Kansas City may not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of travel in the United States, but it should be. I fulfilled a long-time desire by taking my first solo trip to Kansas City, Missouri. Being able to work remotely, I seized the opportunity to plan a work trip for myself. Although my initial motivation was to check Missouri off my list of states to visit, I unexpectedly fell in love with the city. Now, I can't wait to go back.
This bustling Midwestern city is filled with history, culture, and some of the best barbecue joints in the country. Whether you have 48 hours or a few days in Kansas City, there is plenty to keep you entertained. In this post, we’ll guide you through some of the must-see attractions and activities in the city, from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to the Power and Light District. So, buckle up and get ready to have some fun in Kansas City!
Kansas City Weekend Guide
Kansas City, straddling the line between Kansas and Missouri, is a vibrant metropolis brimming with rich history, a burgeoning arts scene, and delectable cuisine, notably its legendary barbecue. Known for its jazz heritage and the iconic, beautifully designed Union Station, it's a city that effortlessly marries tradition with innovation. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a well-acquainted friend, the charm of Kansas City beckons for an unforgettable weekend exploration.
Here's my advice for traveling: always talk to locals. Their recommendations are invaluable and often lead to unique experiences. By following their suggestions, my itinerary was filled with more activities than I could accomplish in one trip. I'll definitely have to return to Kansas City to do them all.
With input from locals, friends, and my own experience, I've compiled a list of must-see attractions, things to do, and places to eat in Kansas City.
Where To Stay In Kansas City
When it comes to accommodations in Kansas City, there's a wide range of options to cater to diverse preferences and budgets.
Luxury Places to Stay in Kansas City
Budget Friendly Accommodations in Kansas City
Live Like the Locals in Kansas City
If you prefer a more personalized and homely environment, consider exploring AirBnB listings, where you can find everything from chic downtown lofts to quaint homes in quiet neighborhoods.
I found the most charming loft on Airbnb in the Crossroads District, a fantastic part of town. It's conveniently located near major attractions and within walking distance of numerous restaurants, bars, rooftops, and the T-Mobile center. I highly recommend staying in this area.
What To Do In Kansas City in 48 Hours
If you are a sports fan, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which celebrates the rich history of African American baseball players, is a must. Located in the historic 18th & Vine District, the museum is a must-visit for baseball fans and history buffs alike. You can expect to see interactive exhibits, videos, and artifacts that tell the story of these often-overlooked players and their impact on the game of baseball.
Try Kansas City Barbeque
No trip to Kansas City is complete without trying some of the famous Kansas City barbecue, and Jack Stack’s is one of the best places to do so. This award-winning barbecue spot has been featured on the Food Network, and for good reason. From the burnt ends to the brisket, every dish is a mouthwatering delight.
Joe's Kansas City is another of the beloved barbecue joints in Kansas City. It has been around for more than 20 years. Be prepared for a long line, but it's worth it. Once you get to the front, order the Z-Man sandwich - a legendary meal in KCMO.
The City Market is another must-stop destination in Kansas City. Located in the River Market area, the market is home to more than 30 vendors selling everything from fresh produce and meat to artisan crafts. On weekends, the market is bustling with live music and entertainment, making it the perfect place to spend a lazy Saturday morning.
Atkins Museum of Art / Nelson-Atkins Museum
For art lovers, the Atkins Museum of Art (the Nelson-Atkins Museum) should be on your list. The museum boasts more than 36,000 objects from around the world, including famous works by Vincent van Gogh and Thomas Hart Benton, and is known for its impressive Asian art collection and beautiful sculpture garden.
If you’re in the mood for some live music, head to the Power and Lights District. This lively entertainment district features more than 50 restaurants, bars, and shops, and is a great place to catch a show at the Midland Theatre or enjoy a drink at one of the rooftop bars.
The American Jazz Museum is another unique attraction that celebrates the city’s rich musical history. Located in the 18th & Vine District, the museum is home to interactive exhibits that showcase the evolution of jazz in America, as well as live performances and jam sessions.
Union Station is another impressive landmark in Kansas City, and a great place to spend a rainy day. The historic station has been beautifully restored and now serves as a hub for transportation and entertainment. Inside, you'll find restaurants, a planetarium, and the Science City interactive exhibit.
Finally, spend a few hours strolling through the Country Club Plaza, known for its Spanish-inspired architecture and upscale shops. If you’re visiting during the winter holidays, you'll experience beautiful holiday lights and festive music, making it the perfect place to sip on a warm cup of hot chocolate and take in the twinkling lights.
