Goin’ to Kansas City

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Kansas City has been called the Paris of the Plains, the City of Fountains, and – during World War II – the Crossroads of America. This seven-day day destination program includ plenty of free time and optional activities so participants can customize their experience in this vibrant mid-western city. Included are world-class museums like the Arabia Steamboat Museum and the World War One Museum, historic sites, the Truman Presidential Library, cultural touchstones such as the 18th and Vine District where Kansas City jazz thrived for decades and the Negro Leagues Museum commemorating the greats of America’s parallel professional baseball league. There’ll be Kansas City barbecue and even a visit to historic Lecompton, “where the Civil War Began”.

This hub-and-spoke program is based at the boutique-style 816 Hotel, Kansas City’s only hotel dedicated to the past and present. Located in Old Westport, the oldest part of the city, and only five blocks from the world’s first shopping center, Country Club Plaza, the area around the hotel is home to more than 150 shops, restaurants and bars. And the best part? The hotel offers free shuttle service to all of the attractions and nightspots within a four mile radius of the hotel. Here we will enjoy daily hot breakfast and evening hospitality reception. After a week of exploring and learning, you’ll be convinced that “everything’s up to date in Kansas City!”

Tour highlights:

  • unpack once!
  • nightly manager's reception
  • Arabia Steamboat Museum
  • Fort Osage
  • Arabia Steamboat Museum
  • Truman Library and Museum
  • Hallmark Visitors Center
  • Union Station
  • National World War I Museum
  • Kansas Territorial Capital
  • Constitution Hall Historic Site
  • Country Club Square
  • American Jazz Museum
  • Negro Leagues Museum
  • Kansas City Blues & Jazz Juke House
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Tour Itinerary:

Day # 1 - Arrivals

Participants will be met at the Kansas City airport and transported to our home base for the next six nights: the boutique-style 816 Hotel in the Westport area of Kansas City, the city’s only hotel dedicated to the past and present of the Paris of the Plains. You’ll have plenty of free time to explore area restaurants and attractions. Tonight we’ll enjoy the manager’s reception at the hotel before departing for our get-acquainted dinner at Kansas City’s own Hereford House Restaurant. (D)

Day # 2 - Arabia Steamboat Museum

Today’s highlight is a visit to one of the most amazing museums in America. The story unveiled at the Arabia Steamboat Museum offers a glimpse of frontier life in the 1800’s. The Arabia sank in the Missouri River with a full load of new merchandise intended for pioneers and storekeepers upstream in 1856. The steamboat was recovered over a hundred years later and its largely intact cargo is being painstakingly restored and shared with the public so we can better understand the lifestyles of the 19th century. We’ll return to the hotel in time to enjoy the nightly manager’s reception before our dinner tonight honoring another Kansas City tradition: Gates Bar-B-Que. (B,D)

Day # 3 - Explorers, Pioneers & Presidents

This morning we are going to travel back to 1808 as we visit a replica of Fort Osage, built on the recommendation of William Clark to protect the growing fur trade in the West. Living history re-enactors bring the period to life as we learn about the explorers, trappers and pioneers who followed. After lunch at Ophelia’s on the Square, we’ll visit the outstanding Truman Library and Museum and explore Historic Independence Square where thousands of pioneer wagons gathered to begin their westward journey in the middle of the 19th century. Today the square is lined with one-of-a-kind gift shops, boutiques, and bookstores, including “Wild About Harry” an homage to the 33rd President, a classic haberdashery and gift shop. We’ll return to the hotel in time to enjoy the nightly manager’s reception and choose from many options for our free evening. (B, L)

Day # 4 - Union Station / Hallmark Visitors Center / World War I Museum

Much of the nation’s history is represented on today’s itinerary. We’ll start at the Hallmark Visitors Center, with 100 years of Hallmark Cards’ history. During WWII, an estimated one million travelers – many of them soldiers — passed through Kansas City’s beautifully renovated 1914 Union Station. Today the space houses a permanent rail exhibit on the Kansas City Rail Experience, exhibit spaces for traveling exhibits produced by the Smithsonian, National Geographic and other international organizations, a planetarium, an interactive science center, and a vibrant Theater District featuring giant-screen movies, live theater and many restaurants. Finally, we’ll visit the nation’s congressionally designated National World War One Museum, honoring the men and women of the “war to end all wars”. With one of the greatest collections of WWI artifacts in the world, the start-of-the-art complex uses interactive technology to bring history to life. We’ll return to the hotel in time to enjoy the nightly manager’s reception. (B)

Day # 5 - Territorial Capital / Constitution Hall

A special treat is in store today, as we travel back in time to meet some of the characters of the Kansas territorial period in a simulated political town hall meeting in Historic Lecompton. As the territorial capital of Kansas from 1856 to 1861, Lecompton is known as the “Civil War Birthplace – Where Slavery Began To Die”. We’ll begin with a tour of Constitution Hall, the site where the infamous Lecompton Constitution – which would have admitted Kansas as a Southern state – was written. The rejection of this document split the Democratic Party and led to the election of President Lincoln. We’ll return to the hotel in time to enjoy the nightly manager’s reception and decide where to head for our free evening. (B,L)

Day # 6 - 18th & Vine Jazz District

This morning we’ll have free time to explore nearby Country Club Plaza, or any other options you wish to visit. Then this afternoon we’ll head for 18th and Vine – the place to be in the twenties and thirties, when the city’s vibrant black population was emerging as a cultural force in this midwestern hub. Today the district is experiencing a resurgence with both it’s jazz and baseball contributions honored in their own outstanding museums. The Negro Leagues Museum re-creates the look, sounds and feel of the Negro Leagues through interactive exhibits, videos and memorabilia. The American Jazz Museum makes this uniquely American art form come to life. Just next door is the “happenin” Kansas City Blues and Jazz Juke House, where we’ll enjoy live music and Kansas City vittels honoring that jazz tradition. (B,D)

Day # 7 - Departures

Airport transfers will be provided to MCI as needed until noon. (B)

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Happy Trails!