shuttlecock statue on the front lawn of nelson atkins museum of art in kansas city
Kansas City Shuttlecocks

Kansas City is certainly a kid-friendly midwest town, but don’t think that we can’t cater to adults. If you’re planning an adults only visit to Kansas City, don’t fret – there are plenty of events and activities to keep you occupied. 

As Kansas City locals – and adults, though, you probably assumed that – we have all the insight into the best things to do in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Whatever vibe you’re looking for – from museums to whiskey tastings – we have you covered! 

Fun Activities in Kansas City for Adults

If you’re working with a tight budget, we recommend our curated list of the best free things to do in Kansas City.

1. Beer Crawl Around Brewer’s Alley

Consider yourself a beer aficionado? You’re in the right place – Kansas City is a fast growing craft beer destination. 

The downtown Crossroads Arts District, with its eclectic vibe and street murals, has become known for fostering some of the best craft breweries in town. In fact, a portion of the neighborhood has been dubbed “Brewers Alley” due to the high concentration of breweries all within walking distance of one another.

brewery emperial in crossroads arts district is eclectic with blue walls and artsy decor
Brewery Emperial

This makes it ideal for a craft brewery crawl! The breweries offer a wide variety of styles, ingredients, and offerings. You can easily spend an entire afternoon sipping your way through Crossroads and chatting with the brewmasters themselves. 

In general, a visit to Crossroads Arts District is a must. The neighborhood features an artsy, eclectic vibe with street murals and art galleries alongside performance art venues and the best dining in the city. First Friday weekends in particular, when art galleries open to the public, are worth a visit. 

For more details on Brewer’s Alley, visit our complete guide

craft breweries kansas city missouri
Border Brewing Company

2. Kansas City Legendary Barbecue Tour

Kansas City is synonymous for damn good barbecue. You may be wondering, where do I find the best ‘que in Cow Town? Well, it depends. 

Each barbecue joint offers something a little different. So, why not let a local expert take you around to sample from several places?

On this barbecue tour, you can expect a local guide to bring you to both nationally acclaimed and hole-in-the-wall stops where you’ll try a variety of cuts of smoked meats and classic sides. 

If you’ve been hankering to try Kansas City style barbecue, this is the way to do it!

3. Distillery Tour and Tasting

While Kansas City is undoubtedly gaining recognition as a thriving craft beer hub, it’s important not to underestimate our equally impressive distilled spirits scene!

The story of distilling in Kansas City is as aged and rich as the spirits it produces. The Prohibition era, a time when the entire nation went “dry,” ironically cultivated Kansas City’s clandestine love affair with alcohol. As local politician Tom Pendergast famously remarked, “The people are thirsty!”

kansas city historic distilery
Historic J. Rieger Distillery

There are several distilleries with exceptional spirits – Tom’s Town, J. Rieger, Lifted Spirits, Mean Mule, West Bottoms Whiskey Co., just to name a few – and while they all offer tasting rooms worthy of a visit, the best way to experience our local brewery scene is with a guided tour and tasting.

Personally, we love J. Rieger’s tour. J. Rieger & Co. is a historic distillery that holds a prominent place in Kansas City’s distilling history having been established in 1887. The industrial building that houses the distillery, historical exhibit, and tasting rooms is super neat as well.

martini on a wooden table
J. Rieger

Another option that’s in a prime location in downtown is Tom’s Town. This distillery is the first legal downtown distillery in Kansas City, Missouri since Prohibition. It has received acclaim for its products and was named the Best Craft Vodka Distillery in the country in 2017.

