Alright! You are in Kansas City, headed there, or maybe thinking about it! How do you spend that time? What if you only have 24 hours? Well good news, I recently was in Kansas City with 24 short hours to see the sights and find an adventure. So follow along with me on Kansas City’s 24 hour To Do List!
The midwest is a blur of history. It was the center for eras of industry and exploration. With American history buried in its roots, Missouri is much more than just a path into the West. Featuring lush woods, hills and hills of farmland, and winding rivers, Missouri is a stand alone, beautiful state, responsible for some of the United State’s most brilliant individuals such as President Truman and Walt Disney. Tucked in its upper left corner, boarding Kansas is Kansas City. Kansas City is a bright, historical city, sharing its city limits with not just one state but two.
My grandfather retired and spent a lot of his life wandering through and exploring Kansas City. You too could spend weeks exploring the rich history of this Western city of the United States, however here is a quick one day, 24-hour itinerary sure to give you some great photos, and a rich adventure.
Historic Independence, Missouri
Wake up! Hop out of bed! You are headed to the suburbs, but not just any suburb. This particular suburb is rich with American history, dating all the way back to our wagon days. You are off for Independence, Missouri!
Independence Missouri is quietly the fifth largest city in Missouri. It is a suburb of Kansa City, the border city touching both Kansas and Missouri. Independence first became a part of the United State after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It blossomed into the head point of the wagon trail heading to California, Oregon, and Santa Fe. Later it would become the birthplace and home of former President Harry Truman.
Independence could easily be worth its own day, however, we are here for the highlights! Which means we are here to see three key things!
- Independence Square
Independence Square is full of neat antique shops, eateries, and is home to the National Park’s office for the Harry Truman exhibits and trail heads throughout the Independence area. It is here that one will find the Harry Truman Courthouse and even Clinton’s Soda Fountain where Harry Truman worked his first job!
Stop in at Clinton’s and have a delicious treat before strolling through the squares many antique shops. Before departing the square take a stop into one of the squares many restaurants, such as Up Dog a trendy little hot dog shop throwing out some legendary dogs. After lunch stop off at the National Parks Historic Harry Truman Center, located in the old firehouse of town. There you can buy tickets for our next stop in Independence, the Harry Truman house.
112 W Lexington Ave
Independence, MO 64050
- Harry Truman House
The Harry Truman house is a beautiful home, located at 219 North Delaware St. It was there that Harry Truman lived with his wife Bess Wallace from 1919 until he passed away in 1972. The house was built by Bess’s grandfather in 1867. Though Truman briefly moved from the house to serve as President, he still returned to visit his Independence home during his Presidency, gaining it the name the “Summer White House”.
Tickets can be purchased for $5 at the Historic Center in Independence Square. The are good for a tour from 9:00 – 4:30. You can schedule your tour at the time of purchase.
Harry Truman Historic Center
223 North Main Street
Independence, MO 64050
- Truman Library
The Truman library has significant historical meaning as far as libraries are concerned. It was the first of our thirteen Presidential libraries created under the 1955 Presidential libraries act. It is the current resting place of Harry Truman and was the location that President Johnson signed
the Medicare act in 1965.
Inside visitors will find not only a library but, two floors dedicated to exhibits about Truman’s life and a replication of the oval office.
Admission prices range from $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $3 for children ages 5 and under. The library is open 9:00 – 5:00 daily, except for Sundays when the opening hour is noon.
Harry S. Truman Library
500 W. U.S. Highway 24
Independence, Missouri 64050-1798
With Independence’s highlights checked off, we are headed downtown, straight to Kansas City’s iconic travel heart. The traveler in you is sure gonna love checking out this giant train metro!
Union Station has been through its own set of ups and downs through the years. Built in 1904, Union Station was a travel haven. It was said that over 1,000,000 travelers passed through Union Station during WWII, however, all that traffic came to a screeching halt in the 1980’s. Union Station closed in the 1980’s and was a dormant thing of days old, however, a new initiative in the late 1990’s brought new life to the tired halls, and today Union Station is back with a fresh, yet historic heartbeat.
Still looking to catch a train? Well, the Amtrak station in Union Station can still send you on your way. Looking to catch a movie? Union Station has a theater showing 3D nature documentaries in IMAX. There is also a science museum, wedding venues, restaurants, and shopping.
Personally, I enjoyed grabbing a coffee from Parisi, located in the middle of the station, and people watching. It was great to wander the halls, read the stories, and sip on a great flat white coffee.
Any trip to Union Station is sure to satisfy the traveler in you. It is a building rich with history and is also a photographers paradise. The inner architecture is a beautiful complement to the building’s structure, and the setting sun does wonders to the station’s exterior.
Best of all the location makes it perfect for visiting two more of Kansas City’s prime must see locations, such as the famous Crown Center.
Pro Tip: To get to the Crown Center there is actually a covered walkway from Union Station. Follow the signs and take the walkway. The walkway will provide some great views of downtown streets, Union Station, and will help keep you out of the elements. There is also the added bonus that you can leave you car in your paid space at Union Station. This is particularly handy if you haven’t used all of your pre-paid time yet.
Union Station Hours:
6 AM – Midnight
Mondays – Thursdays: 9:45 AM – 4 PM
Fridays and Saturdays: 9:45 AM – 5 PM
Sundays: 11:45AM – 4PM
30 W Pershing Rd,
Kansas City, MO 64108
For my shoppers, this is your paradise. Here you can shop in one of the many shops located in this three-story business complex. However, shopping is just a small part of the experience at Crown Center.
