Kansas City, Missouri, known as the “City of Fountains,” is a vibrant and cultural destination in the heart of the United States. With its rich history, diverse neighborhoods, and thriving arts scene, there is no shortage of exciting activities to explore. Whether you’re a foodie, history enthusiast, sports fan, or art lover, Kansas City has something for everyone. In this article, we will delve into the 20 best things to do in Kansas City, Missouri, ensuring an unforgettable experience for visitors.
Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
One of the crown jewels of Kansas City’s cultural landscape is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This world-class institution boasts an impressive collection of over 35,000 artworks spanning thousands of years. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to European masterpieces, the museum offers diverse artistic styles and mediums. Don’t miss the iconic Shuttlecocks installation on the museum’s lawn or the tranquil beauty of the Bloch Building. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and those seeking cultural enrichment.
Explore the Country Club Plaza
The Country Club Plaza is a premier shopping and entertainment district in Kansas City. Designed in the Spanish Revival style, this outdoor shopping center features upscale retailers, charming boutiques, and a wide array of dining options. Take a stroll along the picturesque streets, admire the stunning architecture, and enjoy the Plaza’s fountains and courtyards. The Plaza also hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year, making it a lively and vibrant destination for visitors.
Experience the Power and Light District
Kansas City’s Power and Light District is the place to be for those seeking a vibrant nightlife scene. This dynamic entertainment district offers an array of bars, restaurants, and live music venues. Catch a concert at the Sprint Center, cheer on your favorite sports team at a sports bar, or dance the night away at one of the many clubs. The Power and Light District is a hub of activity, ensuring an unforgettable evening in Kansas City.
Visit the National World War I Museum and Memorial
Located in the heart of Kansas City, the National World War I Museum and Memorial is a poignant and educational attraction. As the only American museum solely dedicated to preserving the history of World War I, it offers a comprehensive and immersive experience. Explore the extensive collection of artifacts, interactive exhibits, and multimedia presentations that bring the war to life. Be sure to take the elevator to the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower for panoramic views of the city. The National World War I Museum and Memorial is a must-visit for history buffs and anyone interested in understanding the impact of the Great War.
Enjoy Live Jazz at the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District
Kansas City has a rich jazz heritage, and the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District is the perfect place to experience it. Known as the “Birthplace of Jazz,” this district celebrates the legacy of legendary musicians like Charlie Parker and Count Basie. Explore the American Jazz Museum, which showcases the history and evolution of jazz through exhibits and live performances. Take advantage of the opportunity to catch a live jazz show at the Blue Room or the Gem Theater, where the sounds of saxophones and trumpets fill the air. The 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District is a must-visit for music lovers and those seeking an authentic Kansas City experience.
Immerse Yourself in History at the Arabia Steamboat Museum
Step back in time at the Arabia Steamboat Museum, where you can explore the wreckage and artifacts of a steamboat that sank in the Missouri River in 1856. Discovered over 130 years later, the museum showcases an astonishing collection of well-preserved items, including clothing, tools, and even food. Learn about the daily life of 19th-century travelers and the history of steamboat transportation. The Arabia Steamboat Museum offers a unique glimpse into the past and is a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts.
Wander through the Kansas City Union Station
Linanster, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Kansas City Union Station is a historical landmark that serves as a hub for entertainment, dining, and education. Built in 1914, this grand train station now houses an array of attractions, including science exhibits at Science City, immersive theater experiences at the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium, and traveling exhibitions at the Union Station Gallery. Admire the stunning architecture, which blends Beaux-Arts and Gothic Revival styles, and take a moment to appreciate the majestic ceiling in the Grand Hall. Kansas City Union Station is not only a transportation hub but also a vibrant cultural center that offers something for visitors of all ages.
Cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs or the Kansas City Royals
Sports enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy in Kansas City. Catching a Kansas City Chiefs football game at Arrowhead Stadium, known for its passionate fans and electric atmosphere, is an unforgettable experience. If baseball is your preference, head to Kauffman Stadium to watch the Kansas City Royals. This iconic ballpark offers beautiful views and a welcoming atmosphere, especially from the outfield fountains. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just looking to experience the excitement of a live sports event, attending a game in Kansas City is a must.
Indulge in Kansas City’s Renowned Barbecue
No visit to Kansas City would be complete without savoring its world-famous barbecue. Known for its slow-cooked meats, smoky flavors, and tangy sauces, Kansas City is a haven for barbecue lovers. From popular establishments like Arthur Bryant’s and Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que to hidden gems in local neighborhoods, there is no shortage of options to satisfy your cravings. Try the succulent ribs, burnt ends, or a classic pulled pork sandwich. Pair your meal with traditional sides like baked beans and coleslaw for the full Kansas City barbecue experience.
Discover the Beauty of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is a stunning architectural masterpiece and a cultural hub in Kansas City. This world-class venue hosts a wide range of performances, including symphony concerts, ballets, operas, and Broadway shows. Take a guided tour to appreciate the intricate design and acoustics of the building, or better yet, catch a live performance in one of its two state-of-the-art theaters. The Kauffman Center offers a diverse program that caters to all artistic tastes and is a testament to Kansas City’s commitment to the arts.
Explore the City Market
The City Market is the largest farmers’ market in the region and a bustling destination for locals and tourists alike. Open year-round, this vibrant market offers a wide selection of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and specialty goods. Sample a variety of cuisines from the food stalls or enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the many restaurants surrounding the market. Browse through the eclectic mix of shops and galleries, and soak in the lively atmosphere. The City Market also hosts events and festivals throughout the year, making it an exciting and vibrant destination in Kansas City.
Get Close to Nature at the Kansas City Zoo
For a family-friendly outing, head to the Kansas City Zoo, home to over 1,300 animals from around the world. Explore various exhibits, including the popular African, Australian, and Asian sections, where you can observe lions, giraffes, kangaroos, and more. Don’t miss the chance to feed the lorikeets or ride the endangered species carousel. The zoo also offers educational programs, interactive exhibits, and behind-the-scenes experiences, providing a fun and educational day for visitors of all ages.
Visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Kansas City played a significant role in the history of baseball, particularly the Negro Leagues. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum celebrates the achievements and impact of African American baseball players during the era of segregation. Through interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations, and a vast collection of artifacts, visitors can learn about the struggles and triumphs of these talented athletes. The museum also pays tribute to legendary players and showcases the cultural significance of the Negro Leagues. A visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is both educational and inspiring.
Take a Stroll in Loose Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city at Loose Park, a picturesque urban oasis spanning 75 acres. This beautiful park features rolling hills, vibrant flower gardens, and a tranquil lake. Enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride along the winding paths, have a picnic on the expansive lawns, or play a game of tennis on the public courts. During springtime, the park’s Japanese Tea Room and Rose Garden come to life, offering breathtaking views and a serene atmosphere. Loose Park is a beloved gathering spot for locals and a perfect place to relax and enjoy nature.
Step into the Past at the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site
Discover the life and work of one of America’s most influential painters, Thomas Hart Benton, by visiting his former home and studio. This historic site provides an intimate glimpse into the artist’s creative process and personal life. Admire his murals, explore the studio where he produced his iconic works, and gain insight into his artistic techniques. The site also offers guided tours that delve into Benton’s life, his connection to the region, and the cultural significance of his art. The Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and those interested in regional history.
Experience the Vibrant Crossroads Arts District
The Crossroads Arts District is a thriving neighborhood that showcases Kansas City’s vibrant arts scene. This former industrial area has transformed into a haven for artists, galleries, and creative spaces. Explore the numerous art galleries that line the streets, attend First Fridays, a monthly event where galleries open their doors to the public, or catch a performance at one of the local theaters. The district also features trendy restaurants, hip boutiques, and lively bars, ensuring a positive and dynamic atmosphere day and night. The Crossroads Arts District is a must-visit for art lovers and those seeking a taste of Kansas City’s creative energy.
