25 Jun Car-Free KC: How to see Kansas City’s museums in one day — without a car!
It’s no secret that Kansas City is a car town. The city’s biggest claims to fame are jazz music, smoky barbecue, and most highway miles per capita. But at this point it’s more than possible to have an awesome weekend in Kansas City without setting foot in a car. And you’ll still see some of the best attractions KC has to offer!
To make your weekend a success, it’s easiest to stay near Downtown, Midtown, the Plaza or Brookside. The Main Street MAX bus route runs along Main St.*, which is the backbone of this itinerary. Stay within a half-mile or so from there and you’ll have an easy walk or bike ride to a stop. Airbnb and VisitKC are full of excellent options.
*The MMAX zig-zags through Downtown. For a straighter line up and down Main Street north of Crown Center, hop on the KC Streetcar.
How to see Kansas City’s museums in one day — without a car!
American Jazz Museum & Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Kansas City boasts some of the most unique and engaging museums I’ve ever been to. Start your day at 18th & Vine at the American Jazz Museum. Listen to jazz greats at the start of their careers, learn how jazz continues to influence artists today, and even make your own music within the colorful and inviting space. It’s located in the same building is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which is also a history lesson well worth any baseball fan’s time. Little leaguers and professional tailgaters alike will find something worth exploring in this museum which is stuffed full of memorabilia. Bonus: guests are welcomed with a video narrated by James Earl Jones. Allow about an hour per museum.
National WWI Museum and Memorial
Check out a Bike Share bike from the station at 18th & Highland and point your trusty steed due west to the National WWI Museum and Memorial at Liberty Memorial. Park it at Union Station, grab a bite and a latte from Parisi inside Union Station’s Grand Hall, then hike up the hill to Liberty Memorial (AKA the gigantic tower in the middle of the city that is reeeally difficult to miss). Don’t forget to turn around at the top to admire one of the best views of the downtown Kansas City skyline. The entrance to the museum is on the south side of the memorial, and the first thing you see is a beautiful walkway across a field of poppies. The museum is one of the best I’ve ever experienced — it really draws you in to the history of WWI with engaging displays. Allow at least two hours.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Finally, hop on the MMAX to the Plaza, and then walk or Bike Share over to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. My favorite area is the ancient section, but the museum boasts several collections up to and including contemporary art. (Don’t miss the giant El Anatsui Dusasa I in the ground floor atrium.) And for an iconic KC experience, pack a blanket and hang on the lawn next to the giant shuttlecock sculptures, or tour the sculpture park and the Labyrinth on the south lawn.
If you aren’t exhausted (are you exhausted??) the Trolley Track Trail picks up just south of the Nelson-Atkins. It’s an excellent, flat, crushed-gravel trail which is perfect for an evening ride (with frozen custard at Foo’s in Brookside if you’re in need of a sweet treat!).