By Gretchen Rubin
February 23, 2018
I love my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, and talk about it often – and people ask, “What are some fun things to do in Kansas City?”
I like that question because it reminds me that I can be a tourist without leaving home. A tourist reads and studies, a tourist shows up, a tourist looks at things with fresh eyes. A tourist appreciates everything a particular place has to offer.
In fact, Elizabeth and I discuss the Try-This-at-Home tip of “Be a tourist in your own city” in episode 15 of the Happier podcast.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite stops in Kansas City.
- The Nelson-Atkins Museum – this is a gorgeous, wonderful museum, with all sorts of treasures in a beautiful building.
- The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures – this isn’t a huge place, but well worth a visit. It inspired my daughters to get a dollhouse themselves. The Museum includes displays showing the most popular toys of recent decades, and it’s fun to be reminded of all the various toy fads: Cabbage Patch dolls, G.I. Joe, etc.
- Winstead’s – this diner is my family’s favorite restaurant. It’s the place we stop to eat on our way home from the airport. We can’t get these super-thin steak-burgers anywhere else.
- Barbeque – Kansas City is famous for BBQ, and there are many great options. Q39and Char Bar are among our current favorites, and of course Gates and Arthur Bryant’s have been famous for decades.
- Kauffman Memorial Garden – a small, gem-like garden full of flowering plants and – of course – a fountain.
- Loose Park – my family has lived near this park my whole life, and my school was across the street. It’s not large but has a great playground, a duck pond, a gorgeous rose garden, and beautiful rolling hills and trees.
- The Plaza; Westport – these are two shopping areas where it’s fun to walk around, look in the shops, try the restaurants, and so on.
- J. C. Nichols Memorial Fountain – if you’re walking around the Plaza, take a look at this fountain. Kansas City is known as the “City of Fountains,” and this is its most iconic fountain. It’s often said (who knows if it’s true) that Kansas City is second only to Rome in its number of fountains – see how many you can spot as you make your way around town.
- If you’re visiting during the winter holiday season, be sure to visit the Plaza after dark. All the buildings are outlined with colored lights, and it’s a beautiful thing to see – one of Kansas City’s signature sights.
- Worlds of Fun – this amusement park, much like Six Flags, is close to Kanas City. How many times have I visited Worlds of Fun, how many times have I ridden the Flying Dutchman or searched for a stand that sells corn dogs? Countless.
- Science City in Union Station – a super-fun and educational science museum for children. Very interactive, with lots of captivating exhibits. It’s fun to see the historic Union Station, too.
- National World War I Museum and Memorial Memorial – right across the street from Union Station. This museum is fairly new and was designated by Congress as the official museum dedicated to World War I.
- State Line – as you drive through Kansas City, watch out for State Line Road. It’s fun to realize that Missouri is on one side of the road, Kansas on the other. The state line cuts through the metropolitan Kansas City area. My family used to live right on State Line Road.
My husband has really embraced KC – and his favorite things about visiting? Eating barbeque, of course, and the grocery stores. He loves a great grocery store, and after the cramped, crowded aisles of New York City, the wide open spaces and a massive selection of the Midwest are a real pleasure. As Samuel Johnson observed, “It is by studying little things [like grocery-store aisles] that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.”
What are some of your favorite things about your hometown?