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What to see on a weekend getaway to Kansas City

Explore “The New Midwest” by visiting nationally renowned attractions and popular jazz clubs and sampling some of the world’s finest barbeque.

National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City
National WWI Museum and Memorial (Credit: Missouri Division of Tourism)

The vibrant metropolis of Kansas City offers limitless activities for weekend travelers. Explore “The New Midwest” by visiting nationally renowned attractions and popular jazz clubs and sampling the world’s finest “Q.”

A little history

National WWI Museum and Memorial

Touted as one of the most comprehensive collections of WWI artifacts in the world, this world-class museum can easily capture your imagination for several hours. After you’ve read about the Great War and viewed the exhibits, take a ride to the top of Liberty Memorial (for a nominal fee) to see a panoramic view of the city.

Arabia Steamboat Museum

More than 200 tons of cargo were lost when the Arabia sank in 1856. Later discovered by modern-day treasure hunters, the vast number of items were perfectly preserved by the clay soil. Today, you can view the world’s largest collection of pre-Civil War objects at the museum where new inventory is put on display as it’s preserved. And stay tuned for their newest find: steamboat Malta is being excavated as we speak.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

In 2020, the museum—officially designated designated “America’s National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum” by Congress—celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Negro Leagues. Learn about some of the greatest athletes to ever play the game, watch their triumphs via vintage film and stroll among their jerseys in the Hall of Fame Lockers. For those wanting to extend their stay, the complex also houses the American Jazz Museum.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Nelson-Atkins showcases more than 40,000 works of art from all regions of the world in both indoor and outdoor installations. Artwork from masters like Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Degas can be seen alongside American favorites Thomas Hart Benton and George Caleb Bingham.

Walk-in guided tours of collection highlights are available at 1:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays. This is the perfect way to learn more about prestigious pieces in the African, Ancient, Chinese, European, Japanese and Native American collections (among others). After all that walking, grab a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant, Rozzelle Court, which resembles an Italian courtyard.

Amuse the kids

Crown Center Complex

Located in the heart of Kansas City, this entertainment district has it all. Make your way to kid-friendly attractions like Kaleidoscope, SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium, LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the Hallmark Visitors Center. Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant and SPIN! Pizza are popular dining establishments. Catch a meal before enjoying a show at one of the district’s theaters.

Union Station Kansas City

Learn the science behind, well, science, at Science City. Hands-on exhibits allow kids to immerse themselves in educational labs. When you’re done with all things earthly, explore the stars by catching a show at the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium. Casual dining is available on-site at Harvey’s while finer fare can be found at Pierpont’s. Downstairs you’ll find a world-class traveling exhibit (see website for current display).

Kansas City Zoo

Spanning more than 202 acres (80 hectares), the zoo offers fun for the whole family. Arrive early in the morning when the animals are the most active. Get a closer look at the wildlife while riding high above the plains on the African Sky Safari. Daily activities include Zookeeper Chats, Animal Shows and Stingray Feedings.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

See the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the nation’s largest collections of antique toys.

Quench your thirst

J. Rieger & Co.

The legacy of J. Rieger & Co.—founded in 1887—was almost lost following the devastation caused by Prohibition. Fast-forward three-generations, and the Rieger family is once again serving their Kansas City whiskey. Browse their historical exhibit before departing on a one-hour distillery tour, followed by tasting of their four core products. Two on-site bars, The Monogram Lounge and The Hey! Hey! Club (open Wednesday through Saturday, reservations are encouraged), will keep you entertained into the night. “It’s O! So Good.”

The Roasterie Factory

Liquid nirvana… better known as coffee. Learn about the process of harvesting and air-roasting coffee beans on a factory tour followed by a sampling of The Roasterie’s amazing products.

Boulevard Brewing Company

Timed brewery tours are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. After a 45-minute look through campus you’ll find yourself back in Boulevard’s Tasting Room to sample their brews. Plan to visit between 11am and 1pm on a Sunday to partake in Beer Hall Bingo. It’s free to play, and they have prizes.

Musically inclined

Green Lady Lounge

Seeking authentic jazz? Look no further! Open 365 days a year, Green Lady Lounge provides an impressive lineup of musicians with no cover charge. The lounge has three performance areas—each venue hits a different note.

The Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum

Located inside the American Jazz Museum, The Blue Room features local, national and international talent. Guests find themselves surrounded by star-studded memorabilia as performers honor the greats and showcase their own music. Closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Sundays.

The Phoenix Jazz Club

Music may carry into the night, but it should also be celebrated during the day. The Phoenix does just that. Catch a jazz brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm to savor great food with a side of live music.

Shoppers’ delight

Country Club Plaza Shopping & Dining District

A quick history lesson: Country Club Plaza is the nation’s first suburban shopping district, having been built in 1922. A homage to beautiful art, this urban cultural district is like no other. Take in the romantic Spanish architecture as you stroll among retail shops and countless fountains. Be sure to check out the locally made goods at the Made in KC Marketplace. For dining, try local favorites Gram & Dun, Chuy’s or Rye Plaza.

Zona Rosa Shopping District

Whether you’re shopping for apparel, dining on oriental cuisine, pampering yourself at a spa or laughing out-loud at the Kansas City Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theatre, this mixed-use outdoor entertainment complex has something for everyone.

River Market Antique Mall

Browse more than 120 quality dealer booths at this 30,000-square-foot antique mall. It’s easy to find parking, simply look for the 60-foot by 120-foot mural of Lewis and Clark decorating their exterior wall. After you’ve purchased your treasures, try one of the restaurants in nearby City Market or dessert at Betty Rae’s Ice Cream.

Smoking hot

Jack Stack Barbecue – Freight House

Hickory-smoked meats are an order away when dining at Jack Stack. With four locations in Kansas City, it’s easy to find a location near you. Try “Jack’s Best,” their signature barbecue featuring one prime rib, baby back ribs and burnt ends.

Q39 Barbecue

Chef Rob Magee perfected his barbecue on the competitive circuit before opening Q39. Today, you can try his tried-and-true “Q” on specialty sandwiches like the Triple Threat and Mr. Burns.

Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements

Come for the food, stay for the games. In addition to a bevy of meats, Char Bar also has vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free sections. Once you’ve had your fill, try your hand at a number of lawn games decorating their 10,000 square foot beer garden.

This is just the sampler. To discover more unforgettable barbecue eats, download Visit KC’s KC BBQ Experience app.