Travel Guide: An Overview of Kansas City, Missouri (The City of Fountains)

Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri, lying in the heart of the USA. Rich in fountains almost like Rome, Kansas is a vibrant city with plenty to do. There’s a long list of attractions that glorify Kansas City- one of them is certainly Dorothy from Wizzard of Ozz.

The museums of Kansas shine with a large panorama to offer, like the Money Museum, American Jazz Museum, Leila’s Hair Museum and more. The only public museum is dedicated to the First World War, the National WWI Museum and the Memorial. Art lovers will find pure delight in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. These museums definitely deserve to be included among the top museums in the world.

Kansas is full of amusement parks and lovely gardens. It’s a city of jazz that even has its own Historic Jazz District. Barbeue is also one of the specialities of Kansas City.

History of Kansas City

Kansas City was established in 1853 though French fur traders made their first settlements in the early 19h century. In 1831, several Mormons from New York built a few schools but mob violence occurred against them.

The Civil War was pretty intense, leading to the free state of Kansas, while Missouri was a slave state. The Battle of Westport near Mississippi in 1864 was crucial and very bloody, finally liberating the city. It was happening in today’s Loose Park. The City remained divided between Northerners and Southerners.

After the Civil War, the city experienced a growth in population and new railways took place. The Quality Hill became a rich neighbourhood of Kansas City. The City Market and Walnut were gathering the trade sellers. The iconic buildings of Kansas City popped up at the end of the 19th century. Some of them are the Board of Trade Building and the Emery Bird Thayer building.

Quality Hill

Quality Hill is a historic neighbourhood in central Kansas City. It includes elegant houses and large businesses within. After its establishment in 1857, Quality Hill was one of the most expensive areas in Kansas City. Its architecture reflects the French style of the 19th century. Today it’s one of the most popular and elegant neighbourhoods in Kansas City. Its attraction shines in the fact that it lies close to the junction of the Kansas and Missouri rivers.

Typical buildings in the historical neighbourhood Quality Hill in Kansas City
Typical buildings in the historical neighbourhood Quality Hill in Kansas City- Credit:

Museums of Kansas City

Museums of Kansas City hold a colourful palette for everyone’s taste. Whether you prefer exploring history or art, Kansas City doesn’t limit here. The unusual options like Leila’s Hair Museum are included. Worth mentioning are also the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, National Airline History Museum or Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures delights with stunning exhibits for all ages.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Lying in a large and neat meadow, this museum attracts by the stunning decor of the oversized badminton shuttlecocks. The authors of this sculpture are the artists and married couple Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The Museum exists from 1933.

The fascinating Nelson Atkins Museum of Art with the giant badmington scultures, Kansas City
The fascinating Nelson Atkins Museum of Art with the giant badmington scultures, Kansas City- Credit:

The impressive collection of art focuses on Asian art, though global artwork entices. African art includes more than 400 artworks from wood to ivory. Native American artwork emphasizes pottery, ornate quill and beadwork. The European collection delights with Impressionist paintings and Italian Baroque art.

Chinese, Japanese and American art intertwine with modern art. The Hallmark Photographic Collection absorbs the history of photography from 1839 till today.

This museum covers more than adorable images, it enriches the visitors even if they’re not art lovers. The Museum is closed on Tuesday and Wednesdays.

The free admission gives such an extraordinary experience.

National World War I Museum

Kansas City’s National World War I Museum is built at the threshold of the Liberty Memorial. This Memorial glorifies all men and women who served and died in the war.

The Museum holds a large collection of educational videos and testimonials. It’s one of the world’s largest collections of war items. At several displays, visitors can also experience war at the first hand.

Kansas City for Jazz Lovers

Every day Kansas City dwells in the spirit of jazz. It has a long tradition of legendary artists and vibrant roots. Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington are among the names that pull the magic of jazz music. Nowadays, jazz shines in Kansas City, smiling upon new singers.

