how to take the kc streetcarYesterday I ventured out with all 3 of my kids to take advantage of the free KC Streetcar. We lived in Madrid, Spain for 2 years and there are many days that I desperately miss hopping on a bus or subway to get around. Even with kids. Yes, even with kids!  So to the River Market we went for an afternoon of adventure.

You guys . . . I feel like I basically just discovered the perfect kid friendly KC adventure. I spent a little more than 2 hours downtown and didn’t spend a dime while the kids had an absolute blast. So I want to share what I think is the PERFECT way to utilize the KC Streetcar with kids for a half day of  (free) fun in Kansas City.

If you’re coming from the North . . .

Northlanders, you’ll want to park at the River Market. Depending on what time of the day or week you go, finding a free parking spot shouldn’t be too hard. Take note that if it’s a weekday, most spaces will only allow you 2 hours of free parking, though.

Step 1:
Get on any of the River Market Streetcar stops. There are 3:

River Market North-near the north entrance of the City Market.

River Market West-near Quay Coffee.

City Market-near The Opera House and the main City Market entrance.

kc streetcar butonPeople on the streetcar will probably push the button to open the doors, but if it’s a fairly empty car, you simply need to push the little round button on the doors to open them.

Ride the streetcar all the way until you get to the Metro Center stop which is right before Cosentino’s. Be sure you press any of the red STOP buttons on the streetcar to let the driver know you want to get off at the Metro Center stop.

Step 2: Get off at the Metro Center Stop and walk down Mainstreet to the crosswalk. You’ll see Cosentino’s directly across the street. Cross the street (or run if you’re a 6-year-old boy) and head back up Mainstreet on the East side. There is a door directly past Cosentino’s that leads to a set of elevators that will take you all the way to a rooftop “park.” I am a mean Mom (who needed to burn some serious calories) so I made the kids take the stairs to the top. It was only about 4 flights up. Once we got to the top I let the kids do races around the walking path and explored the rooftop. It’s a great view of Downtown KC from up there. If you’ve ever wanted to have a photo of your kids “in the city” this is a great place to do it.

kc streetcar with kids

Just be sure you watch for dog poo in the grass . . . and of course, for the love of humankind, please teach your kids to not be jerks. People actually live downtown and they use this park for their dogs and their own respite in the city. Let’s make sure they keep letting us suburbanites into their free rooftop park.

After your kids have run out their wiggles, head back to the Streetcar stop where you got off. Or if you’re a fun Mom, let them pick out a cookie from Cosentino’s.

[Tweet “How to take the #KCStreetcar with kids to see everything in downtown Kansas City (for free!)”]

Step 3: Ride the streetcar from Metro Center all the way to the end of the line at Union Station. Once you get to Union Station, there are oh so many choices.

If you’re not opposed to spending money, head into Union Station and visit Science City or the Extreme Screen. There is also a free train exhibit that kids of all ages will love. I’m so serious. My 62-year-old Dad loves it.

If you want to keep the budget-friendly theme going, take the catwalk from Union Station to the  Crown Center. At the Crown Center you can get artsy at Kaleidescope or get imaginative with the ever-changing interactive exhibit at the Crown Center Showplace. In the past, my kids have explored the world of Peter Rabbit, the Wizard of Oz and Curious George.

Of course, if you planned this trip so that you’d land at the Crown Center by lunch time you can pack a lunch and eat out by the fountains or you can buy your own lunch from one of the many eateries. Most kids prefer Fritz’s because who doesn’t love it when a train brings your food to the table??

When you’re ready to head home, walk back to Union Station and get on the streetcar at the same place you got off. (It’s the end of the line.) You can ride it back without stopping or you can make other stops on your way back.

Get off at any of the 3 City Market stops. I recommend you walk through the City Market with your kids to show them the many ethnic restaurants and food available. I obviously highly recommend you buy something delicious for the kids to snack on from any of the fruit vendors. My favorite place is The Habashi House. It takes me back to our days living near the largest mosque in Europe and the summer I spent in Turkey. Whatever you do, use the time to teach your kids that there is a whole other world out there full of people from different cultures.

kc streetcar with kids

If you’re coming from the South . . .

Park at either Union Station or the Crown Center. If you want to visit those places I suggest you do it all at once before you ride the streetcar or save it for after.

Step 1: Get on the streetcar at Union Station. It picks up and drops off on the far east side of the building, almost directly underneath the catwalk. Ride it until the Metro Center stop near Mainstreet and 12th.

Step 2: This is the same for those coming from the North except you get off on the side of the street where Cosentino’s is.  There is a door directly past Cosentino’s that leads to a set of elevators that will take you all the way to a rooftop “park.” I am a mean Mom (who needed to burn some serious calories) so I made the kids take the stairs to the top. It was only about 4 flights up. Once we got to the top I let the kids do races around the walking path and explored the rooftop. It’s a great view of Downtown KC from up there. If you’ve ever wanted to have a photo of your kids “in the city” this is a great place to do it.

Just be sure you watch for dog poo in the grass . . . and of course, for the love of humankind, please teach your kids to not be jerks. People actually live downtown and they use this park for their dogs and their own respite in the city. Let’s make sure they keep letting us suburbanites into their free rooftop park.

After your kids have run out their wiggles, head back to the streetcar stop where you got off. Or if you’re a fun Mom, let them pick out a cookie from Cosentino’s.

Step 3: Get off at the City Market stop. You’ll get off directly in front of The Opera House. Cross the street at the crosswalk and wander through the City Market. You can even go past the City Market and head out to the look out over the river. My oldest loves the Chinatown Market which is just northeast of the City Market. It’s also a fun place to walk through as you can buy fun Chinese candy for your kids and show them the seafood sold in the store.

To get back to your car, get on the streetcar at any of the 3 River Market stops (see above) and keep riding it until you get to Union Station.

kc streetcar with kids

There are many other things you can do from the KC Streetcar without your kids, too. Obviously. I think I’ll plan my next date with my husband for an evening on the KC Streetcar. We may take it from the River Market up to Power and Lights for a dinner at BRGR. On our way back I imagine us kicking back at Kaldi’s Coffee while we laugh about all the parents we see hauling their kids around downtown on a Friday evening while we enjoy a kid free evening. Just kidding, we aren’t that cruel. Maybe . . .

What are the routes you use to enjoy Kansas City using the KC Streetcar? I’d love to hear them!