Spend 48 hours in Kansas City, Missouri with me! I'm sharing all the fun things to do in Kansas City on a weekend getaway, from BBQ to history to attractions!
Remember that eclipse we had a few weeks ago? It's funny how it seems so long ago at this point!
My husband and I were so excited to watch the eclipse that we traveled to Kansas City, Missouri so we could be in the path of totality. It was such a fun trip, and it reminded me what a cool city Kansas City is.
We spent about 48 hours in Kansas City, Missouri, and it was just enough time for a quick weekend getaway. I couldn't get over how green it was everywhere I looked, and we definitely enjoyed the delicious food and unique sights.
Keep reading to hear all about my tips for fun things to do in Kansas City ... there's so much to see in this great Midwestern city!
48 Hours in Kansas City, Missouri: DAY 1 (Royals + BBQ)
We flew into Kansas City in the afternoon, and after a quick bite to eat, headed straight to Kauffman Stadium to see a Royals game.
You guys ... it was hot! So hot. And of course, I forgot my hat in the car.
So I bought the cheapest hat I could find and became a Royals fan for the afternoon!
Our seats were right in the sun. Being the pale people that we are, we abandoned our seats and spent most of the game hanging out in the shade near the beer.
I guess that truly makes me a fair weather fan!
After the game, we checked into our hotel and hung out for a while. I won't mention names, but let's just say we won't be staying there again.
To distract myself from the gross hotel, I started researching dinner options.
Kansas City is famous for its BBQ, and that's what my husband wanted for dinner. He's a meat eater and I'm a vegetarian, so I had my work cut out for me! After consulting Yelp, we ended up going to Char Bar, which is located in KC's Westport neighborhood.
I feel like I have to mention that Westport has had safety issues lately. By all appearances, this is an upscale area. As our Uber driver was dropping us off though, she told us that there were a number of shootings in the neighborhood recently. And the night we were there, someone was actually shot. We never felt unsafe and didn't even realize anything happened until we left our restaurant and saw police cars on another street. You can read more about how the neighborhood is addressing these issues here.
Back to Char Bar ...
If you're looking for a vegetarian friendly BBQ restaurant in Kansas City, Char Bar is it! It was so good, and both my husband, the meat-eater, and me, the vegetarian, were happy.
I'd classify this place as more of a fancy barbecue restaurant (which is probably why it was veg-friendly), but it wasn't super expensive.
Char Bar is very popular. You can probably expect a looong wait before you're seated (they have an awesome and expansive outdoor patio area, which makes it less painful) ... it's worth it though!
We tasted a little bit of everything ... it was kind of a pig out!
Joel got the Charred Bits and Grits, and we shared a bunch of smaller plates. There were tasty cornbread muffins, a yummy kale-pecorino slaw, Jo-Jo potatoes, and a jalapeno cheesy-corn bake that was to die for.
I was so full when we left that it pretty much took me the rest of the weekend to recover!
After that delicious buffet of a meal, it was straight to bed. I'm kind of surprised my pajamas even fit!
48 Hours in Kansas City, Missouri: DAY 2 (City Market, Eclipse, and Downtown)
Our second day in Kansas City revolved around the eclipse ... at least the first part.
The weather looked pretty dire in the morning, complete with down pouring rain. I wasn't sure if we'd even be able to see the eclipse with all the clouds, but we headed to City Market for a watch party anyway.
We loved the City Market and would definitely head back, eclipse or not.
City Market houses a mix of restaurants and shops that are open daily. It was fun to check everything out when we didn't have our eyes glued on the sky.
There's also a farmer's market that's open on weekends year round, plus Wednesdays from April through October. I'll have to go back and catch that another time.
The City Market is located right across a highway from downtown Kansas City, so you get a pretty decent view of the skyline.
The eclipse event was super fun and, thankfully, the skies ending up being mostly clear.
We mostly hung out in the parking lot, but the event had everything from bands to flame dancers entertaining the crowds.
I printed, and tediously cut out, that eclipse pinhole viewer below.
It didn't work though! All that effort ... ha!
At least it was cute.
Those little crescents on the sidewalk below are a projection of the eclipse through a tree's leaves.
Finally, the total eclipse arrived ... juuust before the clouds rolled in. The timing could not have been better.
It was amazing! The sky turned dark and the lights came on downtown.
There was lots of screaming and cheering. It was so fun to experience the eclipse in a crowd!
As soon as the total eclipse was over, clouds completely covered the sky (you can see them moving in below). It would have been nice to watch the rest of the eclipse, but I'm so glad we got to see the best part.
After hanging out for a bit longer at the eclipse event, we headed to Blue Nile Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant located in City Market.
I love Ethiopian food, and this place did not disappoint.
Blue Nile Cafe had a special eclipse buffet while we were there, and everything was delicious.
Our plans for the rest of the day were very loose.
