Kansas City, Missouri Attractions - My Family Travels
Arthur Bryant's is a BBQ favorite in Kansas City, photo Jason Dailey for VisitKC.com
College Basketball Experience is a great stop with sports lovers; photo c. VisitKC.com

Welcome to the “Heart of America” where Kansas City attractions include hundreds of majestic water-spouting monuments, haute culture and yummy barbecue await families.

The rich tapestry of Kansas City is made up of a world-class art museum; restored train station; and a jazz and blues district with a complex devoted to the contributions of African-Americans. For more information on Kansas City attractions, lodging and dining, log onto VisitKC.

Great Fun for the Kids

(Toddler to Age 8)

Kansas City Zoo
6800 Zoo Drive in Swope Park
Kansas City, MO 64132
“It’s all happenin’ at the zoo,” and it’s located in America’s second largest urban park. Visit with over 1,000 exotic animals from all over the world on over 200 acres of naturalistic settings. Hop aboard the zoo train, tram or boat, ride a pony, or take a ride on an Endangered Species Carousel. You can also take the kids to the “Discovery Barn,” an area just for kids and families where you can see animals up-close and participate in the interactive learning.

2500 Grand Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64108
A favorite area of the Hallmark Visitors Center at the Crown Center, Kaleidoscope is a unique creative art workshop for kids, offered free of charge. Mountains of materials are available from recycled items from Hallmark’s card manufacturing process, and kids are encouraged to let their imaginations go wild. Call ahead for a schedule of sessions and workshops at this terrific and unique attraction.

The Toy and Miniature Museum
5235 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64112
Located on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, this museum features the private collections of three long-time Kansas Citizens who, due to their extensive holdings, were often told that “they should start a museum.” Currently occupying 38 rooms of a former private home dating from 1911, the museum has been expanding since its inception in 1982. The collections include scale miniatures, more than 100 furnished dolls’ houses and room settings; a transportation room showcasing trains, toy cars and planes; displays of 19th century German toys and examples of many American toy manufacturers; a collection of Russian lacquer boxes; and nostalgic and contemporary toys from the 1950s through the present.

Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad Co.
502 East Walnut St
Belton, MO 64012
Located about a 30 minute drive from downtown KC in Belton, a town built by the railroad, this all-volunteer operation recreates small town railroading dating from the 1920’s. Hop aboard such cars as a 1920’s open window coach, a 1960’s open-air flatcar with picnic tables and a 1970’s red caboose pulled by a 1957 diesel-electric locomotive, and enjoy a 5-mile-long, 45-minute round trip excursion to the past.

Fun for Older Children

(Up to age 18)

Science City at Union Station
30 West Pershing Road
Kansas City, MO 64108
Union Station, built in 1914, was declared “the gateway to the West” by President Woodrow Wilson. It’s definitely in the top Kansas City attractions now, but in 1983, after many years of decline, the station’s doors were closed. Beautifully restored in 1999 and always undergoing more restoration, trains once again roar through the second largest train station in the nation, part of a complex which houses giant-screen cinemas and live theaters, restaurants and shops. Science City is an interactive and entertaining facility featuring dozens of hands-on exhibits. Visitors can land a space shuttle, solve a crime in the Crime Lab and ride a bike 10 feet in the air. There is an exbiti on the history of railroading in America, as wellas an 8,000 square foot model train layout. At the Dino Lab, the largest lab of its kind in America, you can watch a real paleontologist work on dinosaur fossils as he prepares them for exhibition at Science City.

Airline History Museum
Kansas City Downtown Airport – Hangar 9
201 NW Lou Holland Drive
Kansas City, MO 64116
Visitors can take a close look at a restored Lockheed L1049 “Super G” Constellation, a Martin 404, a Douglas DC-3 and more at this museum celebrating the history of propeller-driven transport aircraft. The museum also features films, books, designer hostess uniforms, galley items, instrumentation, and other airline memorabilia.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111
Considered the most distinguished art museum in the Midwest, the Nelson-Atkins displays more than 33,500 items dated from 3000 B.C. to the present. Best known for its outstanding Asian art collection, especially works from China, the museum also presents extensive holdings of European and American art. Both inside and outside the museum (in the adjacent 22-acre Kansas City Sculpture Park) you will find the country’s largest collection of British sculptor Henry Moore’s monumental pieces, as well as works by other modern masters. This museum is free to the public.