Learn about Science at the Science City at Union Station
Science City, located within Kansas City Union Station, is an interactive science center that offers hands-on exhibits and activities for visitors of all ages. Explore the various exhibits that cover a wide range of scientific disciplines, from physics and chemistry to biology and astronomy. Engage in experiments, test your skills in the Maker Studio, or watch a live science demonstration. Science City also features a planetarium where you can embark on a journey through the cosmos and learn about the wonders of the universe. It’s a perfect destination for families and science enthusiasts.
Catch a Show at the Starlight Theatre
The Starlight Theatre is an iconic open-air venue that hosts Broadway musicals, concerts, and other live performances during the summer months. This historic theater is located in Swope Park and offers a unique experience under the stars. Pack a picnic and enjoy dinner on the lawn before settling into your seat for a memorable show. The Starlight Theatre attracts top talent from around the country, ensuring an unforgettable evening of entertainment.
Go on a Brewery Tour
Kansas City has a thriving craft beer scene, and a brewery tour is an excellent way to experience it. Explore local breweries and taprooms, sample a variety of beers, and learn about the brewing process. Many breweries offer guided tours that provide insights into the art of craft beer making. From Boulevard Brewing Company, one of the largest craft breweries in the Midwest, to smaller and more specialized breweries like Torn Label and Cinder Block Brewery, there is something for every beer lover in Kansas City.
Enjoy a Scenic Walk or Bike Ride along the Missouri Riverfront
The Missouri Riverfront offers picturesque views and a tranquil atmosphere, perfect for a leisurely walk or bike ride. Explore the Riverfront Heritage Trail, a scenic pathway stretching along the river, offering stunning views of downtown Kansas City and the river itself. Enjoy the river breeze, watch barges and riverboats pass by, and take in the beauty of the surrounding nature. Several parks and green spaces line the riverfront, providing picnic areas and recreational facilities. The Missouri Riverfront is a peaceful retreat from the city and an ideal spot to unwind and reconnect with nature.
Best Free Things to Do in Kansas City
Kansas City offers a plethora of free activities that provide entertainment, education, and a chance to explore the city without breaking the bank. Here are some of the best free things to do in Kansas City:
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: While the museum’s special exhibitions may have an admission fee, general admission to the Nelson-Atkins Museum is free. Be awestruck by the remarkable array of artwork from across the globe at the Nelson-Atkins Museum. This esteemed institution showcases a captivating collection that spans various artistic periods and styles. As you wander through its galleries, you’ll encounter renowned masterpieces and notable pieces, including the iconic Shuttlecocks sculpture that has become a symbol of the museum.
- The Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank: Discover the fascinating world of currency and economics at the Money Museum. Explore interactive exhibits, view historic currency, and even lift a real gold bar. Admission is free and offers an educational and engaging experience for all ages.
- Loose Park Rose Garden: Located within Loose Park, the rose garden is a serene and picturesque spot. Stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens, admire the vibrant blooms, and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of this urban oasis.
- Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art: Explore contemporary art at the Kemper Museum, which features a diverse collection of works from local, national, and international artists. Admission to the museum is free, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in modern artistic expressions.
- Boulevard Brewing Company Tour: If you’re a beer enthusiast, don’t miss the chance to take a free tour of the Boulevard Brewing Company. Learn about the brewing process, see the facilities, and enjoy samples of their craft beer.
- Shawnee Mission Park: Located just outside Kansas City, Shawnee Mission Park offers ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. Enjoy hiking and biking trails, go fishing in the lake, or have a picnic in the scenic surroundings.
These free activities in Kansas City allow visitors to enjoy the city’s offerings without straining their budget. Whether you’re interested in art, history, nature, or beer, there is something for everyone to enjoy without spending a dime.
