Monday, May 23, 2016

What to Do in Kansas City

Whenever people ask us where we're from, we're pretty proud to claim Kansas City as not only our hometown, but also our current home. The city has gotten a lot more press with the Royals winning the World Series last year, and it's seen a ton of change and improvement in the last decade. In fact, KC is the place to be right now. From barbecue to fountains, sporting events to friendly folks, Kansas City has something to offer for everyone. Here are my top 12 recommendations for a visit, along with local insight and links! If you'd like to have a GPS-guided version of this article, check out my app on GPSmyCity!


1. Cheer on a team.

You've most likely heard of the Kansas City Royals, and Kauffman is super nice, but there are also several other sports teams to cheer on in the area. Our NFL team is the Chiefs, and they share a parking lot with the Royals (and are located right next to them in the super loud Arrowhead Stadium).  These stadiums are in the Independence Area, where you can also catch Mavericks hockey at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, or you can cross the state line and watch Sporting KC play soccer in Kansas City, Kansas. All tickets are pretty reasonable, and the environment is great at all of these venues.

2. Walk the Country Club Plaza.

Even if you're not a huge shopper, the Plaza is definitely worth a visit. It boasts big name restaurants like The Melting Pot, The Cheesecake Factory, and family style Italian at Buca di Beppo. There is also a movie theatre, several coffee shops, reasonable to high end shopping, and several dessert spots. Great times to visit are  when the lights are up from Thanksgiving to mid-January, or for the Plaza Art Fair in September.

I love this video from BostWiki. It really helps explain the city and highlight some of the neighborhoods I mention!

3. Check out the downtown neighborhoods by car or streetcar.

KC has lots of fun neighborhoods with great food and things to do. Check out Westport for great dining and drinks (and the Doughnut Lounge!), Waldo for amazing pizza, and City Market for the Farmer's Market or to see Steamboat Arabia. Brookside is also super cute, and has lots of coffee shops and restaurants. The KC streetcar is free and new, and can connect you all the way from City Market to Union Station. See the route here.

4. See the animals or a show in Swope Park. 

Swope Park is home to both the Kansas City Zoo and Starlight Theater. Spend your day touring "Africa", and then watch a Broadway show under the stars at night!

5. Explore the nightlife in the Power and Light District.

If you're big on nightlife, you'll want to be sure to visit the Power and Light District. Home to bars, restaurants, and the huge outdoor area known as "KC Live", Power and Light is always hopping. The Sprint Center is also located in this area, and hosts sporting events, concerts, and other events. Check out this video for more!

6. Bring the kids (big or little) to Crown Center and Union Station.

For fun for the whole family, head on down Grand St to Crown Center. You'll be able to shop, eat, and check out fun places like Kaleidoscope, LEGOLAND, and SEA LIFE Aquarium. They even show free movies outside in the summer, and have an Ice Rink and huge Mayor's Christmas Tree in the winter. Union Station is located nearby, which houses Science City and a Planetarium.

7.  Enjoy a performance.

There are lots of places to enjoy great concerts and shows in KC. Some of the most popular places are Sprint Center, Starlight, Uptown Theater, the gorgeous Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, the Coterie (which is in Crown Center), and the Midland.

8.  Eat good barbecue (or other food!).

KC is known for barbecue, and there are SO many different kinds to try. Some of our favorites are the famous Joe's KC, Q39, and Arthur Bryant's. If you aren't feeling barbecue, you should definitely check out Grinders, or one of the Mexican restaurants along Southwest Boulevard like Ponak's. (The Boulevard is also home to Boulevard Brewing Company, which has free daily tours!)

9. Visit on First Friday. 

KC has this awesome once a month party called "First Fridays". On the first Friday of each month, there is a big art festival in the Crossroads, complete with music and food trucks. On the entire first weekend of the month, head to the West Bottoms areas for awesome warehouse weekends where you can find awesome, vintage and antique goodies and home decor. My favorites are Bella Patina and Hickory Dickory!

10. Learn more in a museum.

You can visit the well-known Nelson Atkins Museum of Art for free, and the lawn is beautiful! I would also highly recommend the National World War One Museum, which is pretty incredible. The Liberty Memorial is located here, and offers the best view of the KC skyline and downtown. You can also check out the Jazz Museum or Negro Leagues Baseball Museum if you'd like some KC history!

11. Have worlds (or oceans) of fun at a theme park.

Just north of the river, you'll find Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, a theme park and water park respectively. One ticket gets you into both parks. Be sure to ride the Mamba and the Prowler! Schlitterbahn and Great Wolf Lodge are other water parks in the area, and are located near the Legends in Kansas City, KS.

12. Visit as many fountains as you can.

With over 100 fountains within the city and its suburbs, Kansas City truly is the "city of fountains". Check out this link for a map of them all, and a list of their locations (with addresses). You can even go on guided tours or walking tours specific to fountains! (See more about walking tours below!)

Travel App and Walking Tours! 

One of my favorite ways to explore any city is by walking, especially when it doesn't cost me money! Although KC is pretty spread out, there are still several places (especially downtown) to go on some amazing walks. I recently got the chance to try out a few of the Kansas City walking tours from GPSmyCity, and they were a blast. They tell you where to go, what you're seeing, and the history behind it. The app also includes a city map, custom walks, and a list of attractions that are near you. Here are examples of what you'll see on the app.

