13 things to do in Kansas City

Bridging Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City is best known for barbecue, jazz and its passionate sports fans. There is plenty to do in “Paris of the Plains,” including:

Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins is incredible and free. What more do you need? With art and history covering centuries, it has something everyone will enjoy. It is best known for its collection of Asian art, but boasts impressive collections in Ancient Egyptian, European and more, through current modern art.

Attend a game

Kansas City fans are passionate about their sports, and the stadiums reflect this. In the summer, catch a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium. If you visit during the fall or winter, Arrowhead stadium is right across the parking lot. The Chiefs stadium is considered one of the loudest in the NFL. Bundle up and enjoy a game.

Find all (or at least some) of the fountains

Kansas City is know as the City of Fountains, with over 200 registered within the metropolitan area. Fountains originally served a utilitarian purpose, as a water source for horses, birds and dogs in the 1800’s. As water became more readily available, the city embraced the beauty of the structure, and you can now see them just about everywhere, including the outfield of Kauffman Stadium. How many can you find?

Eat barbecue, lots of barbecue

Kansas City is one of the four pillars of United States barbecue, with it’s own style – smoked over wood and heavy on the sauce. Arguably, some of the best barbecue joints in the country reside here. If you are not a vegan or vegetarian, sampling a few is an absolute treat. Kansas City Joe’s, Gates, Arthur Bryant’s and Q39 are just a few of the top destinations for smoked meats.

READ: KC Masterpieces: 5 barbecue joints to try in Kansas City

Stop at the World War I Museum

The National WWI Museum and Memorial is one of the top nationwide dedicated to “the war to end all wars.” Sign up for a tour, or stop by to see the monuments and the view from the hillside where it resides. It has one of the best views of the city.

Visit Union Station

Not far from the WWI Museum is Union Station. Built in 1914, it is more than a connection point for travelers. Union Station hosts national traveling exhibits, has a movie theater and restaurants or other places to grab a bite or a drink.

Ride the KC Streetcar

While you are at Union Station, take the free Kansas City streetcar into the heart of the city. With plenty of shopping, sites, dining and breweries along the path, you will find plenty of reasons to jump off, including…

Check out the Kansas City Public Library Community Bookshelf

The Central Branch of the KC Public Library is worth checking out for its Community Bookshelf. This isn’t a normal collection of books. Rather, it creates the facade of the library parking ramp, with replica books that stand 25 feet. The title that make up this project were recommended by city patrons. It is just one of the features that make this library unique.

Have a pint at Boulevard Brewery

Founded in 1989, Boulevard is one of the oldest craft breweries in the area. Now available in over half the United States, there are still some brews only available at the Kansas City home. Worth stopping in for a flight of unique beers.

Visit the Negro League Baseball Museum…

For any sports or history fan, the Negro League Baseball Museum is a must. The museum chronicles the years before America’s pastime integrated, and black teams play in a separate league. How did the Negro League change Major League Baseball? Check out the museum to learn more.

And the American Jazz Museum

The American Jazz Museum resides in the same building as the Negro League Baseball Museum, located near the corner of 18th and Vine. In the 1930s, this was the Mecca of jazz music. Learn more about the individuals who played and grew up in Kansas City, and catch a show at the attached Blue Room Jazz Club.

Explore the Kansas City Workhouse

Up for some simple urban exploration? Then the Kansas City Workhouse is worth a visit. The castle-like structure served as jail for those convicted of lesser crimes like theft. Inmates were required to work as part of their sentence. The jail closed in 1924, and the building itself abandoned in 1972. The structure still stands, and the curious can investigate the bowels of the building, which is covered in graffiti and broken glass. Dress appropriately if you plan to explore more than the exterior.

360 View of the Kansas City Workhouse:

Feed your sweet tooth at the Russell Stover store

The candy giant Russell Stover headquarters are in Kansas City. While they do not offer tours, their factory store is worth a visit for those with a sweet tooth. You can find a great deals on factory second candy for your sweetie, or yourself.

Learn more about Kansas City and its history.

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Jason is a writer and photographer. He has been published on Madison.com, Beloit Daily News, The Capital Times Mashable and CNN. You can follow him on Twitter @The_Dean.

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