What Is the Best Month to Visit Kansas City, Missouri?
Choosing the best month to visit Kansas City, Missouri, largely depends on personal preferences and the activities you enjoy. Each season offers unique experiences and attractions, so let’s explore the highlights of each season to help you decide.
Spring (March to May):
Spring in Kansas City is a beautiful time to visit, with temperatures gradually warming up and nature coming to life. The blooming cherry blossoms and vibrant tulips create a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities. The Kansas City FilmFest International takes place in April, showcasing a diverse range of films worldwide. Additionally, spring offers pleasant weather for exploring the city’s parks, such as Loose Park and the beautiful gardens at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Summer (June to August):
Summer in Kansas City brings warm temperatures and a lively atmosphere. This is the perfect time to enjoy outdoor festivals, concerts, and sporting events. On the Fourth of July, the Kansas City Riverfest offers live music, food vendors, and a spectacular fireworks display. The Crossroads Arts District hosts its monthly First Fridays event, where galleries open their doors to the public. In August, the Kansas City Fringe Festival features a variety of performances, including theater, dance, and music.
Fall (September to November):
Fall in Kansas City brings cooler temperatures, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities and exploring the city’s beautiful parks. The fall foliage creates a stunning backdrop for hiking, biking, and scenic drives. September marks the start of football season, and catching a Kansas City Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium is a must for sports enthusiasts. The American Royal, held in October and November, is a major event featuring a livestock show, rodeo, and barbecue competition.
Winter (December to February):
Winter in Kansas City brings colder temperatures but also a festive atmosphere. The Country Club Plaza lights up with dazzling holiday decorations, creating a magical ambiance. The Kansas City Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” is a beloved tradition for many. Indoor attractions, such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the National World War I Museum and Memorial, provide cultural experiences away from the chilly weather.
Ultimately, the best month to visit Kansas City depends on your preferences and the experiences you seek. Kansas City has something to offer year-round: whether you prefer the blooming beauty of spring, the vibrant energy of summer, the colorful foliage of fall, or the festive spirit of winter.
Is Kansas City, MO, Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Kansas City, Missouri, is definitely worth visiting. With its rich history, vibrant arts scene, delicious cuisine, and friendly Midwestern hospitality, the city offers visitors a diverse range of experiences.
One of the city’s highlights is its renowned barbecue. Kansas City is often hailed as the world’s barbecue capital, and indulging in the smoky flavors and mouth watering meats is a must-do for any food lover. From famous barbecue joints like Arthur Bryant’s and Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que to hidden gems tucked away in local neighborhoods, there is a wide variety of options to satisfy your taste buds.
Kansas City is also known for its thriving arts and culture scene. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art boasts an impressive collection that spans thousands of years, while the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts hosts world-class performances ranging from symphony concerts to Broadway shows. The Crossroads Arts District is a vibrant neighborhood filled with galleries, boutiques, and trendy restaurants, providing a glimpse into the city’s creative energy.
In addition, Kansas City has a rich history, particularly in relation to jazz music and the Negro Leagues Baseball. The American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum offer fascinating insights into the city’s cultural heritage and the contributions of African Americans in these fields.
Whether you’re exploring its historical sites, enjoying its lively entertainment options, or simply savoring its delicious cuisine, Kansas City, Missouri, promises a memorable and rewarding visit.
Kansas City, Missouri, offers a diverse range of attractions and activities that cater to all interests. From its world-class art museums and vibrant neighborhoods to its rich history, delicious cuisine, and thriving arts scene, this cultural hub has no shortage of things to do. Whether exploring the city’s renowned barbecue joints, immersing yourself in its jazz heritage, or delving into its fascinating history, Kansas City promises an unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags and get ready to discover the 20 best things to do in Kansas City, Missouri, and embark on a journey of exploration, culture, and entertainment.
Explore the twenty best things to do in Kansas City, Missouri, as we delve into the fascinating world of its history and attractions. Read here for more details.