Mention the place and a lot of people immediately think of BBQ but there is a lot of things to see and do in Kansas City.
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Kansas City has the distinction of being one of the cities that exists in two states. Straddling the border of Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City history dates to 1821 when Frenchman Francois Chouteau from St Louis established a trading post. Since that time Kansas City has grown into a vibrant eclectic city with a rich history.
While the majority of downtown attractions are on the Missouri side the Kansas side is made up of mainly suburban residential areas.
In the 1870’s Kansas City established one of the largest stockyards and the city became one of the world’s largest cattle markets. Today Kansas City, with a population of around 470,000, boasts attractions, shopping venues and activities that rival much larger cities.
WHAT TO DO IN KANSAS CITY
J.C. Nichols envisioned an open air shopping experience with an architectural style resembling Seville Spain. In 1923 Country Club Plaza, the first shopping center designed to accommodate people arriving in automobiles, was opened. Today the area consists of 55 acres and over 800,000 sq feet of shopping along with over 460,000 sq feet of office space. With over 150 shops such as the Coach Store, Helzberg Diamonds, Tiffany, Tesla Motors, Williams Sonoma and dozens of restaurants, Country Club Plaza is the premier shopping, dining and entertainment district in Kansas City.
WHAT TO SEE IN KANSAS CITY
Originally opened in 1926 as the Liberty Memorial Museum, in 2004 the United States Congress designated the museum as America’s official World War I Museum. The money for the museum was raised by the citizens of Kansas City and in 1921 more than 100,000 people turned out to witness the dedication of the site by the Supreme Allied Commanders Gen. Baron Jacques of Belgium, Gen. Armando Diaz of Italy, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, Gen. John J. Pershing of the United States, and Sir Admiral Earl David Beatty of Great Britain.
In 1926 President Calvin Coolidge was on hand for the dedication of the opening of the museum. Visitors to the museum can see tanks, guns, uniforms, vehicles and other displays to include a series of life size trenches that will give you a look at what life was like during World War I. There is even a very rare 1917 Harley Davidson motorcycle on display.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and American Jazz Museum
Founded in 1990, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum does not consider itself a Hall of Fame but rather a museum to preserve the rich history of African Americans in baseball. With hundreds of photographs and artifacts dating from the 1880’s to the 1960’s the museum also has several film exhibits and a field with 12 bronze sculptures.
The history of players like Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Cool Papa Bell, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson along with hundreds of others are told.
Located in the same building is the American Jazz Museum. The museum showcases the sights and sounds that have made American Jazz famous worldwide. With interactive exhibits and films the museum also hosts over 200 performances, events and programs each year. Focused on the preservation, exhibition and advancement of jazz music, the museum hosts thousands of students, scholars and musicians each year.
Truman Library and Truman House
While actually in Independence Missouri, the next two attractions are only about 9 miles from downtown Kansas City. Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States and became President after assuming the office from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt after Roosevelt died in office and having been Vice President for only 82 days. The Truman Library details the history of the man and President who lived through some of the most trying times in history.
During his Presidency Truman approved of the Roosevelt plan of dropping the atomic bombs on Japan, saw the creation of the United Nations, The Marshall Plan and the start of the Cold War, the Berlin Airlift, the recognition of the State of Israel, the Korean War, renovations to the White House, survived an assignation attempt, issued an executive order desegregating the Armed Forces and fired General Douglas MacArthur, a decision that was highly unpopular at the time. The library also contains a replica of the Oval Office as it would have been when Truman was President.
Located a few blocks from the Presidential Library is the Truman House. Designated a National Historic Site and administered by the National Park Service, the house was the home of Truman and wife Bess from 1919 until his death in 1972. While no photographs are allowed inside the home and access is open only on the first floor, you see what everyday life for the Truman family was like. Everything is in place as it would have been when Truman was alive to include the famous Steinway piano purchased as a Christmas present for daughter Margaret, the official portrait of the First Lady and numerous other paintings and personal effects.
