Location: 4701 East Gregory Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri
Cost: Free Ages: Good for all ages.
Hours of Operation: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM.
Closed Sunday & Monday
Contact for setting up programs or groups:
Friends of Lakeside Nature Center, Inc
This is the reason I like Kansas City, little nuggets like this place. In all the things we have done over the last 2 years, I did not know about Lakeside Nature Center. It's located by the zoo. I've been hiking all over this place but have never been here.
Although when I say "little nugget" I don't mean to imply that this place is small, it's not. It is a huge building that contains the nature center, picnic area and hiking trail near Swope Park.
Let's start with the Nature Center as it is probably the first thing you want to do when you get there. The nature center is really well done and it may be hard to describe. First off, everything seems very hands on for the kids, which I always love. There are bones and fossils that the kids can play with. There are things that they can climb. There is a play area with books and games. There are little doors that they can open to see the animals. There is a kid friendly microscope that they can look at feathers through and other things. Really impressive and really well presented.
Next of course are the animals and there's plenty to see here. Like snakes? You'll get your fill from rattlers to copperheads, all safely tucked behind glass. Like fish and turtles? Got those galore and their aquariums are pretty well done. They have the best, and I mean best, snapping turtle I have ever seen. This thing is huge, atleast 3 feet long. We saw it when it was napping and I swear I thought it was fake, just laying in the water. Then it moved. Very cool and the best one I have seen at any nature center. And if you like the creepy crawlers--they have them too. Scorpions, spiders and cockroaches--man those freak me out. They also have a collection of birs--vultures, hawks, etc, that they have rescued. And Jeff the squirrel. Who doesn't like Jeff the squirrel. Note: my kids call all squirrels Jeff.
Finally, we were lucky enough to attend a presentation held by Ms. Sharon Goff. The kids absolutely loved this. Ms. Goff brought out a rabbit and let the kids pet it. She also brought out a snake and told the kids about that as well and let them pet it. Ms. Goff was patient with all of them and put on a first class presentation. I would highly recommend calling her or emailing her (info at top) if you are bringing a group down.
The next stop is the picnic area and I like putting stuff like this in here to help you plan your day. It is a large picnic area with heavy duty picnic tables. It is well covered and is neat the woods so the kids can play when you are done eating.
There is a hiking trial that is connected to the Center but I won't write about that here, it will be it's own blog as we were so impressed with it.
All in all, this is one of the places in Kansas City I would take out of town visitors to if they have kids. It will blow their socks off and it's free, what's better than that? I highly recommend to anyone who wants to get into nature and do some hiking. Tell Jeff the Squirrel we said hi.