Top Things to Do in Kansas City, Missouri

The state’s second-largest metro has way more to offer than just its famed jazz and barbecue. See our guide for recommendations on what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

Downtown skyline from WWI Museum in Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Courtesy of Visit KC

With its rich history and thriving arts scene, Kansas City draws visitors to world-class museums like the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The city's jazz heritage, showcased in lively venues along 18th and Vine, offers a unique musical experience. Kansas City's reputation as a barbecue haven tempts foodies to savor its legendary smoked meats, while other restaurants offer a range of cuisines from around the world. Sports, shopping and plenty of children's activities round out a weekend.


American Jazz Museum

Learn about jazz greats, such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, through exhibits and recordings.

Arabia Steamboat Museum Kansas City
Arabia Steamboat Museum. Courtesy of Visit KC

Arabia Steamboat Museum

Cargo recovered from a steamboat that sank in 1856 gives insight into life in that era.

Arrowhead Stadium And Kauffman Stadium

Come to watch the National Football League's Chiefs at Arrowhead or baseball's Royals at neighboring Kauffman.

Boulevard Brewing KC
Courtesy of Visit KC

Boulevard Brewing Company

Enjoy tastings and tours at one of the Midwest's largest lines of specialty beers.

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
Courtesy of Visit KC

Country Club Plaza

High-end stores, restaurants and some of Kansas City's signature fountains (one modeled after a 14th-century fountain in Seville) fill this Spanish-style shopping district, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023.

Crossroads Arts District Kansas City Missouri
Crossroads Arts District. Blaine Moats

Crossroads Arts District

Outdoor murals reflect the creative spirit of this area, which has more than 250 galleries, restaurants and shops. Find letterpress cards at Hammerpress and stylish KC apparel at Charlie Hustle.

Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium
Sea Life Aquarium. Courtesy of Visit KC

Crown Center

Visit the Sea Life Aquarium, with a turtle rescue center and harbor exhibit, as well as Legoland Discovery Center. Learn about the history of greeting cards at the free Hallmark Visitors Center.

The Iron District

Repurposed shipping containers house shops, bars, restaurants and other vendors in buzzy North Kansas City.

Kansas City Zoo
Kansas City Zoo. Jay Wilde

Kansas City Zoo

See more than 1,700 animals, including 60-plus penguins, a sea lion show and a lively gang of orangutans who show off painting skills.

Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden
Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden. Carson Downing

Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden

The garden's design was inspired by the parks the Kauffmans, notable Kansas City philanthropists, encountered on their world travels. See local and exotic botanicals, gathering spaces, an orangery and sculptural fountains.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Two venues offer world-class acoustics for productions from the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Kansas City
Kemper Museum. Courtesy of Visit KC

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

This free museum packs a lot into a relatively small space. The artistry continues at the museum's Cafe Sebastienne.

National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Peer at tiny masterpieces and vintage toys among the collection of 72,000 objects.

National WWI Museum and Memorial (19)
Courtesy of Visit KC

National World War I Museum and Memorial

Exhibits at the nation's leading World War I museum reveal the high cost of a war often overshadowed by World War II.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Kansas City
Courtesy of Visit KC

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Learn about racial segregation's effect on America's pastime and see tributes to players.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City
Courtesy of Visit KC

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

A 22-acre sculpture park acts as prelude to the museum's global collection. Admission is free, though you'll have to pay to park.

Power and Light District

The downtown entertainment area pulses with energy from bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and theaters.

River Market

Kansas City's oldest neighborhood has ethnic grocers, shops and loads of restaurants, plus it hosts a farmers market on weekends.

The Roasterie

Take a factory tour or sign up for a class to learn about the cupping, roasting and blending process for their coffees.

Union Station

A 1914 depot houses shops, Science City, a planetarium, traveling exhibits, a stage and movie theater. Pierpont's at Union Station serves steaks and seafood in an upscale turn-of-the-century ambience.


Since 1850, Westport has been known as a resupply spot; these days, visitors hit the neighborhood's cafes, galleries and boutiques.

Worlds of Fun

One ticket grants entry to both the theme park and Oceans of Fun water park.

Grünauer Kansas City
Grünauer. Carson Downing

Eat and Drink


The town has too many barbecue joints to list, but here are a few to whet your appetite: Arthur Bryant's, BB's Lawnside Blues and BBQ, Char Bar, Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue, Gates Bar-B-Q, Scott's Kitchen and Q39.

The Antler Room

The husband-and-wife team of Nicholas and Leslie Goellner create memorable small plates with local and global influences in their intimate West Bottoms spot.

Baba's Pantry Kansas City
Baba's Pantry. Carson Downing

Baba's Pantry

Cherry red-framed paintings adorn spice-colored walls at Baba's Pantry. The counter-service joint is best known for its delectable Palestinian dishes like falafel, shawarma and baba ghanoush, but you can also stock up on pickled veggies, spreads and sweets in to-go containers.

