Kansas City, Missouri, is known as the Heart of America, and this Missouri city beats with a vibrant pulse. As the state’s largest city, with a population of nearly 481,500, it treats travelers to an array of attractions, from historic sites and museums to music venues and restaurants you’ll rave about long after you return home. How will you spend your time in Kansas City?

Early Morning: Enjoy a Hearty Breakfast

A hearty breakfast will get your taste buds tingling and give you the energy you need to tackle a day in Kansas City. Whether you prefer a sweet or savory start to the day, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Kansas City’s friendly eateries.

When you want breakfast done your way, head to the Corner Restaurant in the Westport area. Its build-your-own scrambled eggs plate, dubbed Scramble-fuls, are perfect for diners wanting a custom experience. Berry pecan pancakes and bourbon cherry waffles are decadent ways to kickstart your morning. It’s always buzzing in this eatery, which serves hearty breakfasts seven days a week.

If you’re conscious about what you consume, Blue Bird Bistro will hit the spot. Its dishes are made from high-quality organic, free-range ingredients that are sourced from the area wherever possible to minimize food miles. Try the breakfast chili, salmon muffins, or a pork and polenta dish made with slow-cooked Local Pig pulled pork.

country club plaze
The J.C. Nichols Fountain in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.

Midmorning: See the City’s Famous Fountains

Kansas City has more fountains than any other American city. In fact, only Rome can lay claim to more water features! Spend your morning seeing why it’s known as the City of Fountains.

J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, near the Country Club Plaza, is perhaps Kansas City’s most iconic fountain. Built in 1910, it once adorned the grounds of a New York millionaire’s home. Local real estate mogul J.C. Nichols found it in a scrap yard in 1951 and bought it home to Kansas City, where he made it one of the city’s most popular attractions. Its four large equestrian figures are said to represent four of the world’s major rivers: the Mississippi, the Seine, the Rhine, and the Volga.

You’ll also want to stop by the Meyer Circle Sea Horse Fountain, which came to Kansas City after its purchase in Venice in the early 1920s. With three sea horses perched on a stone pyramid, it’s one of the most unusual fountains you’re likely to see. Admire it at the junction of Ward Parkway and West Meyer Boulevard.

Unlike many of Kansas City’s fountains, the Northland Fountain, at the corner of North Oak Trafficway and Northeast Vivion Road, flows all year round. During the warmer months, its spectacular central geyser shoots water 35 feet high in the air. When winter’s chill sets in, the water freezes and the Northland Fountain becomes a beautiful ice sculpture.

Noon: Grab Lunch at a Food Truck

When you’re busy sightseeing, you often don’t want to take the time for a sit-down lunch. Kansas City’s food trucks are ideal for travelers wanting tasty food that won’t slow them down.

Beauty of the Bistro offers American classics made with high-quality ingredients. Gourmet burgers, mac and cheese, and dirty fries are among its offerings. Beauty of the Bistro regularly stops at Overland Park and local festivals.

Stuffed boneless chicken wings are Bochi’s specialty. You’ll find these tasty morsels alongside fried rice and tacos. Wash it all down with a cup of boba tea. You’ll find Bochi at local food festivals and other sites around the city.

Cheesy Street claims to be Kansas City’s first food truck, offering the ultimate comfort food: grilled cheese sandwiches. These are no ordinary grilled cheese sandwiches, though. Gourmet cheese, maple bacon, sautéed onions, sliced meats, and other exotic ingredients take these sandwiches to the next level. You’ll also find dessert sandwiches filled with goodies like Nutella, marshmallow, and peanut butter. You can often find the Cheesy Street truck at Restoration Emporium and Flying Local Pig.

nelson atkins museum of art
The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

Afternoon: Browse the Museums

Kansas City is home to world-class museums catering to a variety of tastes. Spend your afternoon exploring all these establishments have to offer.

History buffs should head to the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City’s Garment District. It’s the only museum in the country focused on World War I, making it a must for anyone interested in this period of history. Hundreds of artifacts are part of the museum’s permanent collection. Make sure you take a moment to reflect on the fragility of our existence as you walk across the glass bridge and admire the red poppies below. There are 9,000 flowers in all, one for each 1,000 soldiers who paid the ultimate price in the war.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum, in the Southmoreland area, is considered one of the country’s best art museums. Pieces date from antiquity to the present day and represent all corners of the world, from the enormous Buddha statue from Asia to Claude Monet’s famous Waterlilies. The 17-acre sculpture park takes art into the great outdoors.