Leila’s Hair Museum
1333 South Noland Rd.
Independence, MO 64055
Recognized as one of the “100 Most Unusual Museums in the Country”, this museum boasts thousands of objects made from a very strange medium, human hair. There are 159 wreaths and over 2,000 pieces of jewelry constructed from hair, as well as portraits of babies with human hair attached.  You can also see the locks of Marilyn Monroe and Abraham Lincoln. Who else can say they’ve done that?

Crown Center
2450 Grand Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64108
Crown Center, home of the international headquarters of Hallmark Cards, is an enclosed shopping and entertainment center with more than 60 shops including a LEGOLAND Discover Center, 20 restaurants, offices, theatres, cinemas, the Kaleidoscope Art Studio, the SeaLife Aquarium, the Ice Terrace skating rink, two hotels and covered free parking. The center’s completion was a catalyst for the success of revitalizing the city’s inner core. On site, the Hallmark Visitors Center (816/274-3613) tells the history of the greeting card company whose humble beginnings date to the 1910. Through 14 exhibits such as World War II greetings, holograms from the 1980s and the World of Charles Schulz, whose Peanuts characters have been seen on Hallmark cards for more than 40 years, visitors discover how the cards have reflected various eras and trends for nearly 100 years. Watch a film to learn about the inspiration of the artists’ and writers’ creative processes, and watch demonstrations of card production, excerpts from the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” television programs and Hallmark commercials (bring some tissues). The tour is free of charge and requires about one hour.

Comedy City
River Market
817 Westport Road
Kansas City, MO 64111
A comedy show that kids can enjoy!! Based entirely on suggestions from the audience, the fast-paced interplay is funny, clean (goe to the early show at 7:30pm) clever, and never the same.

Jesse James Bank Museum
103 N. Water Street
Liberty, MO 64068

Jesse James Farm Home
21216 Jesse James Farm Road
Kearney, MO 64068
The Jesse James Bank Museum is located on the Historic Square in Liberty, about 20 minutes from Kansas City. Built in 1858, it is the site of the first successful daylight bank robbery in peacetime. Visitors view photographs, the original bank vault, and learn about the legend of Jesse James and the infamous James Gang. There is also a museum of the Civil War. The Jesse James Farm Museum is located in Kearny, about 15 minutes from Liberty or 25 miles from KC. Here you can tour the restored homestead where Frank and Jesse grew up and eventually planned robberies with their band of outlaws.

Fun for the Whole Family

American Jazz Museum
1616 East 18th Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
Part of the Museums at 18th & Vine arts complex, this is the first museum in the country devoted exclusively to this uniquely American musical art form. The interactive exhibits include information on and sample recordings by such legends as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Charlie Parker among others. The small and manageable museum also has original musical instruments. The John Baker Film Collection presents fun footage on the themes of “Big Bands,” “Women in Jazz” and “African American Dance and Jazz.” In the evenings, visitors can enjoy performances at the Blue Room, a jazz club attached to the museum and the restored Gem Theater.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
1616 East 18th Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
888/221-NLBM, 816/221-1920
The Negro National League was founded in 1920 at the former Paseo YMCA, one block from the museum. This facility recreates the look, sound and feel of baseball during the height of the Negro Leagues. The exhibit covers the entire history of the Leagues from their inception after the Civil War through their demise in the 1960s while circling a replica baseball field with life-size bronze statues of some of the early players. Check to see if one of their guides is available during your visit; the stories bring to life the earliest days of both integrated and segregated play. Video presentation available with interviews of former players.

Harry S. Truman’s Independence, Missouri
As the jumping off point for wagon trains heading west, Independence is known as the “Queen City of the Trails.” And, as the home of President Harry S. Truman, there are several sites devoted to our 33rd President and his family. Driving distance is approximately 20 minutes from downtown Kansas City. Start at the Presidential Museum & Library built in 1957, which houses nearly 10 million papers, books and historical material relating to Truman’s life and administration. The museum features extensive audio-visual components and new interactive exhibits. Until his death, the former President maintained an office at the building and both he and his wife are laid to rest in the library courtyard. The Harry S. Truman Office and Courtroom sites are located in the Jackson County Courthouse which dates from 1933. Visitors are introduced to the former President during a 25-minute film entitled “The Man From Independence.” You can also tour the offices and courtroom used when he began his life in public service. Call ahead to 816/252-7454 for reservations.

