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Each week, KCUR's Adventure! newsletter brings you a new way to explore the Kansas City region.

Spend the spring in Kansas City: Unique ways to enjoy the outdoors around the metro

Purple-bloomed red bud trees are backlit by the sun on a green park while a bicyclist rides through them.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A bicyclist pedals through Kauffman Legacy Park's blooming redbud trees on April 12, 2023.

From hiking to horseback riding, Kansas City has a wealth of options to suit your activity level and get you the sunshine and fresh air you crave.

This story was first published in KCUR's Adventure! newsletter. You can sign up to receive stories like this in your inbox every Tuesday.

I don’t know about you, but now that the weather is nice, I’m trying to find any excuse to get outside. It’s that perfect time of year when (if it’s not raining) the temperature is absolutely perfect, the air smells sweet, and the grass is turning green.

Make sure and listen to whatever is luring you outside — studies show that spending time in nature has lots of health benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, being outdoors can lower the risk factors for heart disease. Things like cortisol levels, stress, muscle tension, and your heart rate all decrease when you are in the great outdoors.

Are you convinced to put your sneakers on and catch some rays? Good! Even if you’ve already hiked and biked all of Kansas City’s best trails and joined an adult sports league, there are still lots of ways to enjoy time outside.

Here are some of the most unique ways to get out in nature around Kansas City.

Horsing around

A line of riders on horseback travel through a field.
S&S Stables
S&S Stables hosts trail rides at Hillsdale Lake in Marysville, Kansas.

A great way to reap the benefits of the great outdoors and animals is to go on a trail ride — with a horse! S&S Stables, LLC has some gorgeous trail ride options (52 miles of trail, to be exact) at Hillsdale Lake in Marysville, Kansas.

The stables are about a 40-45 minute drive from Kansas City, but the scenery and horses are worth it.

Trail rides cost $60 for an hour ride per person or $110 for a two-hour ride per person. Children must be 8 years and up, and a rider’s weight can’t exceed 250 pounds.

S&S Stables reserves most weekends for Boy and Girl Scouts, so weekdays are the best time to book your ride. To make a reservation, call Kayla at 913-856-5570.

Zipping through the treetops

People wearing helmets and harnesses navigate wooden and rope bridges between treetop platforms.
Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park
Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park in Swope Park has many options, including a treetop obstacle course.

If you’re looking for a bit of adrenaline, zip lining is a fun way to get out in the woods and take in the sights from a new perspective.

Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park, tucked inside Swope Park, has several exhilarating options. Their Treetop Journey and Treetop Adventure are obstacle courses in the sky, complete with zip lines, suspended bridges, and more.

If heights aren’t your thing, Go Ape also offers some fun activities on the ground, like ax throwing and Forest EscAPE to test your problem-solving skills.

Zip KC also has a lot of fun activities to choose from. Located in Bonner Springs, Kansas, about 25 minutes from the metro, Zip KC has more than a mile of zip lines, so you can pick up some serious speed. Riders buzz over beautiful scenery, reaching speeds as high as 50 mph.

In addition to Zip KC’s nine ziplines, they also offer a Ninja Training Obstacle Tour and Team Building Course for groups and a Sunset Date Night Tour for couples.

Just kiddin'

A row of people on colorfully striped towels are on their hands and knees with baby goats on their backs.
Falling Down Ranch
Falling Down Ranch hosts goat yoga classes.

A few years ago, a new fad took the country by storm: goat yoga. And as silly as it may sound, goat yoga is still really popular and a great way to get active and enjoy some adorable animals. Similar to being outside, spending time with animals has a ton of health benefits, too — so why not do a bit of both?

GoatYogaKC, led by goat enthusiast and yoga instructor, Mindy Pickett, hosts several pop-up goat yoga sessions around town. On May 25, Pickett and the goats will be at Stonehaus Winery in Lee’s Summit. On May 26, they’ll be at Bourgmont Winery in Bucyrus, Kansas.

Pickett’s classes cost $30 per person and are for all yoga experience levels. The goats are miniature Nigerian fainting goats, so they look like fluffy little babies. The best way to catch one of Pickett’s classes is by following her on social media or checking her Eventbrite page.

Falling Down Ranch is another great place to get your goat yoga fill — especially if you want to spend some time on a farm, too. Located in Greenwood, Missouri, Falling Down Ranch raises fainting goats. The goats love people, and they view the yoga class attendees as the perfect live jungle gym.

Shelia Patten, who owns and operates Falling Down Ranch with her family, hosts classes from Thursday-Saturday. Tickets are $25 per person. You can find class offerings and tickets on Patten’s Eventbrite page.

If goats aren’t your thing, or you’d like to enjoy the company of animals without them climbing on your body or touching you, you should try Yoga at the Zoo, hosted by the Kansas City Zoo Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers and yoga instructor Daisy Chavez.

Classes are currently scheduled from May through August. They happen once a month, generally on Tuesdays, and take place at a different animal enclosure on the public walkways at the Kansas City Zoo. Before the class, enjoy a formal zookeeper chat.

Unlike goat yoga, where the animals roam around you, the zoo animals stay separate from class members. It would be kinda scary to do yoga with a tiger… so enjoy doing yoga near a tiger!

The classes cost $20 per person and proceeds go to conservation efforts. To buy tickets or see date offerings, go to the KC AAZK’s Eventbrite page. The next class is Tuesday, May 2 in front of the tiger enclosure.

More to explore in Kansas City

Dark Sky Missouri (part of the International Dark-Sky Association) offers suggestions for stargazing locations in Missouri and its state parks.
Bryce R. Bradford
Dark Sky Missouri (part of the International Dark-Sky Association) offers suggestions for stargazing locations in Missouri and its state parks.

These are just a few of the outdoor activities around Kansas City that keep us moving all year long.

Exploring Kansas City by canoe, kayak or paddleboard gives you a close-up view of our region’s waterways, especially during summer. It’s a quick skill to pick up and offers a different perspective of the city, as our Adventure writer Libby Hanssen details in her guide to paddling Kansas City rivers, lakes and waterways.

Appreciating our region’s geology can be a fascinating way to spend time outdoors. Of course, there are state parks, like Elephant Rocks State Park in southeast Missouri and Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park in western Kansas. Closer to home, Lakeside Nature Center hosts Fox Hollow Trail, a loop trail that takes you along Bethany Falls limestone boulders, which you can learn about in this geological journey around our region.

Birdwatching is another outdoor activity with an easy point of entry that can transform into a lifelong hobby. All you need is stillness, observation, and perhaps a pair of binoculars. Check out this guide to birdwatching in Kansas City, with info on where to go and how to get started.

This week is a great time for stargazing around Kansas City, as the Lyrid meteor shower takes place April 15-29. The meteor shower peaks on April 22 between moonset and sunrise, and viewing conditions will be favorable. Libby Hanssen has tips for finding the best stargazing sites around Kansas City.

Closer to home, Kansas City is host to hundreds of fountains, and our tour of Kansas City fountains takes you from the iconic to the obscure. Also returning this year is Kansas City’s Parade of Hearts, a popular public art installation of 5-foot-tall heart sculptures designed by Kansas City artists. You’ll start seeing the hearts soon in downtown Kansas City and in other parts of the metro.

Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga reports on health disparities in access and health outcomes in both rural and urban areas.
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