With Seville-inspired architecture and an eclectic patchwork of neighborhoods, Kansas City is an exhilarating fusion of history, soul and influences from around the world. And though the “Paris of the Plains” got its nickname during Prohibition, today the vibrant destination is in its most exciting chapter yet. Discover the “New Midwest” with these 16 attractions you won’t want to miss.
In 1915, The Rieger was a functioning hotel, and a famed one at that – checking in guests such as Al Capone. Its basement is now cocktail lounge Manifesto, which pays homage to the space’s Prohibition past, back when it functioned as a speakeasy. Expect moody, low lighting, soft music and strong drinks. The cocktail menu is particularly adventurous, but the classic gimlet is always a winner.
The entertainment epicenter of Kansas City truly comes alive at night. The city is renowned for its live music scene, and you’ll find plenty of great spots to catch a concert or impromptu performance. It’s also where you can have a ball at a host of clubs, restaurants and venues like the Midland Theatre (which first opened in 1927) and Sprint Center, a major sports and live entertainment arena.
The Kansas City Zoo is often recognized as one of the top zoos in North America, covering 200 acres of Swope Park. It’s home to more than 1,700 animals, and you’ll find unique habitats such as the Orangutan Canopy, Helzberg Penguin Plaza and African Sky Safari, allowing visitors to catch all the wild action up close.
Kansas City’s sister city is Seville, Spain, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the Country Club Plaza. The first outdoor shopping center in the US is landscaped with fountains, cobblestone pathways and Spanish-style architecture. There are 100 shops and 30 restaurants worth exploring, and if the weather’s nice, make a beeline for a rooftop terrace at the upscale Parker at The Fontaine or popular O’Dowd’s gastrobar. Once you leave the Plaza, visit the JC Nichols Memorial Fountain to grab a picture of an iconic landmark.
Jazz, barbecue and local history is how you can sum up the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District. Hit this part of town to learn about Kansas City’s contributions to music at the American Jazz Museum and retrace the area’s history at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, housed in the same building. Attached to the jazz museum is the Blue Room, a jazz club where you’ll find more rare memorabilia and lively shows several nights a week.
A trip to Kansas City wouldn’t be complete without visiting the National WWI Museum and Memorial – the world’s most comprehensive collection of artifacts, videos and immersive experiences dedicated to the history of The Great War. The Liberty Memorial tower and galleries were first opened to the public in 1926, and the museum continues to educate visitors with an impressive trove of everything from antique weapons and propaganda posters to soldiers’ uniforms and equipment.
Root, root, root for the home team, the Kansas City Royals, at the legendary Kauffman Stadium. Also known as “The K,” the ballpark was built in 1973 – but today it gives sports-loving visitors more than just a ballgame, with views of the impressive City of Fountains and stunning Midwest landscapes from the stands. There are also quality refreshments available from hometown favorites Boulevard Brewing Company and Belfonte’s Ice Cream, as well as AZ Canteen from celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern.
A jewel in the crown of the Downtown skyline, the historical Union Station is a cultural center in one of Kansas City’s most beloved buildings. You’ll discover the KC Rail Experience, a planetarium, Science City and a museum with rotating exhibits. Past shows have explored the history of Pompeii, the Titanic and Da Vinci – and for the best view of the grand halls, sit and dine on the upper level at the much-loved Harvey’s.
This single park makes for double the fun (with only one admission fee). At Worlds of Fun, rides and rollercoasters for all ages are split into five sections, themed after the book Around the World in Eighty Days. From May to August, Oceans of Fun is where you can cool off by kayaking in Buccaneer Bay, swimming in the wave pool or launching yourself down a water slide.
The grand entrance of Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa is just a teaser of the decadent spirit you’ll find inside. Slot machines, table games and high-limit games are naturally all available to play, but the Argosy isn’t just a casino: the complex contains an in-house spa and six dining options. Spend the night in one of the rooms or suites in the casino’s hotel and continue the fun the next day.
The best bookstores are often warrens crammed with shelves of aged titles, inviting book lovers to peruse at their leisure. This is exactly what you’ll find at Prospero’s Books, which has been a literary hub in Kansas City for more than 100 years. Located on the lively 39th Street West, the three-story store is packed full of stories for everyone, whether in the form of a well-loved novel, a used vinyl record or a classic movie. The bookstore also hosts monthly events including author readings and themed music nights.
The Crossroads Arts District is Kansas City’s creative pulse, as it’s home to more than 300 local artists and 100 studios, making it one of the most densely concentrated gallery districts in the US. It’s also where you’ll find Art Alley, brimming with incredible street art and best explored on foot. But aside from the cutting-edge artwork, there’s plenty more to be enjoyed here. If you’re around for the monthly First Fridays, the district turns into one big block party, with many bars, restaurants, galleries and boutique shops staying open later, often with live music.
The West Bottoms is a historic neighborhood full of antique treasures and vintage goods waiting to be found in its impressive warehouse spaces. It’s worth passing by for the day to bag a bargain, but make a few stops while you’re there: sip small-batch roasted coffee at local favorite Blip Roasters, dine on hot chicken at Lucky Boys, or sample craft beer at Stockyards Brewing Company.
Founded in 1887 in the West Bottoms, the distillery fell victim to Prohibition before being revived in 2014. Distilling craft whiskey, vodka, gin and other spirits, the brand has become a beloved local favorite with Kansas Citians and beyond. This summer, J. Rieger & Co. will open a new distillery location; it will continue to offer tours and tastings but in a bigger space with a bar and lounge. It will also showcase a historical exhibit that’s a nod to its unique past, as it prepares for its next chapter.
This branded content article was published as part of a commercial campaign that has now ended.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.