Union Station Kansas City: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Want to blend KC’s heritage with modern attractions? Spend some time in Union Station Kansas City. Architectural delights and a huge scoop of entertainment make this historic railway hub an indulgent stop on your Midwest vacation.

Part historical landmark, part entertainment complex, this incredible Beaux-Arts building was once a gateway for millions of passengers. Now, Union Station Kansas City is home to award-winning restaurants and an endless choice of family-friendly attractions. Surrounded by elaborate period architecture, you can shoot for the stars at Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium or catch a show at City Stage Theatre.

Whether you love history, science, or gastronomy, you’ll find it all at this iconic KC destination. Start planning your trip with this Union Station Kansas City guide, including recommendations on what to see & do, places to eat & drink, and where to stay.

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What to see & do in Union Station

Science City

Delve into natural and man-made wonders at Science City. Fascinating exhibits and live shows make this popular Kansas City museum an eye-opening day out for the whole family. With over 120 interactive displays, you’ll learn how crazy science slots into our everyday lives.

No matter how old we are, there’s something fascinating about the world of dinosaurs. At the Dig Site and Dino Lab, you can touch real fossils and learn about the techniques modern paleontologists use.

Science City

At Science City, you’ll also unlock the genetic code and discover that there’s much more to water than you ever thought possible. Learn about where the world’s energy comes from and get an insider look at the human brain.

Head to the demo area for live chemistry and physics demonstrations. It’ll almost seem like magic, but magic is just things that science hasn’t explained yet. Step into a world of illusions at Mr. E Hotel, then cycle 300 feet in the air.

Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium

After you’ve uncovered the wonders of the earth at Science City, it’s time to look to the skies at Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium. Using star-studded technology, you’ll be immersed in the stars and learn about the vast universe that surrounds us.

Lose yourself in the 4K projection system and state-of-the-art surround sound. The Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium will ignite your imagination and bring the galaxies to life. Sit back in the huge dome and let projections throw you into the sparkling world of the cosmos.

Special telescope viewing events might be your opportunity to see a rare supermoon or meteor shower. Look through powerful telescopes and uncover the mysteries of our skies in minute detail.

There are different shows every 90 minutes at Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium. Choose whether you want to be transported to distant stars across sprawling solar systems or sent on an exciting mission.

Model Train Exhibit

After the vast expanse of the universe, it’s time to jump into a miniature world. The Model Train Exhibit spans 8,000 square feet of Union Station. Whether you’re a history buff, design lover, or budding engineer, you’ll have a fantastic time at this locomotive experience.

Unpack the history of the rail industry with adorable mini trains spanning regions and eras. Displays will give you insight into the impact trains have had on society throughout history. Expert staff are on hand to help you unpick the design of different trains and their historical significance.

And the trains at the Model Train Exhibit weren’t just made to stand still. Watch as they venture across pretty countryside and connect quaint towns with towering cities. Spot replicas of genuine landmarks as you admire the impressive design and intelligent transport network at one of Kansas City’s coolest tourist attractions.

City Stage Theatre

Why not catch a show during your Kansas City vacation? City Stage Theatre is a small and intimate performance venue in Union Station, offering a great way to support the local community and get a feel for the city’s arts scene.

With seating for up to 200 guests, you can relax in a cozy atmosphere and be at the heart of the performance. City Stage Theatre uses state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and audiovisual technology to immerse you in their shows.

Lose yourself in gripping dramas, cry with laughter at hilarious comedies, or sing along to your favorite musical. With day and night time tickets available, it’ll be easy to slot in a performance during your Kansas City trip.

The City Stage Theatre host thriving theatrical groups like the Kansas City Actors Theatre and Theatre for Young America. They give you the chance to see contemporary productions from high-quality professional actors.

B&B Theatres KC Extreme Screen Union Station

If movies are more your thing, head to B&B Theatres KC Extreme Screen Union Station. This epic movie theatre only has one screen, but it measures a whopping 80 by 53 feet, making it the largest screen in the region.

