Thanks to its growing reputation as a Midwestern hot spot, Kansas City has become a surprising vacation destination. Once you head downtown, you can see why visitors go there to enjoy the hospitality and get away from it all. The city also lends itself well to budget travel, but it never makes you sacrifice the fun you have.
The Museums Are Free
Not all museums in Kansas City offer free admission, and the places that do aren’t necessarily free all the time. However, a bit of research reveals the bevy of educational institutions that either don’t charge a dime or simply ask for a donation. Pay attention to designated free days and times.
At the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, you can learn about African-American contributions to Kansas City’s cultural development. At the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Money Museum, you can learn about how the Federal Reserve affects the economy, see a vast cash vault, hold a gold bar, and view the coin collection of Harry S. Truman. When you leave, you get to take a bag full of shredded cash as a souvenir. Learn about the history and heroics of the Frontier Army at the Frontier Army Museum, which exhibits a prairie schooner dating back to 1790.
Get a Taste
Every Wednesday, the Boulevard Brewing Company offers free tours of the brewery. The tours last about 40 minutes, during which you get to learn about the history of the company, the brewing process it uses, and how it markets its beer, which is a favorite in Kansas City. At the end of the tour, you wind up in the tasting room, where you can sample various brews and figure out which you like best.
Ride Around for Free
Kansas City’s streetcars are familiar sights around the city. The KC Streetcar line is 2.2 miles long and takes passengers along the most colorful and diverse districts. There are 16 stops along the route, which encompasses the Crossroads Art District, River Market, and the Power & Light District. Best of all, you can hop on for free. Use a Kansas City neighborhood guide to plan your day based around the stops on the streetcar route. You can explore the hottest districts without paying transportation costs.
Go Window Shopping
Walk around Crown Center, explore the River Market, or head to the Crossroads for First Fridays. In each of these places, you can stroll through the shops and stalls, dreaming about the things you’d buy if you had all the money in the world. Of course, you can always pick up a little something to remember your trip, too.
Eat on the Cheap
Kansas City’s reputation as a foodie destination is on the rise. The city has a wide selection of fine dining restaurants, but there are plenty of places for cheap but delicious eats, too. Get your coffee at Messenger Coffee Co. + Ibis Bakery. Enjoy the barbecue at EJ’s Urban Eatery. Sip on cocktails at Swordfish Tom’s. Always keep an eye out for food trucks, too.
How do you stay on budget when you go on vacation? Do you pick a day to splurge?