But where better to delve into the nation’s history than the 18th and Vine Historic District? This part of Kansas City is home to several museums, but the American Jazz Museum might be the best. It chronicles America’s jazz heyday, when luminaries like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie Bird Parker dominated the airwaves. Instruments, costumes, and sheet music used by musical legends complement photographs from the jazz era. Modern jazz artists regularly showcase their talents in the museum’s Blue Room. Connected to the American Jazz Museum is the celebrated Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which chronicles the history of the Negro Leagues from post-Civil War America to its end in the 1960s. Those who attend both museums get a discount.

Late Afternoon: Enjoy Some Retail Therapy

Kansas City has a vibrant shopping scene, so take some time out of your afternoon to find some souvenirs for yourself and loved ones back home. The city has several shopping centers, including Oak Park Mall and Town Center Plaza, but for some more unique purchases, shop where the locals shop.

The Crossroads Arts District in downtown Kansas City has a cool artsy vibe residents love. This is the place to find one-of-a-kind goodies including handcrafted ceramics, original jewelry, and head-turning oil paintings. Load up on clothes and gifts celebrating Kansas City at RAYGUN and stop by Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates to keep late afternoon sugar cravings at bay. Tom’s Town Distilling Co. is the perfect place for an afternoon tipple when you’re done.

Brookside is one of Kansas City’s favorite suburban places to shop. The stores are largely independent, like the eclectic fashion store Shopgirls and the pet lovers favorite, Brookside Barkery and Bath. The old-school toys at the New Dime Store will make you nostalgic for your own childhood. Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard is the ideal spot for afternoon tea.

Dinnertime: Savor the Taste Sensations of Kansas City Barbecue

Kansas City is famous for its barbecue. Discover why at one of the city’s many popular barbecue restaurants.

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que might be a fairly modest looking restaurant inside an old gas station, but don’t judge this Fairway barbecue joint by its cover. Zagat rated it the city’s number one place for barbecue in Kansas City nine years running. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain also named it one of 13 places where you must eat before you die. So why do so many people rave about it? The pulled pork, smoked chicken, and brisket are difficult to beat. Quality sides like smoked chicken gumbo, classic red beans, and crispy french fries help make a night at Joe’s a local treat.

Opening its original midtown eatery in 2014, Q39 is a relative newcomer to Kansas City. However, in a short period of time it’s established itself as one of the best barbecue joints in town. A new Overland Park location has helped cement Q39’s reputation. It’s become so popular because founder and national barbecue champion Rob Magee pushes the boundaries of barbecue. The Black Angus beef brisket is always popular, but the smoked fried chicken and housemade chipotle sausages are also delicious. Dine at the large communal table to meet other barbecue enthusiasts.

kauffman center
The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in Kansas City.

Late Night: See Live Music

Kansas City has a tradition of nurturing live music. After all, it was the city that gave us Burt Bacharach, Melissa Etheridge, and Eminem. You might just see the next big thing in one of Kansas City’s great live music venues.

The Green Lady Lounge in Crossroads continues Kansas City’s rich jazz tradition. It’s got a charming vintage feel, with friendly bartenders serving classic cocktails like Old Fashioneds and sweet vermouths. The musicians and singers who grace the stage are always top-notch. There’s never a cover charge, either, so there’s no excuse for missing this great jazz venue.

They don’t play jazz at The Levee, but almost every other musical genre is represented at this beloved midtown music venue. For more than five decades, The Levee has brought rock, pop, soul, and blues music to the people of Kansas City every Wednesday to Saturday. The kitchen serves bar snacks, including chicken wings and fries, until the early morning hours, perfect for satisfying your cravings.

Kansas City International Airport Guide

Air travelers visiting Kansas City fly into Kansas City International Airport, located 15 miles northwest of the downtown area. It’s one of the biggest airports in the United States, serving travelers visiting Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, as well as Missouri. More than 11 million passengers passed through the airport in 2016.

Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines are the largest carriers using Kansas City International Airport. The airport also welcomes Frontier, United, American, and Spirit flights.

A shuttle bus service connects Kansas City International Airport’s three terminals. Each has a comprehensive range of facilities for air travelers and their guests.

Kansas City International Airport Facilities

You’ll find most of Kansas City International Airport’s shopping and dining options in Terminals B and C.

In Terminal B you’ll find a handful of CNBC News and Gifts outlets, Babies on the Go, and InMotion Entertainment among the shopping choices. California Pizza Kitchen, Burger King, and Starbucks Coffee and Deli are some of the well-known dining names. You can enjoy more gourmet fare at Terminal B’s Missouri Vineyards and Pork & Pickle.

