Your great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city is just minutes away with Kauffman Legacy Park Trail and Loose Park Japanese Tea Garden!
Kauffman Legacy Park
In need of a nature break and don’t have the time to take a day trip to the country? Consider Kauffman Legacy Park – an inviting 10-acre expanse of nature nestled in the heart of Kansas City, just east of the Country Club Plaza. Created for the purpose of highlighting native Missouri plants and wildlife, Kauffman Park is a beautifully manicured and maintained nature escape, complete with woods, wetland, and prairie areas. Visitors are able to observe and admire a wide array of plants, insects, birds, and small mammals that call Missouri home. The park also features curated garden beds that demonstrate the many unique ways native plants can be incorporated into home landscape designs.
Kauffman guests may explore the grounds further with a stroll down a winding walking trail that meanders further into the lovely park. This mile-long pathway is paved and flat, enabling an easy and relaxing walk through nature. A portion of the trail follows Brush Creek, then looping around Legacy Lake where lucky visitors may see Canadian geese making a stop during their annual migration south in the fall and winter or, in the spring, broods of baby goslings.
The trail continues to the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden, where visitors can view even more botanicals, many native to the Midwest, and many striking exotic plants. Leashed dogs are welcome on the walking trail but are not permitted to enter the Memorial Garden. There’s also a nature-oriented play area, Sycamore Station, for children to enjoy while visiting the park. The Brush Creek Trail may also be accessed from the Kauffman trail; a turn at that intersection will lead visitors on a short walk to the Country Club Plaza.
During your visit to the Kauffman Legacy Park, don’t miss the Anita Gorman Conservation Discovery Center. There you’ll find a variety of interesting exhibits showcasing Missouri’s many natural environments and their history. The Missouri Department of Conservation manages and maintains the Conservation Center and provides free nature education for both children and adults. The Gorman Conservation Discovery Center also hosts a changing lineup of nature programs for participation of guests of all ages. Their programs range from learning about native plants to learning new outdoor skills The Conservation Center is free to visit and is open Tuesday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. You can learn more about their upcoming events here!
Loose Park Japanese Garden
If you’re in search for a peaceful place to relax and meditate in nature, look no further than the Japanese Garden in Loose Park. The Japanese Garden is open to visitors during regular park hours and is located directly next to the Loose Park Garden Center.
Kansas City received this beautiful garden back in 2006 as part of a cultural exchange with “Sister City” Kurashiki in Japan. The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the city-sisterhood between Kansas City and Kurashiki. Kurashiki is Kansas City’s second-longest Sister City relationship (after Sister City Seville, Spain – celebrating a 55-year relationship as of 2022). Fun fact: Kansas City has a total of 12 Sister Cities throughout the world!
Famed Japanese garden designer, Koji Morimoto, helped with the planning and construction of the Japanese Garden. Morimoto is also known for helping design the Kay McFarland Japanese Garden at the “World Famous” Topeka Zoo!
Within Loose Park’s Japanese Garden, you’ll find a soothing ornamental fountain, large boulders, and beautiful ground cover shrubs donated at the time of the garden’s dedication. This cozy garden is accessed through a bamboo gate on the south side of the garden center. A plaque commemorating the cultural exchange is located to the right of the entry.
Along with the beautiful outdoor garden, the park also received a traditional Japanese Tea Room, located within the Garden Center. Here, guests can take part in a traditional Japanese Tea ceremony hosted by an official Tea Master. Be advised, the Tea Ceremony space is intimate, with room for only three participants. The ceremony lasts around 2 hours and guests sit on pillows on tatami mats. Unfortunately, the Tea Room was closed down during the global pandemic – but supporters are working to reopen the space as soon as it is possible.
The Heart of America Japan-America Society‘s “Friends of the Japanese Tea Room and Garden” workgroup hosts monthly Saturday morning work sessions from March through November to assist Parks and Recreation and Loose Park staff in the cleanup and maintenance of the garden.