The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art always offers free admission so you can enjoy the art or learn without having to spend a single penny. Even some featured exhibitions are free, while others only cost a small admission fee. The collection of this large museum holds over 33,500 pieces of art ranging from European to Japanese to African art. Some collections are also grouped by a common theme, such as prints or ancient art. Throughout the year, you will also find youth and adult activities as well as family events, so be sure to check the calendar before visiting the museum.
Like most zoos, the Kansas City Zoo is divided into several different zones based on the type of animal or their origin. You can find animals from around the world, including Asia, Australia, and Africa. There is also a special KidZone where your kids can let loose extra energy while you relax. Here you can watch sea lion training, feed lorikeets, ride the Endangered Species Carousel, or visit the Discovery Barn. Every day of the week, there are penguin feedings, sea lion shows, and zoo keeper chats. The zoo also hosts special events such as Jazzoo, an annual chance to listen to great music and see the animals.
Established in 1914, Union Station is one of the top attractions in Kansas City no matter the type of entertainment or museums you prefer. The building itself is gorgeous and historic and it is home to the Science City and the Extreme Screen for watching 3D movies. This is also where you will find traveling national exhibits. Access to Union Station itself is free, but expect to pay entry for Science City, the Planetarium, and the Xtreme Bugs Exhibit. There are still trains at Union Station, making it a possible entry point to the city.
This Kansas City attraction is more than just an outdoor shopping mall. Country Club Plaza features all of your favorite stores, including upscale options as well as dozens of restaurants, with choices for brunch and happy hour. The reason this plaza is truly one of the top attractions in the city, however, is its ability to provide shopping and dining as well as special events. No matter what day you check the schedule, you will see at least a handful of exciting events or activities. Highlights include the Annual Plaza Art Fair in September, Plaza Bunnies and Wonderland Animals during Easter, and Plaza Live! Courtyard Concerts.
This museum is truly unique as it holds one of the world's largest WWI artifact collections. There are eyewitness testimonies, films, and interactive displays to transport you back in time and truly understand the war. The museum began when Kansas City leaders and citizens founded the Liberty Memorial Association after WWI, although only the memorial existed until 1998 when they began planning the museum as well. You will find a permanent exhibit with recreated trenches, interactive tables, video, and documents as well as a range of temporary exhibits.
In Kansas City, the area around 18th and Vine is sometimes known as Downtown East. This area of the city is recognized worldwide for its role in early jazz music as musicians formed a new style of this growing genre. While in the area, you should stop by Kansas City Blues & Jazz Juke House to listen to some live music or visit the American Jazz Museum, where there are live jazz nights in addition to permanent exhibits and a changing gallery.
At the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, you will find performances by major groups in the area, including the Lyric Opera, Kansas City Ballet, and Kansas City Symphony. There is also an on-site restaurant so you can get something to eat before a performance without worrying about traveling between dinner and the concert, ballet, play, or other event, such as National Geographic Live.
The LEGOland Discovery Center in Kansas City is one of several locations around the country and is popular for children of all ages as well as their families. Although it is typically geared towards families with children, LEGOland also has monthly Adult Nights that can be fun for grown-ups as well. You will find a factory tour, 4D cinema, Duplo Village, earthquake tables, rides, and more Legos than you can imagine.
The top attraction for those who truly want to feel as if they are traveling back in time is the Steamboat Arabia Museum. This steamboat sunk near Kansas City in 1856 with mystery cargo. When a team recovered it in 1988, everything was well-preserved. Today, the items sit in the museum and include tools, dishware, guns, clothes, and other artifacts. You will not only get the chance to view these treasures, but also to learn about how they were excavated and the restoration process. The museum has been in place for 20 years, always growing in popularity.
This Kansas City amusement park is actually two attractions in one: Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun. There are rides for all ages and levels of adventure ranging from the Viking Voyager to the ThunderHawk. There is even a river rafting ride, a Ferris wheel, multiple carousels and a train. You can choose to stay at the amusement park to make it easier to enjoy your trip without having to worry about getting around.