Delve into the eccentric charm of Kansas City, from its BBQ-scented streets to its quirky attractions. Unearth the best of KCMO and KCK, and discover kid-friendly adventures, free attractions, and peculiar sights that make Kansas City more than just a dot on the map. Warning: may induce cravings for ribs and jazz.
A Love Letter to the City of Fountains
Kansas City, you magnificent beast, you’ve truly got it all: barbeque, fountains, jazz, and a peculiar knack for straddling state lines. Oh, you’re confused, dear reader? Allow me to elucidate. I’m not talking about one Kansas City, but two! A dynamic duo of charm and allure, nestled between the borders of Missouri and Kansas. But fear not! This isn’t a tale of doppelgangers or a glitch in the Matrix, but rather a serenade to a city… or cities. If you’re yearning for an adventure, looking for the best tourist attractions in Kansas City, or simply wondering “What’s with the Kansas Cities and their undying love for BBQ?” – you’re in the right place.
Kansas City: Where ‘Moo’ is a Greeting
Kansas City, Missouri, known affectionately as KCMO, or “That place with the ridiculously good BBQ,” holds a special place in my heart. It’s like a blend of down-home charm, urban buzz, and a dash of “Hold my ribs while I serenade you with jazz.”
When you think of tourist attractions in Kansas City, Missouri, the barbecue might leap out at you. Don’t worry; that’s just the delicious smell of burnt ends wafting through the air. But let’s not overlook the power of art, culture, and music. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is here to satisfy your hunger for creativity. And yes, they also have food, but it’s not BBQ.
Kansas City, the Tale of Two States
On to our second star, Kansas City, Kansas. Often mistaken as its Missouri sibling’s shadow, KCK (what we cool kids call it) is quite the star in its own right. While Kansas City, MO might have the powerhouse barbecue, Kansas City, KS has, well, even more barbecue! And some exceptional tourist attractions too.
With places like the Kansas Speedway, for your inner adrenaline junkie, or the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, for when you feel the need to joust, KCK’s has a unique charm that’s tough to match. They’re not twin cities; they’re more like that dynamic duo that always steals the show. Yeah, like Batman and Robin, but with more fountains and fewer utility belts.
A Walk-Not-So-Much Tour: Lazy or Efficient?
I get it; you’re on vacation. Who needs all that pesky exercise, right? I’ve got your back! Let me introduce you to the Union Station or the National WWI Museum and Memorial. These are stellar tourist attractions in Kansas City, MO that do not require much walking.
And if you fancy a tour without even leaving the comfort of your car, Kansas City has got you covered. Yes, you can drive by and look at our amazing buildings, mouthwatering barbecue joints, and stunning murals. It’s like a safari, but with more concrete and fewer lions. And don’t worry, our BBQ won’t charge at your car.
Kansas City for Kids: More than Just Cows
Alright, you’re hauling a mini-van full of sugar-fueled offspring, and you’re in need of some kid-friendly distractions. Believe it or not, Kansas City offers more than just herds of cows and a dizzying amount of BBQ joints (though those could be quite educational, too).
One of the top tourist attractions in Kansas City for kids is the Kansas City Zoo. It’s like a Noah’s Ark filled with critters from around the globe, from perky penguins to roly-poly red pandas. And yes, they have cows for those interested in keeping it on-brand.
Also, there’s the SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium – it’s like diving into a Pixar movie without getting wet. Or the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Parents, don’t step on any bricks; we’ve all been there.
Missouri Road Trip: Kansas City to Branson
For those of you who yearn for the thrill of the open road, have I got a treat for you. We’re going on a road trip to Branson from Kansas City. Along the way, you’ll discover more tourist attractions than you can shake a stick at.
Ever wanted to see the world’s largest fork? Of course, you have. You can find this culinary monolith in Springfield, MO. Not your style? What about visiting the Fantastic Caverns and exploring what Missouri keeps tucked under her skirts? Nature’s majesty, you perverts! Get your mind out of the gutter.
23 Things to Do in the Kansas City Area
- Embrace the BBQ: Savor the flavors of Kansas City at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Q39, or Arthur Bryant’s. Warning: may cause spontaneous “mmm” sounds.
- Get Artistic: Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for a dose of culture. No, they don’t serve BBQ sauce with the paintings.
- Catch Some Speed: Unleash your inner speed demon at the Kansas Speedway. NASCAR dreams, anyone?
- Travel Back in Time: Attend the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. Turkey leg in one hand, jousting lance in the other.
- Pay Tribute: Visit the National WWI Museum and Memorial. History, minus the legwork.
- Explore Union Station: See a monument to the age of railroad, with less walking and more wow factor.
- Kid-Friendly Fun at the Zoo: Have a family day out at the Kansas City Zoo. Yes, they do have cows.
- Go Under the Sea: Visit the SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium. Mermaid tail optional.
- Make a Masterpiece: Build the day away at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Watch your step!