The Majestic Restaurant and Club is a leading destination in downtown Kansas City. The pianist Matt Villinger joins the vibraphonist Peter Schlamb in the cohesive symphony of jazz.

The Phoenix lies close to Majestic in the Historic Garment District. Adjacent to this club of jazz and blues is also located the Hotel Phoenix.

The Green Lady in the Crossroads is an intimate venue in a cozy ambience. Black Dolphin next door is packed for late-night sessions.

The American Jazz Museum

The American Jazz Museum celebrates the musical soul of Kansas City. It’s located in Kansas City’s Historic Jazz District, the birthplace of many legendary musicians. It includes Big Joe Turner, Count Basie, and Charlie Parker.

The American Jazz Museum is full of music that defines Kansas City
The American Jazz Museum is full of music that defines Kansas City- Credit:

The Museum touches the authentic American musical form, covering every aspect. Even the personal items of Ella Fitzgerald are included.

Live jazz music doesn’t lack in the museum as the Blue Room gives this pleasure four nights a week. In the treasure of the museum, the Gem Theatre also hosts many events.

Kansas City for Art Lovers

Apart from the splendid museums, Kansas City is the home to many galleries. Blue Gallery is one of the exquisite examples which exists from 2000. Art dwells deeply as the meaning of life- that’s the philosophy of this place. All kinds of artwork, from abstract to realistic, enlighten the place. Some of the artists include Aileen Chong, Joe Ramiro Garcia, and Patricia Kochaver.

Kauffman Centre for the Performing Arts is a fantastic edifice where you can witness dances, concerts and many other performances.

The murals of Kansas City are dedicated to its jazz singers and other significant people
The murals of Kansas City are dedicated to its jazz singers and other significant people- Credit:

The Kansas City Murals spell the charm of the city’s history. This includes the early explorers like Lewis & Clark or jazz pioneer Count Basie. Several murals enchant the beauty of the fountains.

Fountains of Kansas City

The enchanting power that sounds so inviting belongs to Kansas City’s fountains. Their mesmerising beauty takes place mostly in many of the urban parks or the shopping area named Country Club Plaza. There are around 200 fountains but only 48 are public.

J.S. Nichols Memorial Fountain in the City of Fountains
J.S. Nichols Memorial Fountain in the City of Fountains- Credit:

The first fountains appeared in the late 1800s and they served thirsty dogs, horses and birds. Safe drinking water became the rule with the new fountains.

Fountain day is celebrated every year in early April when fountains come back to life.

J.S. Nichols Memorial Fountain is one of the most fascinating, located in Mill Creek Park at the popular Country Club Plaza District. It was built in Paris in 1910 but brought to Kansas City in 1951.

Fountain Basin is one of the oldest in the city, bringing allure to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The Bloch Fountain creates a choreographic show every hour.

The Food of Kansas City

Kansas City is famous for its steaks and barbecues just like in Texas. The four types of food represent Kansas City: burnt ends, strip steaks, cheesy corn and chicken spiedini.

With more than 100 barbeque restaurants in the city, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que is among the top ones. The vegetarian version of the Z-man sandwich is also available.

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, a popular barbecue restaurant in Kansas City
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, a popular barbecue restaurant in Kansas City- Credit:

The smoky feelings of barbeque dishes looks like paradise here. It all started with Henry Perry who initiated selling smoked meats to workers in Kansas City’s Garment District. Afterwards, he opened a restaurant in the 18th & Vine neighborhood, also known as Arthur Bryant’s.

Dorothy’s House in Liberal

We all know Dorothy and Wizzard of Ozz. The real house belonging to the fictional character Dorothy Gale stays in Liberal. No actual town was given in the movie, so the city of Liberal took the chance. Liberal is located 6h away from Kansas City.

Dorothy's house in Liberal, the legendary place of Kansas state
Dorothy’s house in Liberal, the legendary place of Kansas state- Credit:

The same spot in Liberal hosts three attractions: Dorothy’s House & Land of Ozz and the Seward County Coronado Museum. In 1981, the city moved the house to the Seward County Coronado Museum. At that moment, it became the official home of Dorothy Gale, recognized by the governor, John Carlin.