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Where To Eat In Kansas City
Kansas City, a culinary gem in the heartland of America, is synonymous with succulent barbecue, but the gastronomic delights here extend much beyond that. This vibrant city is a melting pot of flavors, offering an eclectic mix of dining experiences that are sure to make your taste buds dance. Whether you're a barbecue devotee, a fan of fine dining, or on the hunt for international flavors, Kansas City's diverse food scene has something to cater to every palate. Get ready to embark on a tantalizing culinary journey as we explore where to eat in Kansas City.
If you are a barbeque enthusiast, you should not miss out on the mouth-watering, slow-smoked meats at Q39. Known for their "burnt ends," this barbecue joint did not disappoint. I highly recommend trying the Smoked Beef Brisket Dip.
A modern food hall with a great atmosphere, the Parlor is perfect for hanging out with friends. There's a wide selection of restaurants, including Detroit-style pizza, hot chicken, mac and cheese, and Korean barbecue.
Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop is a popular spot for anyone who loves Thai food. I ordered the Drunken Noodles and loved every bite. A must-visit if you're a fan of Thai cuisine.
This unique coffee shop, Messenger Coffee, offers three floors of beautiful natural light and great workspace options. While their pastries are famous, I highly recommend trying their breakfast tacos.
A breakfast recommendation that came highly recommended by locals is Farmhouse, although I didn't have the chance to try it myself. Located in the River Market area, it's definitely on my list for my next visit.
Coffee Shops In Kansas City
Kansas City's vibrant coffee culture is as diverse and unique as the city itself. From artisanal coffee shops roasting their own beans to cozy spots offering a wonderful blend of ambiance and brews, there's much to explore and savor. This city is a caffeinated paradise for coffee lovers, offering a mosaic of experiences that go beyond the conventional cup of Joe. Whether you're a seasoned coffee connoisseur or a casual sipper, the breadth of Kansas City's coffee scene guarantees a delightful surprise at every corner.
Hiltides is a Hawaiian themed with beachy luau music on repeat and a relaxed surfer vibe. They also have a local tshirt/sweatshirt company in the back that is so cute. If you go, get the Hawaiian Macchiato (a salted caramel flavored macchiato). It is to die for!
I spent many of hours in Hiltides over three days because I could not stop going back. Not only was it (literally) right across from my Airbnb, but the atmosphere was amazing.
I have already mentioned this above when it comes to food, but Messenger is a great coffee shop to go hang out and kill some time. It is huge with plenty of room between all three floors. From people in suits on Zoom calls to Bible studies, it was happening at Messenger. The food and coffee were both amazing too.
A beloved coffee shop in the Kansas City area. Even just looking online, I was impressed with the beautiful modern atmosphere. If you are looking for the most “instagrammable” coffee spot, I’d go with Monarch.
I came across a list of coffee shops to visit in Kansas City via Pinterest and Café Equinox caught my eye. The greenhouse + coffee shop combination intrigued me so I put it in my notes for later, and I’m so glad I did.
After talking with many locals, it seems like a hidden gem because no one knew about it. It is on the Kansas side, so a little off the beaten path, but without a doubt worth the adventure over. The staff is incredible and the greenhouse has Bible verses and references to God everywhere, which I loved. I went on a snowy day and the greenhouse was warm enough that I sat with no jacket for hours while working.
You know one of those days you’ll never forget? This was one of those for me – working on a personal project, surrounded by beautiful plants and new faces, watching kids feed the fish in the fountain, in a greenhouse in the middle of a snowstorm. It was special. So special that I did not even mind having to walk a mile to a gas station when they closed because I couldn’t find an uber.
What Dessert Is Kansas City Known For?
Apart from its iconic barbecue and innovative desserts like Kansas City-style burnt ends, the city is also celebrated for another sweet treat - the Kansas City Mud Pie. This dessert is a decadent blend of chocolate cookie crumb crust, a dense layer of gooey chocolate filling, and a fluffy whipped cream topping, often garnished with chocolate shavings for an extra dose of deliciousness. What sets the Kansas City Mud Pie apart is its perfect balance between the three layers - the richness of the chocolate filling is complemented beautifully by the lightness of the whipped cream topping and the crunch of the cookie base. A slice of this heavenly dessert is a testament to Kansas City's culinary creativity, and is a must-try for any visitor with a sweet tooth.
Well, there you have it for my Kansas City weekend trip recommendations. If you have any questions or places you would recommend yourself, please feel free to leave a comment!