- Take a Picture with the World’s Largest Fork: Visit Springfield, MO, and see what all the “fork fuss” is about.
- Dive Underground: Explore the Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, MO. It’s like Jules Verne’s journey to the center of the earth, minus the dinosaurs.
- Take a Trip to the Library: The Truman Presidential Library & Museum, to be precise. Knowledge is power, after all.
- Sniff Some Flowers: Enjoy the floral aromas at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. No, it’s not a new BBQ marinade.
- Feel the Rhythm: Immerse yourself in soulful melodies at the American Jazz Museum.
- Shop ’til You Drop: Retail therapy awaits at the Country Club Plaza.
- Discover Lost Treasures: Visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum. Spoiler: there’s no Jack Sparrow.
- Feast on Free Art: Bask in the beauty of contemporary art at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
- Walk through a Garden: Take a peaceful stroll through the Kauffman Memorial Garden. No BBQ allowed.
- Reveal a Secret: Visit the Secret Sound Museum, where silence is golden but sound is platinum.
- Gawk at the Giant Twine Ball: See the world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, KS. Cats not included.
- Get Fresh at the Market: Explore the culinary delights at the City Market. Pro tip: the aroma of fresh veggies can counteract BBQ overload.
- Venture into the West Bottoms: Uncover hidden gems in the district of vintage shops and boutiques. Old is the new new.
- Spend a Day in the Park: Soak up the sun in Swope Park. BBQ picnics recommended, but not mandatory.
Greater Kansas City Area: An Ode to Suburbia
The greater Kansas City, MO area may seem like a vast urban sprawl, but it’s really a patchwork quilt of attractions that await your exploration. Got a thing for history? The Truman Presidential Library & Museum is ready to delight.
Perhaps you fancy yourself a botanist or just like sniffing flowers – Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is your jam. From historical gems to lush, leafy escapes, the greater Kansas City area has something for everyone.
Top 10 Attractions: Kansas City’s Greatest Hits
Now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes of Kansas City. Or, I should say, the ribs and slaw. We’ve got the American Jazz Museum for the soulful, the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures for the whimsical, and Arrowhead Stadium for the sports enthusiasts (Chiefs fans, unite!).
Let’s not forget the Country Club Plaza for shopaholics, the Arabia Steamboat Museum for maritime history buffs, and the Kansas City Public Library for those who can’t resist the smell of a good book. Can we count all these attractions, including the food, as the top 10? Depends on how much BBQ you’ve consumed, I suppose.
A Priceless Adventure: Kansas City on a Budget
Perhaps your wallet is begging for mercy after all that BBQ consumption? Worry not! Kansas City, MO has a smorgasbord of free tourist attractions that would make even a penny-pincher jump for joy.
How about immersing yourself in contemporary art at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art? Completely free, unless you bid on a multi-million dollar masterpiece on a whim. Or stroll through the picturesque Kauffman Memorial Garden, where the only green you’ll need is for the Instagram-worthy shots.
For a generous dose of history and architecture, take a self-guided tour of the Kansas City’s Public Library’s Central Library. Just try not to judge these books by their incredibly beautiful cover (building).
Embrace the Weird: Kansas City’s Quirky Side
Every city has its quirks, and Kansas City is no different. Brace yourselves for the weird tourist attractions that will make you question reality, or at least giggle uncontrollably.
You’ve heard of hair museums? Of course, you haven’t. But Kansas City has one – Leila’s Hair Museum. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a museum dedicated to hair. Whether you’re ‘rooting’ for this kind of weirdness or you find it ‘hair-raising’, it’s worth a visit.
And, would you believe we have the world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas? Oh, you would? Good, because it’s true! Prepare for the most enthralling game of cat’s cradle you’ve ever imagined.
7 Awesome Water Parks in the KC Metro
- Oceans of Fun: Come prepared to splash around at this appropriately named park. It’s like the Atlantic Ocean packed its bags and moved to Kansas City.
- The Bay Water Park: Not to be outdone by an entire ocean, The Bay brings the coastal charm to Kansas City. Pack your sunscreen, the Bay’s rays are just as unforgiving!
- Schlitterbahn Kansas City: The name may be a tongue twister, but the fun is straightforward. Imagine being flushed down a giant toilet slide, but in the best possible way.
- Coco Key Water Resort: It’s like a tropical vacation minus the long-haul flight. Plus, they won’t judge you for that outrageous Hawaiian shirt.
- Adventure Oasis Water Park: With a name like Adventure Oasis, you know you’re in for some excitement. Perfect for those wanting to trade Kansas City BBQ for desert island survival… but with pool slides.
- Splash Cove at the Shawnee Mission Park: For those who believe that variety is the spice of life. Or in this case, the splash of life.
- Springs Aquatic Center: It’s like someone took the concept of a spring, added water, and then threw in a healthy dose of fun. Watch out for the cannonball dive!
