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Child's Play

Families heading to Missouri in March will get schooled on affordable and entertaining getaways for spring break.

Springtime in Missouri means warmer weather, blooming flowers, and a chance to enjoy the state’s many family-friendly attractions for spring break escapes. Kansas City, Springfield, Branson, and St. Louis offer plenty of opportunities for a fun-filled, close-to-home family getaway.

Fireman's Landing

In Title: The Magic House in St. Louis is a favorite with younger children. Missouri Division of Tourism

Above: Families will find 10 attractions inside Fireman’s Landing, a themed area that opened in 2015 at Silver Dollar City. Silver Dollar City

Below: Children and their parents can enjoy weekend pajama parties at Polar Bear Passage in the Kansas City Zoo. Visit KC

Zoo

Missouri’s Largest City

The Kansas City area is home to many family attractions and activities, including Sky Bike in Science City at Union Station, educational opportunities at the Kansas City Zoo, and a trampoline park.

Science City’s Sky Bike allows children and adults to test their balance while seated on a bike that is suspended on a high-wire 30 feet above the ground. There is also The Nature Center, where visitors can observe and interact with a wide variety of animals, and Maze Park, which is a sure brain teaser. The Burns & McDonnell Engineerium focuses on hands-on learning while encouraging career exploration in science, technology, and engineering.

The city’s many museums also provide learning opportunities. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, one of many free museums in the city, would appeal to families with older children. A great place to spend a few hours on a rainy, or sunny, day, Kemper offers mixed media, paintings and photographs, as well as sculptures. The collection ranges in years from 1913 to the present.

Check out the animals at the Kansas City Zoo. Throughout the day, guests can catch live feedings at specific exhibits and sit in for zookeeper chats. Sleepovers at Polar Bear Passage are available.

In nearby Overland Park, Kan., you can jump-start spring break by spending some time at the Urban Air Trampoline Park. Urban Air boasts a 35,000-square-foot indoor playground that features trampolines, foam pit, a Warrior Course, and more.

The Museum at Prairiefire, in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, features many halls and rooms that provide a fun and interesting look at natural history and science. Interactive areas examine animals, dinosaur and mammoth fossils, geology, astronomy, our origins and more.

Missouri’s Music City

Branson is the state’s music capital. Branson has more theater seats than Broadway in New York City. But the live entertainment is only part of this well-rounded family fun destination. There are bumper cars and arcades, go-kart tracks, mini-golf courses, an IMAX movie theater, and other attractions, such as Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

A good family choice for lodging on the Strip (Missouri Highway 76) is the Grand Resort. The 300-room Grand Country Inn has comfortable rooms, plus everything is here – restaurants, shops, and shows. Guests get free admission to the indoor water park, Splash Country. So even if early spring puts a chill in the air, families still can float the lazy river, play water basketball, or relax in hot tubs. There are two covered water slides and a three-story interactive tree house. The Fun Spot, a two-story arcade, rounds out this resort.

Branson’s theme park, Silver Dollar City, is a magnet for families. Don’t let the 1898 theme fool you; the technology behind the roller coasters and other rides is quite impressive. Families can take their turn on the newest roller coaster, Outlaw Run, which can see speeds of around 68 mph. For the younger set, take some time to explore the Grand Exposition. The park’s newest attraction, Fireman’s Landing, opened in 2015 and has 10 additional family-friendly rides everyone can enjoy.

Let the children get close to several species at The Promised Land Zoo. Bottle-feed some of the zoo’s babies – including zebras, camels, goats, and deer – which is included as part of the admission price. For an extra fee, guests can cuddle a sloth or baby tiger.

There is also a foot safari, providing up-close views of baboons, big cats, kangaroos, zebras, and spider monkeys. Purchase food prior to starting the safari, and feed many of the animals you meet on the journey.

Visit Branson Landing downtown on the shores of Lake Taneycomo and take your pick of shops and family-friendly restaurants. After dinner, stop by the Landing Fountain and take in the free water and lights show.

Soaring High in Springfield

Springfield is just north of Branson and provides a good selection of activities for children. Here are a couple of ideas for family fun.

Sky Zone Trampoline Park is Springfield’s premiere place for children to fly. Open jump provides access to all Sky Zone activities, including the free jump at the main court, the Foam Zone, Ultimate Dodgeball, and Sky Slam (trampoline basketball). Jump times start every 30 minutes. It is recommended to purchase tickets online, especially for weekend visits, as they fill up to capacity quickly.

Springfield’s Discovery Center is an interactive, hands-on museum for kids and adults alike. The Discovery Center provides entertaining and hands-on adventures, including testing your own DNA, digging for dinosaur bones, strolling through the inner workings of a giant eyeball, and rides on a high-wire bike.

Missouri’s Gateway City

St. Louis boasts a good number of free attractions. Many of them – including the Saint Louis Zoo – are located in beautiful Forest Park. The zoo’s new polar bear exhibit, Polar Bear Point, is not to be missed. Another popular exhibit is Penguin and Puffin Coast. There are special areas for the big cats, giraffes, and rhinos.

The Magic House is made for children. At St. Louis’ children’s museum, youngsters will enjoy the bubble room and the construction zone. For great photos, visit the electrically charged ball that will leave hairs on your head standing on end. Math Path will allow grade schoolers to play number games on a huge calculator, as well as explore puzzles and investigate patterns.

St. Louis’ Gateway Arch is undergoing massive renovation, and the interior of the monument – including tram rides to the top – will be closed through March. The Old Courthouse, which is part of this national park complex, is open and worthy of a visit during a spring break getaway.

No matter which portion of the state you choose for spring break this year, Missouri will show your family a great time.

Debra Pamplin is a contributor from Kingsland, Ga.

March/April 2016 Issue

BEFORE YOU GO

For more information, contact:

Visit KC,
(800) 767-7700

Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau,
(800) 296-0463

Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau,
(800) 678-8767

Explore St. Louis,
(800) 325-7962

To visit Missouri, first stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks® and TourBook® guides.

Order free information about Missouri through the Free Travel Information Card found online.


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