Escape the Crowds: Top Things to Do in Kansas City During NFL Draft Weekend

Want to avoid the NFL draft crowds this weekend?

With the 2023 NFL Draft taking place in Kansas City this week, the city has been flooded with football fans from all over the country. While the event is sure to be exciting, it’s also likely to create a lot of traffic and crowds, making it difficult for locals to enjoy the city’s many attractions and the gorgeous spring weather. Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do in Kansas City that are off the beaten path and away from the hustle and bustle of the draft.

Another great way to avoid the draft crowds is to explore some of Kansas City’s lesser-known foodie attractions. Get out to some farmers’ markets or explore the many local breweries and wineries in the area. Spring is here and it’s time to celebrate our farm to table or farm to (wine) glass options.

Explore Kansas City’s Parks

For those looking for wide open spaces in the warm weather, one option is to explore the city’s many parks and outdoor spaces. Kansas City is home to a number of beautiful parks, including Shawnee Mission Park, Swope Park, and Loose Park.

Shawnee Mission Park covers 1,655 acres, a 120-acre lake, a large off-leash dog park, a disc golf course, and trails galore, whether your walking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Swope Park features expansive green spaces and picnic areas, and of course the Kansas City Zoo. Loose Park is a popular destination, with its rose garden and walking trails. Parkville’s Nature Sanctuary is a hidden treasure with 115 acres with nearly three miles of accessible hiking trails.

Here are a couple, I’m planning to visit now that our April showers are producing May flowers.

Powell Gardens

For those who love nature, Powell Gardens is a must-visit destination. This 970-acre botanical garden features a wide variety of plant life, including a beautiful wildflower meadow and a Japanese garden. Visitors can also take part in educational programs and events throughout the year.

This weekend, you can join their May Day Celebration, score some rare prizes as their Orchid Sale, or explore their Painted Gardens that incorporate local artists into the beauty.

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

The Overland Park Arboretum is another great place to explore nature. This 300-acre park features walking trails, gardens, and a variety of plant life. Visitors can also take part in educational programs, such as birdwatching and gardening classes.

This weekend is your chance to bring some of their nature home to your own backyard oasis. Check out their Spring Plant Sale to show locally grown plant varieties specifically chosen to attract friendly pollinators to your garden while supporting the Arboretum projects and mission.

Tulip Festival at Fun Farm Pumpkin Patch

Venture north to Kearney, Missouri to see their tulip fields alight with color. They’re only in full bloom for one more week, so catch their 40 varieties across 22 acres of land before they’re gone. That’s 1.6 million tulip bulbs! And while you’re there the family can check out over 30 other farm attractions.

Local Breweries, Wineries, and Farmers’ Markets

For those looking to explore outside of the downtown area, there are several other great options for breweries, wineries, and farmers’ markets. Northern Kansas City is home to Cinder Block Brewery and Riverwood Winery, while further south you’ll find Double Shift Brewing Company and Stone Pillar Vineyard and Winery.

But here are a couple special events that caught my eye.

KC Wine Co

KC Wine Company is a family-owned winery located in Olathe, just a short drive from Kansas City. They offer a variety of wines made from locally grown grapes, including reds, whites, and fruit wines.

Visitors can enjoy a tasting in the winery’s charming tasting room or take a tour of the vineyards.

Join them Saturday, April 29 from 2-5(ish)pm for wine, wine slushies, beer and cider plus delicious vineyard snacks while you play Free Music Bingo, featuring music from the 2000s.

Servaes Brewing Co.

Servaes Brewing Company is a small brewery located in Shawnee, a suburb of Kansas City. They specialize in Belgian-style beers, but also offer a variety of other styles. The taproom is cozy and inviting, with a friendly staff and a laid-back atmosphere.

This weekend they’re celebrating their fourth anniversary with four days of events including special flights, food trucks, and pop-up shops. They’ve even got a sourdough doughnut pairing on Sunday. Yum!

Overland Park Farmers’ Market

The Overland Park Farmers’ Market is a bustling market that features a variety of local vendors selling fresh produce, meats, baked goods, and other artisanal products. The market just started opening for the season on Saturdays from 7:30-1:00 pm and is a great place to stock up on locally grown ingredients for a picnic or barbecue.

It’s consistently named one of the best farmers’ markets in the country, and if you haven’t been before it’s time for you to discover why.

Support the KC Chiefs from afar

If you love the Chiefs but not the kingdom-sized crowds of the entire NFL fandom, there are plenty of options for you to support your local community this weekend. Wear your Chiefs gear to show your team pride, and explore the wider metro area, and enjoy the sunshine.

FAQ About the NFL Draft

Here’s some more information about the NFL Draft and why it’s such a big deal. Know more so you can avoid the crowds its bringing to the city.

What is the NFL Draft?

The National Football League Draft is an annual event where all 32 NFL teams recruit (or draft) young players for their teams. Each team is given a position in the drafting order in reverse order relative to its record in the previous year, which means that the last place team is positioned first and the Super Bowl champion is last. From this position, the team can either select a player or trade its position to another team for other draft positions, a player or players, or any combination thereof.

There are seven rounds in the draft, and, as of now, the Kansas City Chiefs have 10 picks they can use to add young talent to their team.

When does the NFL Draft start?

The 2023 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 27 and ends on Saturday, April 29. The first round will take place on Thursday at 7:00 pm, with rounds two and three on Friday and the last four on Saturday, ending around 6:00 pm. So expect our out-of-town visitors to be here for the duration of the weekend.

Where in Kansas City is the NFL draft taking place?

The 2023 NFL Draft is in the area around Union Station and the National WWI Museum and Memorial, with the big events happening on a specially constructed stage in front of Union Station.

Friday night is Kelce Fest, a nearly sold-out music festival at Azura Amphitheater featuring Machine Gun Kelly.

The Power and Light District will be Draft party all weekend long. Performances from country artist Lainey Wilson and local artist Tech N9ne, opportunities to meet former Chiefs and more are on the schedule at the KC Live! Block. Every day is free to attend.

The Hispanic Economic Development Corporation is hosting a free event underneath the I-35 Bridge and across from the old HEDC building on 2130 Jefferson St. Watch the draft on a large projector, listen to live music, and enjoy the local food trucks and vendors.

You can bet on dozens of local watch parties at your favorite sports bars throughout the area. See a longer list here.