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Welcome back to The Abroad Blog, my dear readers. This post is going to cover another segment of my roadtrip through the Quad States (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri), which was part of my journey to visit all 50 states. On this trip, I started by traveling from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, then visited Bentonville, Arkansas before driving to Kansas City. I then road tripped from Kansas City to Saint Louis. Today’s post is going to give you all the information you would need to know about traveling from Kansas City to Saint Louis, and will cover my time in the states of Kansas and Missouri.
Visiting Kansas City: Essential Info
Kansas City is primarily in Missouri. Not Kansas. However, as the name suggests — it does cross state lines and covers part of Kansas as well. The street in the city that splits the two states is actually called “State Line Road”. When you think of Kansas City you probably picture a bustling city with a skyline dotted with skyscrapers, sprawling city parks, jazz music, the Chiefs, craft breweries, and world-class BBQ. Most of these things are on the Missouri side. Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri, although the capital of the state is Jefferson City. The Kansas side is much smaller, although it is home to the best BBQ joint, in my opinion.
Fun fact: Kansas City has more barbeque restaurants per capita than any other US city.
Since this visit was to “cross” the state of Kansas off my list, I spent my time here on the Kansas side. Plus, the Missouri side has so much to do, it would deserve its own blog post. Instead, let’s focus on the underrated side — Kansas City, Kansas.
What to do in Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas City, Kansas (often written as KCK) has a wide variety of activities for people of all ages. Whether you’re a history bluff looking for a museum, shopping, or dining, there’s something for everyone! Since KCK is located in the heart of America, the city is truly a melting pot. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or just passing through on a road trip from Kansas City to St. Louis, you’ll enjoy discovering the unique cultural heritage found here.
Avenue of Murals
Kansas City has a plethora of murals speckled across the city. I would recommend seeing some during your time in the city. Plus, murals are super Instagrammable! The main murals can be found along the Avenue of Murals.
Address: Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City KS, 66101
Lewis & Clark Park at Kaw Point
The Lewis & Clark Expedition, which occurred in the early 1800s across the western half of the US following the Louisiana Purchase, arrived at Kaw Point in Kansas City on June 26, 1804. The expedition camped here for three days.
Kaw Point is where the Kansas and Missouri rivers intersect and is a beautiful park managed by the National Park Service known for its river access, wooded trails, wildflowers, and wildlife. Today the park also has an open air education pavilion and an amphitheater for large events. The Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail connects bikers and hikers to Kaw Point from Kansas City, Missouri via the historic Woodsweather Bridge.
This park is free to visit and is ADA compliant, making it a lovely place for everyone to spend an afternoon. Plus, the park offers the best views of the Kansas City, Missouri skyline so I definitely recommend visiting Kaw Point during your time in KCK.
Address: 1403 Fairfax Traffic Way, Kansas City, KS 66115
Pierson Park is another iconic park on the Kansas side of Kansas City. The centerpiece of the public park is the 400-acre man-made Big Eleven lake. It is the perfect place for local fishing and boating. This park is ideal for a picnic.
Address: 1800 S 55th St, Kansas City, Kansas 66106
Joe’s Kansas City BBQ
I saved the best for last! As I mentioned above, the Kansas side is home to the original location of the best BBQ joint in the entire city — Joe’s BBQ. The original Joe’s BBQ is in an old gas station and was established in 1996. It has indoor seating, but expect a line wrapped around the block to eat here. Instead, I recommend getting the food to-go and bringing it to one of the nearby parks. Be sure to try the pulled pork here; it’s the house specialty.
Pro-tip: This restaurant is closed on Sunday’s so plan accordingly!
Address: 3002 West 47th Ave, Kansas City, KS 66103
Kansas City to Saint Louis Road Trip
Since Kansas City, Missouri is adjacent to the Kansas border and St. Louis, Missouri is on the Illinois border, your road trip from Kansas City to Saint Louis will require crossing the entire state west to east. The good news is the Kansas City to St. Louis driving time is only 3.5 hours long. I did this road trip solo and probably stopped for gas once, so I would set aside about 4 hours in the car for this drive.
The drive is very easy to navigate. It’s 248 miles in the car via I-70 E. The capital, Jefferson City, is located centrally in the state but this road trip will keep you on this interstate just north of the city. I chose not the visit Jefferson City on this road trip.
Once I arrived in St. Louis, I visited my cousin Melinda for the weekend, who lives here and is a student at Washington University Medical School — one of the top medical schools in the nation… proud cousin alert! The rest of this blog post is going to cover travel recommendations for the city, assuming you’ve journeyed from Kansas City to Saint Louis too!
Visiting St. Louis: Essential Info
St. Louis is not the capital of Missouri, but it is probably the most famous city in the state. The city is known for its location on the Mississippi River, baseball, beer, and of course the Gateway Arch — which got its name since St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the West. St. Louis is also where Louis and Clark began their expedition westward.
St. Louis is easily accessible via car, but also has pretty impressive public transportation. The light-rail network, MetroLink, has been called one of the best mass transit systems in the country. The rail system offers multiple lines and stops through St. Louis County and City and the Metro East, stopping at or near many of St. Louis attractions.
The city was founded in 1764 and is named after King Louis IX. For being a midwest city it has more history than most other US cities. Plus, St. Louis has more free major tourist attractions than any other city in the US outside of Washington DC. Admission is free to the art museum, history museum, science center, and zoo. There is a TON to do here, so this could easily be its own blog post. For the sake of keeping this fairly concise, I’m just going to focus on the can’t-miss highlights / activities I personally did during my time in St. Louis.
