31 great fall activities in KC, from Halloween festivals to just-opened museum shows
Are you ready for fall?
We sure are. Especially after looking through the calendar of awesome fall events planned in KC.
Autumn 2021 is going to be epic in KC, as people emerge from both quarantine and sizzling summer heat to hit museums, concerts and haunted houses.
Grab bag! Five of our absolute favorites
Exiled in Bonner springs
Wear your hiking shoes because this frightening trail in Bonner Springs is a mile long and not for the faint of heart. Upon entering the trail, you’ll be given a small red flashlight to help you navigate your way through unpredictable terrain. Ghouls hide at every turn, and every few yards the nightmare shifts into a new form. It takes about twenty minutes to get through the trail: There’s even an abandoned school bus lodged between trees that you’ll have to climb through. 12829 Loring Road, Bonner Springs. exiledkc.com.
KC Bier Co. Oktoberfest
Kansas City’s largest locally owned brewery focuses on traditional lagers, and this year brings back its beloved Oktoberfest, a weekend of giant steins, polkas and lederhosen at Crown Center. The official bier of the fest is a malty Vienna-style lager, and among the entertainment scheduled are the promisingly named Bram Wijnands’ Polka on Steroids. General admission tickets are $10, VIP is $55. Small mugs are $3.
In the center of the “Missouri Rhineland,” Oktoberfest in Hermann gives you the feel of a small German village without actually traveling to Germany. The nearly fifty-year tradition celebrates the town’s German roots and wine history every weekend in October. experiencehermann.com.
Worlds of Fun Halloween Haunt
Is one haunted house not enough? Well, then, Worlds of Fun’s Halloween Haunt is your place. During select nights from mid-September through Halloween, the theme park transforms into a nightmarish scene where you’ll encounter scare mazes and zones filled with hundreds of monsters. Each zone has a different theme, from clowns to voodoo to corn killers, and they’re just as good as KC’s West Bottoms haunts. Need more screams? Hop on a roller coaster and you’ll be leaving the park with a non-functioning voice box. worldsoffun.com.
Shawnee Town 1929’s Historical Hauntings
Johnson County’s historic village, Shawnee Town, hosts a one-night Halloween party that has many of the same attractions you’ll find at commercial pumpkin patches, but for just one dollar per activity. On Saturday, October 26, from 6 pm to 8:30 pm you can trick or treat, take a hayride or enter the costume contests. 11501 W. 57th St., Shawnee.
Five can’t-miss fall concerts
Ludacris at the Tacos & Tequila Festival
Legends Field, the home to the new Monarch’s minor league ball club, will have a daylong festival with tacos, tequila and the patron saint of road rage, Ludacris. They will ROLL OUT more than fifty different tacos and forty types of margs—get one and move out the way. Twista, Mario, Bobby Valentino and Petey Pablo are also on the bill. Saturday, September 25. Legends Field, 1800 Village West Parkway, KCK. $39–$99.
Ben Folds with the Kansas City Symphony
The standout rock pianoman of his generation will perform both alone and with the Kansas City Symphony on the In Actual Person Live For Real Tour, one of the first large-capacity events at the Kauffman Center since the pandemic began. Folds has long been a great live act. Tuesday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 6. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., KCMO. $70-$160.
Pitbull and Iggy Azalea
For elder millennial clubgoers, this show on the I Feel Good tour is sure to be a therapeutic night. It’s been about a decade since the Miami and Australian pop-rappers were at their peak, but both seem eager to get back on the road. Wednesday, October 6. Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, KCMO. $40-$150.
Primus covers Rush
A virtuosic jam-adjacent alt rock band covers the hits of a virtuosic jam-adjacent classic rock band in this show on this tour, a hesher’s dream. Saturday, October 9. Grinders, 1826 Locust St., KCMO. $40-$99.
Korean-American indie-pop act Japanese Breakfast, the musical project of Michelle Zauner, is on a steep upward trajectory. Zauner’s memoir, Crying In H Mart, debuted at number two on the New York Times’ bestseller list in April, and her new album, the joyful Jubilee, is drawing rave reviews. Saturday, October 9. The Granada Theater, 1020 Massachusetts St., Lawrence. $25.