During your visit, „Dorothy“ will take you around the house. The place will evoke the real Kansas farm from the early 1900s. You will see the living room, kitchen and Dorothy’s bedroom.

The Land of Ozz next door covers the world of fantasy after you cross the Yellow Brick Road.

Coronado Museum

The Coronado Museum tells the story of the Spanish conquistador Don Francisco Vazquez de Coronado. He was the first European who visited Southwestern Kansas, together with his 36 soldiers. While searching for the Seven Cities of Gold during 1541, he didn’t actually find gold.

The Museum was established in 1961. The Native American exhibit  also enlights the Coronado Museum.

Westpost Neighbourhood- The Oldest Area in Kansas

Westport is a charming and popular neighbourhood in Kansas City. Tree-lined boulevards glorify the rhythm of historic buildings. The name comes from the Battle of Westport, the largest Civil War conflict west of Mississippi.

Harris House Museum from 1855 reflects the time of the first residents in Westport. The beginnings of Kansas City are picturesquely illustrated.

Harris House Museum in Kansas City
Harris House Museum in Kansas City- Credit:

Today we can find plenty of lovely boutiques and modern restaurants here. Many festivals, concerts and holiday celebrations also take place here.

Gardens and Parks in Kansas City

The delightful atmosphere of Kansas City’s parks and gardens shines upon its famed fountains. Kansas City opens its doors to the pretty blooms and colours of every season. Enjoying a picnic or sculptural art roaming in the gardens is a perfect way to chill.

The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Garden features the iconic names of civic leaders and philanthropists. It’s an oasis full of colours and tranquility framed by the jumping fountains. Gardenia takes the leading charm among the fragrant orangeries.

The Children's fountain in the lovely Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Garden
The Children’s fountain in the lovely Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Garden- Credit:

Powell Gardens is a large area of themed gardens, located 45 minutes from central Kansas City. Island Garden enjoys a particular popularity and charm.

Overland Park and Botanical Gardens burst with flora and fauna into the enchanting style of Monet’s garden. Among the ponds and waterfalls lives the charm of several hiking trails.

Loose Park attracts visitors with its lovely Rose Garden.

The Scenic Hikes Near Kansas City

Kansas City lies in a green area full of forests where mountains play a secondary role. The scenic beauty hides waterfalls and caves in the tranquile embrace.

Swope Park is a fantastic trail for all levels right in the city. The favourite place for families, Rancho D-Lux Loop trail, is the perfect place to recharge yourself. Local wildlife is an additional bonus in this picturesque delight.

White Tail Trail in Parkville Nature Sanctuary with its waterfalls near Kansas City
White Tail Trail in Parkville Nature Sanctuary with its waterfalls near Kansas City- Credit:

White Tail Trail in Parkville Nature Sanctuary enchants families with its waterfalls and streams. The easy distance from the city makes it a memorable choice with several hiking routes.

Larry Mattenon Memorial Trail is a quiet trail that cheers visitors with the scenic views of Lake Jacomo. It’s a place to observe the birds or get a good bike ride.

Blue River Trail stays densely in the forest but right in the city.

Conclusion: Kansas City, the Fascinating City of Fountains

Kansas City bursts with a surprising feeling full of the authentic identity of America. The City of Fountains scatters its hidden magic beyond the well-known story of Dorothy. Kansas City is the city of art, of jazz and barbecue.

Kansas City is a rich treasure that soaks up the pure symphony of art for every taste. It’s the city that delights with the history of jazz and its unique sound.

The green oasis enchants with the simple decor full of life. Kansas City invites fun in its first line with a splendid choice of offer.

Its fountains speak of the inner challenge that art brings, of the true joy and little moments. More than 40 different jazz bars are alone the reason to visit. Though jazz wasn’t born in Kansas City, it was developed there.

Kansas City is a place where history intertwines with the artistic images of all nuances.

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