Kansas City Staycation Ideas

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“I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.”

Either due to rising gas prices, lower wages, or just trying to scale back, sometimes a vacation means time away from work, but you aren’t going anywhere.

Now before you get boo-hooey about not being able to go to a more “exciting” place, take a moment and appreciate the town where you live.

Most likely there are several treasures that you have either not had the time to attend, have overlooked, or frankly never even heard of before. So embrace the Kansas City Staycation.

If your family is in to history…

Kansas City is just a short drive to two presidential libraries and museums – Eisenhower and Truman.

Visit both of these and you will be able to see the “backstory” of two consecutive presidents that follows the end of depression and World War II to the dropping of the atomic bomb and the Cold War.

The Eisenhower Library & Museum is open from 8am – 4:45 pm (Monday – Sunday). Admission is FREE to kids 7 and under. $1.00 for kids 8-15 and $8.00 for adults.

The Truman Library & Museum is open Monday through Saturday – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sundays – Noon to 5:00 pm and 9 am – 9 pm on Thursdays in the summer. Admission is FREE to kids 5 and under. $3 for kids 6-15 and $8.00 for adults.

The Missouri River and steamboats were an integral part of commerce and recreation in the 1800s. See how a the Steamboat Arabia sunk in 1856, how it was unearthed, and all it’s treasures.

Visit the Steamboat Arabia Museum from 10 am – 5:30 pm (Monday – Saturday) and noon to 5pm (Sunday). Admission is FREE for children 3 and under. $5.50 for kids 4-12 and $14.50 for adults.

Take a step back in time when train travel was the means from getting from point A to point B in the United States. Built in 1914, Kansas City’s Union Station encompasses 850,000 square feet and originally featured 900 rooms. At its peak during WWII, an estimated one million travelers passed through the Station.

One of the more infamous dates is June 17, 1933 – the Union Station Massacre. Convicted mobster Frank Nash, under escort by a team of FBI agents and police officers was shot and killed outside the Station during a shootout. As result of the massacre, Congress strengthened the power of the FBI.

Closed in the 1980s, the Station sat empty and neglected, escaping demolition on several occasions. It was renovated and reopened in 1999.

Kansas City’s Union Station is open from 6 am – midnight every day. In addition, it houses Science City, Kansas City Rail Experience, Extreme Screen movies, and other traveling exhibits (like Princess Diana exhibit and soon to come Art of the Chopper exhibit.)

If your family is in to art…

Get inspired and study Egyptian, Roman, European or sculpture art.

Nelson Atkins Museum is a open Wednesday through Sunday. (Wed: 10 am — 4 pm; Thurs & Fri: 10 am — 9 pm; Sat: 10 am — 5 pm; Sun: Noon—5 pm) Admission is FREE for everyone. You can also get an interactive guide of the museum with ipod Touches containing a Mobile Guide. These are available at the information desk. Another highlight is having a snack or lunch in the Rozzelle Court Restaurant.

If “traditional” art isn’t your thing – you can enjoy the vast and wild world of contemporary art.

Kemper Contemporary Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Thursday 10 am –4 pm, Friday through Saturday 10 am – 9 pm, and Sunday 11 am – 5 pm. Admission is FREE for everyone. Another highlight is the amazing Cafe Sebastienne – but reservations are highly recommended.

And if you just want to enjoy a great morning or afternoon of street art (which includes lots of fresh produce, homemade wares, and street food) you need to visit the City Market Farmers Market on Saturday or the Community Yard Sale on Friday or Sunday.

City Market is open on Saturday from 6 am – 3 pm and on Friday and Sunday from 9 am – 3 pm. Admission is FREE for everyone. Tip: Bring cash. Vendors don’t accept checks or credit cards and you will definitely find some unique item to take home.

If your family is in to nature….

Feed your soul. See some amazing flowers. See some dinosaurs. Learn about local produce at Powell Gardens.

Powell Gardens is open everyday from 9 am – 6 pm. Admission is FREE from kids 5 and under. $4.00 for kids 5-12 and $9.50 for adults. In addition, be sure to check out the Heartland Harvest Garden (there are also cooking classes that I hear are amazing) where you can see different ways to incorporate a garden into your normal landscaping. And the kiddos will love the Jurassic Sculpture Garden and the water fountain at the end. Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and bring extra water because there are no fountains on the trail.

Ernie Miller Nature Center was the first Nature Center in Kansas and is a great way for kids (and adults) to get a close view of the animals who call Kansas City home.

The Ernie Miller Nature Center and Trails are open Monday – Saturday from 9 am – 5 pm and Sunday from 1 pm – 5 pm. Admission is FREE for all. However, you may want to check out the Friday Amphitheater nights where the Nature Center experts bring out many different animals (like owls, snakes, reptiles and more) and educate us on their lifestyle and habitats. The cost is $2.50 per person.

Want to see the heavens with the strongest telescope in the area? Check out Powell Observatory.