6 great art and museum shows in KC
In its ninety years, the Plaza Art Fair has only had two disruptions. The first was during the flood of 1977, which happened just ten days before the fair was set to take place. Then, organizers pulled through to still make it happen. The second was last year, when Covid peaks prompted the fest to cancel. Luckily, the beloved nine-block fair is back in its original form this year. September 24-26. Country Club Plaza.
From his headquarters in Osawatomie, abolitionist John Brown led the anti-slavery side of the Bleeding Kansas confrontations that presaged the Civil War. A traveling exhibit dedicated to him will be on display at Lawrence’s Watkins Museum of History in September and October and will explore everything about his tumultuous history, from his early life in Ohio to his role in the Harpers Ferry raid that sparked the Civil War. 1047 Massachusetts St., Lawrence.
August marked Missouri’s two hundredth year in business, and to celebrate, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art will display a collection as an ode to the bicentennial. Runs September 16–February 20. 4420 Warwick Blvd., KCMO.
One of Nelson-Atkins’ fall displays, Art of Illusion, is an eye-trickery display of photography by twenty-five artists who did not have the help of darkroom manipulation or Photoshop. Think of it like a more talented Leaning Tower of Pisa photo opp. Runs October 22–April 25. 4525 Oak St., KCMO.
Nelson-Atkins itself is the subject of another fall exhibit from the museum. Origins showcases pieces from the Nelson’s first ten years of existence, which explores the early identity, decisions and people behind the Kansas City institution. Runs August 14–March 6. $18. 4525 Oak St., KCMO.
Through the works of local artists, With Liberty and Justice runs at Charlotte Street will tell stories of important moments in American history and how they relate to the inequities of and infliction of violence on people of color while also recognizing the hope for progress and justice that the future holds. September 10-October 23. 3333 Wyoming St., KCMO.
Four great spots for pumpkins, doughnuts and cider in KC
Louisburg Cider Mill
The iconic red face of the Louisburg Cider Mill and its waterfall of apples are the symbols of eastern Kansas autumn. The annual Ciderfest returns this year with an inflatable slide and pony rides for all kids. Venture through the ten-acre corn maze, or pick out handcrafted gifts at the arts and crafts booths. And you can’t forget the doughnuts and cider, hot or cold. 14730 K-68 Highway, Louisburg, KS.
Faulkner’s Ranch in Raytown is a rowdy, country-fried alternative to more demure pumpkin patches, boasting several large bouncy attractions, pony rides, petting goats and a corn cannon that blasts cobs across a pond. There are also fresh doughnuts and chilled cider for sale. October 1-31. 10600 Raytown Road, KCMO.
Deanna Rose Farmstead
Deanna Rose Farmstead in south Overland Park has its own annual Pumpkin Hollow event. There’s a lot of hay to be had: a horse-drawn hayride, a hay pyramid and a hay slide. There’s also a spider web maze, lawn games and pumpkins for sale. October 1-31. 10 am-3 pm weekdays, 10 am-4 pm weekends. 13800 Switzer Road, Overland Park.
Carolyn’s Pumpkin Patch
Tucked away between highways 210 and 291, the Raasch family provides fall family fun at Carolyn’s Pumpkin Patch and the Liberty Corn Maze. From wagon rides to petting zoos, the two attractions aren’t tailored only to younger visitors. At the Liberty Corn Maze, you can enjoy Sauced and Lost, an adults-only event combining beer tasting, campfire rentals and mazes at night. There’s also local wine and pumpkin doughnuts. 17607 N.E. 52nd St., Liberty, MO. carolynscountrycousins.com.