When we left Blue Nile Cafe, the skies were threatening rain again. Rather than chance it, we headed into Brown & Loe, which is located just outside City Market.
It was the perfect stop for an afternoon cocktail or two.
Brown & Loe is a bistro housed in an old bank.
We loved the vintage vibe and beautiful architecture.
The menu at Brown & Loe looked delish, but since we'd just eaten, we settled on cocktails.
I was tempted to get a Manhattan, but that probably would have done me in. Instead, I got a French 75 (another fave of mine) and an Americano Sparkler.
Both were great, and Brown & Loe was the perfect place to wait out the storm. I can't wait to go back one day for a meal.
If you're looking for fun things to do in Kansas City, take the free streetcar around downtown.
It runs in a loop, serving Union Station, the Crossroads Arts District, the Power and Light District, the central business district, and the historic River Market/City Market. Along the way you'll see businesses, restaurants, art galleries, and more.
We caught the stop right by City Market.
The rain finally stopped, and we jumped off the streetcar in downtown Kansas City.
Most of the area we explored was in the Power & Light District which is named after the art deco Kansas City Power and Light Building.
It's a nine block area filled with restaurants, shops, and entertainment.
Besides BBQ, Kansas City is known for jazz, and it's home to legends like Count Basie and Charlie Parker.
We passed this awesome mural downtown depicting the historic 18 & Vine neighborhood, which was a hot bed for jazz in KC and African American culture (more on that in day 3!).
I loved all the vintage buildings we spotted downtown.
It was fun to wander around the streets, checking out the beautiful architecture.
Another mural we passed along the way ...
After exploring downtown Kansas City for a while, we stopped into Kaldi's Coffee for a mini break.
It was the perfect place to rest our feet for a bit and get a little pick me up.
I had a rooibos chai.
It was so good ... I'll definitely be back for another the next time I'm in KC.
And we played a couple rounds of Sorry!
It has been ages since I've played this game, and I'd forgotten all the rules. Thankfully, they're pretty simple!
After recharging at Kaldi's, we headed back out to do more exploring.
We spotted more vintage builidngs. I'm always happy to beautiful architecture being rehabbed and preserved, rather than torn down.
The Sprint Center entertainment venue is located downtown.
And right nearby is Kansas City Live, a block-wide area with restaurants and bars.
Kansas City Live! also has a concert stage for musicians.
It was pretty empty, and we didn't hang out there long, but it would probably be fun after seeing a show at the Sprint Center.
We stopped into Rally House which was nearby. It was stocked with game day apparel from floor to ceiling.
They also had lots of souvenirs, so stop in for a memento even if you're not into sports.
After we finished checking out downtown, we hopped back on the streetcar to our next destination.
Even though I was still full from lunch, it was time for dinner ... yikes!
The streetcar took us back out to City Market, and we headed to Harry's Country Club which is nearby.
The walls at Harry's Country Club are lined with old photos, giving it lots of character.
It was pretty quiet when we were there, but they have a stage for live music, too.
Harry's serves classic American comfort food. It all looked so tempting, but I was still stuffed from lunch.
I ended up having a Greek salad, which was delicious and exactly what I wanted. Joel went with the chicken fried steak. He didn't leave a bite behind, so it must have been good!
While there, I tried a Ginger Perry, which is made from fermented pears and tasted like a dry, light cider. It was so good! I need to keep an eye out for it since it's made in Texas.
After dinner, it was back to the hotel for an early night.
48 Hours in Kansas City, Missouri: DAY 3: (18th & Vine, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and Harry S. Truman Museum)
Our 48 hours in Kansas City, Missouri flew by too fast, and the last day was packed.
We started the day in the 18th & Vine neighborhood, which is located just east of downtown.
18th & Vine is a national historic district that's a must see when visiting Kansas City. The area is known as one of the cradles of jazz music, as well as a historic hub for African American culture and business.
When you visit 18th & Vine, get out of your car and walk around. It's a fairly small area.
You'll pass by the Jazz Walk of Fame, as well as the historic Gem Theater, which is still operating today.
Keep an eye out for the offices of The Call, an African American newspaper that was founded in 1919.
The Call is still being published and is considered one of the top six African-American weeklies in the nation.
Over the years, the paper has served the community by addressing civil rights issues, as well as news that wasn't covered by white journalists.
We spent most of our time in the neighborhood at the Negro League Baseball Museum.
It's housed in the same building as the American Jazz Museum, and you can see both museums in one visit, if you wish.
Unfortunately, we only had time for the baseball museum, but I'd love to go back and check out the jazz museum one day.
Before baseball was integrated in 1945, black players formed their own teams, and in 1920, an organized league structure was formed.
The Negro League Baseball Museum covers the history of these teams. My husband is a huge baseball fan, so this museum was at the top of his list of things to do in Kansas City.
