With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. 10Best has narrowed all of the available attractions in Kansas City to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to assist in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please. From historic buildings brimming with magnificent architecture and a fascinating past, to the nationally ranked Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art or the soaring sight and sound of Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, there's an attraction to suit every taste. Families can engage with animals at the Kansas City Zoo; participate in hands-on learning at Union Station's Science City; or marvel at the incredible collection of historic artifacts at the National World War I Museum and Arabia Steamboat Museum. And there's no more impressive football venue than Arrowhead Stadium - where fans break Guinness records for noise and host tailgate parties that are renowned throughout the NFL. Boredom is not an option in Kansas City.
Since it opened in 2007, Sprint Center has become synonymous with entertainment in downtown Kansas City, whether visitors attend sports competitions, concerts or special events. A striking curved glass exterior enfolds an arena that seats as many as 18,000 patrons, depending on the individual event. During college, professional and amateur sporting events a 16 LED screen scoreboard ups the excitement ante. Named the nation's fourth busiest arena and the world's 14th busiest live entertainment venue, by Pollstar Magazine (2014), Sprint Center also easily accommodates Broadway shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar and iconic musicians as diverse as Paul McCartney or Cher. (816-949-7100)
Home of the beloved Chiefs, Arrowhead has seen more than its share of great NFL players, including Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Derrick Thomas, Len Dawson, and colorful head coach Hank Stram. For more than 25 years, crowds of rabid, red-clad fans have crowded into Arrowhead each fall to cheer and holler for the Chiefs. In fact, their noisy support once reached a recorded'142.2 decibels' - Kansas City's second Guinness World Record for loudest crowd in an outdoor pro football stadium. If you have a chance, buy tickets to a Raiders game on Chiefs home turf, since no other team brings out their emotions like this inter-divisional rival. (816-920-9300, 800-676-5488)
Harry S. Truman Home
A great way for teens and adults to get a history lesson, this National Historic Site offers an intimate glimpse of the 33rd president's life and career. With tours available through only the first floor of this lovely home, the white, Victorian-style structure looks much as it did in the early 20th century, complete with period antiques, family heirlooms, treasured books and other furnishings. During the Truman presidency, the home was referred to as the "Summer White House." The site also features the homes of Bess Truman's two brothers and the home of the president's aunt (on nearby Delaware Street). (816-254-9929, 816-254-7199)
Kansas City Zoological Park
There's always something new happening at Kansas City Zoological Park. An extensive renovation program, in the 1990s, added $71 million worth of improvement,s doubled the zoo's area and tripled its animal population. Opened in 2015, the new Penguin Plaza was an immediate hit with kids of all ages; and, in spring 2016, two koalas from the San Diego Zoo arrived for a 'summer visit.' Explore the wild Australian outback, the Kenyan savannah, or the deepest, darkest Congolese jungle, at this state-of-the-art complex - where more than 200 acres house more than 1,500 animals that include apes, elephants, birds of prey, and numerous big cats. (816-513-5700)
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
A must for serious baseball fans, this unique museum utilizes film, baseball equipment and other memorabilia to track a remarkable chapter of American sports history. Using public computers, guests can view 3-D information regarding the league's history and players, try out challenging trivia games, and learn basic baseball techniques. Visitors can also "bat" against video images of major-league pitchers inside a 44-foot-wide batting cage, with a virtual umpire, and measurements that document how far your hits travel. Life-sized bronze sculptures populate an indoor baseball diamond too. While you're there, check out the phenomenal collection of books, videos, and one-of-a-kind gift ideas at the museum's "Extra Inning Store." (816-221-1920, 888-221-6526)
For the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was a long-awaited new home when it opened in 2011. Designed by renowned architect, Moshe Safdie, the facility is a breathtaking modern building with a sun-drenched, glass-walled lobby. Two performance halls host music, opera, theater, and dance programs, amid pitch-perfect acoustics, dramatic lighting and inviting color schemes. Performers from throughout the region, and across the globe, appreciate this stunningly beautiful and technologically superior space, where appreciative audiences applaud their efforts. 'The Kauffman' also offers a high-end restaurant as well as snacks and bar service. (816-994-7200)
Arabia Steamboat Museum
This privately-owned museum provides an intriguing glimpse of frontier life during 1856, via artifacts rom the Arabia Steamboat, which sank in the Missouri River. Bob Hawley, his sons David and Greg, and family friends, David Luttrell and Jerry unearthed this enormous vessel from a farm field, more than a century after the River changed course. Their treasure trove of goods includes kitchen spices, farm implements, fine porcelain, and French perfume whose scent remains remarkably intact. A short movie describes the Arabia excavation, and visitors often meet one of these modern-day explorers for Q&A. Inside a windowed 'lab' visitors can watch preservationists, working to restore additional items. (816-471-4030, 816-471-1856)
Originally the rail terminal for 12 main lines and 30 subsidiary lines, Union Station hosts Amtrak; and it also became a hub for Kansas City, Missouri's new trolleys in spring 2016. This gorgeous circa-1914 building was renovated in 1997 as a $188 million entertainment center set amid an historically accurate and dramatic restoration reflecting turn-of-the-century architecture. Individual attractions include the interactive children's Science City as well as shops and restaurants; a volunteer-run miniature train exhibit, movie screens, and a live theater stage. Recent traveling exhibits have featured the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci and 'Football Treasures Come to Union Station Kansas City,' featuring items from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (816-460-2020, 877-724-2489)
Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
Based on visitor reviews, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has been voted among the nation's best museums. Established in 1933, it is considered one of America's premier art institutions, with prestigious art pieces that date from antiquity to the present. Items from across the globe and centuries include an extensive Asian art collection, Native American art pieces, and Monet's Waterlillies. You may see people lounging on blankets, in the lovely 17-acre Sculpture Park, which features the largest stateside collection of bronzes by British sculptor Henry Moore, with significant work from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. In addition, the museum's prolific art history research library houses 93,000 volumes. (816-751-1278)
National World War I Museum and Memorial
Officially the only US museum devoted solely to World War I, Liberty Memorial displays objects that were collected beginning on Armistice Day (November 11, 1918), near the end of the war. The permanent exhibits seek to explain and interpret various artifacts, while putting a very human face on the entire conflict. A 217-foot tower, the museum building, two sphinxes representing Memory and Future, the Great Frieze (depicting man's journey from war to peace), and connecting courtyards and stairways, comprise the memorial, where history buffs and curious visitors can learn more about the Great War. (816-784-1918)
About Lisa Waterman Gray
Lisa Waterman Gray moved to the Kansas City area 35 years ago and has written professionally for 20+ years. A member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, she's excited about the recent local explosion of great food and drink.
Childhood moves and living with international students created Lisa's insatiable interest in travel. She has shared her passion with Midwest Living, msn.com, offbeattravel.com, and AAA Midwest Traveler - to name a few.
When Lisa's not on the road or computer, she sells olive oil and balsamic vinegar and makes dynamite desserts. In October 2014 she'll attend Slow Food International's Terre Madre conference, in Turin, Italy.
Read more about Lisa Waterman Gray here.
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