The springtime Kansas City weather stayed warm and wonderful all week—until Saturday morning. And now the forecast calls for heavy rain all through the weekend. Luckily, no hailstorms are forecast, so it’s safe to back out of the garage.
So where to go? What to do? Every baseball game is rained out—from Little League to the big-league Royals. The weather’s too soggy for the KC Zoo, or Powell Gardens, or window-shopping in the Country Club Plaza. There’s no serious shopping to do. It’s too wet to work outside; it’s too wet to walk outside.
How best to while away a rainy afternoon in Kansas City—particularly with out-of-town visitors? Following are the top five indoor Kansas City attractions for when it’s too hot, too wet, too cold or too tornadic to enjoy the great outdoors.
1. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is always a best bet—whether inside, with its various free art exhibitions, or outside, with its Henry Moore Sculpture Garden and “Shuttlecocks.” In 2007, TIME magazine ranked the museum’s new Bloch Building, No. 1 on its “The 10 Best (New and Upcoming) Architectural Marvels” list. One caveat: Avoid parking inside the Nelson-Akins garage Friday evenings—or anytime during one of the museum special events. There’s only one exit through which to pay the $5 parking fee and you’ll be trapped for an hour with your engine running trying to get out.
2. The Arabia Steamboat Museum is a fascinating, one-of-a-kind museum in the city market area. The museum features perfectly preserved contents (including still-edible canned and bottled food) of a Missouri River steamboat that sank in 1856. This pop-culture examiner met Greg Hawley, one of the co-owners of the museum, on a beautiful spring weekday afternoon in 2006, when only a handful of visitors showed to take an Arabia tour. Hawley was killed in 2007 when a speeding BMW collided with his pickup truck. A great storyteller, Hawley related how he and his family had excavated the buried steamboat from a Kansas cornfield along the Missouri River more than 20 years ago. The museum has drawn enthusiastic crowds for two decades now, showing off goods and materials that had been almost perfectly preserved underground for more than 130 years.
3. The Harry S. Truman Library & Museum. History buffs can easily spend an entire wandering through this Independence, Mo., museum, which is packed with memorabilia. The Harry S. Truman home (originally owned by Harry’s mother-in-law) is nearby and also worth a visit. Truman was the only 20th century U.S. president not to attend college.
4. National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. This is the only American museum solely dedicated to preserving the objects, history and personal experiences of World War I. The museum gives you the chance to explore and discover the nation’s most extensive assembly of artifacts, photography, art and narratives of the Great War ever presented in a single collection.
5. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Founded in 1990, The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the only institution soley dedicated to preserving the history of African American Baseball. The museum houses thousands of artifacts and photographs from the 1880s until the 1960s. The Kansas City Monarchs, the longest-running franchise in Negro League history, included such players as Jackie Robinson, Sachel Paige, and longtime KC resident legend Buck O’Neil, who died in 2006.