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Nestled along the banks of the Missouri River, Kansas City, Missouri, is a city that draws in travelers for its unique blend of Midwestern charm, rich history, and vibrant culinary scene. This was my first trip to Kansas City, also known as the City of Fountains, where I had three days to explore the city.

I discovered an exciting city full of culture, food, history, and art. The city’s barbecue joints are legendary, each with its secret sauce and smoking techniques. Kansas City’s heritage is deeply rooted in music, with a pivotal role in the evolution of jazz.

Kansas City’s downtown area has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years and you’ll find chic hotels and award-winning restaurants. The Power & Light District, with its buzzing nightlife and dining options, has become a total hot spot. For art enthusiasts, there are extensive collections of both contemporary and historic art.

These are just a few of the things to enjoy while visiting Kansas City. And if you’re considering visiting — do. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how this city shines. Here are the best things to do in Kansas City, the essential experiences for a memorable trip.

*This post is done in partnership with Visit Missouri, as always, all opinions are own.

Planning a Trip to Kansas City? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Kansas City:

  1. Hotel Kansas City, for the best modern hotel
  2. Loews Kansas City Hotel, for the best luxury hotel
  3. The Truitt, for the best neighborhood stay

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

1. Stay at Hotel Kansas City

When it comes to picking where to stay in Kansas City, don’t look past the chic Hotel Kansas City. It’s part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, and one of my favorite Hyatt stays yet. It’s design-forward, moody, and tips its hat to Kansas City’s rich history. Established as a social club in 1882, Hotel Kansas City has been transformed into a luxurious retreat for travelers. And beyond its intentional design and charm, you’re set in one of the best locations to explore. Book the best rates here.

2. Try Local BBQ at Jack Stack Barbecue

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

After asking a few locals about where to get barbecue, it became quite clear that everyone had a favorite. But the one that kept coming up was the local Jack Stack Barbecue. If I may suggest, come in very hungry and order one of their share platters. KC BBQ is a must-try food while visiting Kansas City, so the more the merrier.

3. Explore the Museums

One of the most surprising parts of my visit to Kansas City was the sheer number of museums to visit. I learned later on that it’s a major destination for artists and art enthusiasts. Some of the museums are even free to enter like the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the iconic Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. There are several other museums to visit as well like the National World War I Museum and Memorial, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

4. Enjoy the Historic Union Station

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

Kansas City’s iconic Union Station is a grand architectural masterpiece that once was a bustling railway hub. Today, it stands as a world-class historical landmark and cultural center, housing fascinating museums, interactive exhibits, and a majestic Grand Hall that transports visitors back in time to the golden age of train travel. It’s well worth visiting, even for a stroll through to take in the architecture.

5. Dine Supper Club Style at Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room

Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room is a restaurant that combines innovative cuisine with a sophisticated dining experience. With its inventive tasting menus and craft cocktails, its head chef was named a James Beard Foundation Best Chef, Midwest 2023 Semifinalist. The restaurant was also listed as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Most Exciting Restaurant Openings. The inside is chic and moody, and each plate is artistically presented. *Reservations recommended

6. Sip Local Spirits at a Distillery

Kansas City is becoming a hub for craft distilleries, offering unique spirits and tasting experiences. Among the best distilleries in the area, Tom’s Town Distilling Co. is worth a visit. Named after the city’s infamous political boss, Tom Pendergast, this distillery crafts award-winning spirits, including bourbon and gin, all while immersing visitors in the history of the Prohibition era. Another gem is J. Rieger & Co., a revival of a pre-prohibition distillery that has been resurrected to produce exceptional whiskey, gin, and other spirits. J. Rieger has a full restaurant, and don’t forget to slide down their slide!

7. Explore the West Bottoms Neighborhood

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

One of my favorite experiences in Kansas City was strolling the industrial West Bottoms neighborhood. Once an industrial heartland, the West Bottoms was home to warehouses, stockyards, and factories that played a pivotal role in the city’s growth during the 19th and 20th centuries. The district is now a haven for artists and creatives, with converted warehouses and industrial spaces serving as galleries and studios. It’s also home to several antique shops (mostly open weekends only), a handful of eateries, and local shops.

8. Enjoy the River Market and Shop the City Market

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

Wander through the bustling City Market in River Market, one of the largest farmers’ markets in the Midwest, where you can sample fresh local foods and dine at a number of restaurants. I went for a stroll along the market stalls and ended up sitting down to one of the best meals of the trip. Habashi House is a Middle Eastern restaurant, and their gyros were phenomenal. Afterward, go next door to shop for their spices and other delicacies.

9. Have a Nightcap at Nighthawk

Downstairs in the basement of Hotel Kansas City is one of those ideal spots to end the day. A full cocktail menu, live music, and all that you need to end an adventure in Kansas City.

10. Shop and Stroll at Country Club Plaza

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

Often referred to simply as “The Plaza,” this iconic district in Kansas City is a blend of Spanish-inspired architecture, upscale shopping, and a popular dining scene. Designed in the 1920s as the nation’s first suburban shopping district, it is now the place to go to shop and eat out.

11. Have Breakfast at Messenger Coffee + Ibis Bakery

One of my favorite spots for breakfast out in Kansas City was Messenger Coffee + Ibis Bakery. It’s a three-story cafe with several nooks to get cozy in and even a rooftop with an outdoor fire pit. The food and coffee here were amazing. I loved their avocado toast and seasonal latte.

12. Do a Factory Tour at The Roasterie Coffee Company

If you want to dive more into the process of sourcing, roasting, and brewing artisanal coffee, head to The Roasterie Coffee Company Factory. This location offers a chance to do an informative tour that shares the entire process of making coffee. I loved learning more about this and getting a better understanding of what goes into making a bag of coffee. Afterward, be sure to enjoy a fresh cup in their cafe!

13. Spot the City’s Murals

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

Kansas City’s vibrant art scene extends well beyond its galleries and museums — there are murals everywhere to enjoy in the city. One of the most renowned mural collections in Kansas City is the “Kansas City Masterpiece,” a series of murals created by local artists that depict the city’s history and spirit. You can find these colorful works of art on buildings throughout the Crossroads Arts District. The West Bottoms area of Kansas City is another hotspot for murals.

14. Catch a Free Show at The Blue Room Jazz Club

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

In the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District of Kansas City, The Blue Room Jazz Club is a cherished institution that pays homage to the city’s rich jazz heritage. You don’t want to miss the free Thursday shows at noon, where artists perform live jazz during their “Jam Sessions.” It’s well worth making the time to catch a show, and don’t forget the American Jazz Museum just next door. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about jazz and its roots.

15. Dine at The Stilwell for Amazing Local Cuisine

15 Best Things to Do in Kansas City, MO

If you’re looking for one of the best meals in town, head to the Loews Kansas City Hotel for their restaurant, The Stilwell. The downtown views of Kansas City are wonderful (time your visit with sunset!), and the open restaurant looks into the kitchen. The food here is American, yet elevated, with homage to Kansas City classics. I’d recommend booking a table here!

Other Things to Do

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PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


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