There’s more than meets the eye in Kansas City, Kansas. We recently sampled a few of the attractions that the city has to offer visitors. The smaller of the two KCs has its own unique reasons to visit the Kansas side of the Metro area. From history and entertainment to art, KCK is inviting to check out. The city of about 150,000 people started in 1872.
Honestly, the times we’ve visited Kansas City, Kansas, it’s been to the Village West area. It’s home to Legends Outlets shopping center, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Cabela’s, Hollywood Casino, Chateau Avalon Hotel, as well as sporting venues for Major League Soccer and minor league baseball. Those attractions are enough to keep people busy for a few days.
However, there’s another side to KCK and we learned about it during a recent photo tour with the Kansas state tourism department and KCK’s visitors bureau. Our “Instameet” included spots around the city, including the historic downtown. An Instameet is a group of people who meet to take pictures or video for their Instagram accounts. About 50 people attended ours on one of the hottest days of the year, as temps reached a “feel like” above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I cheated a little (as did others) because I photographed using both my phone and my camera.
Our day started at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall downtown. Built in 1925 to honor local people who served and died during World War I, the memorial has expanded to include the names of the fallen from all American wars and conflicts.
The memorial is a beautiful tribute to the military members who gave their lives for our country. The building features columns in front. Historical quotes ring the lobby, along with plaques listing the names of local men and women who perished during battle.
The Soldier and Sailor Memorial also houses an auditorium. At one time, big name acts performed concerts here. Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd. Patsy Cline and her band performed their last concert here in 1963 before dying in a plane crash two days later.
Downtown art murals
Like many cities, Kansas City is working to renovate its downtown. The city invites visitors to walk along the “Avenue of Murals,” a four-block stretch of Minnesota Avenue that features eight murals depicting the city’s history. The artwork reflects Kansas City’s ethnic diversity. Professional artists and high school students worked together to create the art over a four-year period.
We first observed the “Kansan Printer” mural. It depicts the history of the city’s newspaper, which was located downtown for about eight decades.
A second mural celebrates the city’s Hispanic culture. “Dia de la Muertos” features people dancing while skeletons are located throughout the mural. It observes “Day of the Dead,” a popular Mexican celebration.
Native American history features the story of the Wyandot people. It tracks the people’s history from a forced migration from the upper Midwest to “Indian Country,” where they formed what would eventually become Kansas City.
Other murals celebrate the history and cultures of African Americans and Hmong, as well as the city as a whole.
Lewis and Clark spent time in the area during their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. The squad camped on the Kansas side of the Missouri River, near where the Kansas River flows into the Missouri. KAW Point observes the explorers’ encampment with an interesting monument featuring limestone blocks with team members’ names inscribed on them.
The view from KAW Point is beautiful. You can see the skyline of Kansas City, Missouri, from the confluence. The area is popular with boaters, kayakers and people fishing.
Paris may have its Arc de Triumph, but KCK has its Rosedale Monument. The fact that the two look similar is no accident. The Parisian attraction inspired the Rosedale memorial’s design, built to honor World War I veterans. The monument stands on a bluff, next to a school, overlooking the area. You have an excellent view of the KCMO skyline from here.
After enjoying our time downtown and its surrounding area, our group made its way to the Village West Area. We visited the home stadium of Sporting KC, a team in Major League Soccer. Formerly known as the Wizards, Sporting KC annually challenges for MLS’ playoffs. The team has won a couple league titles.
Sporting KC plays at Children’s Mercy Park, an outdoor stadium that seats more than 18,000 fans. Our tour took us behind the scenes of the park, including the team’s locker room, media interview area and press box, as well as corporate suites and fan lounge areas.
Our day concluded at Dave and Busters at Legends, relaxing and enjoying drinks (soft drinks for us) with friends we knew and friends we made during the event.
Our first “Instameet” with Kansas Tourism was a blast. We look forward to their plans for the next one. The next time you’re heading to KC, make sure you include Kansas City, Kansas, on the itinerary. The area has a lot to offer. We hope to make it back during the Christmas holiday season to visit the season’s decorations at Strawberry Hill Museum, which celebrates the city’s cultural history.