Famous for its signature barbecue sauce, you’ll quickly find that Kansas City is more than what meets the eye. While its exceptional restaurant scene remains a foodie’s delight, Kansas City’s eye-catching architecture, street art, museum, and culture continue to delight travelers.
On any given day, you can mix plenty of live sport with in-depth museums and breathtaking galleries. Before learning of the city’s jazz culture, its Spanish buildings and its surprising collection of 200+ fountains. Between them all are several charming neighborhoods, each with their own story to tell.
All these things to do in Kansas City make the largest city in Missouri a memorable experience for families, couples, and solo travelers.
16. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
From the moment you lay eyes on the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, its striking design will draw you in. Perhaps the most beguiling piece of architecture in Kansas City, it draws similarity to the iconic Sydney Opera House and was thought up on a napkin.
However, the real show is within the spectacular building. Here you can indulge in an evening of high culture thanks to the Kansas City Ballet and the city’s symphony orchestra. They offer one-off concerts from touring artists along with kid-friendly shows and theater productions throughout the busy calendar.
15. City Market
Traveling to any city inevitably brings you to a market. It’s the perfect way to experience local life and to indulge in an exciting atmosphere with no upfront cost. The City Market is another such example. However, its location in downtown Kansas City makes this market livelier than most.
The City Market first ran in 1857 and every year since the best produce and wares from local farmers and artisans have been sold right here. The consistently sizeable crowd is a testament to not only the community spirit by the quality of the goods on offer.
Load up the picnic basket or the charcuterie board, or sample mouthwatering bakery treats.
14. American Jazz Museum
A good deal of renowned jazz musicians have called Kansas City home from Charlie Parker to Count Basie. Now, in the Historic Jazz District, you can learn all about the genre and its many iconic musicians at the American Jazz Museum.
The museum doesn’t miss a beat, pun intended. It is both an exploration of the genre, telling you the full story from beginning to end but also a celebration and pseudo Hall of Fame. Visitors will find some amazing memorabilia from a saxophone owned by Charlie Parker to a gown worn by the one-and-only Ella Fitzgerald.
Complement the experience with a visit to the museum’s Blue Room, where live jazz is played multiple nights a week.
13. Worlds Of Fun
Turn back the clock and unleash your inner kid at Wolds of Fun. The massive theme park is packed with hair-raising thrills, water parks, and arcades to let your hair down and have some friendly competition.
The selection of roller coasters is worth the price of admission on its own. These include the Time Wolf, Prowler, and Patriot. However, none match up to the Mamba. The Mamba is a legendary roller coaster that lives up to its name, being one of the most fear-inducing and fastest rides on earth.
To let your heartbeat return to normal, venture down the lazy river, before plummeting down water slides, and wandering through Dinosaurs Alive.
12. Arrowhead Stadium
The biggest arena in Missouri, Arrowhead Stadium, is the place to go to watch football or experience a live concert while in town. Arrowhead Stadium is the home of the Kansas City Chiefs. The stadium can host 76,416 screaming fans. In fact, they get so earsplitting that Arrowhead Stadium has the record for the loudest stadium on earth.
Whether you want to watch the Chiefs, or maybe your hometown team play at Arrowhead, you can get along to a game between September and January. If you are going to the game, combine that with a game day tour, which includes time on the turf during warm-ups. If the schedule doesn’t line up, you can join a guided tour of the stadium that runs on Friday and Saturday.
11. Sea Life Kansas City
With discount group rates and birthday events, Sea Life Kansas City is a great option for a family day out. In the aquarium, visitors can wander between a diverse range of underwater habitats where all your favorite marine creatures roam. These include the lakes of the Midwest and the vast Atlantic Ocean. All up, there are 10 aquatic zones.
With both salt and freshwater locations, you will stumble upon stingrays soaring through the water, seahorses bobbing up and down and intimidating sharks commanding your attention. Continue on to capture octopus in their element and the always-majestic turtles swimming along.
Sea Life Kansas City puts on a variety of events and experiences. One of the most popular being the aquarium’s Meet a Mermaid.
10. Hallmark Visitors Center
Even if you aren’t much of a card person, Hallmark has been a part of all our lives. The iconic brand began right here in Kansas City, founded by Joyce Hall way back in 1910. Hallmark began by producing picture postcards, when five years later its decision to create greeting cards led to an international revolution.
Today, Hallmark remains in the family and is run by the descendants of Hall. While in town, you can learn all about the company and the history of greeting cards at the Hallmark Visitors Center. Explore on a whim or join the 14:00 guided tour. The center features short films, interactive exhibits, and even a scavenger hunt for the little ones.
9. Boulevard Brewing Company
If you like your beer or want to embark on an adults-only tour, then get along to Boulevard Brewing Company. It will quickly become apparent on your free brewery tour the level of passion and patience that goes into creating Boulevard’s amazing brews.
Using the best ingredients from the regions around Kansas City, each beer has a distinct flavor profile that separates it from the last. Everyone may have a different flavor palate, however, it’s easy to appreciate the clear differences in each beer. Which also means there’s a beer for everyone.