Harry S. Truman Home
219 N. Delaware Street
Kansas City, MO  64105
Visitor Center Address:
223 N. Main Street
Kansas City, MO 64105
A 14-room Victorian mansion built by Bess Wallace Truman’s grandfather in 1885, it was known as the “Summer White House” during the Truman Administration, and is where the President and his wife lived from the time of their marriage in 1919 to their deaths. It is one mile from here to the Museum and Library.

The College Basketball Experience
1401 Grand Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64106
Ready to let off some steam and shoot a few hoops? This interactive (potentially very active) multimedia experience introduces contemporary heroes of college basketball in a Hall of Fame, and allows visitors to try their skills. It’s a fun, immerisive experience, even for those who don’t follow the sport, and a nice interlude between the city’s wonderful, yet more traditional, museums.

National Frontier Trails Museum
318 West Pacific
Independence, MO 64050
Explore pioneer history and westward migration in the mid-nineteenth century by learning about the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails used by traders, settlers and fortune seekers. Follow wagon trains as they withstand rugged terrain, extreme weather and health hazards to settle the newly acquired West.

Patee House Museum
1202 Penn Street
St. Joseph, MO 64503
About 30 minutes from KC’s metropolitan area, this eccentric museum features a hodgepodge of weird artifacts and memorabilia dating to the 1800s. Standouts include a 1920s gas station, the dentist office of Walter Cronkite’s father, a horse-drawn hearse and a 1,050-pound ball of string. The museum served as a headquarters for the Union army in the Civil War, and was also used as a luxury hotel, a girl’s college, and a shirt factory. Also on the museum property is the Jesse James Home, home of the outlaw with information on his life and death, in the purported place where of his death.  On view is the famous bullethole that appeared after his murder.

Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun
4545 Worlds of Fun Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64161
Patterned after the Jules Verne adventurous tale, “Around the World in Eighty Days,” Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun features five themed continent areas. Over 50 rides and attractions from mild to wild rides (including Camp Snoopy, Fury of the Nile, ThunderHawk and the Mamba, one of the worlds tallest, longest and fastest roller coasters), ethnic foods and live entertainment. Adjacent to this park is Oceans of Fun, the Midwest’s largest tropically themed water park featuring a million-gallon wave pool, several water slides, two special children areas and more. Open summers only.

Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City
1722 E. 17th Terrace
Kansas City, MO 64108
Also located in this historic district is the largest depository of material regarding African-Americans in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma. Founded by dedicated researcher Horace M. Peterson ( namesake of the Visitors Center at the Museums of 18th and Vine), the scope of memorabilia and artifacts includes newspapers, diaries, correspondence, historical documents and photographs. This educational resource collects, preserves and makes available information on social, economic, political and cultural contributions of African-Americans.

Harry S. Truman Sports Complex
1-70 and Blue Ridge Cutoff
The Harry S. Truman Sports Complex is home to two of KC’s teams:

Kansas City Royals
One Royal Way
Kansas City, MO 64129
800/6ROYALS, 816/921-8000

See the American League team that won the 1985 World Series play at Kauffman Stadium.

Kansas City Chiefs
One Arrowhead Drive
Kansas City, MO 64129
See the NFL team that won the 1970 Super Bowl play at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City Barbeque

With roots in the cattle industry, Kansas City has evolved into a barbeque-lovers heaven with over 100 tantalizing restaurants to choose from. Learn the basics from Henry Perry, the “Father of KC Barbeque,” Charlie and Arthur Bryant, George Gates and others who experimented and created their own versions of this slow-smoking technique. Arthur Bryant currently serves his legendary meats at three restaurants in Kansas City, while Gates BBQ, originally located at 19th and Vine, operates six restaurants in the greater KC area. Try them both (they also sell bottled barbeque sauce to take home), and discover many others (try Harp BBQ) on your own.

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1 Reply to “Kansas City, Missouri Attractions”

  • anonymous

    If your children like art (and even if they don’t) a visit to Kalaidoscope is really fun and unusual. My kids really liked the outer space area that is lit by black light so that the fluorescent markers glow. They even had broken florescent crayons that were melted and then children can paint with them with cotton swabs.