But even if you're a fair weather baseball fan like me, it's worth a stop, especially if you're interested in history. Older kids would enjoy it, too, although there might be too much reading for younger children.
No pictures were allowed, so you definitely need to visit and check it out!
The last stop during our 48 hours in Kansas City, Missouri was the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO, the former president's home town.
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States. He assumed office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and presided over a very turbulent time in US history.
Here's a quick overview of his presidency from Wikipedia:
Harry S. Truman ... is known for launching the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, for leading the Cold War against Soviet and Chinese communism by establishing the Truman Doctrine and NATO, and for intervening in the Korean War. In domestic affairs, he was a moderate Democrat whose liberal proposals were a continuation of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, but the conservative-dominated Congress blocked most of them. He is also the only world leader to have ever used nuclear weapons in war, desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces, supported a newly independent Israel, and was a founder of the United Nations.
I could have spent hours at this museum ... it was fascinating. Unfortunately, we had a plane to catch, so we sped through.
The museum lobby features a massive mural by Thomas Hart Benton.
It's called Independence and the Opening of the West. You can read more about it here.
The museum is filled with papers and other historic artifacts.
Below, you can see a letter from Truman to his wife, looking back over the years.
Some years were better than others! (See: June 28, 1922, which reads "Broke and in a hard way," June, 28 1925, which reads "Out of a job," and June 28, 1926, which reads "Still out of a job").
"The Buck Stops Here!" plaque that sat on his desk in the Oval Office ...
It was interesting to read some of the letters he received while in office.
They ran the gamut from thank you's to letters addressing civil rights issues.
It was fun to see how the Oval Office looked when Truman was president.
Of course, the most controversial thing he did in office was authorize the use of the atomic bomb.
The museum examines this decision in detail.
It wouldn't be the Truman Museum without the famous photo showing him holding the Chicago Tribune declaring, "Dewey Defeats Truman".
Truman actually won, of course!
A scathing letter Truman drafted to Senator McCarthy.
Truman also oversaw a total gut renovation of the White House ... apparently, it was literally falling apart when he moved in!
There's an exhibit covering this reno in detail, and it so interesting. I should have taken some pictures.
Our last stop was at the nearby Truman Home.
He returned to the home after his presidency and lived there until his death in 1972.
Things to Do in Kansas City, MO
I hope my 48 hours in Kansas City, Missouri have inspired you to plan your own trip to KC!
Here's a recap of things to do in Kansas City:
Fun Things to Do in Kansas City
- 18th & Vine: No trip to Kansas City would be complete without a visit to this historic African American neighborhood that's infused with jazz history.
- City Market: This urban market is home to permanent shops and restaurants, as well as a weekly farmer's market.
- Downtown Kansas City: Have fun exploring the streets of downtown KC. You'll find everything from vintage buildings to modern architecture, shops, and restaurants.
- Harry S. Truman Museum and Library: A fascinating look at Truman's life and his time as a US president.
- Kansas City Royals: Catch a baseball game while you're in town! It's worth a visit for the crown shaped score board alone, plus the food is a cut above most stadiums. The Chiefs play right next door, too, if you're a football fan.
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: This museum was closed with we were in KC, but I've been there before, and it's definitely worth a visit for art lovers.
- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: A must for any baseball fan or history buff, this museum tracks the story of African American baseball leagues in the US, from their start to their demise. Plan on visiting the American Jazz Museum, too. It's located in same building
- Rally's: Located neat the Sprint Center downtown, this shop is packed with sports gear, as well as a good selection of KC souvenirs.
Where to Eat in Kansas City
Are you looking for vegetarian friendly restaurants in Kansas City? Here are some great options that will keep veggie-lovers and meat eaters both happy!
- Blue Nile Cafe: Stop by after a visit to City Market for delicious Ethiopian food.
- Brown & Loe: Pop into this neighborhood bistro (located by City Market) for great cocktails. We didn't try any food, but the menu looked promising.
- Char Bar: Delicious BBQ, plus an expansive menu that will make vegetarians happy, too.
- Harry's Country Club: The menu is filled comfort food, they have a huge beer/cider menu, and there's live music, too.
- Kaldi's Coffee: A small chain that serves great drinks (we went to the downtown location). Try the rooibos chai and play a board game while you're there!
Getting Around Kansas City
It's definitely helpful to have a car when visiting Kansas City, especially if you plan to visit sights that are farther out, like the Harry S. Truman Museum. Here are some other options for getting around the city without a car though:
- Kansas City Streetcar: The free streetcar runs a loop from downtown to river/city market. It's easy to use and a convenient way to explore downtown without driving.
- Uber: We found Uber to be a very convenient way to get around KC, and the drivers were a great source of local info.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my 48 hours in Kansas City, Missouri!
Have you ever been to Kansas City? What was your favorite part?