WHERE TO STAY IN KANSAS CITY
The Raphael Hotel in Kansas City is centrally located and within short driving distances to all the sights. Originally opened in 1928 as luxury apartments the building was reborn in 1975 as the Raphael Hotel. Today the Raphael is partnered with Marriott Hotels and is designated as an Autograph Collection property. Located adjacent to Country Club Plaza you are within walking distance to all the best shopping and dining. The luxury hotel has 126 rooms and over half are suites consisting of two or more rooms and offers impeccable customer service. The Chaz restaurant is ranked as one of the best dining experiences in Kansas City and the Chaz Lounge has live entertainment nightly that includes classical, jazz, blues, and pop.
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There are many more things to see and do in Kansas City such as sporting events such as the Royals MLB team, the Chiefs NFL team, Missouri Mavericks Hockey, Kansas City Blues Rugby, Missouri Comets Soccer and the T-Bones Minor League Baseball team. Union Station which offers exhibits, movies restaurants and more housed in a historic train station is well worth a visit along with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Jen Morrow says
The World War I museum looks fascinating! I love history and the transportation display is history plus engineering for the double win!
I only had 36 hours in Kansas City but spent about 3 hours at the museum. I could have easily spent 3 more.
Cherri Megasko says
Kansas City (actually, Peculiar) is my home town and I love it! I just returned from there yesterday and during my stay went hunting Pokemon on the Plaza with my niece and nephew. Kansas City is a true hidden gem!
I think so to. It was my first visit and I only scratched the surface.
Christine K says
Would love to visit the jazz museum but the others look very interesting as well. Nice job luring us to Kansas City. I’ll still add BBQ to the visit.
The Jazz Museum and the Negro leagues Baseball Museum are well worth a visit.
I’m originally from St. Louis and have never really spent much time in Kansas City. Next time I drive through I’m definitely going to stop and make a day of sightseeing. Thanks for the post!
Thanks for stopping by Katie. You will definitely have a good time. There is a lot to see and do.
Sara Broers says
And again, goes to show that there is more to the midwest than fly over country- great post!
I agree. It was my first time in Kansas City and I could have easily spent a few more days seeing everything.
Good list, my brother used to study in KU. He would drive up to KC every weekend, I must check with him if he visited these places.
Cory Lee says
I have never really considered visiting Kansas City to be honest, but it looks like I may have to. All of these activities look awesome!
Great photos! You’re right, the first thing I think of is BBQ- glad to know there is so much more to see and do! Thanks for sharing.
I’ve only been in KC when I’m passing through to another destination. I’d love to visit and explore more. My husband would enjoy that WWI Museum and I’d enjoy just about everything else. Looks like a great destination.
Hi Bob, I had no idea the WWI museum was there. We may have to make a trip to see it in the coming years. Have you ever been to any WWII sites in Europe or museums?
I spent 4 years in Germany when I was in the military. I had a chance to visit a lot of locations and always found it interesting. I have visited a lot of locations in Asia also.
Kansas City makes me think of the Wizard of Oz for some reason. I didn’t realise there’s so much history to discover. Thanks for the info.
There really is a lot to see in Kansas City and the surrounding area.
I have only been to Kansas City for a conference one time and didn’t really have much time to explore. As a German, I would love to see the WWI museum. I had no idea that the Military used Harley’s back then.
Joe Ankenbauer says
Great post! while I’ve only stopped in KC a few times, this list makes me want to stay a bit longer the next time I’m nearby.
Brenda Tolentino says
Our daughter is a big fan of the presidents so the Truman Library and Truman House is a place we all have to visit one day. We are also big fans of baseball and jazz, seems Kansas City has just made our travel list! Thanks for all the recommendations.
Have not spent significant time in Kansas City and really did not know she had so much to offer. The WWI museum looks a great place to visit. The next time I go through Kansas City, I’ll be sure to “travel slow” and spend more time enjoying the sites. Great read. Thank you.
I’d still like to dig into some of that BBQ but would love to explore some of the museums as well. Thanks for sharing.
KC Has a lot to offer. I didn’t realize it until I visited.
Sara | Belly Rumbles says
I’m slowly visiting areas of the mid west each new visit to the USA. I am yet to venture to Kansas City. When I eventually get there there seems to be quite a lot to discover.
Aileen Adalid says
This is such a comprehensive list! I haven’t been to Kansas yet though but I’m definitely bookmarking this for future reference 😉 Thank you!
April Yap says
I can still remember the delicious BBQ of Kansas but I was amazed to the museum theres a lot that ived learned.