Just like every metropolitan area in the country, Kansas City is made up of the city “proper,” as well as surrounding towns and suburbs. However, unlike most other metropolitan areas, Kansas City is further divided across state lines.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Kansas City Bucket List Activities for Spring and Summer
- Kansas City Bucket List Activities for Fall and Winter
- Kansas City Bucket List Foods and Restaurants
Kansas City, Missouri, is the most populous city in the metropolitan area. It is the home to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Royals, and most of the major entertainment venues.
The next most populous city is a suburb on the Kansas side. Overland Park often appears on national lists as being one of the best places to raise a family.
Kansas City, Kansas (or KCK) is home to Sporting Kansas City and the Kansas Speedway.
Other suburbs with more than 100,000 residents include Olathe, Kansas; Independence, Missouri; and Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
Even though each large and small community that makes up the Kansas City metro area has its own personality and unique features, there are a few things that unify us – including these items on our Kansas City bucket list.
Kansas City Bucket List Activities for Spring and Summer
Will you be visiting KC in the spring or summer? Here are some Kansas City bucket list activities to consider.
1. Take the Boulevard Brewing Company tour
Just so you know, it gets hot in Kansas City during the summer. So cool off on a Kansas City afternoon by taking a tour of Boulevard Brewing Company. The tour lasts one hour and ends in the brewery’s tasting room.
2. Enjoy a weekend at “The Lake”
Even though Kansas City is as far from the ocean as any city in the U.S. could be, we still enjoy water sports on weekends. Kansas Citians often head to “the lake” on weekends. Although locals assume “the lake” refers to the Lake of the Ozarks, this isn’t necessarily true. There are a lot of lakes for recreation on both the Missouri and Kansas sides of the state line.
3. Attend a Shawnee Mission Theatre in the Park production
Shawnee Mission Theatre in the Park is the largest outdoor community theatre in the United States. During the summer, people from all over the metro area pack a picnic and a favorite beverage and spread out a blanket on the lawn in front of the outdoor stage. The productions are always fantastic.
4. Go to a KC Sporting game
You might be surprised to hear this, but KC is a soccer town! Youth soccer is extremely popular, and high-end soccer complexes bring in tournament players from all over the country.
Even if you are more of a fan of American football than futbol, you should go to a KC Sporting game. The Sporting stadium is located near The Legends– an outdoor shopping complex in KCK. The tickets are affordable, and parking is free. Plus, there’s not a bad seat in the house.
5. Visit the World War I Museum
Even if you know nothing about World War I, spend the afternoon at the World War I Museum and nearby Liberty Memorial. The museum walks you through the history of the “war to end all wars,” and the nearby Liberty Memorial gives you a fantastic view of the city.
6. Take a pic in front of the giant books at KC Public Library
Lovers of classic literature need to visit the parking garage in the downtown branch of the Kansas City Public Library. The outside walls are painted to look like the spines of classic novels. This is a fun, free photo op for those visiting downtown KC.
For additional photo opportunities, Google Kansas City murals. There are many murals throughout the city that would provide fun, colorful backdrops for pictures.
7. See the shuttlecocks at Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
Visitors to the inside of the Nelson Atkins Museum of art will see world-renowned pieces by artists from all over the world. However, if art isn’t your thing, you would still enjoy spending a few minutes among the huge shuttlecocks that are scattered across the museum’s lawn.
These whimsical art installations have become an important symbol for the Kansas City area, as you’ll often see them featured on KC-related items.
Kansas City Bucket List Activities for Fall and Winter
Fall is a fantastic time in the Kansas City area. The weather is usually beautiful, and the mature trees in the older neighborhoods turn bright colors. Here are some fall and winter activities to do in Kansas City.
8. Pick a pumpkin
There are a lot of apple orchards and pumpkin patches around the Kansas City area. One popular destination is south of the city on the Kansas side in the small town of Louisburg. The Louisburg Cider Mill has a pumpkin patch, corn maze and offers an apple cider slush and apple cider donuts.
