10 unbelievable free things to do in Kansas City


Having fun without spending money is one of those holy grail endeavors in life that once attained can elevate you and your experiences to a cosmic level of entertainment. I don't know what the hell that actually means, but it is a good thing and it means that if you check out the places on this list, you'll have more money left for booze. One of the great things about living in Kansas City is that you really don't have to spend money to have a good time. As the Beatles once sang, "Money can't buy me love," but what they didn't mention is that it doesn't have to buy you culture or a good time either. Check these places out and then buy me a beer with the money you end up saving.

Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
Amazing art, stunning architecture, and the prettiest damn front lawn in the city. These are some of the most striking aspects of the Nelson, but the fact that it is free to the general public is probably one of the biggest signs that the universe thinks art and culture are important. You can spend an hour, a day or even a weekend in the museum and walking its grounds and get your recommended serving of culture.

Boulevard Beer Tour
Boulevard Beer is a Kansas City treasure, and definitely one of KC's national and international claims to fame. From small micro-brew status 25 years ago to mega craft brewing kingpin, Boulevard not only has great beer, but they have made a point of sharing their experience with the people who made them famous, the residents of KC and its visitors. The Boulevard Beer Hall and the tours that leave from it will take you through a beer dork's personal fantasy land. It's beer porn at its finest, and it's free.

Roasterie Coffee Tour
It's not quite beer, but KC takes its coffee seriously too. The Roasterie is one of the biggest and heaviest hitters on the KC coffee scene, and they are more than happy to show you how their coffee makes it into the bags and cups emblazoned with the brand's iconic 1930s airplane logo.

Kansas City Public Library-Downtown Branch
The downtown branch of the KC public library system consistently makes lists of most beautiful buildings, most beautiful libraries and just coolest buildings in general. Even if you don't read or like books, which is just plain weird in my opinion, the library is still a must-see stop on the KC architecture tour, with its exterior designed to look like the spines of books on shelves.

KC Symphony Happy Hour Series
Kansas City has one of the most beautiful and acoustically amazing symphony venues in the world, and a kick-ass symphony to go with it. While kick-ass and symphony may not be word combinations you hear that often, it's true in KC. Besides playing beautifully, if you pay attention to the calendar you can catch one of the free happy hour concerts. The ticket is free, although the bars (that's right, they have booze at the symphony!) still do cost money, but we think that's a pretty fair tradeoff.

Country Club Plaza
The Plaza, as it is known to the locals, is home to many of the fountains that KC is known for. The biggest dog on the block is the J.C. Nichols fountain at the northeast corner. It is one of the best people watching spots in the city, almost 24 hours a day. Impressive during the day, the lights go on at night but are subtle enough that you and the lady, or fella, can probably get away with sipping a discreet adult beverage.

Kemper Museum
The Kemper is across the street from the Nelson, and definitely fits the bill as its younger, hipper, more punk-rock brother. It's not a Green Day poser, though. The Kemper has serious chops, a great spot to eat, and a small but impressive collection that is funded by some big time, old school money from the KC area.

Loose Park
Loose Park is the hippest of hipsterest places in KC, but I just don't care because it's damn pretty. The highlight, without question, is the rose garden. If you live in KC, you know someone who got married at the rose garden. I prefer a bike ride, cocktails in unmarked containers and sandwiches, but that's just me. Whatever you do there, you can't go wrong.

First Fridays in the Crossroads
With apologies to Loose Park, a breaking bulletin has just reminded me that First Fridays' hipster quotient makes Loose Park look like amateur hour. That's OK though, as long as you are not allergic to rolled cuff skinny jeans, tortoise shell framed glasses or artisanal beard wax. The best part about First Fridays is that you can eat, drink and take home cool art.

KC Power and Light District
P&L is a hook up spot, period. Head down there and hang out in the giant, outdoor commons area. Granted, you'll have to spend some cash eventually if you plan on drinking (you should drink here) but you don't have to spend anything to get there and stake out your spot to watch the silicone parade.

Drew is an almost lifelong Kansas City native who has been exploring how much this city has to offer for over 20 years and isn't stopping, even if the cost of admission is just the willingness to travel and explore.