Looking for educational and family-friendly experiences in Kansas City? Start your search in Crown Center. Whether you love shopping, history, or outdoor fun, you’ll find it all in this laid-back area to the south of Downtown KC.
The Crown Center neighborhood got its name from the huge mall in the heart of the area. Head here for wonderful independent shops and restaurants. You’ll find endless opportunities to expand your mind in Crown Center, with major attractions like the National WWI Museum and Memorial and Science City. Learn about major brands like Lego and Hallmark, or take a deep dive into the US dollar at the Money Museum.
Ready to jump into a Kansas City neighborhood with something to keep the whole family happy? Check out this Crown Center area guide, including great tips on all the fun things to see & do, the coolest places to eat and drink, and the best places to stay!
What to see & do in Crown Center
National WWI Museum and Memorial
Get a big slice of history at the National WWI Museum and Memorial. It’s the second-oldest museum in the nation and the only one in the United States that focuses on the events that unfolded during WWI.
Marking the sight of the museum is the towering Liberty Memorial. Rising 217 feet into the air, it’s impossible not to spot during a stroll through leafy Penn Valley Park. The memorial is dedicated to the people who defended the liberty of the US during WWI.
Step inside this popular Kansas City museum to explore the world’s most expansive collection of WWI artifacts. Even if you’re not into history, there are exhibits to suit all interests at the National WWI Museum and Memorial. Beautiful Egyptian-Revival buildings and a section on prosthetics will spark the interest of anyone with an eye for design. Experience the war for yourself with a VR headset or explore what the war did to progress Women’s Rights.
Union Station Kansas City
Union Station Kansas City is home to some of the most popular things to do in KC, including Science City and The Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium. Once a bustling transport hub, Union Station welcomed millions of passengers into the city. Designers have lovingly restored it, keeping stunning period details while transforming the former train station into a thriving entertainment complex.
This beautiful building is an incredible example of Beaux-arts architecture. Dreamy ceiling panels and smooth white marble will transport you to the 1920s while you enjoy luxurious modern amenities.
You’ll have endless entertainment at your fingertips in Union Station Kansas City. Look to the skies at the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium or see local landscapes from a new perspective at the Model Train Exhibit.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll find opportunities for indulgent feasts among historic glamour in the many restaurants. The popular Pierpont’s at Union Station has a stylish surf and turf menu and an eye-catching floor-to-ceiling bar.
The neighborhood’s namesake, Crown Center is a three-story mall in the heart of the area that houses over 30 shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for a little retail therapy on your KC trip itinerary, this is the place for it!
Choose from an exciting array of unique stores at Crown Center. Get a family caricature at Deborah’s Art Studio, or give kids a colorful day out at Crayola Kansas City. With everything from cashmere sweaters to luxury pens, you might need to buy an extra suitcase to bring everything home!
Built up an appetite while shopping? Whatever you’re in the mood for, Crown Center has a great choice of restaurants. Create your own pizza topping at Spin Pizza, or try the farm-to-table dishes at Unforked. The most iconic eating spot in the mall is Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant, where a miniature train delivers burgers to your table.
You’ll also find epic attractions and entertainment at Crown Center. Catch a show at the Coterie Theatre, a performing arts center showcasing events for all ages, from contemporary productions to classics.
Whether you have kids or are young at heart, spark your curiosity at Science City, one of KC’s must-see museums. This is no boring science museum: Over 120 interactive exhibits will open your eyes to natural and modern wonders.
Let children’s imaginations run wild at Science City with endless things to touch, question, and discover. Delve into dinosaurs at the Dig Site and Dino Lab, or cycle 300 feet in the air on the SkyBike. Budding scientists can learn about everything from the power of water to unpicking the genetic code.
Even if science isn’t your thing, the exciting exhibits and demonstrations at Science City will capture your attention by the end of the day. In the Science of Energy exhibit, you can generate electricity using your own body and play around with wind and solar energy. Adults and kids alike will love getting selfies in the illusions at Mr. E Hotel.
Penn Valley Park
Take a breather from the city at Penn Valley Park. Once an important part of the Santa Fe Trail, the park offers 176 acres of lush greenery. With a dreamy lake and the Kansas City skyline in the distance, it’s a picturesque spot for some fresh air. Enjoy nature while you tick off some more Kansas City landmarks.
You’ll find several Kansas City points of interest in Penn Valley Park. The Scout is a Penn Valley Park staple. This iconic statue of a Sioux Indian on his horse watches loyally over Downtown KC. The immense Liberty Memorial marks the entrance of the National WWI Museum. Just south, you’ll find The Hiker, another memorial dedicated to veterans of the Spanish-American war.
If you’d rather relax and enjoy the sunshine, there are lots of active pursuits to keep you busy at Penn Valley Park, too. Take a jog on the two-mile fitness trail or book out one of the tennis courts.
Hallmark Visitors Center
Take in a huge dose of nostalgia at the Hallmark Visitors Center. This adorable museum explores the creation of one of the most famous greeting card companies in the world. It’s one of Kansas City’s must-visit attractions for art enthusiasts, wannabe entrepreneurs, and anyone who loves the mushy stuff.
