As we drive toward the Plaza on 71 North, Spence points out a sign for the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center. I see nothing resembling a conservation center as I look out the passenger side window, just the concrete jungle of Kansas City which makes me wonder what the discovery center is and how it can survive here.

A red-eared slider turtle enjoys the Anita B. Gorman marsh

Although I’ve tried to remember the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center on our shared days off, it’s always slipped my mind. But finally, I thought of it on a Friday afternoon before making an impromptu grocery run to get oranges for our new oriole feeder. Although there were no scheduled activities for the day, Spence, the girls and I had a blast checking out the living and taxidermied animals, replicated skulls and wandering through the gardens filled with native Missouri plants.

Reila and I crossing the bridge across the marsh at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center

In true environmentally-friendly fashion, the building utilizes both geothermal and solar energy while a “Living Machine” resembling a cascading waterfall treats the building’s wastewater for reuse. Reclaimed wood is featured throughout. The entryway is stocked full of educational literature free for the taking about everything from identifying birds and fish and attracting pollinators to your personal garden to bear safety. Also available is each and every issue of this year’s Xplor Magazine, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s magazine for kids.

A 29-foot-long canoe carved from a cottonwood tree by Platte County chainsaw artist T.J. Jenkins in 2015

We were also able to pick up our Kansas City Passport to Adventure here at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, which is the first alphabetically-listed participating location. If you live in the Kansas City area or plan to visit with children, make sure you pick one of these up. The passport features 24 historical sites, museums and nature centers. Each site has a question. Find the answer and you’ll earn a stamp for your passport. Collect 12 and you can enter for a grand prize drawing held in November!

Two bullfrogs chilling at the Anita B. Gorman marsh

The Discovery Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It is also open on the first and third Saturdays of the month from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and has extended hours on the first and third Tuesdays, when it stays open until 7:00 PM. Beginning July 1st, however, they will be open Saturdays instead of Mondays.

There are tons of events for both kids and adults at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, like the Little Acorn program where they take children aged three to eight go on a nature walk complete with storytime.

Welcome to Sycamore Station

Reila, who will be two in August, had a blast exploring the hummingbird and butterfly gardens, hopping into a Lewis & Clark inspired canoe, climbing stumps and branches in Sycamore Station and watching bullfrogs, turtles and dragonflies at the marsh. Signs across the eight acres of land teach visitors how to make the most of their personal gardens by incorporating native plants and moving water.

Even our grumpy four-month-old, Asena, had fun at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center

The gardens are open from dusk ’til dawn with an official closing time of 10:00 PM. Whether you’re looking for a place to let your little ones play, fit in exercise during a lunch break or take a romantic stroll with someone special, the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center is a great place to consider. It is both stroller and ADA accessible. People of all ages will love it!

Also, huge shoutout to Spennie for capturing this great adventure. He takes great photos. Doesn’t he, folks?

Leave a comment if you’ve been to the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center before or if you plan to go. I’d love to hear about past events you’ve attended or any you’re planning on going to.

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