There are a lot of things to do in Kansas City for all ages and interests, which makes it a pretty good vacation spot. Before we look at all its top attractions, let’s find out about a little about it. Kansas City is the largest city in the southern state of Missouri and sits close to the border with the neighboring state of Kansas. Confusing, we know. The city has a population of around 489,000 people. Kansas City is well known for its amazing BBQ and its jazz music. It’s also known for its many fountains, earning it the official nickname ‘The City of Fountains’. At the last count, the city had more than 200.
Let’s dive straight in and take you on a quick journey and explore all the great things to do in Kansas City on your visit.
National World War 1 Museum
This site is America’s official museum dedicated to World War 1. It’s been open to the public since 1926, when it was known as the Liberty Memorial. It has grown massively over the past few decades and showcases a collection of artifacts dating back to 1920. The museum details the history of WW1, what led up to it, how it transpired, and what came afterwards. It does this in an award-winning space and with respect and sensitivity. When you first enter the museum, you do so across a bridge which lies above 9,000 glass poppies, representing the war dead. It’s an incredible sight to see, and it’s one of the top things to do in Kansas City.
Kansas City Zoo
You haven’t lived until you’ve experience 202-acres of wildlife in Swope Park, KC. The zoo, which has one of the largest collections of African animals in the United States, was founded in 1909 and is home to more than 1,200 furry, slimy, and large-jawed creatures. The zoo has been extensively renovated over the years, with new exhibits, an IMAX theater, and an education center on site. It’s split into five main areas, which are; The Valley, KidZone, Africa, Australia, and Tiger Trail.
There are polar bears, penguins, an orangutan canopy, and huge lions with big teeth. The zoo also has Black Footed-Cats, which look remarkably like our friend’s domestic cat and had us slightly worried. Don’t forget to check out the super-cute Blue Monkey, widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful creatures. We don’t disagree. Take your kids as it’s one of the best things to do in Kansas City for little ones.
Tickets required, available online or from the ticket office, $13-$16
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
A wee trip to this museum is one of the best free things to do in Kansas City. It’s got such an impressive setting, and the views from the top of the exterior steps are incredible. Along with the main museum, and an additional wing was designed and built in 2007, named the Bloch Building. It’s widely regarded as one of the best architectural designs of the past 20 years and has been a really popular addition to the complex. The Bloch Building houses the museum’s contemporary art and cafe. Some of the highlights include the outdoor sculpture park, where everything is larger than life, and works by Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Monet, Toulouse Lautrec, and Rembrandt. Not too shabby.
Harry S Truman Library and Museum
Now, technically, this museum is located in Independence, but it’s too close and too important not to have on this list. Harry Truman was the 33rd President of the United States and like all good Presidents; he gets a library as a memorial to him and his work in his home state. Truman, unlike other Presidents, actually used to go into the library frequently and was even known to answer the phone and deal with inquiries. We can’t really see many other Presidents doing that. Think of what a shock that would be to callers. The office where he worked is exactly the same as it was on the day he died and is a highlight of any visit.
President Truman is interred in the library grounds, along with his wife and daughter. It’s a lovely place for visitors to pay their respects. The library holds many photographs and mementos of President Truman’s life and his premiership, and is a great thing to do in Kansas City for all the family.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
LEGOLAND is a huge indoor discovery center, based around everyone’s favorite building blocks. The center has rides, a gift shop, soft play, and tons of other interactive things to do. Kansas City’s branch of LEGOLAND has the world’s biggest bucket of bricks. There’s even a Lego art gallery for the budding Picasso in your family. It’s a great thing to do in Kansas City with kids, as they’ll spend many happy hours checking out all the different exhibits. We feel we need to warn you of the dangers of stepping on Legos before you go as it is, officially, the most painful thing that can happen to a person. Please be careful.
Tickets required, available online or from the entrance, $17.95-$44.95
Sea Life Kansas City
Sea Life is an interactive aquarium, with a reputation for conservation and breeding. Sea Life has successfully bred numerous species of seahorse, and has a program of rehabilitating rescued seals before releasing them back into the wild. The center is home to a huge range of animals, including sharks, stingrays, octopus, and turtles. There are also 11 interactive areas and various touch pools where your little ones (or big ones, we’re not here to judge) can get involved. It’s a great thing to do in Kansas City with kids and a really fun day out for all the family.
Tickets required, available online or from the entrance, $17.95-21.95
Oceans of Fun
If you’re on the lookout for more water-based things to do in Kansas City with kids, then head out to Oceans of Fun. This is an enormous water theme park with a tropical theme. When it first opened its doors in 1982 it was the biggest water park in the world, so it’s pretty sizeable, to say the least. You can either go swimming in the 1 million gallon Surf City Wave Pool, gently float away with day in the Caribbean Cooler lazy river loop, or get extreme in Predators Plunge. Or, why not go totally mental and try out all three?
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $37-$48
Swope Park is more than 1,800 acres of beautiful land and one of the largest parks in the United States. It’s full of trails, has a stunning bandstand, and is home to many of the city’s premier attractions, such as the zoo, a pool, golf course, and soccer village. There are numerous shelters, with access to grilling facilities and electricity. These can be rented out for various functions, or just a family day out. It’s a relaxing thing to do with kids in Kansas City, especially if you’ve spent the previous few days at theme parks.
Off-beat things to do in Kansas City
There’s an unusually high level of off-beat things to do in Kansas City, which signals hours of odd fun for everyone. If you hit up Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art during your visit, you will almost certainly notice the shuttlecocks in the grounds. These aren’t just any shuttlecocks, however, they’re the world’s largest. We don’t know how much competition there is in the Enormous Shuttlecock game, but Nelson-Atkins has it nailed. If you head downtown to the Central Branch of the public library, you will also encounter a bookshelf that would only be useful for giants. The books are 25 ft. tall and nine feet wide. It’s a great thing to do in Kansas City and a pretty unique place to have your photo taken.
FAQs About Kansas City
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the city and things to do in Kansas City. These will help your research, planning, and general education about all this Midwestern city has to offer.
What’s good in Kansas City?
No visitor should be allowed to leave Kansas City without trying some sort of BBQ meats. It’s something the city is world famous for, and it’s one of the best things to do in Kansas City. Also, checking out a local jazz club – something the city is also well known for – should be high on everyone’s list of things to do in Kansas City during any visit.
What is Kansas City famous for?
KC is very famous for its amazing BBQ. It’s a special regional style of BBQ, using slowly smoked meats and a sweet tomato and molasses sauce. Yum.
What is the best suburb of Kansas City?
Fairway and Mission Hill are commonly considered the best neighborhoods in Kansas City, with Leadwood and Overland Park coming in close behind.
KC is a typical Midwestern city, with lots of fun things to do and see. It’s passionate about its slow cooked meats, jazz music, and has a love of sports. The city is home to an MLS soccer team; Sporting Kansas City, and an NFL team in the Kansas City Chiefs. The city is growing twice as quickly as nearby St Louis, so it’s safe to say that it’s a good place to hang out and spend some time. Although Kansas City might get overlooked as a location to holiday, it has so much to offer. The city is served by Kansas City International Airport and accommodation and eating out are relatively inexpensive.