Top Things to Do on a Budget in Kansas City

A budget weekend in Kansas City is easy to plan with free attractions such as the Hallmark Visitors Center, the Money Museum and the Nelson-Atkins and Kemper museums.

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

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

If you like your art edgy, funky and sometimes challenging, put a visit to the free Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art on your KC to-do list. Designed by architect Gunnar Birkerts, the mod exterior sets the tone for an offbeat experience. Inside, the soaring atrium leads into two wings showcasing a buzzy international collection of works from the likes of David Hockney, Georgia O'Keeffe and Willem de Kooning. Hungry? The edible creations at the museum's critically acclaimed Cafe Sebastienne taste every bit as good as they look.

Hallmark Visitors Center
Courtesy of

Hallmark Visitors Center

You've sent the cards; now, you can see how they're created at the free Hallmark Visitors Center. The world's largest greeting card company makes its home downtown in Crown Center, where self-guided tours give a behind-the-scenes look at the creativity that goes into each product. You'll see interactive displays and an exhibit highlighting the beloved Hallmark Hall of Fame television series. Keep an eye out for pieces of original art here and there, and cuddle up to the life-size Maxine mannequin for a photo op on your way out.

Kaleidoscope Kansas City Crown Center
Kaleidoscope. Courtesy of Visit KC


Hallmark also feeds young imaginations with this free creative workshop geared to kids 14 and younger (reservations required). In 50-minute sessions, your little artists can create masterpieces by repurposing materials left from the card company's manufacturing process. Projects and supplies vary but can include puzzles, stickers, ribbon, melted crayons, black lights, die cuts, paints, markers and lots of scrap paper.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City Missouri
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Jay Wilde

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Known worldwide and recognized as one of the leading art museums in America, this cultural powerhouse packs in more than 34,000 works of art. Asian and African art, European masterworks, American classics, photography, sculptureā€”whatever your interest, you'll find something to admire. Admission is free, but you'll pay $14 to park in the garage.

The Money Museum

It may seem ironic that a museum about money would wind up on a list of things to do on a budget, but this intriguing attraction is free. The Money Museum is part of Kansas City's Federal Reserve Bank, a facility that sorts and transports cash to commercial banks and holds one of the largest automated cash vaults in the region. During self-guided visits, you can design currency, then e-mail a copy to yourself to print at home. Kids will get a kick out of the bags of shredded money the museum hands out as souvenirs.

Boulevard Brewing Company Kansas City
Courtesy of

Boulevard Brewing Company

The largest specialty brewer in the Midwest accommodates the curious with a walking tour of its production facility. Knowledgeable, beer-loving guides fill you in on the company's history and brewing process before pouring free samples. The basic public tour is $10 on weekdays; check the website for details and all tour offerings.

Kansas City
Union Station. John Noltner

Union Station

Construction started in 1910 on the massive building, designed in the Beaux Arts architectural style. After passenger rail traffic dropped off in the 1950s to 1970s, the building was largely abandoned in the 1980s. Redevelopment eventually brought exhibits, museums and restaurants. You can explore Union Station for free, but it will cost to enter areas such as Science City or the planetarium.

KC Streetcar

The free streetcar travels 2 miles through the heart of downtown, with stops at locations such as Union Station, the Kauffmann Center and City Market.

First Fridays Kansas City

First Fridays

The Crossroads Art District holds a gallery art crawl from 5 until about 9 p.m. the first Friday of each month. Check the website for current programming.

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