Blue Bird Bistro

This cheerful cafe just west of Crossroads puts locally sourced organic ingredients to tasty use.

Casual Animal Brewing, Kansas City
Casual Animal Brewing. Carson Downing

Casual Animal Brewing

Plants cascade from the ceiling, murals overtake walls, and a heated shuffleboard match is going on—all set to a score of hip-hop from the early 2000s. Look for Local Motive beer on tap; a portion of proceeds from each pour supports a local nonprofit.

Cafe Gratitude

The all-organic, plant-based menu features starters, salads, burgers and dishes like I Am Flourishing tacos (rice, mushrooms, coconut bacon, onions) and I Am Zesty veggies (spicy baked cauliflower in sauce).

Corvino Supper Club and Tasting Room

Live music every night amps up the energy. Try shareable plates at the Supper Club or a chef's menu with wine pairings.


Start the day with a veggie-filled Garden of Eden Frittata or crepes with salmon and goat cheese at this popular spot.


Opened by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Smith, the modern Italian restaurant delivers dishes like potato gnocchi with braised rabbit.

Grünauer Kansas City
Grünauer. Carson Downing


Schnitzels, gulash, sausages and other Austrian dishes star at the fine-dining spot.

The Farmhouse

Simple farm-to-table brunches and dinners star in the River Market restaurant.

Fox and Pearl

Both the space and the menu aim for a mix of comfort and contemporary. Creations might include quail with stewed field peas or grilled Missouri trout.

Gram and Dun

Specialty beers pair well with starters of hand-cut potato chips served with three ketchups and meals of mac 'n' cheese with burnt ends at Gram and Dun.

La Bodega Kansas City
La Bodega. Courtesy of Visit KC

La Bodega

The best place in town for Spanish tapas and cuisine is always packed. Diners especially love the paella dishes.

Lidia's Kansas City

North of Union Station, PBS TV chef Lidia Bastianich lends her name (and her recipes) to a menu of authentic Italian fare.


Hearty breakfast sandwiches (served in pie tins), invigorating coffee drinks and delectable baked goods draw long lines of patrons to Mildred's—but don't worry, the line moves fast.


It's hard to choose from among traditional potpies and entrees like pan-seared scallops at this cozy Westport restaurant.


Midwest classics such as pork chops, fried chicken and pie star at the Plaza spot, run by James Beard Award-winner Colby Garrelts and his wife, Megan, a James Beard semifinalist.

Westport Cafe and Bar

The black-and-white checkered floor and brick walls create a casual space for impressive French-inspired food.

Loews Kansas City Hotel
Courtesy of Loews Kansas City Hotel


Loews Kansas City Hotel

Performing arts, aviation and agriculture are prevalent themes in the artwork throughout this modern, pet-friendly hotel gleaming above the Power and Light District. Floor-to-ceiling windows in its 800 sophisticated guest rooms, Bar Stilwell and brasserie-style restaurant, The Stilwell, provide striking views of the city center. The hotel plans to open a spa in 2023.

21C Kansas City, MO

21c Museum Hotel

History and art blend at the 120-room boutique lodging that was once home to the Savoy Hotel and Grill. A $50 million renovation preserved features like a stained-glass dome and added an art museum. The VIP Pet Experience makes this one of our favorite Midwest dog-friendly hotels.

Raphael Hotel

Opened in 1928, this boutique hotel in Country Club Plaza mimics an English manor. The lounge features nightly live music.

The Fontaine Kansas City Missouri
Courtesy of The Fontaine

The Fontaine

A rooftop pool and hallway tiles signed by celebrity guests hint at the 132-room hotel's modern, stylish accommodations.

Hotel Phillips

Original Art Deco details and helpful staff make the 20-story downtown hotel sparkle.

Hotel Kansas City. Courtesy of Visit KC

Hotel Kansas City

This graceful addition to the KC lodging scene opened in fall 2020 in the 1922 building that used to house the Kansas City Club. Original stained glass and walnut woodwork look grand in the Tudor Ballroom, while the 144 guest rooms are bright and modern.

Southmoreland on the Plaza

In 2022, the 1913 Colonial Revival switched its focus from a bed and breakfast to a 14-bedroom art boutique hotel. Guests may book on the website or Airbnb.

Crossroads Hotel KC suite room
Courtesy of Crossroads Hotel KC

Crossroads Hotel

The former home of the Pabst Brewing Depot was reimagined as an industrial-cool 131-room boutique hotel in the city's Crossroads Arts District. The building's community-driven spirit thrives from the lobby to the rooftop beer garden, where guests can mingle and drink in city views.

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