Whichever you decide, you’re going to have an interesting insight into Kansas City distilling – and the included tastings are pretty great too!

historical exhibit with suede couches at j rieger
J. Rieger

4. Iconic Kansas City Jazz Clubs

Considering that jazz originated in Kansas City, you really can’t claim to have experienced the city without visiting an iconic jazz club. 

outdoor sign for the blue room
The Blue Room

Fortunately, there are several exceptional options to choose from. Green Lady Lounge is typically full in the evenings, and for good reason. The swanky club with velvet accents and dimmed lights features local musicians every night of the week. There’s usually a small cover.

musical set at jazz club the blue room
The Blue Room

The Majestic is worthy of a visit. It’s a vintage steakhouse, set in the historic Fitzpatrick Saloon Building dating back to 1909, and offers a blend of old-world charm and modern luxury. As evening descends, the restaurant transforms into a vibrant jazz club. This modern speakeasy stands as a homage to the Prohibition era, when the original saloon was converted into a hidden bar.

Additional noteworthy jazz clubs are The Phoenix and The Blue Room.

bar area at the blue room jazz club
The Blue Room

5. Evening Out In Westport

For the young adults, Westport is a must. There are numerous bars, each with their own vibes, from laidback to dance clubs. For the not-so-young adults, Westport is a must as long as you leave before the nightlife crowds (the aforementioned ‘young adults’) fill the streets – unless you’re into crowded bars and loud music.

In general, you should visit Westport. There is a diverse range of exceptional local eateries, including Taiwanese, French, Latin American, and Korean. It’s the city’s oldest district and houses several historic buildings. While meandering through the historic sites, you can stop in at one of several eclectic local shops. 

Personally, we love the improv comedy club in Westport – a show followed by a nightcap at Ca Va, a darling champagne bar, is our ideal evening. 

kansas city cocktail champagne bar cozy romantic french
Ca Va

6. Visit A Speakeasy

There’s something alluring about visiting a modern speakeasy, and Kansas City has several that you don’t want to miss – if you can find them, that is. 

  • Swordfish Tom’s: You’ll need to locate the nondescript door in an alleyway and follow the stairs to the basement. At the next door, you’ll see either a red or green light. If red, there’s no vacancy and you’ll have to wait. If green, knock and be patient. This pre-Prohibition-inspired cocktail bar is open 4:00pm – 1:30am and features a romantic dimly-lit, intimate ambiance with exposed brick and an original boiler situated in the center of the small room. They’re cash only, but have an ATM on-site.
  • Parlour at Monarch Bar: You wouldn’t expect a candlelit space with upholstered black leather and heavy curtains to be tucked inside the bright, polished Monarch Bar, but located in the back room is an intimate cocktail experience for those in search of some of the finest spirits. 
  • They Hey Hey Club at J. Rieger Distillery: This underground cocktail bar features elevated and innovative cocktails using Rieger’s own spirits and served in a swanky and intimate space.
  • Nighthawk: Beneath Hotel Kansas City, Nighthawk marries craft cocktails and socializing with a curated menu and live music. 
green booth at speakeasy in kansas city
Hey! Hey! Club at Rieger

7. Take A Hands-On Class

Interested in something interactive? Consider taking one of the many classes offered at local businesses around town. 

  • Hammerspace Community Workshop: For those who enjoy working with their hands and creating objects, consider a class at Hammerspace. This community space contains machines and tools that allow members to do their own screen printing, metal working, black smithing, and more.
  • Nelson-Atkins Art Museum: The historic and internationally-acclaimed Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art offers art classes for all skill levels. They offer an array of adult studio classes that invite participants to learn new skills, refine their talents, and find their place among other creatives.
  • Belger Arts Studio: The ceramics classes at Belger Arts Studio – a personal favorite of ours – are scheduled on select Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, providing a two-hour session of artistic collaboration. Attendees can expect to engage in a hands-on experience, crafting pottery pieces in a lively and relaxed environment. It’s a perfect blend of learning a new skill and enjoying a shared experience, led by expert (and very patient!) artists.
  • Local Pig Butcher Shop: Meat enthusiasts will love a class at Local Pig, hosted on Sunday afternoons. The class is small in size, making it an intimate, hands-on experience. Classes are open to all skill levels and will provide an informative, engaging experience. Class participants will enjoy beer and food while you learn about meat, cooking, and butchery. 
  • Billie’s Grocery Cooking School: We love the hands-on cooking classes at Billie’s Grocery. Led by skilled chefs, you will learn a variety of kitchen techniques that can elevate your cooking skills. What’s a great meal without good wine? Billie’s supplies the wine and cocktails are available to purchase.
billie's grocery cooking class kitchen
Billie’s Grocery
Local Pic butcher shop with wooden floors, a meat counter, and shelves of local Kansas City goods.
Local Pig

