Planning the ultimate trip to the Midwestern United States? Make sure to check out all of the best things to do in Kansas City, Missouri. This underrated gem of a city is the perfect place to experience the friendly charm that the Midwest is known for while exploring world-class museums, a vibrant bar & restaurant scene, and much more.
Among the top tourist attractions in Kansas City, you’ll explore historical landmarks, jazz music venues, famous barbecue joints, and foodie-favorite bars & restaurants. Missouri’s biggest city also offers superb museums, including the National WWI Museum and Memorial, one of the largest WWI museums in the entire world.
Aren’t sure what to do in Kansas City on your Missouri road trip? Pack your bags and plan your itinerary with this guide to the best places to visit in Kansas City, MO.
Got more travel plans on the horizon? Check out all our other attractions guides and our Missouri Travel Guide for more ideas on where to go, when to visit & what to do!
Best places to visit in Kansas City, MO
National WWI Museum and Memorial
History buffs visiting Kansas City will appreciate the National WWI Museum and Memorial, one of the world’s most comprehensive WWI exhibits and one of the coolest places to see in KC.
The story of the National WWI Museum and Memorial itself is an inspiring one. Shortly after the First World War ended, the community came together to raise millions in just ten days to honor the people who gave their lives in the war.
Today, the National WWI Museum and Memorial is a national historical landmark and features a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits honoring those who fought in WWI. Pencil in a visit to pay tribute to the fallen and to learn more about America’s involvement in the “Great War.”
The museum is closed Mondays and is open every other day from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission costs $18.
Worlds of Fun
Looking to let loose on your Kansas City visit? Head to Worlds of Fun, a 235-acre amusement park and entertainment complex that offers visitors endless hours of thrilling rides and fun. There’s even a sister park, Oceans of Fun, that you can access for the same ticket price. This humongous water park is perfect for cooling off in the Kansas City summer heat.
Worlds of Fun is the largest amusement park in the Midwest and makes the perfect destination for a full day of excitement. Spike up the adrenaline on roller coasters like MAMBA and Patriot or enjoy family-friendly rides like Charlie Brown’s Windup and Snoopy’s Rocket Express.
The price for a day’s admission at the theme park starts at just $39.99 per person. You can upgrade your ticket to include all sorts of extras and Fun like food tastings and
Kansas City Zoo
Animal lovers and families with kids will find hours of fun at Kansas City Zoo. Located in the center of Swope Park, the 202-acre zoo features 1,300 animal exhibits and has been voted one of the best zoos in the United States of America. The African animal exhibit has been rated as number one in the nation.
The Kansas City Zoo is open year-round, with fun things to take in during every season. Whether your favorite animals are penguins or pandas, you’ll find them here. Interactive exhibits feature opportunities to get up close and personal with animals like stingrays and bamboo sharks.
The cost for admission is $16 per adult and $13 per child. Children under two can visit for free, making this the perfect outing for the entire family.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
When you imagine a city to take in some amazing art, Kansas City, Missouri, might not jump to the forefront of your mind. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised with a visit to The Nelson Atkinson Museum of Art. Well-known for its extensive collection, the art museum features pieces of art from nearly every continent around the world!
The Nelson Atkinson Museum of Art has been recognized worldwide as one of the best general art museums and houses over 40,000 works of art. Spend the day browsing the exhibits with everything from ancient art, architecture and design, modern art, and much more.
The museum is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday but is open every other day from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free, but reservations are required and can be booked online.
Union Station is one of Kansas City’s historical gems and has remained a beloved landmark in the city for over 100 years. The building itself is a marvel, and the entrance is free. Union Station is home to an incredible science center, a planetarium, a movie theater, and a constantly rotating stream of unique exhibits that can be explored for a fee.
Visitors can feel free to explore the building and pay to enter whichever exhibits look attractive to them, or simply visit and watch a great movie or live performance. Either way, there’s something for everyone to explore at Union Station.
It’s worth checking out what performances and exhibits will be available during your visit to Kansas City, Missouri. It’s open daily, but the hours vary depending on events.
Country Club Plaza
Want to shop until you drop on your trip to Kansas City, Missouri? Beeline for Country Club Plaza, Kansas City’s premier shopping destination.
Around since the 1920s, Country Club Plaza has a fascinating history. It was one of the first-ever planned shopping centers in America’s newly growing suburbs. Later on, the plaza became one of the first shopping malls to cater to shoppers arriving by car.
Country Club Plaza encompasses more than 15 city blocks and features Spanish-style architecture with beautiful fountains, trendy boutiques, and high-end shops from name brands like Michael Kors.