Field Days: Big upcoming contests for each of KC’s pro teams
Chiefs vs. Browns
Tyreek Hill is talking 20-0. Andy Reid has a sparkling 7-1 record in openers with the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes has never lost a game in September. Career backup Chad Henne beat these Browns in the playoffs. The offensive line that fell apart in the touchdown-less Super Bowl nightmare has been fixed. Chiefs fans begin the season confident the “New Patriots” are headed back to the Super Bowl. By about 7 pm, that will look likely or it won’t. Sunday, September 12. 3:35 pm. GEHA Field.
Royals vs. Twins
It’s been a season of disappointment for both the Royals and the Twins, who expected to be contending for the division title in this series and instead look extremely likely to play game 162 for pride. But if you’ve never been to a season-ender, you should. It tends to have a great atmosphere, as the most loyal of fans gather to celebrate the team and the sport before the winter break. Sunday, October 3. 2:10 pm. Kauffman Stadium.
Sporting vs. Real
Sporting KC has looked great through the first half of the MLS season and gets to end the regular season at home against hated rival Real Salt Lake. A playoff appearance should follow shortly thereafter and, hey, maybe a third cup. Sunday, November 7. 5 pm. Children’s Mercy Park.
Mavericks vs. Heartlanders
The Mavericks hockey club started last season strong before a late collapse ended their playoff hopes early. Mavericks owner Lamar Hunt Jr. is anything but quick on the trigger, but big changes followed, with the club sacking the only GM they’ve ever had along with their fourth-year coach. This is the start of a new era against Iowa’s ECHL club. Saturday, October 23. 7 pm. Cable Dahmer Arena.
Three spots to do a little ghost hunting this fall
Wornall/Majors House Museums
The Alexander Majors House on State Line Road is one of only four surviving antebellum homes in the city, built by the proprietor of an overland shipping company that helped supply western settlers and co-owned the Pony Express. Along with the John Wornall House, which was used as a hospital during a bloody Civil War battle, it’s now a museum that offers seasonal ghost tours. wornallmajors.org.
Fort Osage National Historic Landmark
Fort Osage was built in 1808 under the supervision of William Clark as a trade center and military garrison. With much history happening in the Fort, including the travels of Lewis and Clark, the War of 1812 and more, paranormal investigators take visitors along for a look. October 9-30. fortosagenhs.com.
Voluntarily getting spooked sounds a lot more fun with a glass of dry red in hand, doesn’t it? Belvoir Winery, which occupies the former Odd Fellows District on a two-hundred-forty-acre farm in Liberty, was a charity residence for poor orphans, widows and elders in the early twentieth century. Grab some vino in the main tasting room and walk the trails throughout the property, where you can get a peek into the estate’s abandoned living quarters. Monthly guided paranormal investigation tours are also offered. 1325 Odd Fellows Road, Liberty, MO.
Three spots for great fall hikes around KC
For hikers who crave traditional dirt trails, Kansas City’s many paved and crushed limestone trails aren’t quite right for scratching the itch. Swope Park is one of the city’s forgotten gems—as you’ll find on the three-mile Rancho D-Lux Loop via Wudchuk Run. Park at the Wudchuk trailhead at the foot of the hill on Oakwood Road and then hike uphill to the Sweet Suite yurts, then head west along the glade. There’s only about a hundred feet of elevation gain, but that’s respectable for an unpaved trail in KC, and the fall colors will pop against the limestone cliffs.
Parkville Nature Sanctuary
Parkville is home to some of the area’s best fall colors, and the city’s Nature Sanctuary offers a nice dense forest and a small waterfall on the trail. The nearly three-mile trail starts at 12th Street off Highway 9 and is open from sunrise to sunset everyday. On October 23, there will be a ghost storytelling at the sanctuary.
Weston Bend State Park is jam-packed with camping, biking and hiking. The West Ridge Trail is the best: A large portion of the two-and-a-half-mile loop abuts the Missouri River and gives hikers amazing sweeping views of the other side of the state line. There’s a lookout point a few feet from the West Ridge Trailhead—we recommend saving this for the end of your hike as a reward for your efforts. The scenic overlook, a planked deck tapered around a tree, gives panoramic views of the state line river and Fort Leavenworth’s clock tower.