9. See the Plaza Lights
The Country Club Plaza is a shopping and restaurant district on the Missouri side, and each year there is a holiday lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving night. Dress warmly and take a horse-drawn carriage ride to get the best view of this beautiful area.
Another popular destination for viewing holiday lights is Union Station. Union Station is the home to Science City, special exhibitions, and an Amtrak station. This historic building is also decorated beautifully for the holidays.
10. Go ice skating at Crown Center
Crown Center is an indoor shopping mall that is located near Union Station. Each winter, the Crown Center Ice Terrace is opened, providing Kansas Citians with a beautiful outdoor space to enjoy ice skating.
11. Visit the Steamboat Arabia Museum
There are probably many people in Kansas City who have not visited this hidden gem. However, consider spending a few hours at this unique museum currently housed in the KC Rivermarket area. This museum features items lost at the bottom of the Missouri River when the Steamboat Arabia sank in 1856.
The wreckage was uncovered in the late 1980s, and the museum was opened to display the cargo that was uncovered. The collection is so extensive that you’ll feel as if you are visiting a Walmart from the 1850s.
12. Eat a giant turkey leg at the Renaissance Festival
The Renaissance Festival is held during the weekends each fall in Kansas City. Visitors can watch a jousting event, interact with the renaissance-clad vendors and participants, and, of course, eat a giant turkey leg.
13. Go to a Kansas City Chiefs game
Arrowhead Stadium has the designation of being the loudest NFL stadium in the country. And because both the Chiefs and the Royals play at a stadium complex outside of the downtown area, there’s plenty of room for tailgating. Don’t forget to wear red!
Kansas City Bucket List Foods and Restaurants
While there’s nothing too controversial listed in the previous sections of our Kansas City bucket list, this section will cause tempers to flare. If you ask five Kansas Citians to name their favorite barbecue spot, you might get five different answers – along with a long explanation of why their choice is the best.
KC Barbecue is big business in our city, and even though several of our restaurants make national “best barbecue” lists, don’t overlook the smaller establishments sprinkled all over the city. Kansas Citians don’t tolerate lousy barbecue, so if the restaurant has been in business for any time at all, you know that you’ll get a good meal.
While we certainly could fill our list with barbecue places to try, we have only listed two. Sorry if your favorite didn’t make our list.
As far as barbecue restaurants go, Q39 is relatively new to the scene. However, it quickly established itself as a top-tier Kansas City barbecue place. This restaurant is a bit more “upscale” than some of the more famous institutions – which appeals to some but repels others.
15. Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Until the last few years, Joe’s Kansas City was called “Oklahoma Joe’s.” This barbecue joint started in a gas station in KCK but has expanded to several other locations. If you choose to go to the original Joe’s, get there early. Lines form outside the building before they open each morning.
You can’t eat barbecue for every meal, so you might consider giving Strouds a try if you are in Kansas City. Strouds is home to some of the best pan-fried chicken you’ll ever have, and it is served “family style.”
Although locations of this Kansas City institution used to be scattered all over the city, there are only two locations left of Winstead’s. You’ll feel like you have traveled back in time when you walk into this 50s style diner.
Even though Winsteads serves burgers and fries, everyone is there for the ice cream. The Skyscraper is a popular “sharable” choice for small groups.
18. Christopher Elbow Chocolates
Christopher Elbow Chocolates isn’t your average corner chocolate shop. Instead, this high-end shop features handcrafted, gourmet chocolates in unique flavors. Plus, their chocolates are mini pieces of art.
19. Strawberry Hill Baking Company
Strawberry Hill Baking Company is known for povitica, a pastry/bread baked by Croatian and Slovenian women who immigrated to Kansas City. Although the company ships its product across the nation, it has become a staple on many holiday tables throughout the KC area.
There’s a lot that we didn’t include on our list – shopping in the KC Rivermarket, First Fridays in the Crossroads district, Jack Stack Barbecue, and more. There are also many little towns that surround the KC Metro area that are worth a visit. For example, you might take an afternoon to explore Leavenworth, the oldest city in Kansas. Or you might wander through the shops in Weston, Missouri.