Aside from shopping, visitors can choose to ride a gondola float on Brush Creek or even take a carriage ride. There are a variety of tasty bars and restaurants to enjoy when you’re ready to take a break from browsing all the stores.
Jacob L. Loose Park
For a fun-filled day of sunshine and healthy exercise, consider a visit to Jacob L. Loose Park. It’s the third-largest park in Kansas City, Missouri, and features a lake, a picnic shelter, a water park, and historic Civil War markers. There’s even a gorgeous rose garden in the spring and early summer months.
Jacob L. Loose Park is the perfect place to soak up some sunshine or enjoy a nice picnic on your visit to Kansas City, Missouri.
River Market is a lively hub in downtown Kansas City. One of the top Kansas City attractions, it’s home to great eats and the city’s famous farmers market, City Market, dating back to 1857. There are a variety of tasty and trendy eateries featuring international cuisine.
Experience all the midwestern charm your heart desires on a visit to River Market as you leisurely browse through the farmers’ stalls. Bring a basket and pick up some farm-fresh produce for your picnic.
The neighborhood that River Market calls home is 150 years old and features unique architecture, perfect for photographers who hope to snap a few great shots.
Arabia Steamboat Museum
The Arabia Steamboat Museum sits adjacent to the River Market, making these two spots make a great combination for a great day out in Kansas City. The Arabia Steamboat Museum celebrates the frontier of Kansas City from the 1800s. It acts as a time capsule, celebrating the rich history of the Missouri River.
The Arabia itself was headed up the river just outside Kansas City when it struck a tree root underwater and sunk with over 200 tons of supplies headed for early settlements. The Missouri River changed course over the years, and the ship was left buried in forgetting under cornfields until it was discovered in 1988.
Visitors can experience the real-life buried treasure on a visit to Kansas City between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm Monday to Saturday and 12 pm to 5 pm on Sundays. Admission costs $14.50 for adults and $13.50 for children.
American Jazz Museum
Celebrate the heart and soul of jazz music in Kansas City at the American Jazz Museum. Music lovers worldwide will appreciate the exciting interactive exhibits at the only museum in the world focused specifically on jazz music.
The goal of the American Jazz Museum is to preserve and celebrate jazz as an art form through education and performance. Jazz remains extremely popular in Kansas City, and if you’re interested in learning more about America’s favorite music genre, the museum is one of the city’s best places to visit.
Take in interactive exhibits and iconic symbols like Charlie Parker’s Grafton saxophone, a sequin dress once worn by Ella Fitzgerald, and much more.
The American Jazz Museum is closed on Monday. Admission costs $10 for adults and $6 for children.
Need a break from the buzz of this vibrant city? One of the best things to do in Kansas City is to meander over to Swope Park.
Although this popular city park is famed as the home of the Kansas City Zoo, there’s much more to explore at Swope Park. The city’s most significant green space is home to soccer fields, golf courses, wooded hiking trails, and even a treehouse-style adventure park.
Swope Park is a fantastic place to spend a full day outdoors enjoying the sunshine or catch a world-class performance after the sunsets. The park’s Starlight Theater hosts incredible performances and events like musicals, concerts, and comedy shows. It’s worth checking the events calendar to see what’s on during your visit to Kansas City, Missouri.
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Another reason for art lovers to plan a trip to Kansas City is to check out the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. The popular art museum features an incredible permanent collection and seeks to enrich the lives of community members and visitors through art.
As far as art museums go, the Kemper Museum is emerging as a leader in the contemporary art world with dozens of exhibitions each year featuring famous and emerging artists.
This popular contemporary art museum is open year-round and is always free to enter.
A visit to Science City is a must for families traveling with kids who want to round out their Midwestern vacation with some educational fun. Located within the iconic Union Station, this interactive science center features exciting exhibits that’ll delight and inspire people of all ages.
Science City features more than 300 hands-on activities and displays for visitors to explore during their visit. Children are encouraged to touch everything and open their minds to the possibilities of science. This fun museum even has an early learning space specifically designed for smaller kids to build a foundational love for science.
There’s nothing more American than catching a baseball game on a summer day. Kauffman Stadium is home to the Kansas City Royals and is one of the nation’s favorite Major League Baseball ballparks.
Kauffman Stadium has been a Kansas City landmark since it was built in the 1970s. Baseball fans will love being a part of Major League history with a trip to the ballpark to catch a Royals game.
In 2009, Kauffman Stadium underwent a $250 million renovation, so it’s looking better than ever. In 2020, a new LED video board was added, which is now the tallest video display in any baseball park.
