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 made a stop in Kansas City. It’s hard to believe it, but I actually lived here for a few years as a kid and have very little recollection of it (other than playing lots of four square and tetherball).
With the help of our friends who were born and raised here, we put together the best things to do in Kansas City.
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Last Updated: January 20, 2023
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 in fact two separate cities with the same name in two different states. They just happen to be neighbors. When you talk to people who live in either city, though, they give you recommendations from both and pretty much treat it like it is one city.
The funny thing is neither were originally named Kansas City. Maybe we’re making it more complicated than it needs to be, but we still find it confusing. Anyone from the area want to chime in?
2 Memorial Dr, Kansas City, MO 64108, map
The liberty memorial stands on top of the National World War I Museum and gives you a great view of the city. It is also the only US museum devoted solely to World War I.
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.
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.
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. Besides having a beautiful library, they have created a row of giant books along the outside of the parking structure.
1333 S Noland Rd, Independence, MO 64055, map
We had no idea what to expect when walking into the Leila’s Hair Museum. It’s a massive collection of hair art. 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, ended up being a quite fascinating learning experience. They have hair from historic figures, presidents, celebrities and hair art in various forms. 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 put up in 1914 and 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, movie theater, and Amtrak!
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. You do need to get tickets as they limit the tours to 8 people at a time, so be sure to stop by the visitor’s center since they are first come, first served.
Local Tip: This national park is free to visit!
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. They have free shows throughout the week while other shows have a cover charge. Check their website for the latest lineup.
Map of the Best Things to Do in Kansas City
More THings to DO in Kansas City
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 LIving History Museum
- Swope Park
- Vaile Mansion
- Worlds of Fun + Oceans of Fun
Best Places to STay in Kansas City
Have you been to Kansas City? Anything you’d add to the list?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
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.