DESCRIPTION: At 1,805 acres, Swope Park is the crown jewel of the Kansas City, Mo., park system. As Kansas City's largest park, and one of the largest urban parks in the United States, Swope Park is home to many of Kansas City’s finest attractions. The park has two golf courses, the Lakeside Nature Center, extensive sporting areas, horseback-riding trails, picnic and fishing areas and a day camp for kids. Hiking enthusiasts can venture along the hill south of the Lake of the Woods for a scenic hiking adventure.
ADDRESS: Meyer Boulevard and Swope Parkway, Kansas City, Mo.
LOCATION: Swope Park is located approximately 20 minutes southeast of downtown Kansas City.
ANNUAL ATTENDANCE: 1.8 million
WEB SITE: www.kcmo.org, click on “Parks & Recreation.”
HOURS: Swope Park is open seasonally from dawn until dusk. Check with specific attractions for hours.
ADMISSION: Free to get in the park. Some attractions, such as the Kansas City Zoo and Starlight Theatre, charge admission fees. Check with specific attractions for prices.
HISTORY: When he arrived in Kansas City in 1857, Thomas H. Swope immediately began investing in land. His quick success from buying and selling real estate allowed him to donate a piece of land for a city hospital to be built. His largest donation came in 1896, when he gave 1,334 acres of land along the Blue River to the city. He had intended to turn the land into a farm. The undeveloped land was named Swope Park, and there was such excitement in the city at the announcement of the donation that a city-wide holiday was declared. In following years, a zoo and a golf course would be formed on the donated land.
It was Swope’s wish to be buried in Swope Park. Swope’s remains were buried under a stone slab at the center of the terrace that makes up the Swope Memorial. A brass depiction of his face is affixed to a wall inside the mausoleum. The memorial is reminiscent of a Greek temple with granite columns. Two sculpted lions sit on either side of the memorial. Located at one of the highest points in Swope Park, it is clearly visible from the entrance.
WHERE TO GET LUNCH: There are several restaurants inside the Kansas City Zoo, such as Rafiki Restaurant, in the Africa section, and Bluey’s Grill, in the Australia section.
WHAT’S NEARBY: The trendy Brookside neighborhood is minutes away and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a 10-minute drive north.
ANNUAL SPECIAL EVENTS: Jazzoo is the Kansas City Zoo’s largest fundraiser. It helps raise support for children’s educational programs and feeds the zoo’s more than 1,000 animals. The event features delicious bites from more than 60 Kansas City restaurants, beverages from numerous bars and continuous music throughout the zoo.
The annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival is held in August in celebration of Kansas City's rich cultural tapestry, bringing together diverse groups of people and unique customs from all over the world for a weekend extravaganza that includes food, dancing and music.
DID YOU KNOW: Swope Park is home to two tennis courts, three playgrounds, 10 shelter houses, six baseball diamonds, three cricket fields and four soccer fields.
DON’T FORGET: Get plenty of exercise on the two-mile Fox Hollow exercise trail. Or, bring your bike and challenge yourself to either the 1.37-mile standard bike trail or the 3.35 miles of mountain bike trails. For group exercise, check out the disc golf course.
From the north: Take US-71 South. Take the 63rd Street exit. Turn left on Meyer Boulevard. Turn right to stay on Meyer Boulevard. Meyer Boulevard becomes Starlight Road.
From the south: Take US-71 North. Take the 63rd Street exit. Turn left on Meyer Boulevard. Turn right to stay on Meyer Boulevard. Meyer Boulevard becomes Starlight Road.
From the east: Take I-70 West. Merge onto I-435 South. Exit on 63rd Street. Turn left on Swope Parkway. Turn left on Starlight Road.
From the west: I-70 East. Keep left to take I-670 East. Merge onto US-71 South. Take the 63rd Street exit. Turn left onto Meyer Boulevard. Turn right to stay on Meyer Boulevard. Meyer Boulevard becomes Starlight Road.
PARKING: Park parking is free, except for the lot at Starlight Theatre on performance nights.
PUBLIC RELATIONS CONTACT: Heidi Downer, director of marketing, Kansas City Parks and Recreation. 816-513-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.