Daytripping: Independence, MO

Kansas City can keep you occupied for weeks, but there’s so much to see in nearby towns as well!

Daytripping: Independence, MO

Independence, MO, just 20 minutes away, began as the starting point for wagon trains heading west in the 1800s.  In present day, it’s a city full of rich history and culture that you will enjoy.  Here’s how to see the best of the town in just a day!

8:00 AM – The Corner Cafe

Start the day with breakfast at “the best restaurant in the Northland”.  Try their light and fluffy Belgian waffle, or for the very hungry, the chicken-fried steak, served with eggs, gravy, and hash browns.

9:00 AM – National Frontier Trails Museum

This museum is devoted to the trails that developed during the Westward expansion – the Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, and the California Trail.  Exhibits cover the motivations of the settlers who ventured into dangerous territory to build new lives for themselves and their families, covered wagons to demonstrate the minimalist living conditions that people were subjected to on the trails, and interactions between settlers and Native Americans as Americans continued to expand into territory that had previously been under tribal control.

10:30 AM – Harry S. Truman House

Visit the home of the 33rd president of the United States and see the simple life he and his wife led when they were in Missouri before and after his political career.  The house was originally built in 1867 by Bess Truman’s grandparents, and is surrounded by other family homes, as Bess’s brothers and Truman’s aunt and cousins all lived nearby.

11:30 AM – Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

The museum pays tribute to President Truman’s political career, from his struggle over the use of atomic bombs in World War II to managing the Cold War.  There are over 30,000 objects on display in the building, from letters to furniture from his office.  It’s interesting to learn more about Truman, particularly as president, considering his career is defined by wars and often overshadows other accomplishments that have changed the course of history.

1:00 PM – Rheinland Restaurant

Head to this delicious German restaurant for lunch.  Enjoy their gravy-covered jaegarschnitzel with a glass of German pilsner, and try the kasespatzle, dumplings of cheese, onion, parsley, and cream.  The food is delicious and filling, and it’s the perfect spot to take a break before an afternoon of sightseeing.

2:00 PM – Jail and Marshall’s Home

See the Independence Jail, built in 1859, and learn about frontier justice.  With 12 cells, and attached to the home used by the town’s marshall, the jail housed numerous criminals, men and women, adults and children.  After being closed to prisoners, it was used for New Deal work programs during the Great Depression.

3:30 PM – Bingham-Waggoner Estate

Visit this 1800s mansion, where wagon drivers initially stocked up for their voyage west and the Pony Express was later founded.  The ruts from the covered wagons are still visible on the property, so your visit will be like being transported through time.  It’s eye-opening to how intimidating and hopeful the task before the settlers must have been.

5:00 PM – Clinton’s Soda Fountain

Enjoy a milkshake or an Italian soda at this historic shop in Independence Square.  It’s the perfect place to refresh after a day of exploring.

6:00 PM – 54th Street Grill

Finish with a delicious meal at the 54th Street Grill, where they serve up a variety of dishes, including some amazing Southern specialties.  Try the jambalaya or the steak and ribs platter for a hearty dinner.  For dessert, the chocolate cake is rich and decadent!

Independence holds an important place in America’s history, so don’t miss visiting while you’re in Kansas City!