There is also many unique restaurants, like the Crayola cafe, a great restaurant for any crown lovers or travelers with small children.
Want to catch a broadway style production? Swing by Coterie Theater located in Crown Center to catch a theater production. Ice Skating more your style? Swirl around on Crown Center’s Ice Terrace.
If you prefer to take in more sights then swing by the Hallmark Visitors Center, Kaleidoscope, or Sea Life Kansas City the aquarium.
Crown Center has plenty for anyone in your travel group to enjoy. If you have any Hallmark channel lovers they will absolutely lose control in the large Hallmark store, and of course the visitors center.
You could spend half of your day wandering around Crown Center, however, your next stop is right across the street and you have probably seen it several times already in your walk from Union Station to Crown Center. Now it is time to see what that giant tower is all about at the National World War 1 Museum
Crown Center Hours:
Regular Shopping Hours:
Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
2405 Grand Blvd., Ste 200.
Kansas City, MO 64108
* Be careful with time. Hallmark typically closes at 4:30 and is closed on Sundays.
National World War 1 Museum
Sitting in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of Crown Plaza and Union Square is the quiet and reverent National World War 1 museum. It sits at peace, respectfully paying tribute to the many lives lost in pursuit of freedom and equality for all. The giant pillar rising from the hill is hard to miss and draws you in from the minute you pull up to Union Square.
The memorial, in essence, was born in 1919 when the city of Kansas City raised 2.5 million dollars in less than two weeks to build a memorial for those what had served in the World War. That 2.5 million was equal to 34 million dollars today. Two short years later in 1921, the “Liberty Memorial” was revealed to the many gathered to watch it rise into the sky. However, sadly much the same as Union Station the memorial came to a sad end in 1994. It had deteriorated and had become a safety concern. The citizens of Kansas City again rose to the occasion providing funding, along with partnership from the United States government to restore the monument. During the restoration process, a museum was installed underneath the tower. In 2004, the United State Congress named the museum as the official National World War I Museum.
Today, the Liberty Memorial still stands tall recognizing the lives of those who sacrificed and risked their lives for the freedom and prosperity of others. The tower standing 268 feet tall is guarded by four guardian spirits etched in the top of the cylinder. Take a ride to the top via elevator, scale the 45 steps, and be rewarded with a one of a kind view of Kansas City.
Everything at the national museum has significant meaning. There are etchings on many of the walls surrounding the museum, including the 148 foot tall North Wall. The etchings on the North wall are meant to symbolize the process we have made in our quest for peace.
The museum closes at 5 however, after 5 the museum still provides a bonus treat. Just as the sun is setting head to the top of the North wall. There you can watch the sun set over downtown and watch as the orange light of the setting sun washed over Union Station, before burying it in black. It is the perfect place to sit with a friend, a brother, or your family, and snap a few picture to remember the moment. Take a few minutes to enjoy that freedom that place represents and to remember those who died so that you could.
By now you are a little tired, pretty excited, and probably starving! Perfect cause you are headed to wind down your night with a little food and shopping in Kansas City’s shopping and food district known to locals as The Plaza.
National World War 1 Museum Address:
2 Memorial Drive,
Kansas City, MO 64108
Tuesday – Sunday
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* Summer Months (Memorial – Labor Day) Saturdays receive an extra hour, opening at 9 instead of 10
Seniors (65+) $14
Students (18+ with ID) $14
Youth (6–17) $10
Children under 6 Free
Discounts – With ID
Active Duty Military 50% off
Active Duty Family $2 off
Veterans $2 off
Teachers $2 off
Area Convention Attendees (must present ID) $2 off
If you happen to be in town on a Wednesday then all tickets are $8 for World War Wednesdays.
Know to locals as simply “The Plaza”, the country club plaza is a 15 block shopping mecca. The Plaza has over 150 mainstream and unique stores, not to mention the many restaurants you can dive into. If you’re starving Jack Stacks Barbecue is an absolute must!
The plaza is more than just shopping, though, much like the rest of the sites on this itinerary, the Plaza has a rich history. The Plaza is credited at the nation’s first shopping district and was designed in 1922. The architecture alone shows some of the early influences that shaped this shopping district. Wander through these 15 blocks to see for yourself the European and Spanish architecture that has shaped the Plaza.
For those romantics or that guy who needs to score some brownie points, take your date for a stroll to see some of the many art replicas at the Plaza. If you’re an avid historian or just well-traveled you will spot the replicas of Spain’s Giralda Tower and Seville Light. Like Sir Winston Churchill? Keep an eye out for his statue.
The Plaza is the perfect final stop on your day trip through Kansas City and the perfect moment to snap a few more pictures, stop to discuss your day over dinner, and grab any last-minute souvenirs.
The Plaza Hours:
10:00 – 7:00PM
Restaurants stay open much later
The Plaza Address:
Kansas City, MO 64112
State Line Road
Kansas City is a unique city in that it shares its city limits with both Kansas and Missouri. Most of the action lies inside of Missouri, however for those of you looking to check Kansas off your state list, take a swing over to State Line Road. It is a few minutes from the Plaza and is a great last gesture before calling it a night. Drive across it and poof you’re in Kansas, back over it and it is safe to say you aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Well, there you have it! The perfect to do list for 24 hours in Kansas City. There are certainly plenty of other things to see and experience in Kansas City. If you have more time check out the Zoo or catch a Chiefs game or take in a baseball game with the Royals. Whatever you choose to do you will fall in love with the friendly charm and deep history of Kansas City. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below or tell me your favorite way to spend a day in Kansas City!
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Talk to y’all soon!