At Hallmark Visitors Center, you’ll learn how a teenager from Nebraska chased the lights of Kansas City with just two shoeboxes of postcards. Explore Hallmark’s rich heritage of celebrating important moments with loved ones.
The Hallmark Vistors Center is a particularly great place to visit during the festive period, with a display of all the Christmas trees from founder J.C. Hall’s office. Shimmering bows have become an essential part of our gift wrapping. Watch the bow machine craft a beautiful bow for you to take home!
On your way out, you can pick up a wonderful selection of Hallmark-branded souvenirs, including cards, ornaments, and stationery. Buy a trip memento or pick up a card to send to your favorite person.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City
Channel your inner builder at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City. It’ll be an epic adventure no matter what your age is. In a world of millions of Lego bricks, anything is possible!
There’s an incredible choice of activities at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City. Battle the elements in the 4D cinema or work as a team to overcome evil in the Kingdom Quest. The pièce de resistance is the Lego replica of Kansas City. Check out what landmarks you’ve missed, and keep an eye out for cheeky mini-figures on the streets.
Attractions for all ages encourage you to unleash your creative side. Create a masterpiece in the Lego Art Gallery, or create and race your own Lego car. Build a Lego train and test it out on the tracks, then take a VR ride on the conductor’s chair.
SEA LIFE Kansas City
Explore life below the surface at SEA LIFE Kansas City, the only aquarium in Missouri. Across 30 different displays, you can make friends with over 5,000 underwater critters.
Your first stop in SEA LIFE Kansas City will be a huge 360-degree tank. You’ll feel as though you’re immersed in the ocean as huge schools of fish drift by. Move on to spend some time with chilled-out turtles and friendly freshwater fish.
As you move through the exhibits, you’ll meet stingrays, jellyfish, and even sharks—all fantastic examples of the diversity that lurks under our waters.
During your SEA LIFE Kansas City visit, you’ll have rare opportunities to get up close and personal with some of your favorite water babies. The interactive touch pool gives you the chance to touch colorful rockpool creatures like sea stars and sea urchins, while the seahorse temple gives you the chance to see these delicate and elusive creatures up close.
Budding bankers should spend some time in the Money Museum, located at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City headquarters. At the Money Museum, you’ll get an insider look at how the dollar works and get to see how millions of dollars get processed every day.
The Money Museum will give you a deep dive into the US economy. Fun interactive exhibits will turn you into a financial expert. Browse the 450-piece collection of coins throughout history. The historic Truman coin collection includes the rare 1907 Double Eagle coin. Under Roosevelt’s administration, it was worth $20, but today, it’s one of the most expensive coins in the United States!
At the Money Museum, you can also lift a hefty gold bar worth $400,000, expand your understanding of different financial concepts, and watch real employees process serious amounts of cash.
Oh, and every visitor gets a bag of free money. (But since it’s shredded, you’ll have a hard time spending it anywhere!)
Where to eat & drink
You’ll find a fantastic choice of restaurants in this neighborhood, from the fun spots in the Crown Center Mall to the grand setting of Union Station. If you want to continue your night, hop over to the neighboring Crossroads district for a huge choice of trendy bars.
Embrace historic charm at Harvey’s at Union Station. As you while away the afternoon in this open-air restaurant, you can pretend you’re dining on the streets of Rome or Paris. Sprawled across the Grand Hall, the eatery has a casual menu of breakfast and lunch classics. If you’re there on the weekend, make sure to stop by for their Sunday brunch buffet.
Pierpont’s at Union Station is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the area. The historic architecture of Union Station is paired with opulent décor and flawless service. Combine your juicy steak and delicate seafood with their exquisite wine and cocktail menu.
SPIN! Pizza has a huge Italian menu, with beautiful salads and a huge variety of fresh pizza toppings. Get a fun vintage experience at Fritz’s. Order your food with an antique-style telephone, and they’ll deliver it to your table on their overhead train set. Come for the novelty and stay for the tasty burger and hotdog menu.
If you’re dining at Pierpoints, finish upstairs with a nightcap at Conductor Club. Every few weeks, they go all out with a new magical theme and create signature cocktails to match.
Afterword Tavern & Shelves is part book store, part cocktail bar. A relaxed atmosphere and a literary-themed menu make this the ideal spot for a cozy drink and intellectual conversation.
The shimmering Mercury Room Bar offers an upscale experience and floor-to-ceiling views of the Kansas City skyline. Sink into plush seating among the sparkling city lights as you sip celestial-themed cocktails.
For a sky bar experience with a more laid-back atmosphere, check out Percheron Rooftop Bar. Head here for sunny al fresco drinks with great views, a coastal menu, and regular live music.
Where to stay
As it’s located in the heart of the city, Crown Center is one of the top choice neighborhoods to stay in Kansas City. The accommodation selection here, however, is fairly limited, with only a small handful of hotels.
This sleek and modern hotel is just a few steps away from the Crown Center Mall. Light and airy rooms and plush social areas make the Westin KC a fantastic place to unwind after a day in the city. Cool off in the outdoor pool or grab a bite to eat from the vibrant American-Italian restaurant.
In the heart of Crown Center and across the park from Union Station, the Sheraton is a prime location for your stay in Kansas City. Take in the sprawling Kansas City views from the rooftop pool or from the pub-style restaurant, where you can sample classic Kansas City BBQ.