Going to Kansas City, Kansas City here you come? Try these local venues, museums, and hot spots to make this visit one to remember.
Kansas City has a lot to offer to a sports enthusiast, history buff, art lover or shopper. Want jazz? Kansas City has it. Want food? Steak and barbecue restaurants in Kansas City rival the best anywhere. Kansas City is called the City of Fountains because of the beautiful fountains liberally placed around town. Take a look at what Kansas City can offer the traveler and tourist.
- Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Football League
- College Basketball Experience and Collegiate Hall of Fame
- Kansas Speedway
- Kansas City Jazz Clubs and Jazz Museum
- The Power and Light District Nightlife among other amusements
- Shopping at the Country Club Plaza and other quality venues
- Casinos, amusement park and water parks
- Sprint Center for concerts and sports
- World-class art museums
- Cultural features like ballet, symphony and live theater
- Kansas City Zoo
The first thing any air traveler to Kansas City needs to know is that you will be landing in Missouri, not Kansas. Many people think that Kansas City must be in the state of Kansas and they would be half right. Both Missouri and Kansas have a Kansas City and they share a border and the dividing presence of the Missouri River. The natives distinguish the two by calling them KC-Mo and KCK. The larger and arguably the more exciting of the two in Kansas City, Missouri, but both cities and their metropolitan areas have much to recommend them to the visitor. Johnson County in Kansas, a major suburban section of the Metro, is a great area to visit for shopping and restaurants.
Kansas City is one of those towns where renting a car is a good idea. The Metro area is quite spread out, but there are areas where walking makes sense. For example, when staying near the Country Club Plaza, good food and shopping are in easy reach for most walkers, and bus and cab rides to other features are easy to obtain. When flying to Kansas City, remember the airport is not near the center of town, so staying near there, while comfortable, may not be convenient.
Entertainment in Kansas City
Entertainment in Kansas City abounds. Sports enthusiasts find football and baseball seasons exciting, and even soccer fans have their hometown Wizards to cheer on. College basketball is huge in Kansas and Missouri, and the Sprint Center hosts an annual tournament as well as visits from perennial basketball giant the University of Kansas at Lawrence.
Kansas City is famous for its jazz and hosts a museum with pieces from jazz legends like Charlie “Bird” Parker. Local clubs host jazz bands, but local pop and rock bands are also found in the many clubs downtown and in the Westport area. Classical music groups, such as the Kansas City Symphony, also call Kansas City home.
Shopping in Kansas City
Shopping in Kansas City is a delight to be experienced. The Country Club Plaza with its designer boutiques provides upscale shoppers with its own brand of extravagance. Halls Department store is a Kansas City byword for elegance. In the Christmas season, The Plaza is always lit up from pavement to roofline to put shoppers in a holiday mood. In Johnson County, the Town Center Plaza at 119th and Roe is home to unique boutiques in addition to national favorites like Macy’s. Legends at Village West in Kansas City, Kansas is another outdoor plaza with designer boutiques and local shops. Visit the Pride of Kansas City store and pick up a bottle of barbecue sauce. Wyldewood Cellars Winery has a tasting bar in their store for those who wish to sample their elderberry wines.
Visit Kansas City for things to do, places to shop, and entertainment. The friendly natives will greet each visitor with “How are you?” and a big smile. Shop, travel and sightsee or attend a sporting event or concert. Everything to be expected in a great city can be found in Kansas City, The City of Fountains.
Museums in Kansas City
Art museums and history museums, science museums, and craft museums are plentiful in the Kansas City area. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art holds an extensive collection of fine art and hosts traveling exhibitions from the finest sources. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is blocks away from the Nelson with a sometimes amusing and sometimes thought-provoking collection of its own. For history, one can’t do better than the World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial. Its extensive collection of artifacts, pictures, and letters, as well as multi-media presentations, will engage the emotions as well as the intellect.
No visit to Kansas City is complete without a visit to one or more of the outstanding local museums. From the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to the Union Station Science City Museum to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art there is something for everyone to see and enjoy in Kansas City’s museums.
If baseball is a fascination, the Negro League Baseball Museum is well worth the visit. Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Jackie Robinson, and Kansas City legend John “Buck” O’Neil are immortalized. The panache and verve of Negro League baseball are remembered as well as the struggle for inclusion and equality with Major League baseball players. Relive the years of the Kansas City Monarchs, a very successful team in its day, and the other teams of the League.
In the Sprint Center, the American College Basketball Experience is an interactive tribute to college hoops and the people who have made it great. Shoot the three-pointer or do a play by play of it here. The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame is located here.
The American Jazz Museum is located in the 18th and Vine building that houses the Negro League Baseball Museum. Saxman Charlie “Bird” Parker got his start in the Kansas City jazz scene. Other jazz celebrities, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Count Basie are present. The interactive nature of the museum makes it a good place for children. Visitors can sit and play or listen to jazz on headphones, taking their time and enjoying the rare and historical recordings. After hours, visit The Blue Room for live jazz performances. A tribute to the 1930s Street Hotel club located in the neighborhood, this club also features Blue Monday Jam night each week except the last Monday of the month. Bring an instrument and sit in or just soak up the jazz. On Mondays and Thursdays, admission to the Blue Room is free. Cover charges apply for weekends and special events.
Those interested in history and military history will not want to miss the World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial. This is the only comprehensive World War I museum and memorial in the country. Even Washington D. C. has no equivalent period collection to rival it. The Liberty Memorial itself was established shortly after the war ended to honor the many locals who fought in America’s relatively brief involvement in that war, including John “Black Jack” Pershing, the American commander. The photos, artifacts, weapons and uniforms on display are in cases between the simulated trenches and narrative recordings. There is an interactive computer area for searching for specific information. Multi-media presentations put the visitor on the scene and explain the circumstances of the war. Allow several hours for a visit. There is a restaurant in the building, and an elevator to the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower for a great view of Kansas City.
Though it is not in the bounds of Kansas City, The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library is an important local historical museum. From Harry’s personal office setting to a discussion of his momentous decision to use the first nuclear weapons to end World War II, any history junkie will want to see this important collection. Located in Independence, Missouri, the Library is just minutes from downtown Kansas City.
Art enthusiasts can stroll around the treasures at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. A few blocks away, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art houses works that will amuse, move, and puzzle the viewer. Kansas City’s architecture and fountains are works of art in themselves. Union Station is a prime example of the Beaux-Art style of architecture. The hand plastered ceiling has been restored by the same firm that restored Grand Central Station in New York City. Union Station houses a science museum, planetarium, and gallery space that houses the latest touring exhibitions. In addition, it is still in use as an Amtrak station and railroad museum. For something unique, the Kansas City Toy and Miniature Museum boasts intricate craftsmanship and delightful memories.