The Best History Sites & Landmarks in Kansas City

Kaylee Giacomini

Kansas City is an important historic site on the banks of the Missouri River. Originating in the early 19th century, the city was once a stop on the way for pioneers to reach gold mining in California and Oregon. Some of the travelers never made it out west. Instead, they stayed back in the midwest and made Kansas City the bustling hub that it is today. Kansas City is geographically in the heart of the United States and serves as a major crossroads. Quite literally between the East and West coast, but also of varying people groups that have made the city what it is today.

KCMO City Hall, 18th And Vine, Cave Spring Park, Ermine Case Junior Park, Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site, Union Station Kansas City, Independence, Harry S Truman National Historic Site

  • KCMO City Hall in Kansas City, United States

    Image of KCMO City Hall on Seeker
    • kaylee

      City Hall is a historic Art Deco structure perched in the heart of Downtown Kansas City. Marvel at the building’s gorgeous exterior, and then step inside to learn more about the historic city. Once you have gotten your fill of City Hall, take the elevator up to the 30th floor to check out the observation deck. From the top, you can see the entire city and adjoining Missouri River.

  • 18th And Vine in Kansas City, United States

    Image of 18th And Vine on Seeker
    • kaylee

      18th and Vine is a historic district of Kansas City made famous during the roaring 20s and prohibition. Speakeasies may no longer line the district, but you will surely find a few thriving music scenes to check out. Stroll the neighborhood on this step back in history to see the jazz clubs where giants like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker created and performed hits that we still know by heart. Today, the neighborhood is also home to the American Jazz Museum.

  • Cave Spring Park, United States

    Image of Cave Spring Park on Seeker
    • kaylee

      Not only is Cave Spring a gorgeous respite outside of the bustling city, the destination packs in a lot of history as it was once a stop for pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail. Visit Cave Spring for some urban recreation, or learn about the historic trail that once crossed directly through it at the interpretive center. You can marvel at the onsite cave, walk the path that pioneers did, and learn about Native history in the area all in one stop.

  • Ermine Case Junior Park in Kansas City, United States

    Image of Ermine Case Junior Park on Seeker
    • kaylee

      In 1806, pioneers Lewis and Clark stopped in what is now Downtown Kansas City on their monumental journey. Stand in the same place Clark stood at Clark’s point and imagine what the city was before buildings and boulevards overtook the rural setting. From the location, visitors can see two states and the roaring Missouri River.

  • Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site in Kansas City, United States

    Image of Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site on Seeker
    • kaylee

      This late Victorian home was the residence of Thomas Hart Benton, American artist and visionary. Since his death in 1975, the home has been preserved as it was with all of the nostalgia of the 70’s coupled with the artwork and studio of Hart Benton. Walk the 2.5 stories, and marvel at the artwork in each room that is noted as some of the most significant of the 20th century.

  • Union Station Kansas City in Kansas City, United States

    Image of Union Station Kansas City on Seeker
    • kaylee

      Union Station is the location of Kansas City’s first and most elaborate rail station. Although service was paused for a while, thanks to Amtrak, Union Station is back in operation serving travelers coming from across the country. Even if you don’t have a train to catch, visit Union Station to admire the architecture and historic significance. The 1914 building was reclaimed in 1997 and now houses a children’s science center, an exhibit on rail history of Kansas City, both a live and movie theater, shops and restaurants, and even a rail system.

  • Independence, United States

    Image of Independence on Seeker
    • kaylee

      Independence is a town on the outskirts of Kansas City, but it is a great place to spend a day. The historic town dates back to the early 1800’s much like the city that it neighbors. Spend a few hours wandering around and check out the home, library, and museum dedicated to former President Harry Truman. If presidential history isn’t your thing, other options include some preserved mansions depicting life as it was in past decades or the 1859 jail which is rumored to be haunted and open for the public to explore.

  • Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Independence, United States

    Image of Harry S Truman National Historic Site on Seeker
    • kaylee

      Speaking of Harry Truman, visit his iconic house to see how one of America’s most respected presidents lived before calling Pennsylvania Avenue home. During his time as president, the Victorian home was referred to as the “Summer White House” due to the amount of time the president spent here. Today, the house still holds family heirlooms and documents dedicated to Truman’s time spent in the Oval Office.