Local favorites include the Jam Band and 80-Acre, while their selection of seasonal beers means there is always something different to try.
8. Kansas City Zoo
From humble beginnings, with just a handful of lions, monkeys and birds, the Kansas City Zoo has developed into one of the leading zoos in Missouri. Praised for its conservation work, exceptional animal habitats and naturalist experiences, the zoo experience is as educational as it is exciting.
Before arriving, chuck on a comfy pair of shoes as the expansive zoo will require a lot of walking in order to see it all. You may even have to come back for a second day to tick off each experience. Highlights of the Kansas City Zoo include the interactive Stingray Bay, an outstanding chimpanzee enclosure, and interactions with the zookeepers. However, nothing tops the boat rides through the African Plains.
7. Arabia Steamboat Museum
In the fall of 1856, Arabia, a side wheeler steamboat embarked on a routine trip down the Missouri River when a sycamore tree snag ripped its hull apart. In the months and years that followed, the boat was never found.
The 13-decade mystery of the steamboat was at last solved by an amateur archaeologist in 1988. It had sunk so rapidly into the mud below that it was eventually covered in a cornfield. The upside is that the mud preserved the cargo so well that the steamboat’s extensive artifacts are now on display at the Arabia Steamboat Museum.
Discover an abundance of pre-Civil War objects from cookware and China sets to tools and toys. Before learning more about steam boating on the Missouri River, a surprisingly treacherous body of water that has claimed hundreds of vessels.
6. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Celebrating the success and trials of Black athletes in baseball, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a unique sporting and cultural attraction. In an era where black athletes were banned from playing Major League Baseball, they formed their own league and teams to showcase their talents.
Overtime, star players like the iconic Jackie Robinson were able to break into the MLB. Not only paving way for the end of sporting segregation but also playing a huge role in the Civil Rights Movement.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is exceptionally curated, straddling the line between preserving the history of the league and telling important lessons from a time that has only recently passed.
5. Kauffman Stadium
From March to October, you’ll regularly see a stream of fans dressed in royal blue and white making their way to Kauffman Stadium. The ballpark is the home of MLB’s Kansas City Royals and one of the best stadiums in the major leagues. Since opening in 1973, Kauffman Stadium has welcomed almost 80 million fans.
On a sunny summer day, head along to watch the Royals alongside a great atmosphere and plenty of food and drink. There is also an interactive area just for the kids. Game day tickets also tend to be on the cheaper side, making it a great activity for the family.
In the off-season, you can sign up for a guided tour to go behind the scenes and explore the stadium.
4. Country Club Plaza
If you’re in search of some retail therapy while in Kansas City, then the Country Club Plaza is your one-stop shop. The plaza covers an expansive area of 15 blocks, teeming with breathtaking Spanish architecture. Shoppers will be excited to learn the range of shops on offer, from local boutiques and national brands to high-end stores like Tiffany & Co.
However, it’s likely the biggest take away from your experience at the Country Club Plaza will have nothing to do with what is in your bag. The plaza was built back in the Roaring ‘20s and its many beautiful designs include captivating murals and the historic Neptune Fountain. The spot also hosts various events from Christmas lightings, art fairs and gondola rides along Brush Creek.
3. Union Station
You don’t have to look back far to a time when train travel was a popular and exciting as our modern-day experience in the sky. While the airport may have taken over, there are still many examples of the height of rail transit in the many “Union Stations” around the USA. With the help of preservation, Kansas City’s Union Station is a spectacular piece of architecture and was originally built in 1914.
The station underwent major renovations after closing in the 1980s. Its expansive waiting room, which could hold up to 10,000 guests, was transformed into a major shopping hub, with excellent restaurants and activities for young and old. You can still travel from Union Station on the Amtrak, but stop by the station to see Science City, the planetarium at the Extreme Screen Theater.
2. National WWI Museum and Memorial
With replicas of trenches, propaganda and weaponry, the National WWI Museum and Memorial is an immensely accurate and immersive look into the events from 1914 to 1918. Told in a narrative fashion, visitors will stand alongside the soldiers that experienced the war firsthand, to learn their stories and the pivotal moments that helped change the world.
Other highlights include the recreation of a crater, formed after the use of a howitzer shell, damaged tanks and old uniforms. It all helps you to form a greater understanding and appreciation for the sacrifice of many. From there, walk across the glass bridge, which soars over 9,000 poppies, which represent the lives of 9 million people who died in the First World War.
1. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The vast range or works at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will appeal to all ages and personalities. On the lush green lawns that greet visitors, you’ll find enormous 18-foot shuttlecocks and one of the largest badminton displays in the United States, While the young ones will be enthralled, parents and older travelers will be captivated by Caravaggio’s “Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness”.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has a permanent collection that features over 35,000 pieces, some of which date back hundreds of years. The collection spans the width of the globe, from Western Europe to Eastern Asia, with dozens of genres and types of art, including historic embellished furniture.
This is all complemented by an exceptional rotation of temporary exhibitions, so there is always something fresh to admire.