If you’re planning a trip to visit the Midwest, you don’t want to skip out on Missouri. I’ve lived in the Midwest my entire life and I have to say Missouri is totally underrated. This Missouri travel guide will help you plan all the things to do, eat and see in two of Missouri’s largest cities.
I spent two days in Kansas City and two days in Springfield. It was the perfect amount of time to explore the top sites in each location. These cities are only 2.5 hours away from each other by car so it’s possible to see both during a long weekend.
Let’s start with Kansas City. This city is a hub for BBQ, live music, and football. It also spans well beyond those things. Let’s jump into it.
Where to stay:
Like any major city in the US, Kansas City offers a wide range of hotels in different neighborhoods around downtown. I stayed at Crossroads Hotel which is in the Crossroads Arts District. Crossroads Hotel is a rustic-chic, contemporary hotel central to the activities I had planned throughout my stay.
In addition to the exceptional customer service, this hotel had exceptionally clean rooms, a gorgeous luxury bathroom and a fun rooftop bar if you’re in the mood for a nightcap.
Where to eat:
Boulevard Brewing Company
Chances are you’re familiar with Boulevard Brewing Company if you’re a beer drinker. I knew I couldn’t visit Kansas City without stopping at this famous brewery. Boulevard offers various guided tours ranging from $10 to $40 per person. If you’re tight on time or would rather just dine in, check out the Beer Hall upstairs for a full menu of food and drinks.
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience in Kansas City, you have to visit Novel. This cozy yet high-end restaurant offers dishes made from seasonal ingredients and a full lineup of hand-crafted cocktails. I don’t typically order seafood when I dine out but I ordered the scallops at the recommendation of my server. They were incredible. My meal paired nicely with the Grapeful cocktail – made with gin and fizzy grapes!
I highly recommend Beer Kitchen for its famous Sunday brunch. It’s located in Westport, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, featuring local restaurants, boutiques and nightlife. We ordered the truffle parmesan fries, breakfast enchiladas and their famous chicken & waffles for the table. Don’t forget to check out their list of breakfast cocktails.
What to do:
Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden
If you want to explore beyond downtown, head to the Kauffman Memorial Garden. These serene gardens are located six miles south of downtown. It’s free to the public and is filled with lush greenery and fountains. Although small, it’s the perfect retreat for an afternoon stroll.
Power and Light District
The Power and Light District is arguably the most famous area of downtown Kansas City. This district is filled with cocktail bars, restaurants, live music, and a lot of action. I came on a Sunday morning, but the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t playing until that night so, it wasn’t crowded at all. I imagine it gets a lot busier during game time. Regardless of your preference on crowd size, you don’t want to miss stopping here.
Kansas City Museum
Just east of downtown you’ll find the Kansas City Museum. Public access is free although they do welcome donations. The museum was closed for renovations in recent years and I can vouch for how stunning it is inside. Filled with exhibits from history, art and entertainment, this museum is a great addition to your Kansas City itinerary.
I have to be honest when I say I never thought about visiting Springfield, Missouri. After spending two full days exploring the area it’s safe to say it’s an underrated city. While it is much smaller than Kansas City, it offers a small-town charm that larger cities can’t provide.
Where to stay:
I stayed at the beautiful Hotel Vandivort located in the heart of downtown Springfield. This boutique hotel has two buildings on the property. The main building has an upscale, chic restaurant called The Order right in the lobby. The second building has a rooftop bar called Vantage Lounge, although it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I was unable to visit.
The rooms are spacious, and my window view allowed me to watch the sunrise from bed each morning. There is a valet parking option or free self-park across the street if you prefer. There are plenty of other restaurants, cafes, and things to do in the downtown area that are within walking distance from Hotel Vandivort.
Where to eat:
Want to know where to eat in Springfield? Below is the incredible lineup of restaurants and cafés I visited during my two-day stay.
Van Gogh’s Eeterie: Dutch-style cuisine in an upbeat café, located in the historic district on Commercial Street.
RISE: A super-cute, Insta-worthy café serving healthy breakfast options and green juices. If you have time to dine-in, sit on their patio and take in views of Park Central Square.
Civil Kitchen: Across the street from RISE is Civil Kitchen. It also overlooks Park Central Square, so I recommend a patio table here as well. Their menu offers classic bar foods, specialty beers and hand-crafted cocktails.
Aviary by Lavender Falls: This hidden gem is in Farmer’s Park on the south side of the city. I sat at the bar and enjoyed a delicious lavender martini and other French-inspired offerings.
The Coffee Ethic: If you need a caffeine fix before starting your day, be sure to stop by The Coffee Ethic. Since it’s fall, I had to try their seasonal Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. They also offer pastries, craft beer and wine.
The Order: I mentioned above that this restaurant is in the lobby of Hotel Vandivort. I ate dinner here my first night in town and then stopped in for a late night drink on my second night. They offer bar seating, sporting events on TV, and excellent service. I highly recommend the gnocchi stroganoff.
What to do:
Route 66 Car Museum
Even if you’re not into classic cars, you have to stop by the Route 66 Car Museum. It showcases some of the most beautiful vintage sports cars and classic automobiles in history. Tickets to enter are $15 per person and you’re welcome to take as many photos as you’d like. Don’t forget to brownse the gift shop on your way out!
Springfield Botanical Gardens and Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
Want to enjoy nature? These two gardens are located on the same property, and you could easily spend a full afternoon visiting both. The Botanical Gardens were free to enter, and the Japanese Gardens were $5 per person. There are plenty of photo opportunities within each garden and enough seating to relax and take in the views. Stop inside the Butterfly House before you leave.
During the drive from Kansas City to Springfield, I saw dozens of billboards advertising the Fantastic Caverns. The anticipation had me excited and the visit did not disappoint. This family friendly activity allows you to go on a one-mile ride-through tour beneath the Ozark hills. The caves is stunning and filled with beautiful mineral formations and tiny cave pearls. Our tour guide was fantastic and shared a ton of information about how the caves came to be and how they continue to develop over time. Tickets for the tour are $30 per person.
I hope this Missouri travel guide convinced you to visit Kansas City and Springfield on your next trip. Whether you’re looking for city or nature activities, fine dining or dive bar experiences, there is something for every traveler when you come!