In 1896, philanthropist Thomas H. Swope donated 1,334 acres of land to Kansas City. It was named Swope Park and is the largest park in the city. In the years that followed, the Kansas City Zoo was developed as well as the oldest public golf course in Kansas City.
The park also houses the outdoor Starlight Theatre, Swope Soccer Village sports complex that's a very nice facility containing several soccer fields, Battle of Westport Museum, and Lakeside Nature Center.
Swope Park ranks #61 out of the top 100 city parks in the U.S. sitting on a total of 1,805 acres.
There are numerous nature centers in the State of Missouri, and Swope Park has one of them. It's operated by Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department, and it also performs wildlife rehabilitation.
Swope Park Memorial Golf Course and Heart of America Golf Course
Designed in 1934 by legendary architect A.W. Tillinghast, Swope Memorial Golf Course was once the home of the PGA Tour's Kansas City Open (1949), making it the only public course in the area to have hosted a PGA Tour event. (Source.)
Swope Park includes the Heart of America Golf Course which includes two 9-hole courses and is touted to be one of the largest urban parks in the country. Here, you'll find the River Course and the Rock Course.
In 1949, Swope Memorial Golf Course hosted the Kansas City Open Invitational of the PGA Tour. In 1953, it hosted the United Golf Association National Championship. It was designed by Albert Warren "Tillie" Tillinghast (b. May 7, 1876, d. May 19, 1942) who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2015.
Battle of Westport Museum & Visitor Center
This facility provides information regarding the 1864 Battle of Westport. Civil war buffs will appreciate the visit. This battle is said to have been the largest American Civil War fought west of the Mississippi River. The museum and visitor center is located at 6601 Swope Pkwy. in Kansas City. The museum is open April through October on Thursday through Saturday from 1-5 pm.
Kansas City Zoo is over 100 years old
The Kansas City Zoo opened on 202 acres in 1909. It's located at 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Missouri. In 2023, a new aquarium will be opening. You can even rent the zoo for an evening, birthdays, or a wedding event. Halloween events are usually scheduled during the month of October.
The African Sky Safari ski lift is a fun experience and of course, children still love the Kansas City Zoo Train.
The Kansas City Zoo is home to more than 1,700 animals, representing more than 200 species. (Source.)
Lakeside Nature Center
The Lakeside Nature Center is located at 4701 E. Gregory Blvd. in Swope Park. Here, you can learn more about the local native wildlife. Learn about birds of prey, snakes, amphibians, turtles, fish, and invertebrates.
Lakeside Nature Center has the second largest wildlife rehabilitation program in the state and is the only one in Missouri to combine wildlife rehabilitation with extensive environmental education programming. (Source.)
If you like live performances and plays, you'll enjoy the Starlight Theatre. I've seen concerts and plays here and the experiences were wonderful.
This venue is a popular outdoor theatre that has presented Broadway shows. Starlight Theatre dates back to 1925. While summer is over, you can still catch an event. Click here to see the calendar.
And while there were once 38 other self-producing outdoor theatres in the U.S., today only three remain, making Starlight a landmark not just for Kansas City, but also the whole country. (Source.)
Thanks for reading! In case you're wondering, the largest city park in the U.S. is Chugach State Park in Anchorage, Alaska which covers over 464,318 acres.