There isn’t quite as much inside Terminal C, but there are more CNBC News and Gifts kiosks and another InMotion Entertainment. Dining options are more casual, including Just Off Vine, Great American Bagel & Bakery, and Budweiser Brewhouse.

union station
Union Station in Kansas City.

Kansas City International Airport Transport

Hiring a car for your Kansas City vacation couldn’t be easier. Several car rental companies, including Avis and Budget, have desks on site. All local rental car companies share a Gray Rental Car Shuttle, which stops at marked shelters and takes customers to their desired rental offices.

Kansas City Metro Buses provide an affordable way for you to travel to and from the airport. Route 129 buses run every hour from Terminal C and cost just $1.50 for a one-way fare. Eligible seniors, people with disabilities, and young people enjoy reduced fares of just 75 cents. You can pay cash for your ticket on the bus or use one of the city’s 31-day bus passes.

The bus isn’t quick, though, with the journey downtown typically taking 45 minutes. If you’d prefer saving time over saving money, catch a cab. Expect to pay between $45 and $55, depending on traffic, for your 20- to 30-minute journey.

Kansas City International Airport Tips

Kansas City International Airport recommends people arrive at the airport at least two hours before their scheduled flight time. The airport is busiest around 5:30 a.m. and again at around 8:30 a.m., so you may want to arrive even earlier if you have a morning flight.

The airport parking garage and circle parking are very convenient but also costly at $23 a day and $15.50 a day respectively. If you need to leave your car at the airport, park in economy lot A, B, or C, where you’ll pay just $7.50 a day. While these lots aren’t within walking distance, shuttles can take you to your terminal.

If you do have to wait, at least all Kansas City International Airport terminals offer free Wi-Fi for guests. Simply set the wireless SSID LAN to “KCI_FREE_WiFi” and launch your browser to start using this complimentary service. If your device’s battery is running low, look for the charging outlets scattered throughout all Kansas City International Airport terminals.

liberty memorial
The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.

Where To Stay in Kansas City

Kansas City has a variety of hotels to cater for all tastes and budgets. Consider your needs carefully to decide where to stay in Kansas City.

Midrange Family Hotels

Kansas City’s midrange hotels are ideal for families and other travelers conscious of their budgets. These hotels might not have the most modern rooms or high-end facilities, but you’ll find them clean and well-located with service that will help you feel right at home.

Comfort Inns and Suites Kansas City Downtown is ideal if you want to be in the center of the action. It’s within walking distance of many local attractions, including Columbus Square, City Market, and Admiral Plaza. If you want to explore further afield, buses run frequently. Visitor perks like free hot breakfasts, free Wi-Fi, and free parking will help you see value.

If you don’t mind staying a little farther out, try Courtyard Kansas City Airport. It’s located in the Zona Rosa neighborhood, which is known for its shopping and dining opportunities. An onsite restaurant, The Bistro, caters to guests who prefer eating in. Guests can also make use of the indoor pool, whirlpool spa, and 24-hour fitness center. Despite its name, the Courtyard is six miles from the airport, but the free shuttle can get you there.

Luxurious Local Hotels

When you want to feel pampered on your Kansas City getaway, splurge on one of the city’s high-end hotels. Premium rooms, luxurious features, and superior customer service will help you feel special during your stay.

Hotel Phillips Kansas City first opened its doors in 1931, but a recent $20 million restoration effort ensures this Art Deco hotel doesn’t feel long in the tooth. Vintage touches like walnut paneling and marble floors have been lovingly preserved, to the delight of guests. Dine in at the Italian-themed Tavernonna before retiring to P.S. Speakeasy, a converted basement mailroom now serving classic cocktails.

The Kansas City Marriott Downtown is one of the most opulent hotels in the Convention District. The generously sized rooms feature plush bedding, luxurious bathrooms with dual showers and backlit mirrors, and high-definition flat-screen TVs. While the rooms are beautiful, make sure you step out at night to admire the hotel’s light display. Colored lights dance across the hotel’s face starting at dusk every night. Many eateries are less than half a mile away, including Bristol Seafood Grill, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, and 801 Chophouse. A pair of onsite restaurants – MetropolitanKC and BARCENTRAL – give travelers choices when they want to eat in.

No matter what you want to do in Kansas City, GoDoTrip can help you make it happen. Browse the site to find the best accommodations, tours, transport, and more for your ultimate Kansas City trip.