St. Louis, Missouri Things To Do
The Gateway Arch
Kicking off my recommendations for St. Louis, Missouri with the number one can’t-miss activity in the city — Gateway Arch National Park. You heard that right! This iconic landmark is actually the smallest national park in the US, totally just 192 acres.
The arch was built to commemorate St. Louis’s role in the westward expansion of the US. As mentioned above, the city is often known as the “Gateway to the West”… fitting, isn’t it?
The arch can be viewed for free from the park down below. This is also where the best photos are taken — from the grass out front. However, I highly recommend visiting the visitor’s center / museum and if you’re feeling brave, adventuring to the top!
Pro-tip: The tram at Gateway Arch is not fully accessible for guests with mobility impairments, as no wheelchairs, scooters or strollers are permitted on the Observation Deck.
Essential information about visiting Gateway Arch
The arch is 630 feet tall, making it the tallest man-made monument in the United States (even taller than the Statue of Liberty!). From the base of one leg to the other, the arch is as wide as it is tall. The arch, which was built during the 60s, is made of steel and concrete and is meant to sway up to 18 inches during earthquakes. Don’t be alarmed if you feel a little movement on a windy day!
The entire tour takes about an hour. The tram ride takes about 4 minutes to the top and 3 minutes to get back down. The trams come every 10 minutes, so you won’t be at the top for too long!
Tickets for the tram ride to the top start at $15 pp and should be purchased in advance.
Pro-tip: Looking to park during your visit? You can park at Stadium East Garage for a discounted rate of $9 for 5 hours.
Address: 200 S Broadway, St. Louis, MO 63102
Forest Park is the main public park in the city of St. Louis. It is a prominent civic center for the city and covers over 1,300 acres. The park hosted the 1904 Summer Olympics. Today, it is a space for community events, family activities, concerts and performances, and so much more. Plus, the pond here is enjoyable during the warmer months and my cousin told me the grassy hills are a fun place to go sledding in the winter months.
Pro-tip: The park is free to visit, but keep an eye on the event schedule!
It’s hard to describe this place in words, but the City Museum in St. Louis was one of the most fascinating, entertaining place I’ve EVER visited. And I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of places. Located in a former shoe factory in Downtown St. Louis, the City Museum was built by artists as a place for all types of individuals to explore. The museum has indoor spaces, outdoor climbing structures, a rooftop, and even an underground space that welcomes adventurous visitors from all over the world. All 4 floors are full of art installations, attractions, artifact collections, and more. I would definitely set aside a few hours to hangout here!
The museum features 25,000+ artifacts from all over the world and covers 600,000 square feet. It is the perfect place to visit for families, on a rainy day, on a date, or just with your group of friends. My cousin and I are in my mid-20s and had a blast here. The highlight for me had to be the 10-story spiral slide. There’s also treehouses and caves to climb through! I honestly think this place is worth the visit from Kansas City to Saint Louis. Or from Antarctica.
Pro-tip: The hours here vary most days and change depending on the time of year, so check the site before you visit. Single-day passes start at $20 pp for visitors.
Address: 750 North 16th Street, St. Louis, MO 63103
360 Roof Bar @ Busch Stadium
The Busch Stadium is located in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri and is where the MLB’s Cardinals play. The Cardinals are beloved in the city, as they are one of the nation’s oldest and most successful professional baseball clubs. They’ve won 11 World Series! While I didn’t have a chance to catch a Cardinals game during my visit, I did visit the 360 roof bar on game day.
The 360 Bar is located atop the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. You must take an elevator up 400 feet into the sky, where you can enjoy a direct view of the baseball stadium below, the Mississippi River, the iconic Gateway Arch, and more.
The bar has an indoor and outdoor space. We just enjoyed cocktails here while watching the game from afar, but there’s a full food menu as well. The bar opens at 4 pm each day and stays open late. Note: No reservations are accepted here!
Address: One South Broadway, St. Louis, MO 63102
City Foundry STL
The City Foundry STL is a mega food hall + marketplace located in St. Louis. It has hosts female-run markets on the weekends! Like many of the buildings in the city, this was once a major manufacturing hub until 2007, when it was transformed into the communal space it’s known as today.
There are 18 permanent food vendors located here, offering everything from poke bowls to fried chicken. There’s also rotating events held here — including trivia on Thursdays and live music on the weekends. Foundry Way has a handful of store fronts, and there is also a female-run market here on some Sunday’s! We were lucky to catch this during my visit. I bought one of my favorite dresses in my wardrobe from a vendor here.
Address: 3730 Foundry Way, St. Louis, MO 63110
Honorable Mentions: Worth the trek from Kansas City to Saint Louis
The Hill Neighborhood for Italian food
The Hill is a long-established Italian-American neighborhood with family-owned delis, sandwich shops and bakeries on Marconi Avenue. Additionally, you can find trattorias, pizzerias and upscale Italian eateries dotting the streets around Shaw and Wilson Avenues. You can’t leave St. Louis without trying its claim to fame — toasted raviolis! We went to Mama’s to try the originals… they did not disappoint.
A night at Up-Down Barcade
Located in the Central West End of the city, Up-Down St. Louis features more than 60 arcade games, dating back to the ’80s, along with see-ball alleys and life-size Jenga. All games cost just 25 cents! The drink menu here includes an extensive craft beer selection and they also sell home-made pizza by the slice. This bar is for ages 21+, but I highly recommend visiting here if you’re of age in the city… we had a blast!
Address: 405 N Euclid Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108
That brings us to the end of my complete guide covering Kansas City to St. Louis! This also means I’ve officially written about 2 more states, Kansas and Missouri. Now that I’ve visited all 50 states and have covered my journey entirely on my Instagram, my goal is to have content about each of them here on my blog. Almost there!
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