What the app shows as KC sightseeing walks. On the right, the "Downtown Nightlife" route info and sights.
Each "sight" provides you with more information. You can also see each of the stops for the walk on the map!
If I've talked you into coming to KC, you can even stay with us at our Airbnb listing! I'd love to meet you in person. Send in a request and let me know you're coming from the blog for a little discount :) Have fun!

Currently,
Kelsie

44 comments:

  1. This is a great guide! I've never been because I've had no idea what to do, so now I'll have to plan a trip there.

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    1. Thanks, Marissa! You need to come for sure!

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  2. Legoland, planetarium, aquarium...we really might have to plan a KC trip in the next couple years! My little family would LOVE all of that stuff!

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    1. Yes PLEASE! I would so love to meet you in person, and I think they would love it!!

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  3. I've never been to Kansas City so I will definitely be pinning that for when we go! Our goal is to visit all 30 MLB baseball stadiums so we will definitely be visiting Kauffman soon!

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    1. Yay! That's such a fun tradition. We would love to have you!

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  4. So many good tips here :) Q39 is one of our favorites too! I've yet to do a Boulevard tour but it's definitely on my list!

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    1. Yes, yes- a great place for sure! Thanks for reading, my KC friend!

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  5. I've never been to Kansas, however these activities definitely makes it worth the trip. KC is officially added to my bucket list!

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    1. We actually live on the Missouri side- but we are so glad to have you soon!!

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  6. Looks like a fun place to visit. I saw you mentioned The Cheesecake Factory...LOVE it there so much ;)

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    1. It is really fun and the cheesecake is to die for!

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  7. These are great ideas! When I had a few hrs in kansas city I went to the WW1 museum. Wish I could have spent a little more time in the city as it is quite a nice city!

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    1. Oh awesome, yes- come back and see us!!

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  8. This is awesome info! I haven't been to Kansas City since I was probably a kid. Of course we hit up Oceans and Worlds of Fun:) We only live about 5 hours from there so I can definitely see us making a weekend trip sometime in the future!

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  9. Sounds like a fun city! I'll refer to this if we are there soon! Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. It is a blast. We would love to have you!

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  10. Great tips! I haven't been to Kansas City but I'd like to get to all 50 states, so I'll need to stop there eventually :)

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    1. Yes! I know it may not sound fancy, but there really is a lot to do!

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  11. What a fantastic list! If I ever find myself in Kansas, I hope to be able to check out some of your recommendations!

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  12. My husband and I went to KC in December for a really quick trip. We went for a concert and had one full day to explore. We had dinner at Westport Cafe (delicious) and walked around the Plaza. It was my first visit (he went many years ago) and I was really impressed with how much there was to do!

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    1. Oh yay!! There is a lot more to do than people may think. We would love to have you back!

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  13. I've never been to Kansas City but it sounds like a fun place for a visit! That's crazy yet super cool that there are so many fountains. :)

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    1. It is super fun, and crazy that there are maps for the fountains ha!

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  14. These are all such great tips, if I'm ever in Kansas City I will definitely take your advice! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Yay! Thanks for reading- we would love to have you!

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  15. Looks like a great city to visit! Thanks for the thorough guide : )

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    1. We think it's pretty awesome. Thanks for reading!

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  16. I love this list! Actually before I even read it I sent it to my friend who just moved to KC! She said it was perfect and she was going to use it to plan our upcoming girls trip there! So thank you!

    And also, I recently joined with GPSMyCity! I haven't seen any success with it so far, but I'd love to hear more about how it's working for you! Send me a message or email sometime if you would like!

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    1. Oh awesome, thanks so much for sharing! I'm just getting started with them. We can talk more about it soon!

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  17. KC sounds like such a fun, vibrant place! Maybe someday I'll get out there to hang with you, Lauren, and baby Caleb!

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    1. I can say with complete confidence that we would all love that so much!

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  18. Kansas City sounds pretty fun! I love to just explore neighborhoods, so that's probably what I'd do first!

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    1. It's a blast for sure- with lots of great neighborhoods!!

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  19. We are planning a trip to Louisiana soon, with a stop in Huntsville, Alabama, so this would be a great app! I would love to win it!

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  20. Thank you for my showing video in your blog about Kansas City Kelsie!
    -Alec (BostWiki)

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  21. Thanks so much for the great tips. I have plans for so many different vacations and this city is on my list. Now I have ideas 😊 again thanks

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  22. This is a fantastic post. It's always nice to get tips from people who know the area so well.

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  23. I've never been to Kansas City, but since my husband and I will be living in Omaha until the end of October we've considered taking a day trip. I'll have to keep all of this in mind!

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  24. Thanks for this comprehensive guide to your city! I love that you included so much practical information. Like when to actually visit. Thank you for a very well thought out post!

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  25. Awesome post! The tops places on my travel list are Boston, Charleston, and Chicago!

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  26. Love this guide! I wish I lived in a bigger city, there's always so much to do!

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