From penguins at the KC Zoo to the Truman Library and Museum, you'll find plenty to do in all corners of Kansas City.
In addition to great shopping at Zona Rosa, Platte County offers unique bed & breakfasts, a winery and championship golf. Across the Missouri River, explore the Kansas community of Leavenworth, with vintage homes, antique stores, a carousel museum and a historic riverfront downtown. Visitors to nearby Atchison will find the birthplace and childhood home of aviator Amelia Earhart, as well as quaint shops, dining and haunted sites.
Known as the start of the Pony Express, St. Joseph also offers fantastic festivals and quirky attractions like the Glore Psychiatric Museum. The Jesse James Bank Museum in Liberty and his birthplace in Kearney draw visitors from around the world. While in Liberty, shop on the Liberty Square or tour the 1859 Jail, which is a historic Mormon site due to the five months Joseph Smith spent imprisoned there. The historic Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs lists Harry S. Truman and Al Capone among its notable guests, but the revitalized spa is anything but dated. Clay County is home to the 1860 Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and Historic Site, plus casinos, lakes, trails and golf courses.
Pigskin meets America’s favorite pastime 10 minutes east of downtown at KC’s double-header for professional sports. The Truman Sports Complex is home to the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals at the side-by-side Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums. Follow in the footsteps of the 33rd president in Independence, Mo., home to 16 heritage sites and the final resting place for Harry S. Truman. Attractions include the Truman Library and Museum, the Truman Home, Victorian mansions, the National Frontier Trails Museum and a vibrant historic square. Religious sites include the Community of Christ World Headquarters and the Mormon Visitors Center.
Head outdoors and explore one of KC’s best areas for urban adventure at the 1,769-acre Swope Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country and home to horseback riding, golf, archery and hiking trails, not to mention the Kansas City Zoo and Starlight Theatre. Venture to Fleming Park, covering more than 7,800 acres and home to Lake Jacomo, Blue Springs Lake and Missouri Town 1855, a living history museum. Let kids be kids at Paradise Park, featuring rock climbing, play gardens and a foam factory. To the east, don’t miss the beauty of the area’s 915-acre botanical garden, Powell Gardens.
Shop to your heart’s content in suburban Johnson County, where great retail offerings include Oak Park Mall, Prairie Village Shops, Corinth Square, Town Center Plaza and Park Place. Get your museum fix at the 1950s All-Electric House, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and Prairiefire. Historic sites include the Legler Barn Museum, Lanesfield School and Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop. Explore a feline sanctuary or working cider mill in Louisburg. For other natural pursuits, check out the u-pick farms, pumpkin patches and ranches in Franklin County as well as family-friendly sites like Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead and the Overland Park Arboretum.
Set your GPS to Bonner Springs for the National Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame, or to sing along with 18,000 of your closest friends at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater, an open-air concert venue. Tour an Underground Railroad stop at Quindaro Ruins or a restored 1887 Victorian home at Strawberry Hill, both in Kansas City, Kan. Everything’s crimson and blue in Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas. Head to Massachusetts Street, or “Mass” as locals know it, for watering holes and an eclectic arts scene. Lecompton is for history lovers, featuring the Territorial Capital Museum and Constitution Hall, two key historical sites from the 1850s.