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Hello from Kansas City, Missouri! Did you know Kansas City is split between two states – Missouri and Kansas? From the moment I landed in Kansas City, I immediately fell in love with the stretch of greenery, live music, train tracks, and chill, casual vibes of the city.
SEE ALSO: 11 Best Restaurants In Kansas City
I just got back from a 3-day trip so here are the 11 top things to do in Kansas City – everything from barbecue, breweries, museums, bars, and the best views of the city. If you need help planning your trip to Kansas City, go to VisitKC.com for interactive maps and more information.
Table of Contents
1. RIDE THE KC Streetcar
I was so surprised to find out how convenient it is to get around Kansas City! I did have a rental car but you can easily use rideshare to get to downtown Kansas City, walk around, or take the KC Streetcar. The Kansas City Streetcar travels two miles through the heart of downtown – from Main Street the River Market (City Market) to Union Station/Crown Center with 16 stops and it’s free to ride!
2. EAT KANSAS CITY BARBECUE
You can’t visit Kansas City without eating Kansas City-style barbecue. I’ve only had Texas-style barbecue and it’s so different from what I grew up with.
Kansas City-style barbecue:
- meat is cooked low & slow
- it’s all about the sauce
- burnt ends are on the menu
- fried jalapeno bottle caps
- fries (you can get fries!!)
Popular Kansas City barbecue spots:
- Joe’s (older bbq spot) in a gas station
- Slaps BBQ – this is where I ate on my visit and it was so good!
- there are over 100 barbecue restaurants in Kansas City and Visit KC launched their own app to help you navigate them on the KC BBQ Experience app
3. DRINK LOCAL BREWS
Another top Kansas City thing to do is to drink local brews from the local breweries! My first stop was Boulevard Beer Hall + Boulevard Rec Deck. Founded in 1989 in Kansas City, Missouri, Boulevard Brewing Company has grown to become the largest specialty craft beer brewer in the Midwest. The 10000 square foot Beer Hall features 24 beers on tap, delicious food and an expansive deck with a great view of Kansas City.
Popular breweries in Kansas City:
- Brewery Emperial – brewery and restaurant with a large beer garden/patio
- Torn Label – craft brewery
- Double Shift Brewing Company – brewery offering five in-house beers and a rotating selection on the sixth tap
- Casual Animal – small batch microbrewery
- City Barrel Brewing – brewery and kitchen crafting hoppy, sour and wild beer
- Mean Mule Distilling – local distillery distilling 100% blue agave (pictured above)
3. Explore the local shops in the crossroads neighborhood
- Christopher Elbow – gourmet chocolate shop with drinking chocolate
- Finefolk – women clothing shop with a curated collection of designers in a beautiful space
- Hammerpress – stationery and card shop
- Dear Society – modern & vintage women’s clothing, accessories & gift shop
- Made in KC – local gift shop with local Kansas City goods
4. Watch the sunset from the Percheron Rooftop
Located on the rooftop of The Crossroads Hotel is Percheron, the rooftop beer garden with the best view of Kansas City. Watch the sun go down and the lights come on across the city.
2101 Central St, Kansas City, MO, crossroadshotelkc.com/food-and-drink/percheron-rooftop-bar/
5. EXPLORE The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opened in Dec 11, 1933 and features more than 35,000 works for art. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours here if you want to see all the art.
4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111, nelson-atkins.org
6. VISIT Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
This is Missouri’s first and largest contemporary museum that boasts rapidly growing Permanent Collection of modern and contemporary works of art from around the world.
4420 Warwick Blvd, kemperart.org
7. STAY AT 21c Museum Hotel
This was my first time staying at the 21C Museum Hotel, a multi-venue contemporary art museum located in eight cities from the U.S. In the early 1900s, the Savoy Hotel and Grill was a luxury destination for travelers who arrived in Kansas City by train and now it’s transformed into the 21C. It was so convenient to be able to walk to different coffee shops, restaurants, and hop on the KC Streetcar.
219 W 9th St, 21cmuseumhotels.com/kansascity/
8. Go shopping in Country Club Plaza
There are 15 blocks of unique stores in the Country Club Plaza.
- Made in KC Marketplace – I really love this concept of housing several local brands in one space. All the vendors in the KC Marketplace are local to Kansas City and it’s a one-stop-shop for gifts!
- Charlie Hustle – local vintage t-shirt company that created the iconic Kansas City heart t-shirt
- Array – a clothing shop with a collection of seven clothing designers
- BLDWN Market – I own several pieces from BLDWN and love this sleek, modern retailer for its premium denim, cozy knits, and outerwear.
4706 Broadway Blvd
9. VISIT National WWI Museum and Memorial
Another Kansas City thing to do is to visit the National World War I Museum and Memorial that’s home to the most comprehensive collection of WWI objects in the world. I recommend coming at the end of the day so you can watch the sunset from the top.
Fun fact: it opened as the Liberty Memorial museum in 1926.
Museum admission: $18 adults and free for children under 6 (the view is free)
2 Memorial Dr, MO 64108, theworldwar.org
10. TOUR UNION STATION
This is Kansas City’s grand, historic train station that has permanent & temporary exhibits, a planetarium & a science center. Union Station is fully restored from 1914 and is the second-largest working train station in the country. You can take the Amtrak from Union Station to St. Louis and then to Chicago. I want to do this in the near future!
30 W Pershing Rd, unionstation.org
11. GO DOWN THE SLIDE AT J. Rieger & Co
Jacob Rieger & Company was founded in 1887 in Kansas City’s West Bottoms Livestock Exchange district and then was shut down in December 1919 due to the onset of federal Prohibition. The brand was reestablished in 2014 by co-founders Andy Rieger and Ryan Maybee and is the first legal distillery in Kansas City, Missouri since Prohibition. Go down the slide at J. Rieger & Co, take home a bottle of whiskey, and don’t miss the hidden underground cocktail bar, The Hey! Hey! Club.
2700 Guinotte Ave, jriegerco.com
SEE ALSO: Weekend Getaway To Four Seasons Miami
Other Kansas City things to do include:
- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) – privately funded museum dedicated to preserving the history of Negro league baseball in America. Admission price: $10.
- National Museum of Toys and Miniatures – the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the nation’s largest collections of antique toys. The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is located on the campus of the University of Missouri Kansas City.
- Arrowhead Stadium – this American football stadium in Kansas City is the home venue of the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL.
- Kansas City Zoo – a 202-acre zoo that is home to more than 1,300 animals and is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
- American Jazz Museum – learn all about the history of American jazz music at this jazz museum in the historic 18th and Vine district. Admission cost: $10
- Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts – catch a live show at this performing arts center in downtown KC
- Kauffman Stadium (The K) – baseball park that’s home to the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball.
- Science City – family-friendly interactive science center that features acclaimed traveling exhibitions
- Farmers Market – for 160 years, the City Market has hosted the region’s largest farmers market in Saturdays and Sundays
- Arabia Steamboat Museum – unique KC attraction that houses artifacts recovered from the steamboat that hit a tree snag and sank in the Missouri River. Admission cost: $14.50
- Legoland Discovery Center – an indoor LEGO playground with 2 rides, 10 LEGO build & play zones, and 4D cinema.