Powell Observatory is open on Saturday nights starting at 8:00. They hold a brief education on the subject for the evening, a tour of the facility, and a look through the telescope at the heavens. Admission is $3.00 for kids and $5.00 for adults. Here is a schedule of the summer events.

If your family is in to wine or beer….

Yes, there are wineries in the Kansas City metro. And I encourage you all to try them out. It’s a great way to experience wine tasting and who knows, you may just find a new favorite.

Holyfield Winery is open Monday – Friday: 10 am – 6 pm, Saturday: 9:30 am – 6 pm, and Sunday: Noon – 6 pm.

Jowler Creek is open Wednesday – Sunday from 11 am – 5 pm. Tip: You’ll also see sheep roaming the vineyards – that’s how they keep the weeds down.

Somerset Ridge is open Wednesday – Saturday from 11 am – 5 pm and Sunday from noon – 5 pm.

And who can forget our hometown favorite – Boulevard Brewery. Brewery Tours are conducted at various times through the week and are FREE to the public. And you will be able to taste a few beers at the end. (If only the Chocolate Ale was still available.) Tip: Make a reservation for the tour. They fill up very fast.

Is there more?

Absolutely. I didn’t even scratch the great restaurants, amusement parks, or shopping in our metro area.

That’s where you get to help.

What is your favorite attraction, restaurant, thing to do in Kansas City? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. says

    Great list! One great place we enjoy visiting is the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanica. Located off of 69 highway & 179th Street. Best part besides the beautiful gardens and forest is that it’s free! I think the summer hours are 8am-7:30pm.

  2. says

    We just enjoyed kaleidoscope and Hallmark’s visitor center. New summer schedule will be out soon but it free and fun! It’s a treat for everyone to go to Fritz’s grill in Crown Center after. Our children are still quite young but it was fun for us parents too.

  3. Megan says

    I am so excited the school is almost out for summer. We take our kids to the Kansas City Zoo, Paradise Park in Lee’s Summit, and the new Kid Zone in Blue Springs!

  4. says

    Great post! I’m a fan of the 18th and Vine district. I think that the American Jazz Museum and the Negro League Baseball Museum are great treasures. I don’t remember the entrance fees for the Jazz museum, but the NLBM is $8 for adults, $3 for children under 12 and FREE for children under 5.

    And I like Crown Center’s Free Friday Night Flicks. I think the Nelson has done something similar in the past.

    And visitkc.com has lists of lots of fun events and activities in the metro. It’s a great resource! There is a page on good deals, and here’s a list of their free things to do: http://visitkc.com/special-offers/free-attractions/index.aspx

  5. Abby says

    Visit Parkville on a sunny Saturday. Farmer’s market is open in the morning which you can follow up with a walk along the river at English Landing Park, coffee at Parkville coffee shop, browsing art galleries and antique shops, wandering through the old neighborhoods, eating at a variety of wonderful resturants and finish it all up with an icecream cone at an old fashioned icecream shop.

  6. Crissi says

    Can you recommend any places to stay that accommodate large families? We have a family of 8 and are making a trip to KC in July. We’re having a hard time finding accommodations for our entire family. Being preggers, I’d prefer not to tent camp (well, b/c I’m a wuss), but we’ve been looking for campgrounds that have cabins.


  7. Bugmagnt says

    I second the Overland Park Arboreteum for its great trails and gardens, and Deanna Rose Farmstead in O.P. is also not to be missed for those with kids…

    The National World War I museum at Liberty Memorial is also fantastic for history buffs…. Or there is also the National Trails Museum in Independence. It especially would be great for kids who just studied about pioneers….

    Another really cool museum for all ages is the Toy and Miniature Museum at 55th and Main (Right off the campus of UMKC). Great little museum with toys from all eras and lots of miniatures and doll houses.

  8. Angie says

    Chiming in from the south side of KC, a Nebraska transplant who found your site from heavenlyhomemakers. Get up close with tigers etc at the Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory just east of Louisburg. Go around feeding time! And if you hit Powell Observatory, you may as well go a bit early and visit the Louisburg Cider Mill.

  9. Erin says

    The Federal Reserve Bank in KC has a money museum. Parking and admission are both free. Watch millions of dollars in currency be processed, lift a gold bar worth nearly $400,000 and enjoy fun, interactive exhibits while learning about the economy. All guests are also given a free souvenir bag of shredded U.S. currency. They are open Monday through Friday, excluding bank holidays.

    Here are a couple websites you can go to to get more information:



  10. Dawn says

    If you would be interested in how marbles are made there is a fun marble factory in Bonner Springs. It was free when we went and there are demonstrations as well as a store featuring old-timey games and of course marbles!!

  11. Dawn says

    Sorry forgot to add the name – Moon Marble Company! Also in Lawrence,l not far from KC there is Spencer Art museum on the KU campus. Massachusetts street is a fun place to browse in shops and there are many restaurants such as Indian, Vietnamese etc.

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