Attractions and Activities Abound in Kansas City: Best Spots to Explore
By Lisa Waterman Gray
Kansas City Local Expert
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.
Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark
If physical growth is any indication of popularity then Schlitterbahn has unquestionably become a hot spot for cool activities. This waterpark 'resort' has undergone several multi-million dollar expansions, and opens the world's tallest water slide - Verrȕckt � for the 2014 season. There are plenty of other activities too, from watery roller coasters and a 3000-foot river full of rapids to more than a dozen mini slides and multiple beaches. Relax in a giant hot tub and swim right up to a refreshment bar. Surfers can practice here, float enthusiasts can experience a tidal wave river and adventurers can check out the Storm Blaster � Schlitterbahn's unusual uphill water roller coaster. And where else can guests float in tubes throughout a park without leaving the water? (913-312-3110)
Home of the beloved Chiefs, Arrowhead has seen more than its share of great NFLers, 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. If you get the chance, make it to a Raiders game, since no other team brings out the Chiefs' emotions like this inter-divisional rival. (816-920-9300, 800-676-5488)
Harry S. Truman Home
This historic site offers a glimpse at the 33rd president's life and career. The white, Victorian-style home looks much as it did in the early 20th century, complete with period antiques and family heirlooms. 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). Tours are limited to eight people, and tickets are time-specific, issued on a first-come, first-served basis. (816-254-9929, 816-254-7199)
Kansas City Zoological Park
Explore the wild Australian outback, the Kenyan savannah, or the deepest, darkest Congolese jungle at this state-of-the-art zoo. The 200-plus acre complex is home to more than 1500 animals, including polar bears, apes, elephants, birds of prey, and more than a few big cats. An extensive renovation program in the 1990s added $71 million worth of improvements and took only five years to complete, doubling the zoo's area and tripling its population. Golf cart tours are available; reserve in advance. (816-513-5700)
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
This unique museum utilizes film, memorabilia, and other exhibits to track a remarkable chapter of American sports history. Guests use computers to access 3-D information on the league's history and players, play challenging trivia games, and learn basic baseball techniques. An interactive playground allows visitors to "bat" against video images of major-league pitchers inside a 44-foot-wide batting cage, which also features a virtual umpire and measurements of how far your hits travel. While you're there, make sure to 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)
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)
Liberty Memorial and National World War One Museum
Officially the only US museum devoted solely to World War I, Liberty Memorial displays objects collected beginning on Armistice Day (November 11, 1918) at war's end. The permanent exhibits, then, seek to explain and interpret the varied holdings. The memorial itself is composed of 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. Great for history buffs and visitors wanting to learn more about the Great War. (816-784-1918)
Kansas City, Missouri's skyline changed dramatically in 2011 with completion of this immediately iconic structure. Designed by renowned architect, Moshe Safdie, the breathtaking modern building with sun-drenched lobby offers two performance halls that host music, opera, theater and dance programs from throughout the world. Pitch-perfect acoustics, dramatic lighting and inviting color schemes have created a spectacular performance venue. For the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is a long-awaited new home. For local and visiting performers alike this venue offers a beautiful and technologically superior space in which to delight and inspire audiences. (816-994-7200)
Originally the rail terminal for 12 main lines and 30 subsidiary lines, this circa-1914 building was renovated in 1997 as a $188 million entertainment center. The gorgeous facility was treated to an historically accurate restoration and now shines with dramatic turn-of-the-century architecture. Other station attractions include an interactive children's science center, shops and restaurants, an exhibit on KC's railroad history, movie screens, a live theater stage, and even the return of railroad service, thanks to Amtrak. In addition, a covered walkway connects Union Station to Crown Center (a retail venue) and the Hyatt Regency. (816-460-2020, 877-724-2489)
Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
Established in 1933, this museum is among America's premier art institutions, boasting a variety of prestigious works dating from antiquity to the present. Indeed, the Atkins is renowned for its magnificent collection of rare European, American, and Asian art. The 17-acre Sculpture Park features the largest stateside collection of bronzes by British sculptor Henry Moore, featuring significant work from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. The museum's prolific art history research library houses 93,000 volumes. (816-751-1278)
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.