9 Cool Things To Do When Someone Visits Kansas City

Updated: Sep 25

KC Union Station

1. Union Station

This Kansas City landmark opened in 1914 and, in its early days, no one would have thought to add more bells and whistles. But the city changed quickly and soon, nearly 200 trains were passing through here every day and a million people passed through the station at its peak, during World War II.

  • Lamp Post Clock: The clock first appeared in Kansas City in the mid-1880s, where it was installed at the corner of 10th and Main. In 1918, it moved a few blocks away and was installed in front of the Mace Jewelers storefront. Finally, in 1936, it moved to its current spot in front of Union Station.

KC Liberty Memorial
  • Liberty Memorial: The Tower rises 217 feet above the main courtyard and 268 feet above the North Lawn. The Liberty Memorial was dedicated “in honor of those who served in World War One in defense of liberty and our country.”

  • Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain: It features 232 jets arranged in three concentric rings within an ellipse of black granite. A thin sheen of water on the flat granite creates a mirror to reflect the monumental architecture on either side

  • Streetcar: The 2.2 mile route along Main Street connects the River Market to Union Station/Crown Center with 16 stops to get you to your destination. The KC Streetcar is free.

2. City Hall Observation Deck

Kansas City has the second tallest city hall in the nation, a twenty-nine story skyscraper. KCMO’s city hall features an observation deck on the roof with amazing views of the city that is free to visit.

Kansas City Art Alley

3. Art Alley

One of the most Instagrammable secret spots in KC, Art Alley can be found in the Crossroads Arts District, specifically on 17th and 18th Streets near Locust and Cherry. It serves as an outdoor art venue where the beauty of the work and the chaos of its creation collide. The walls show off the work of some of the city’s best street and graffiti artists and, more recently, others from around the country and even the world.

KC Public Library

4. KC Public Library

The iconic Community Bookshelf is a wall of the Central Branch library’s parking garage made to look like the spines of huge books. After staring at the Community Bookshelf and strolling through the stacks books in the beautiful space, you should make your way up onto the library’s rooftop terrace. During the day, this is a great place to read, hang out, or take on the larger-than-life-size chess set.

5. Arabia Steamboat Museum

The mighty steamboat Arabia sank near Kansas City in 1856, it carried 200 tons of mystery cargo intended for general stores along the frontier down to the bottom of the Missouri River. In 1987, Bob Hawley and his sons used old maps and a metal detector to find the ship, located beneath a layer of mud and silt. The Hawleys, a massive crane, and 20 irrigation pumps began pumping water out of the ditch. Excavation took roughly one year, but as soon as they reached the sunken hull they began uncovering treasure.

Kansas City Children's Fountain

6. Children’s Fountain

There is an excess of two hundred officially registered public fountains in the metro area. According to the City of Fountains Foundation, our earliest fountains were originally built to supply clean water for horses passing through the city in the 1800s, but the first still-working public fountain was built in 1899. The popular Children’s Fountain was turned on June 21, 1995 and was designed by Larkin Aquatics to celebrate Kansas City children.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

7. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The museum was built on the grounds of Oak Hall, the home of Kansas City Star publisher William Rockhill Nelson when he died in 1915. It’s known for its encyclopedic collection of art from nearly every continent and culture, and especially for its extensive collection of Asian art.

  • Maze: there has been a triangle-shaped glass-walled labyrinth on the lawn for years. The walls are crystal clear, meaning you can see your friends on the grass outside the single exit, even if it might take you five minutes to get to them. The labyrinth was designed by Kansas City-born artist Robert Morris, well-known for his work in minimalism.

  • Shuttlecocks: visit the larger than life sculptures on the lawn of the museum.

American Jazz Museum

8. 18th & Vine District

  • Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue: Maybe the best original place in KC to experience local barbecue and their burnt ends which they made famous. It started with Henry Perry, the father of KC barbecue, started serving smoked meats from an alley stand and now it is considered by many to be the most famous barbecue restaurant in America.

  • American Jazz Museum: Located in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District in Kansas City, this is the place where jazz masters such as Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, and hundreds of others defined the sounds of the 1920s to the 40s. The Museum includes interactive exhibits and educational programs as well as the Blue Room, a working jazz club, and the Gem Theater, a modern 500-seat performing arts center.

  • Mutual Musicians Foundation: The legendary venue started as a union hall for African-American musicians in 1917. Since the thirties, it’s hosted late-night jazz jam sessions which is a tradition that continues every weekend. Pay the cover and gain access to an after-hours party where drinks are cheap and the music is hot.

  • Charlie Parker Memorial: Next to the Jazz Museum is a brass statue of Parker’s head is an 18 foot tall effigy that captures the musician playing music. The downward tilted head has the closed eyes and pursed lips of the jazz musician in mid-blow, paying tribute to Parker’s life-long devotion to the saxophone.

KC Workhouse Castle

9. Workhouse Castle

Just a few blocks from the 18th and Vine Jazz District, there is a ruined shell of a castle adorned with years of graffiti. The castle is known locally as the “city workhouse castle” and was originally a jail and workhouse for petty criminals. The castle was built in 1897 by the very inmates it was intended to house. It was a workhouse jail until 1924, after which it served several different purposes until it was finally closed and abandoned in 1972.

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