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11 Things You Can’t-Miss in Kansas City Missouri and Kansas

Looking for the best things to do in Kansas City? We’ve put together a list to help you plan your next trip.

On our way across the country on our #EndlessCaravan, we stopped in Kansas City. I lived here for a few years as a kid and have very little recollection of it besides playing lots of tetherball and going to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun.

With the help of our friends who were born and raised here, we put together the best things to do in Kansas City. 

11 Amazing Things to Do in Kansas CityPin

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Last Updated: April 17, 2024

11 Things to DO in Kansas City

We still have a hard time grasping how Kansas City works. It is not one city divided into two states but two separate cities with the same name that happen to be neighbors. When you talk to people who live in either city, though, they give you recommendations from both and treat it like one city.

The funny thing is neither was originally named Kansas City.

1. Enjoy the Sunset Views from the Liberty Memorial

2 Memorial Dr, Kansas City, MO 64108, map

The Liberty Memorial stands on top of the National World War I Museum, which gives a great view of the city. It is also the only US museum devoted solely to World War I.

City views from the National World War 1 Museum Kansas City Missouri // localadventurer.com

2. Eat Kansas City BBQ

3002 W 47th Ave, Kansas City, KS 66103, map

When it comes to Kansas City BBQ, you’ll hear a lot of opinions on what’s the best, but Joe’s Kansas City BBQ (formerly Oklahoma Joes) always makes the list somewhere. It’s located inside a gas station, and you could be waiting hours just to order, but it’s worth the wait!

If you’re looking for a fancier spot, Jack Stack BBQ is also a popular spot amongst locals. We tried both on the trip, and if we had to pick only one meal to eat in KC, we’d choose Joe’s.

Oklahoma Joes Kansas City BBQ - Arguably the Best BBQ in the US and is on Anthony Bourdain's 13 Places to Eat Before You Die // localadventurer.com

3. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111, map

This is a popular spot amongst tourists and locals. It is home to an amazing collection of rare European, American, and Asian art, but it also has a huge outdoor area with sculptures and plenty of grass to enjoy a beautiful afternoon.

Local Tip: It’s also the home to the World’s Largest Shuttlecock.

4. Get Nostalgic at the National Toy Museum

5235 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64112, map

If you loved toys at any point in your life, then you need to stop by the National Toy Museum. It originally started as a private collection that grew to become what it is today.

After a recent $8 million renovation, the museum has great interactive exhibits and the pieces are displayed beautifully. Our favorite part of the museum were the toys through the decades, where we reminisced seeing toys from the 80s and 90s.

5. Browse Giant Books at the Kansas City Public Library

14 W 10th St, Kansas City, MO 64105, map

The city’s library has created the perfect photo op for any bibliophile. In addition to its beautiful library, the library has created a row of giant books along the outside of the parking structure.

6. See the Animals at the Kansas City Zoo

6800 Zoo Dr, Kansas City, MO 64132, map

The Kansas City Zoo has over 1700 animals covering 200+ acres. You can book animal encounters, stay overnight, or go on a guided tour. 

kansas city zoo photosPin

7. Leila’s Hair Museum

1333 S Noland Rd, Independence, MO 64055, map

We had no idea what to expect when walking into Leila’s Hair Museum. On our cross-country adventure, we were on the hunt for the weirdest and most offbeat attractions we could find, and it was perfect!

What we thought would be a good laugh, however, was quite a fascinating learning experience. They have a massive collection of hair art from historic figures, presidents, and celebrities. But what was most interesting was learning about the tradition of hair wreaths used in the past for documenting genealogy from the owner, Leila, herself.

Local Tip: If you want to learn more about the lost art of hair wreaths, Leila even teaches classes where you learn her techniques.

8. Union Station

30 W Pershing Rd, Kansas City, MO 64108, map

This building was originally built in 1914 as the terminal for 12 main lines and 30 subsidiary lines. Since then, it has been converted into a 188 million entertainment center. Now, it’s home to an exhibit on Kansas City’s railroad history, shops, restaurants, Science City—a hands-on children’s science center—a movie theater, and Amtrak!

union station kansas city photosPin

9. Grab a Pint at the Boulevard Brewing Company

2501 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108, map

This brewery has become the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest. Take the tour and be sure to try the Midwest’s best-selling craft beer, Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer.