Kansas City Speedway
The Kansas City Speedway is a 1.5-mile race track located in the Village West area of Kansas City. Built in 2021, it hosts two separate NASCAR weekends and is owned and operated by NASCAR. The venue even offers limited camping for visitors as well as all kinds of VIP experiences.
If you’re interested in experiencing a Midwest tradition or are a big NASCAR fan, you can’t skip a trip to the Kansas City Speedway on your trip. Check out the event calendar to see if there’s a race scheduled during your trip to Kansas City, Missouri.
Another Kansas City favorite amongst locals and tourists is Crown Center, a huge shopping and entertainment area. Crown Center is the actual mall, but it’s also the name of the whole area, which overlooks a plaza with an ice rink.
Catch a performance at the Coterie Theater, which has a bunch of fun plays and musicals each year, or visit the Hallmark Visitor Center for some heartfelt fun.
Aside from great shopping, there’s also a variety of excellent restaurants and bars at Crown Center. They’re perfect places to relax and enjoy a cocktail and a meal before resuming shopping and exploring one of Kansas City’s most popular and lively downtown areas.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Whether traveling with kids or just a kid at heart, LEGOLAND Discovery Center is a fun spot for a visit for all ages. There are many fun activities like a two-story LEGO playground, rides, and tons of LEGO to play with. Watch a film at the LEGO 4D cinema, ride the ride, build and race lego cards, or check out the LEGO Race Virtual Reality Experience.
After enjoying all the fun and games, take home some legos of your own from the gift shop.
The cost for admission starts at $25.99 with options to add on combo packages with the virtual reality experience or the aquarium.
Football fans can’t skip a trip to Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs. The famed NFL stadium is the largest sports facility in Missouri and one of the top points of interest in Kansas City for sports fans.
In 2010, a $375 million renovation was completed, and it was originally built in the late 1960s. Aside from American football, the stadium is also scheduled to host some 2026 FICA World Cup games.
If your visit to Kansas City falls during football, try to snag tickets to a Chiefs game to experience one of the city’s most beloved traditions. Even if you’re visiting KC in the off-season, you can take a guided tour of the stadium.
The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden
Escape the chaos of Kansas City at the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Gardens. The two-acre botanical garden in Kauffman Legacy Park is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon looking at gorgeous flowers and rare plants. It’s located near the Country Club Plaza and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Gardens offers five separate garden designs for visitors to enjoy: The Allee, the Green Garden, the Orangery, Parterre Garden, and the Secret Garden.
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
Located just outside of Kansas City, Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead lets visitors experience the quintessential farm culture of the midwestern United States firsthand.
At Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, families can get up close to farm animals, like goats and cows, and birds of prey, including a bald eagle and a red-tailed hawk. The farmstead also features a nature trail, butterfly gardens, and a traditional one-room schoolhouse so children can imagine what it must have been like for pioneer children attending school.
The Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
One of Kansas City’s larger neighborhoods, Overland Park, located on the Kansas side of the border, has been voted one of the city’s best places to raise a family; it’s also America’s largest inhabited park! The KC suburb features tons of trendy shops nd favorite foodie eateries, as well as rides, cultural experiences, and parks with trails for recreation.
With so many cool Instagrammable spots, Overland Park is well worth a day trip during your Kansas City vacation. Pick up the Overland Park Badge Book to find a list of all the hottest spots, and get a sticker at each stop on the list.
Where to stay in Kansas City for sightseeing
For most travelers, the most popular choices for where to stay in Kansas City lie in & around Downtown, including the Power & Light District and The Crossroads. The areas south of the city center, like Midtown-Westport and the Country Club Plaza Area, also offer an excellent selection of top-notch hotels.
Hotel Indigo – Kansas City Downtown, an IHG Hotel
With its fun decor and bright and cheery atmosphere, the Hotel Indigo KC Downtown is one of the city’s top lodging picks. The hotel charms with an Art Deco vibe, featuring 50s-style diner tiles, bright splashes of color, and retro velvet chairs.
Loews Kansas City
Add a dash of luxury to your vacation with a night at this glitzy hotel. Admire skyline views from floor-to-ceiling windows from the bright modern rooms before sweating out some Kansas City BBQ at the fitness center. Other amenities at this luxe hotel include a saltwater lap pool, terrace, and an on-site restaurant & bar.
Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, Autograph Collection
Home to an upscale jazz club, the Ambassador Hotel is the perfect base for music-loving travelers. End a day of sightseeing with a cocktail in hand, admiring the smooth sounds of the city’s distinctive jazz style. Retire to your sleek room, featuring elegant furnishings with regal accents.