stars, a Friday night summer movie series. 🎥 The first selection of movies sold out within hours, so stay tuned for the second batch to be announced in early summer.

The area around the Nelson-Atkins is teeming with suitable picnic spots as well, including Southmoreland Park, Theis Park, Kauffman Legacy Park and Gillham Park. 🏞️

📍 Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, MO.

Swope Park
There’s sure to be a perfect place in Swope Park for your picnicking adventure. Most of the picnic shelters can be reserved for a fee with portable restrooms, water fountains and playgrounds nearby. There’s also plenty of open green space for exploring as well as hiking trails. 🥾

Swope Park is home to the Kansas City Zoo, Starlight Theater, Battle of Westport Visitors Center (open April-October, 1-5 p.m.), the Ethnic Enrichment Festival and Lakeside Nature Center. Although the Nature Center is still closed, hiking trails are open, with a picnic shelter at the head of the trail. 🧺

Keep your food and fixings safe by storing them in coolers with plenty of ice. 🧊 Many of the shelters have grills, so don’t forget the charcoal and lighters for your cookout and any necessary utensils. While Kansas City is justifiably called cowtown, just about anything can be grilled: Corn, pineapple, sweet potatoes, asparagus and more. 🌽🍍

Note: Alcohol is not allowed to be sold or consumed in KC Parks, except by permit. 🚫🍺

📍 Swope Park: 3999 Swope Pkwy, Kansas City, MO.

Parkville's English Landing Park
Along the forested banks of the Missouri River in Parkville, Missouri, English Landing Park connects with Platte Landing Park and the Sullivan Nature Preserve. You can reserve picnic shelters and leashed dogs are allowed in the park — with an off-leash dog park in Platte Landing! — but no dogs are allowed in the nature preserve or sanctuary. 🐶

Alcohol consumption is permitted in the park, so this might be a good opportunity to support a local winery or brewery, with something to sip as you contemplate the flow of the "Mighty Mo" as it slips downriver toward Kansas City. Be careful with glass, though, and don’t forget the corkscrew. 🍾🥂

Some folks might still be wary of the traditional picnic potluck and want to avoid sharing utensils. Personal charcuterie boards can be boxed up with a selection of sliced meats, cheeses 🧀 crackers, fruits 🍓 and veggies for a simple, but decadent, snack. 

📍 English Landing Park: 8701 McAfee St., Parkville, MO.

Antioch Park
The oldest park in the Johnson County parks system, Antioch Park has a variety of picnicking options, including shelters, picnic tables, benches and wide open green space. 🏞️ The playground and Dodge Town are great places for kids to roam while adults chat nearby and the ponds and woods offer post-meal explorations. Bonus: The restrooms are centrally located. 🚻

Sandwiches are a picnic staple and there is no better springtime sandwich than the baguette. 🥖 Crispy outside, tender inside, a baguette can be filled with a variety of ingredients sure to taste extra delicious when eaten in the open air, with perhaps a sparkling lemonade to wash it down. 🍋 Prepare sandwiches at home and wrap them in reusable beeswax storage cloth for environmentally-friendly picnic fare. 🐝

📍 Antioch Park: 6501 Antioch Rd., Merriam, Kansas

Support for KCUR comes from

 More Adventures in Kansas City

Bloom Fest: Play Outside

Powell Gardens is celebrating spring with Bloom Fest: Play Outside. The art festival lasts through May 9, and this Saturday, April 17, you can see the Lyric Opera of Kansas City perform. Tickets are $12 for non-members and can be purchased online.
Trails of Kansas: Past, Present and Future

Learn the history of trails across the Kansas plains in this online webinar streaming tonight — Tuesday, April 13 — at 7 p.m. You'll hear the history of the Oregon Trail and learn about the steady growth in the state's recreational hiking trails. Tune in here.

Did you receive this email from a friend? 

This was your 93rd Creative Adventure email from KCUR 89.3. Catch up on our past issues here.

Photo Credits:
1. Kansas City Parks & Recreation
2. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
3. Kansas City Parks & Recreation
4. Flickr | Alex Lang
5. Johnson County Park & Recreation District
Twitter Facebook Instagram
powered by emma