A modern audio system and crisp projection will make watching a movie here one of the most intense experiences of your life. Sit back in a plush chair and lose yourself in the plot.

Whatever your movie taste, you’ll find a diverse film selection on offer at B&B Theatres KC Extreme Screen Union Station. From the latest blockbusters to retro classics, it’s guaranteed to be a cinematic experience. If you want to make it even more exciting, many screenings come as a 3D option.

Of course, no movie fest is complete without snacks: Grab your popcorn, nachos, and cotton candy from the concession stand on the way in.

Museum of Illusions

Bend your senses at the Museum of Illusions. If museums aren’t your thing, this emporium of mind-twisting exhibits will change your mind. You’ll embark on a bizarre adventure that’ll surprise and confuse you.

The Museum of Illusions will take your vacation selfies to the next level. Snap some pics of you and your crazy travel group growing and shrinking, spinning in a kaleidoscope, or with your head on a platter.

The exhibits here will throw you into sensory overload. Transform what you see by staring into the spinning world of the turntables. Unpick how we interpret faces and learn about the incredible history of holograms. The museum is a fountain of knowledge where you can learn about how our bodies interpret the world around us. If you can handle it, step into the Vortex tunnel and feel the world spin beneath your feet.

Where to eat & drink

This bustling neighborhood is home to award-winning restaurants. Union Station’s historic interiors make dining out a lavish experience. For your nightcap, you can choose between a wonderful selection of sleek cocktail bars or vintage glamour.

For the ultimate Kansas City BBQ, head to Jack Stack Barbecue – Freight House. Traditional architecture and a roaring fireplace give you a fun and rustic BBQ experience.

Surrounded by elegant decor and a sparkling floor-to-ceiling bar, Pierpont’s at Union Station immerses you in stylish indulgence. They pair their luxe take on surf and turf with an award-winning wine list.

Chocaholics can dive into cocoa heaven at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. This Colorado-based chocolatier produces over 300 different luxurious treats. Stock up at the store in Union Station so you can have a decadent dessert when you get back to your hotel.

After your heavenly dinner at Pierpoints, head upstairs to the Conductor Club. Every 6 to 10 weeks, they come up with an immersive theme with matching signature cocktails.

Whether you’re looking for morning pep or evening relaxation, look to the experts at Rochester Brewing and Roasting Company. In the nearby Crossroads district, this minimal joint focuses on mastering the art of brewing and roasting.

Nothing beats taking in a new city quite like a rooftop bar. Percheron Rooftop Bar is a laid-back space with panoramic views of Kansas City landmarks and regular live music.

Where to stay

Although there are no accommodations in Union Station itself, the surrounding areas are packed with some of the most popular places to stay in Kansas City. Head directly northward into the Crossroads neighborhood or further afoot into Downtown Kansas City for a wide selection of top-notch lodgings.

Home2 Suites Downtown

Home2 Suites Kansas City Downtown

Less than a ten-minute walk from Union Station, these colorful suites give you the privacy of an apartment and the convenience of a hotel. Fuel your day with a free hot breakfast, then cook up a storm in your private kitchen. Maintain your fitness routine in the indoor pool or in the gym, complete with a Peloton bike.

Hotel Indigo

Hotel Indigo Kansas City – The Crossroads, an IHG Hotel

Art lovers will be enchanted by all the small details at this stylish hotel. Local artwork and custom fabrics spread across every space. Sip craft cocktails in the Midwest-themed restaurant, or take the short walk over to Union Station.

Crossroads Hotel

Crossroads Hotel

This hotel offers a gorgeous mix of historic charm and modern luxury. Unwind in your plush room or in the cozy lounge. Their eclectic restaurant serves traditional Italian dishes with a side of old-school hip-hop. If you’re in the mood for a boogie, head upstairs to the stunning Pecheron rooftop bar.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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