One of the Midwest's prettiest cities, the City of Fountains (there are more than 200 in town) has kids covered, with free museums, acres of lovely outdoor parks, affordable attractions, and some of the best BBQ in the country. And best of all, it's easy to navigate, populated by friendly locals, and the site of the region's largest farmers market. To learn more about Kansas City, click here.
While you're there
Sign up for one of the Family Art Sessions at Kaleidoscope, a free hands-on art center for kids sponsored by local greeting-card giant Hallmark, then teach the kids the value of a buck at the Money Museum, located in the Federal Reserve Bank. If there's a train lover in your crew, don't miss the majestic Union Station, a 100-year-old landmark depot, which includes a science museum, theaters, restaurants, and the KC Rail Experience, an interactive museum dedicated to all things locomotive.
Where to stay
Book one of the rooms at the newly remodeled 816 Hotel in Old Westport, one of Kansas City's most historic entertainment neighborhoods. There's a free shuttle to nearby downtown as well as the shops, cafés, and restaurants at the city's famously beautiful Country Club Plaza. Room rates start around $130 per night and include free Wi-Fi and parking, complimentary breakfast (with an omelet bar), and cocktails at the nightly manager's reception.
* All hotel prices are approximate.
Be sure to get a picture of the kids with the iconic, 19-foot-tall Shuttlecocks in front of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, a free and super family-friendly art museum (think hands-on art classes, interactive sculpture, cultural festivals, gallery guides for kids, and more). Later, get in line at Oklahoma Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que, a local institution housed in an old Shamrock gas station on 47th and Mission. Its specialty is pulled pork, but you can't go wrong with anything on the menu, from slow-smoked beef brisket to chicken gumbo to a meaty slab of ribs.