Group Tours: History
Kansas City’s history is rich and colorful. Known for its dominance in the heyday of the American Railroad, as the birthplace of TWA airlines and as a city where jazz clubs and gangsters once thrived, Kansas City has many stories to tell. Nearby Independence is the hometown of one of America’s Presidents and the place where three pioneer trails heading west, began. Here are some of our favorite places for groups to visit.
Arabia Steamboat Museum
400 Grand Boulevard
Kansas City, Missouri 64106
Allow 90 minutes
The Arabia Steamboat Museum is home to a true time capsule of frontier life in the 1800s. The Arabia was headed up the Missouri River in the fall of 1856 when she struck a tree snag and sank just north of Kansas City. Her cargo hold was full of 200 tons of supplies bound for general stores and pioneer settlements. As the years passed, the river changed course and left the Arabia buried beneath a Kansas cornfield. In 1988 a group of modern-day adventurers uncovered the lost Arabia and her magnificent cargo. They were amazed to find fine dishware, clothing, and even bottled food all preserved in remarkable condition. Their find has been called the King Tut's Tomb of the Missouri River. Guided tours begin every 30 minutes. Discounts are available for groups of 25 or more.
30 W. Pershing Road
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
Allow at least 2 hours
Kansas City's beautifully renovated 1914 train station features a science center, a giant-screen movie theater and a permanent exhibit on the history of the American railroad which includes an extensive model train display. Group activities include a walking tour of the historic building or a guided tour of the railroad exhibit. The Station also hosts one-of-a-kind traveling exhibits several times throughout the year. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.
400 W. Pershing Road
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
Allow at least 45 minutes per exhibit
Located next to Union Station and across the street from the National World War I Museum, the National Archives at Kansas City is one of 14 facilities nationwide where the public has access to federal archival records. It is home to more than 50,000 cubic feet of historical records. This includes documents, photographs, maps and architectural drawings from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by federal courts and more than 100 federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Guided tours of the Archives’ special exhibits are available for groups. Tours must be booked at least two weeks in advance. Visit the web site for a list of current exhibitions. Admission is FREE.
National World War I Museum
100 W. 26th Street
Kansas City, Missouri 54108
Allow at least 2 ½ hours
Groups visiting the National World War I Museum will experience an extraordinary emotional and intellectual experience. The museum honors the men and women of the “War to end all wars”. The technology and interactive exhibits let visitors experience the trenches and bomb craters. This state-of-the-art complex at Liberty Memorial uses highly-interactive technology to bring history to life, and to foster timely discussions of ethics, values, decision making and conflict resolution. The museum was designated by Congress as the nation’s official WWI Museum. Group pricing is available for groups of 15 or more. Tickets allow guests access to all galleries, special exhibits and the Liberty Memorial Tower. Tickets may be used on two consecutive days. If purchased Sunday, the second day is Tuesday.
Available on Saturdays only
Pick up and drop off at Union Station (30 W. Pershing Road)
Allow 90 minutes
The Gangster Tour features an interactive look at an infamous period in Kansas City’s history—the Pendergast era from 1920 to 1945. “Gangster TV” highlights this wild and wooly era with historical film and photographs from the period. Groups will learn and see how the “Pendergast Machine” controlled the political system and the very fabric of life in Kansas City. The tour highlights infamous crimes like the Union Station Massacre, shows the locations of speakeasies and gambling halls and explains how liquor flowed freely during prohibition. The homes and workplaces of crime bosses and the sites of major turf wars are also featured on the tour. Sounds like an “offer you can’t refuse.” Group minimum is 15. Dinner and a tour is also an available package.
Airline History Museum
201 NW Lou Holland Dr., Hangar 9
Kansas City, Missouri 64116
Allow 1 hour
The museum collection of photographs, artifacts, printed materials and displays are the essence of an age gone by and include uniforms, galley items, instrumentation, logbooks, personal mementos and so much more. The timeline, beginning with the Wright's first flight through the propeller-driven era of general and commercial aviation, comes to life with an extensive collection of Kansas City's home airline, TWA. In the hangar, several unique aircraft are also on display. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more and when booked in advance. Tours must be booked at least two weeks in advance.
Approximately 30 minute drive east of Kansas City
Allow 2 hours to all day
Spend an entire day in this historic town or pick out one or two of your favorites. Independence, Missouri has a rich history including the home and library of America’s 33rd President, Harry S. Truman. Other historic highlights include the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home and Museum, the National Frontier Trails Museum, the Bingham-Waggoner Estate and the world headquarters for the Community of Christ. Great shopping and dining options are available downtown on the historic town square, including Clinton’s Soda Fountain.
107 Osage Street
Sibley, Missouri 64088
816-650-5737 or 816-650-3278
Allow 1 hour
Step back in time—back to when Missouri was way out West in the wilderness—and experience the lives of the men and women who secured the American frontier. Built in 1808, under the direction of William Clark, co-leader of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Fort Osage served a dual role. It was both a military garrison and trade center. Overlooking the Missouri River, this historic site has been reconstructed to portray Fort Osage as it was in 1812. Authentically attired interpreters can give groups living-history insights into the daily life of both the military and civilian populations.
Other Historic Options
Pierpont’s (located inside Union Station)
Over There Café (located inside the National World War I Museum)
Lidia’s Kansas City Restaurant (located just north of Union Station)