Kansas City is a town divided – one side Kansas, the other Missouri – but it has embraced its Midwestern culture and today offers some of the best entertainment, food, art and hotels in the country. With its central location and world-class airport, Kansas City and its surrounding neighborhoods are ideal vacation spots.
If you’re flying into Kansas City from Phoenix, there are several non-stop flights daily on US Airways and Southwest into Kansas City International Airport. The airport is friendly, easy to navigate and a great way to say hello to the Midwest, no matter where you call home.
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park
The Nerman Museum, on the campus of Johnson County Community College, is free to the public. This 38,000 square foot facility, designed by architect Kyu Sung Woo, is the metro area’s largest contemporary art museum. It houses four changing exhibition galleries, three permanent collection galleries and a new media gallery. When you’re done inside the museum, you can wander the JCCC campus, where nearly 400 additional works of art are on permanent display.
12345 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS 66210. Phone: 913.469.3000
The Kauffman Center, in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, is the new (as of September 2011) home for the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. If you are lucky enough to be in town for one of the performances, you’re in for a treat. Even if you don’t plan to attend a show at Kauffman, be sure to stop by for a visit of this $413 million facility. The building features two separate halls, each housed inside an architectural shell with glass roof and walls. The north side of the building has arched walls sheathed in stainless steel.
1601 Broadway Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108. Phone: 816.994.7200
National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial
The National World War I Museum is the country’s only memorial to the First World War. It’s a creative display of what was happening both at home and overseas during the World War I years. You enter the museum via a long ramp, then cross over a glass bridge from the lobby to the exhibit hall. Beneath you are 9,000 red poppies, each representing 1,000 combatant fatalities worldwide during the war. There are several different galleries, presenting the story of World War I visually through images, graphics and objects as well as interactively through simulations and videos. The museum is open daily except major holidays and tickets are good for two consecutive days. Active-duty military with ID always receive half-price admission.
100 W. 26th Street, Kansas City, MO. Phone: 816.888.8100
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a massive art museum with collections spanning human civilization from all parts of the world. The collection includes more than 33,500 pieces and has an impressive collection of Asian art and European and American paintings. You’ll want to be sure to visit the Egyptian galleries while you’re there as well. The museum is closed on Monday and is free to the public.
45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Phone: 816.751.1278
Kansas City Power & Light District
The eight-block area in downtown Kansas City, Missouri known as the Power & Light District is one of the country’s largest redevelopment projects. It is filled with more than 50 restaurants, bars and nightclubs, so there’s no reason to go hungry while visiting downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri is another free museum. The Kemper opened in 1994 and now has three locations throughout the city. The main museum, at 4420 Warwick Blvd, is open daily except Monday. Kemper at the Crossroads is at 33 West 19th Street and is open noon to 10 p.m. on First Fridays. Kemper East, at 200 E. 44th Street, is open Tuesdays through Fridays.
The permanent collection at Kemper Museum includes works from both major and lesser-known contemporary artists. There are also at least half a dozen temporary exhibits each year. While you’re there, be sure to stop by Café Sebastienne where you can dine on gourmet food while surrounded by a massive contemporary art installation. The café is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, dinner Friday and Saturday and brunch on Sunday.
4420 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, MO Phone: 816.753.5784
Dole Institute of Politics
The Bob Dole Institute of Politics on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence offers visitors a look at Bob Dole – both the private individual and the career politician. There are exhibits of memorabilia, items from Dole’s time in office and videos of his public life. Call ahead and arrange a walk-through of the archives.
2350 Petefish Drive, Lawrence, KS 66045. Phone: 785.864.4900
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum offers a walk through American history of the 1950s. There are interactive exhibits, theaters and a replica of the Oval Office. Visitors of all ages can learn about Truman’s early life along with his time in office. The exhibit explores the Cold War, spies and Americana. Be sure to visit the courtyard, where the American Legion Flame of Freedom burns near the grave sites of Harry and Bess Truman.
500 West US Highway 24, Independence, MO 64050. Phone: 816.268.8200
Schlitterbahn’s Kansas City location, the only one outside Texas, is more than a water park. There’s an uphill water coaster, three tubing rivers (including one with rapids), four tube slides, head-first mat slides, chutes, surfing ride, mini slides for the little kids, four beaches, private cabanas and a giant hot tub. Families will love it that parking is free, use of tubes is free, free life jackets are available, and you can even bring your own picnic baskets and coolers (no alcohol) into the park. Schlitterbahn is open all summer through Labor Day weekend.
9400 State Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66112. Phone: 913.312.3091
American Jazz Museum
The American Jazz Museum is located in the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District. The unique museum has a collection of photos, listening stations, interactive exhibits and a working jazz club – The Blue Room – that features jazz musicians in the evenings. The museum is open every day except Monday.
1616 E. 18th Street, Kansas City, MO. Phone: 816.474.VINE