8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Kansas City
This double city in the Midwest, straddling the border between Kansas and Missouri, lies at the junction of the Kansas River with the Missouri, extending along the high banks of both rivers (the Bluffs). World-famous for its steaks and its jazz, Kansas City is now the center of an extensive agricultural region.
The great stockyards and packing stations of the 19th c. have given way to highly efficient foodstuffs industries and other processing industries. A glance at the skyline of Kansas City, Missouri is enough to show that it remains the more important of the two sister cities. It enjoys national renown as the "Barbecue Capital" and jazz metropolis. This is where Charlie "Bird" Parker created "bebop".
Kansas City, Missouri, grew out of a settlement of French fur traders and a Jesuit mission. During the 19th century it rapidly developed into a lively economic and cultural center.
See also: Where to Stay in Kansas City
1 National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial
The Liberty Memorial Museum is a memorial to the men and women who served in the war, and to those who died. The museum houses many objects from World War One. The Egyptian Revival-style monument, dedicated in 1926, rises dramatically above the museum and surroundings. The National World War I Museum, below the monument was opened in 2006.
Address: 100 W 26th Street
2 Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art has an impressive general collection with a very large collection of East Asian art. The museum is most notable for its broad range of pieces from around the world. One does not need to be an art enthusiast to appreciate the lovely grounds and the sculpture park, where it's possible to go for a walk, play some sports, enjoy a picnic, or take a guided audio tour.
Address: 4525 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO 64111-1873, United States
3 Arabia Steamboat Museum
The Steamer Arabia prospered on the rivers, perished in 1856, and was rediscovered 132 years later with its precious cargo intact. The excavation uncovered clothing, shoes, medicine, guns, bottled fruits and vegetables, jewelry and perfume.
Address: 400 Grand Boulevard, Kansas City, MO 64106-1107, United States
4 Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
The permanent collection at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art began with the Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection, which includes works by Georgia O'Keeffe, Robert Mapplethorpe, and William Wegman. It now includes a broad range of works including painting, sculpture, installations, prints and works on paper, photography, and time-based media.
Address: 4420 Warwick Boulevard, Kansas City, MO 64111-1821, United States
5 Union Station
Union Station was built in 1914 and accommodated thousands of passengers. It included a waiting room designed to hold up to 10,000 people. The station closed in the 1980s, underwent major renovations, and reopened in 1999 with shops, restaurants, and other services. It has a much smaller railway service as it now functions as an Amtrak stop. Also located here is Science City. The building itself is quite impressive and one of the city's main tourist attractions.
Address: 30 W Pershing Road
6 Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City
Located on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Toy and Miniature Museum contains twenty-four rooms filled with antique dolls, dolls houses, cast iron toys, trains, and miniatures. The fine scale contemporary miniatures are perfectly scaled reproductions of actual art and artifacts.
Address: 5235 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO 64112-2877, United States
7 Hallmark Visitors Center
Located in the Crown Center complex, the Hallmark Visitors Center displays the history of the greeting card industry. It tells the rags-to-riches story of how Joyce Hall created an international institution based on caring.
8 Airline History Museum
The Airline History Museum at the Downtown Airport on the northern edge of the city is guaranteed to make any flight enthusiast's heart beat faster. Here you can relive the days when people still flew with propeller machines over the Atlantic and Kansas City was the TWA headquarters. Flight veterans will be only too happy to tell their stories, and visitors can take a turn in a DC or a Super Constellation.
Address: 201 NW Lou Holland Drive
Where to Stay in Kansas City for Sightseeing
Kansas City's main attractions are in the vibrant city center, and this is also where many of the best hotels are found. The south part of downtown is known for its parks and historical monuments, including the National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial. Further north, the Power and Light District is the new entertainment area, with restaurants, shops, and music venues. Below are some highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:
- Luxury Hotels: The boutique Ambassador Hotel is housed in the restored 1920s-era Neoclassical Gate City National Bank building. Offering sophisticated service and 43 luxurious rooms, it is just a short walk from City Hall. The towering Sheraton is a good choice for families, with spacious, well-appointed rooms and an indoor/outdoor pool. This hotel is right next door to LEGOLAND and provides a free local shuttle service. The Westin Crown Center, also with a free shuttle, offers fine views out over the city and is connected via skyway to the Hallmark Visitors Center and Union Station.
- Mid-Range Hotels: The BEST WESTERN PLUS Seville Plaza Hotel, a few miles south of downtown, has a Spanish-themed décor and is within walking distance of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. The Holiday Inn is in the same area and close to the restaurants, shopping, and entertainment of the Country Club Plaza. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is right behind the hotel. Further out and perfect for sports fans is the Drury Inn & Suites, across the street from both the Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums.
- Budget Hotels: With a prime downtown location, the 816 Hotel offers comfortable rooms, free parking, and complimentary breakfast. Near the airport, 20 minutes from downtown, are the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites and La Quinta Inns & Suites, both with free airport shuttles. About 15 minutes northeast of downtown is the Comfort Inn & Suites, near Worlds of Fun Amusement Park and Oceans of Fun Waterpark. All of these hotels offer heated indoor pools.