BONUS: Escape Game Kansas City →

320 Ward Pkwy, Kansas City, MO 64112, map

We love a good escape room, and after trying many of them in NYC and Las Vegas, Escape Game is our favorite nationwide chain. The rooms are well crafted, the puzzles challenging, and we always have fun. See detailed reviews on each room in this post.

See More: 15 Best Las Vegas Escape Rooms

10. Walk Through History at the Harry S. Truman Home

223 N Main St, Independence, MO 64050, map

Take a walk through the 33rd president’s “Summer White House.” This National Park unit gives you a glimpse into Harry S. Truman’s life and career. They limit the tours to 8 people at a time, so stop by the visitor’s center to get tickets. They are first come, first served.

Pro Tip: This national park is free to visit! If you plan on visiting multiple national parks throughout the year, pick up the

See More: Your complete list of all National Parks in the US

Harry S Truman National Historic Site - Preserves the History and Home of the 33rd President // localadventurer.com

11. Enjoy Music at Blue Room Jazz Club

1600 E 18th St, Kansas City, MO 64108, map

Right next to the American Jazz Museum is the Blue Room Jazz Club, where you can enjoy music from up-and-coming bands, seasoned veterans, and big names. Some shows are free while others have a cover charge. Check their schedule here for the latest lineup.

Map of the Best Things to Do in Kansas City

More Things to DO in Kansas City Missouri And Kansas

Here are more spots to check out during your visit.

  • American Jazz Museum
  • Crown Center
  • The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial
  • Jacob L. Loose Park
  • J C Nichols Memorial Fountain
  • Kansas City Museum
  • Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Harry S Truman Library and Museum
  • Lake Jacomo
  • Lakeside Nature Center
  • Longview Lake
  • Money Museum
  • Museum at Prairiefire
  • National Airline History Museum
  • National WWI Museum and Memorial
  • Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
  • Shoal Creek LIing History Museum
  • Swope Park
  • Vaile Mansion
  • Worlds of Fun + Oceans of Fun

Best Places to Stay in Kansas City

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Have you been to Kansas City? Anything you’d add to the list?

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Esther and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Alex

    Great list!

    I moved to Kansas City for college and immediately fell in love. After living here for 10 years, I agree with Eric in that locals view Kansas City as one city. In addition to the Plaza, Zona Rosa is another fun outdoor shopping area. While in KC, I would definitely recommend checking out some of the sports, whether it’s Royals baseball, Chiefs football, or Sporting KC soccer. Near the Royals stadium is an old-fashioned drive-in called Hi Boy, and they serve the most amazing burgers and hot fudge sundaes! Another fun area worth visiting is Westport. It’s an area that has a great nightlife and some unique and delicious restaurants. Kansas City is also proud of its coffee that is produced locally, called the Roasterie. They have factory tours available. Kansas City is also the home of Hallmark greeting cards, and near its hub downtown is an area called Crown Center. This area has great restaurants and shops, and during the winter a beautifully decorated ice rink.

    I would totally recommend Kansas City for your next get away :)

  2. Jagdish

    Great tips and pics about the city I admire the most.

  3. Mel

    I didn’t know there was a hair museum! Lol Now I’m going to have to check it out. Thanks for the list!

    1. Esther JuLee

      Yup! haha we like to dig up some pretty bizarre stuff too. :) Let me know what you think if you visit.

  4. Eric

    Hi,

    I figured I’d chime in regarding your question about how the city works. You’ve got it right, but as a local, we basically look at it as one city (Kansas City) with suburbs throughout the greater metropolitan area (Kansas City, Kansas included).

    You have a pretty decent start on your list, but you for sure should of dropped the hair museum and Glacé and replaced them with City Market (including Steamboat Arabia) and the Plaza. Also I’d highly recommend the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum over the Harry S. Truman house.

    KC also has a lot of great Jazz clubs: The Green Lady and The Blue Room being two of the best.

    Anyhow, thanks for the article and nice work!

    Cheers,
    Eric

    1. Esther JuLee

      Thanks, Eric. Thanks so much for the suggestions. We would love to go back and spend more time there. I grew up there and don’t think I had much of a clue how the city worked. It’s good to get more insight from a local. :)

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