8. Catch A Performing Arts Show

Kansas City has world-class performing arts. The Kauffman Performing Center for the Arts is well known being that it is a main feature of the downtown skyline and serves as home for the Kansas City’s jazz orchestra, ballet, symphony, and lyric opera. They are numerous shows to choose from each week.

Although not as well known as the Kauffman, there is no shortage of local theaters for live performances, like the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre At Warwick Theatre, Folly Theatre, and City Stage Theatre At Union Station.

If you’re into performing arts, Kansas City has a wide range of show opportunities for you!

9. Attend a Sporting Event

Kansas City has several local sports teams, and each venue offers a lively atmosphere for attending games. Whatever season you visit in, there will be sporting events happening around town!

You already know about the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals, but have you heard of the KC Mavericks hockey team? Or the Kansas City Monarchs Baseball Club? And, of course, the newest addition – KC Current women’s soccer and their new downtown stadium. 

If you’re into sports but not wanting to attend a game, you can book a guided tour of the Royals stadium to learn about the history of the facility and the team. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is exceptional – it highlights the history of the league and the obstacles players of color faced as well as what they did to overcome the challenges.

10. Swanky Night Out

Have an elevated evening in Kansas City – start in the Crossroads Arts District at one of our trendy cocktail bars (Mean Mule, Afterword Tavern & Shelves, or The Mercury Room), and then indulge in an upscale dinner at one of our many swanky restaurants – several of which are James Beard Award Winning.

End your evening with a nightcap at a downtown jazz club, perhaps Green Lady Lounge, or be sophisticated by attending an event at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center. 

wooden dining room at a steakhouse historic
The Golden Ox

11. Learn Something At Kansas City’s Museums

Kansas City has a wide range of museums, from world-class art museums to unique niche museums. 

Negro League Baseball Museum
Negro League Baseball Museum

The more sought-after museums are the WWI Museum and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – lesser known museums worth a visit are the Kansas City History Museum, Kemper Museum of the Contemporary Arts, and the Steamboat Arabia Museum. You can learn more about these along with others in our guide to local museums

Pro tip: If visiting the Nelson-Atkins, consider booking a Docent-Led Tour to really make the most of your experience. 

exhibit at nelson atkins museum of art
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

What Are The Best Indoor Activities In Kansas City For Adults?

If visiting during the colder months or perhaps on a dreary rainy day, we recommend visiting our museums – the WWI Museum and Nelson-Atkins Art Museum are expansive, and it would be possible to spend hours reading and learning everything in their many exhibits. 

exhibit of a historical bike at a museum
Kansas City History Museum

If a distillery tour interests you, we recommend J. Rieger where you can partake in a tour as well as visit their historical exhibit and then have cocktails in their lounge or opt for the speakeasy. They have a menu with exceptional small plates, so you could really make a day of it. 

We love hankering down at one of Kansas City’s coziest spots, like a jazz club or intimate cocktail lounge. 

Lastly, consider taking one of the many classes offered by local businesses like Billie’s Cooking School, Belger Arts Center, and Hammerspace Community Workshop.

That’ll Do It!

We hope you found this guide to the best things to do in Kansas City for adults helpful! We recommend browsing the other visitor guides on our website for more Kansas City inspiration. 

As always, thanks for supporting local!