Best Tips for An Unforgettable Kansas City Day Trip!

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Are you ready for a Kansas City day trip like no other?

Get ready to go beyond the mouthwatering barbecue and soulful jazz that Kansas is known for. Instead, prepare to be empowered you discover the hidden treasures and unforgettable experiences that await you in this vibrant city.

From captivating museums to breathtaking parks, and from trendy neighborhoods to architectural wonders, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Kansas City.

Find out how to maximize your Kansas city day trip this way, below.

Kansas city day trip
Enjoy a well-planned Kansas City day trip!

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn how to make your Kansas City day trip truly memorable, including:

Kansas City: All You Don’t Know About it

Kansas city day trip
Kansas City, Missouri: home to major museums and galleries worth seeing!

When people think of a Kansas City day trip, barbecue and jazz come to mind.

But this cowtown-come-arts-destination has much more to offer than smoked meats and tunes.

KC is home to major museums and galleries as well as world-class sports teams, including the Royals and Chiefs.

It’s also the home of street art and a plethora of tasty beverages.

So, get ready to get to know the Kansas City you never knew existed!

What to Do in Kansas City?

Kansas city day trip
Kansas City offers a wealth of experiences for every visitor.

The underrated midwest city of Kansas City packs in a ton of friendly charm, a wealth of world-class museums, and a thriving bar & restaurant scene.

So, the real question is not what to do in KC, but how to choose while on Kansas City day trip.

This sprawling metropolis sits on Missouri’s western edge, straddling the border with Kansas.

It’s renowned for its barbecue, jazz music heritage, and fountains. (In fact, there are more than 200 fountains here!)

If you’re a music fan, then a trip to Kansas City isn’t complete without a stop at Mills Record Company. This is the city’s most popular record store.

It’s a must-visit for any music lover who wants to dig into the region’s rich musical history. You’ll even find some rare and hard-to-find records as souvenirs.

It’s also an invitation to KC’s nightlife, and all the fun activities in kansas city for adults after sunset.

The American Jazz Museum is another one of the top things to do on a Kansas City day trip.

It features interactive exhibits showcasing iconic symbols like Charlie Parker’s Grafton saxophone and a sequin dress worn by Ella Fitzgerald. 

If you’re looking to let off some steam, head over to the 235-acre amusement park, Worlds of Fun. There, you’ll enjoy endless thrills on roller coasters and family-friendly rides.

Another great way to explore Kansas City is by meandering through the City Market. It’s been a local favorite for more than 150 years!

At the City Market, you can shop for:

  • Fresh produce
  • Decorations
  • Flowers
  • Premium cuts of meat
  • and more

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Plus, you can browse a variety of restaurants and cafes that are open throughout the week.

Other must-visit destinations include the Science Center at Union Station, which houses a wide array of engaging exhibitions. 

Among them are a collection of simple machines standing in the outdoor area, a water informational display called ‘Every Last Drop,’ and a Maker Studio where kids can get creative with their own projects.

The center also boasts the Regnier Extreme Screen Theater and Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium.

What to See in Kansas City?

Kansas city day trip
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art tops our list of “must-see” museums.

Museums are among the top things to see in Kansas City day trip. Two notables options include the National World War I Museum and Memorial and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, showcasing an impressive collection of works from across the globe. 

The Museum of Toys & Miniatures is another must-visit. Here, you’ll be treated to exhibits like a 1955 Singer sewing machine miniature and a tiny ornate cabinet in 1:12 scale made of ebony and gold.

The museum also hosts unique occasions that allow grownups to relive their childhood. Take part in activities like marble games and Saturday morning TV with a big bowl of cereal!

The American Jazz Museum is another popular cultural attraction.

At this museum, you’ll learn about the evolution of jazz and its deep roots in the history of America. The museum also reveals the lives and work of famous jazz musicians. It provides you with an insight into the social and political context that shaped this beautiful music genre.

For nature lovers, the Botanic Garden of the University of Missouri at Kansas City is a must-visit. 

