10 Quirky Attractions and Exhibits

For visitors who want to travel off of the beaten path, Kansas City has several unique and quirky attractions. From working miniature dueling pistols and famous bullet holes to shrunken heads and 132-year-old pickles, the Kansas City metro has it all.

Leila's Hair Museum

With 159 wreaths and more than 2,000 pieces of jewelry made from, or containing human hair, this museum in Independence, MO. is recognized as one of the most unusual museums in the country. You'll also find art and buttons made from human hair, in addition to the famous locks of Marilyn Monroe and Abraham Lincoln at this quirky museum.

Glore Psychiatric Museum

Recognized as "one of the 50 most unusual museums in the country," this eccentric museum in St. Joseph, MO, illustrates the history of the treatment of mental illness through full-sized replicas, interactive displays, audio-visuals, documents and artifacts such as dousing tanks, cages and straightjackets. You'll also see a collection of more than 1,400 metal objects, such as nails and safety pins, which were swallowed by a single patient.

Airline History Museum

This museum in Kansas City, MO, explores the golden age of air travel. You'll see the paper dresses worn by TWA flight attendants in 1968. They had to carry staplers and tape in an attempt to keep their dresses from falling off during the in-flight service. Another display showcases the complimentary cigarettes that were given to every passenger. One can only hope that the smoking passengers didn't get too close to the paper-clad flight attendants.

C. W. Parker Carousel Museum

It’s not all about carousels at this museum in Leavenworth, Kan. A quirky exhibit upstairs takes a look into the world of old carnivals and sideshows. You'll see two shrunken heads, a Fiji Island Mermaid and a petrified human hand. There is a piece of steel that was tied into knots by the world’s strongest man, a sword-swallower’s sword and a collection of rings that belonged to giants.

Arabia Steamboat Museum

This museum, located in the River Market of Kansas City, displays the artifacts of the steamboat Arabia when it sunk in 1856. You'll see an exhibit showing jars of fruits and vegetables, which were sealed so well that when one of the excavators sampled a 132-year-old pickle, he said it tasted perfectly fine. Perhaps the most bizarre object in the museum’s collection is the skeleton of a mule, which was the shipwreck’s only casualty. 

Patee House Museum

This eccentric museum of American history in St. Joseph, MO, features a hodgepodge of quirky artifacts and memorabilia. Some of the oddest things you'll see are a 1920s gas station, the dentist office of Walter Cronkite’s father, a collection of spittoons, an 1880 general store, a horse-drawn hearse and a 1,050-pound ball of string. The museum building formerly served as the headquarters for the Pony Express in 1860.

Jesse James Home

Legendary outlaw Jesse James was killed in this house in St. Joseph, MO, on April 3, 1882. Fellow gang member Robert Ford shot James to collect a $10,000 reward, creating the legendary bullet hole. Now behind a protective frame, the bullet hole is now nearly a foot wide after years of being picked at by tourists. Moved from its original location, the building is now sits on the grounds of the Patee House Museum.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Children and adults are equally intrigued by the unique objects in this museum in Kansas City, MO. The most quirky display features a pair of fully-dressed fleas that can be viewed under a microscope. Other exhibits include a 1:12 scale pair of dueling pistols that are one-inch long and actually function, a nine-foot tall dollhouse, and a Victorian swimming doll.

Puppetry Arts Institute

This attraction in Independence, MO, has several unusual puppets. The creator of the Harry S. Truman marionette used his own hair on the puppet’s head because he could not find any artificial hair that he liked. You'll also see the puppet, Sister Mary Annette, which is featured in all six of the off-BroadwayNunsense plays. Other exhibits include the history of “Punch” from the famed Punch & Judy and a display of puppets from around the world. 

1950s All Electric House

This house, located in Johnson County, Kan., showcases the futuristic, up-and-coming technology of the 1950s. You'll see hidden televisions, electric curtain openers and trendy appliances. Once a family home, the house is now part of the Johnson County Museum’s collection, which tells the history of the area from a suburban perspective.

Museums in KC

American Jazz Museum

The sights and sounds of a uniquely American art form come alive at the American Jazz Museum.

American Royal Livestock, Horse Show and Rodeo

The American Royal hosts many of Kansas City's premier fall events including the World Series of Barbecue®; the world's largest barbecue competition, their Livestock Show; one of the Midwest's largest livestock expositions, a PRCA sanctioned professional rodeo, and 6 prestigious horse shows including the UPHA National Championship Horse Show. These events allow the American Royal, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, to give over $1 million annually for youth scholarships and support agriculture education programs.

American Royal Museum

Focusing on the role of agribusiness in our lives. Participate in tours led by trained, museum docents. Try out the new equine exhibit and learn about different gaits. Gain insight into the vital role that agriculture played in Kansas City's rich and storied history. Learn about the beginnings of the American Royal and the impact of Tom Bass and Loula Long Combs. Observe horse show, rodeo and livestock show clothing, saddles and memorabilia. Compare your weight with chickens, market hogs, and feeder steers. Visit the reading corner, play computer games, and learn about livestock judging.

Bingham-Waggoner Estate

The Bingham-Waggoner Estate is recognized today as one of the most significant historical sites in western Missouri because of its role in the history of the area and the people that lived there. Plotted in 1827 on that super highway west called the Santa Fe Trail, the Estate played an important part in our region's history. Of the many colorful owners, characters and residents of this now legendary home, the most famous is the artist and politician George Caleb Bingham.

Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center

The Center is named in honor of Bruce R. Watkins, a political and social activist. Watkins was fueled by the need to recognize and preserve the varied contributions African-Americans made to the development of Kansas City. The facility is located on one of Kansas City's major thoroughfares.

Chicago and Alton Depot

The Depot was built in 1879. It was moved to its current location and restored during the decade from 1992 to 2002. The two-story depot contains three rooms on the first floor which are the waiting room, stationmaster's room, and baggage room. On the second floor, four rooms, which were formerly the stationmaster's residence, are the kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and the parlor. Each of these rooms is furnished in the period circa 1879. A separate display room contains C & A artifacts. There are hundreds of C & A collectables found throughout the depot.

Community Christian Church

Frank Lloyd Wright designed this "church of the future." With a Steeple of Light, four spires projecting 60,000 watts of light into space. This technology didn't exist until 1993 when the church completed construction according to his design. Visitors Welcome.

First City Museum

The First City Museum is currently open three days a week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Volunteers are needed in many areas for the First City Museum to continue to be successful. Enjoy the amenities of a temperature controled facility, free soft drinks, coffee, mircrowave, Solitaire and other computer games. The First City Museum is proud to have acquired many interesting artifacts. You will see educational displays for World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraq War. We have literally thousands of items too numerous to list here.

Frontier Army Museum

The Frontier Army Museum collects and preserves items used to tell the story of the Frontier Army from 1804 to 1916 and Fort Leavenworth from 1827 to the present day. Officially recognized as an Army Museum in 1960, the Museum preserves one of the finest collections of nineteenth century military artifacts in the country. In order to visit the museum on post guests must visit the Visitor Control Center (VCC) and obtain a pass.