Remember, folks, the golden rule of any water park visit is to wait at least 30 minutes after consuming Kansas City BBQ before hitting the slides. Safety first!
City of Surprises
Our journey through Kansas City’s tourist attractions, from the normal to the not-so-much, draws close. But the experiences, laughter, and indelible sauce stains are just the beginning. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler, an aspiring road-tripper, a family seeking adventure, or someone looking to explore the unusual, Kansas City, in its dual-state glory, awaits.
Remember, in Kansas City, you’re only a stone’s throw (or a short drive) away from a world of exploration. From Kansas City, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas, and all the highways in between, adventure is waiting. Just don’t forget your appetite, curiosity, and perhaps a bib.
Top 12 Museums in Kansas City
- The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: It’s like stepping into a different world, or several different worlds. And no, you can’t use the sculptures as BBQ skewers.
- National WWI Museum and Memorial: A deep dive into history, minus the time machine.
- Union Station: Not just a train station, but a glimpse into the past. Try not to miss your time-traveling train.
- Truman Presidential Library & Museum: Because knowledge is power, and power is, well, presidential.
- Arabia Steamboat Museum: Spoiler alert! It involves a steamboat, the Missouri River, and a lot of excavating.
- Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art: Think of it as a time capsule from the future. Trippy, isn’t it?
- American Jazz Museum: Get ready to toe-tap your way through history. Jazz hands encouraged but not required.
- The Money Museum: A place where money really does grow on trees, in exhibit form. Don’t forget to pick up your bag of shredded money on the way out!
- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: A home run into history, where every exhibit is a grand slam of knowledge.
- The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures: A miniature world full of fun. Honey, I shrunk the kids!
- Leila’s Hair Museum: A hair-raising experience, literally. This is one for the ‘do not miss’ list, if only for the sheer oddity.
- Secret Sound Museum: Hear the whispers of history in this unique sound archive. Shh, you’re listening!
Remember, no matter how much you enjoy these museums, they probably won’t let you move in. But there’s no harm in asking, right?
How to Eat Your Way Through Kansas City: BBQ and Beyond
So, you’ve explored the sights and sounds of Kansas City, but have you really savored its flavors? If you’re like me and believe that food isn’t just a meal but a tourist attraction, this section is for you.
Kansas City is famous for its BBQ. It’s like the city’s spirit animal is a rack of ribs smothered in a tangy, smoky sauce. You’ll find everything from burnt ends at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, brisket at Q39, and pulled pork at Arthur Bryant’s.
But don’t be fooled, the city’s culinary landscape extends beyond BBQ. For breakfast lovers, there’s the delightfully fluffy pancakes at Succotash or the Farmhouse for farm-to-table freshness. And for those of you with a sweet tooth, a trip to Christopher Elbow Chocolates will leave you feeling like a kid in a candy store.
Kansas City Off The Beaten Path
Kansas City has more to offer than just its marquee attractions. Some of the city’s best experiences are off the beaten path, in its lesser-known corners.
Take the City Market, for example. Operating since 1857, this farmer’s market is a foodie’s paradise. It’s also home to a bizarre and fascinating piece of history – a steamboat that sank in the Missouri River, was excavated more than a century later, and its contents are now on display at the Arabia Steamboat Museum.
Or, discover the West Bottoms district’s beautiful architecture and old-world charm, home to an array of vintage shops and boutiques. Just remember to leave room in your suitcase!
Kansas City’s Natural Attractions
Let’s not forget that Kansas City isn’t just about the urban jungle. For those of you craving a little greenery, or maybe just some fresh air away from the aroma of BBQ sauce, Kansas City’s parks and green spaces are waiting.
Wander through the sprawling Swope Park, home to the Kansas City Zoo and an outdoor theatre. Or explore the trails and tranquil beauty of Loose Park. For water lovers, a paddle along the Missouri River offers a unique perspective on the city. Just watch out for any lost steamboats!
The Heart of America
At the end of the day, Kansas City is more than just its attractions. It’s a vibrant, welcoming city with a rich history and a thriving culture. Whether you’re exploring Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City, Kansas, or somewhere in between, one thing’s for sure – Kansas City will leave you with a full stomach, a heart full of memories, and a strong desire to return for more. So, what are you waiting for? Your Kansas City adventure awaits!
Navigating through life, or as I like to call it, stumbling through a travel brochure, I’ve bounced from one continent to another like a ping pong ball. From riding a camel around the pyramids and getting lost in Cairo’s bazaars, to scuba diving wrecks off Florida, mingling with sharks in Roatan, and admiring Cozumel’s coral reefs. And amidst this whirlwind of adventure, I find time to scribble it all down in a blog, because what’s a near-death experience with a dolphin if you can’t brag about it online, right? So here’s to cheap travels, history lessons in every port, and unforgettable under-the-sea encounters. May my suitcase always be packed and my oxygen tank never be empty!