With its broad river path and many bridges, the park is a relaxing place for you to stroll and admire the gorgeous natural scenery. 

The park is also home to many interesting sculptures and monuments. This includes the J.C Nichols Memorial Fountain, featuring four equine figures representing the mighty rivers of the world.

If you’re fascinated by the history of money, you should visit the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. This free tourist attraction houses an impressive collection of coins and money, including a solid gold bar and a hands-on personal financial exhibit.

How many opportunities do you get to see a solid gold bar?!

Where to Eat in Kansas City

Kansas city day trip
Kansas City offers a wide range of culinary options, from smoked meat to fusion.

When it comes to food, KC is a city that knows how to balance tradition with innovation. Its cowtown roots shine through in its signature barbecue and blues.

But the region is more than just smoked meat. 

KC’s restaurant scene is constantly growing and evolving, thanks to forward-thinking owners who embrace emerging food trends and employ smart business practices.

They’re focused on quality and consistency, and create positive work cultures that keep staff happy and customers coming back.

One of the best things to do in Kansas City is explore its diverse array of cuisines.

This city’s can’t-miss meals include:

  • A fancy tasting menu
  • Roadside hamburgers
  • Some serious shrimp and grits

For a casual meal in the heart of downtown, head to the River Market neighborhood. This popular shopping and dining destination is home to a weekend farmers’ market and a range of restaurants. 

You can find everything from fried chicken to artisanal bread at Bluestem, and a variety of Asian dishes at Yum Yum Kitchen

The upscale Charisse restaurant is another must-visit, featuring a mix of old French and new American cuisines. (Think escargot and filet mignon.) 

For a quick pick-me-up, stop at Monarch Coffee.

This hip coffee shop offers a unique lineup of drinks that are less like lattes and more like carefully crafted cocktails. Their lavender mocha topped with gold flakes is sure to impress!

Alternatively, you can order online with the many places that offer food delivery in Kansas City.

Where to Go in Kansas City

Kansas city day trip
Enjoy the Kansas City Skyline at dusk.

The Crown Center complex in downtown Kansas City is a hive of activity and among the top attractions to visit. 

Highlights include:

  • Sealife Aquarium, which features 5,000 sea creatures
  • Legoland Discovery Center, an interactive experience with plenty of hands-on activities for kids
  • A variety of theaters and live performances

The Hallmark Visitors Center, also in the Crown Center, chronicles Joyce Hall’s rags-to-riches story and how she founded the global greeting card company.

A few other unique attractions in the area include the Iron District, which consists of colorful shipping containers that are cleverly arranged to create an inviting atmosphere. This outdoor space is a fun place to indulge in food from the various food vendors and have a drink from the full bar. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art is another top pick for culture lovers. It has a wide range of permanent collections, including works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Other favorite activities you’ll want to do in this district include eating at Betty Rae’s ice cream, taking a tour of the Arabia Steamboat Museum, and exploring the quaint shops and markets. 

When you’re searching for more popular neighborhoods to explore in Kansas City, don’t overlook:

  • 18th & Vine historic jazz district, home to the famous Arthur Bryant’s restaurant
  • Crossroads, where you can find trendy restaurants, street art, and an array of unique boutiques

This magical city has so many nuances and hidden gems to discover, you may find yourself extending your day trip.

Final Thoughts on a Kansas City Day Trip

Kansas City is a city that has so much to offer visitors beyond the iconic barbecue and jazz scenes.

From its unique culture and vibrant arts scene to its diverse attractions and hidden gems, there is always something new and exciting to discover in this midwestern gem.

Take a stroll through the city’s many museums, galleries, and parks, or immerse yourself in the local music scene by visiting some of the many jazz clubs or attending one of the many festivals throughout the year.

And don’t miss out on the chance to explore the lesser-known aspects of the city. From the stunning fountains to the thriving craft beer scenes, be sure to visit some of the city’s unique neighborhoods. Each offers its own character and charm to remember!

Related: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now for A Better Travel Experience

Jackie Gately at the beach

About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

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