“Kansas City’s central location and overall affordability make it an obvious choice for [religious travel] groups. What may surprise some is the caliber of group-friendly attractions we have in store,” said Derek Klaus, communications manager at the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Recognized for its tasty barbecue, array of fountains and lively jazz music, Kansas City is sure to entertain religious travel groups of all sizes.
“Your group’s dollar goes further in Kansas City. Hotel rates, food costs and admission prices here are among the most competitive in the nation,” Klaus said. “Add to that the city’s impressive slate of group-friendly diversions and you’ll see why KC is such a compelling destination for today’s groups.”
Religious Attractions in Kansas City
Kansas City’s Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, located downtown, began as a log cabin built by the community in 1835. In 1857 it became a more permanent structure pioneered by Father Bernard Donnelly and in 1895 a carillon of 11 bells, named after saints, was created. Enjoy the beauty and carpentry of the vibrant stained-glass windows. Daily Mass begins at 12:15 p.m.
The most interesting aspect of the Community Christian Church is its historical yet seemingly progressive architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright,
distinguished architect, designed this unique building, which was completed in 1942. The 900-seat auditorium, referred to as the “Church-of-the-Future,” has a tower of light that illuminates the sky and can be seen from about 10 miles away.
Only about 15 miles from Kansas City in Independence, Mo., the Community of Christ Temple is the world headquarters of this Christian denomination, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Visitors can take free guided tours through the Temple and Auditorium, see daily organ concerts June through August (concerts held on Sundays, September through May), and can join in the daily Prayer for Peace from 1 to 1:15 p.m. Afterwards groups can go down the street to the Mormon Visitors’ Center and view the antiquities and works of art portraying the history of religious leader Joseph Smith Jr., and take a guided tour of his expedition from Ohio to Independence. Also located in Independence is the Missouri Mormon Walking Trail, which begins across the street from the Community of Christ Auditorium at Walnut and River. Along the mile-long trail are 14 plaques that show early Mormon sites.
Popular Kansas City Sightseeing Attractions
The history of Kansas City jazz dates back to the 1930s and is its own unique version of this swingin’ style of music. The American Jazz Museum is a destination groups will take pleasure in exploring. Within the same complex is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which has a multimedia exhibit that shows the timeline of the Negro Leagues and American history with photos, videos, artifacts and interactive stations.
Known as one of the nation’s best general art museums, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is devoted to giving every visitor insight into various cultures through its collection of 34,500 pieces of art that covers 5,000 years. The museum offers tours for group travelers that include a dining option in the museum café or restaurant.
The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, located in the Crown Center area, offers first-hand stories from The Great War and has one of the best assortments of WWI artifacts in the world.
Lakeside Nature Center, located in Kansas City’s Swope Park (one of the largest urban parks in the country), gives visitors the opportunity to learn about local wildlife. Take a tour through the wildlife exhibits or a hike on one of the many nature trails. The Nature Center also has rental facilities around the park for groups up to 100 people.
Sightseeing Tours in Kansas City
The Friends of Sacred Structures (FOSS) bus tours are dedicated to exploring the traditions, background and structural design of religious and spiritual buildings in the area. Located in Country Club Plaza, FOSS aims to protect and sustain synagogues, temples and churches throughout Kansas City.
Kansas City has the most fountains of any city in the world (after Rome). The City of Fountains Foundation offers two walking tours and a selection of guided group tours to see over 200 of the beautiful and historic fountains across the city.
Historic Kansas City Foundation Walking Tours takes groups on hour-and-a-half tours that showcase the city’s heritage. Also available are the March Motor Coach Tour and October Homes Tour.
If visitors want to take a day trip outside of Kansas City, they can head to Independence to take the Truman Trolley tour. Hop on the 10 a.m. train at Kansas City Union Station and, upon arrival in Independence, begin the trolley tour, which stops at such locations as the Clinton Soda Fountain, an old-fashioned soda shop; National Frontier Trails Museum, devoted to the Western trails; and Mormon heritage sites such as the Community of Christ Temple. The train returns to KC by 6 p.m.
Kansas City Festivals & Events
In September, the annual Plaza Art Fair has more than 250 artists displaying their work in an outdoor exhibit at the Country Club Plaza. Come to hear live music, eat food from numerous Plaza restaurants and view creations by artists
from around the country.
Every weekend in September and the first two weekends in October, escape to the past with costumed entertainers, music, theater, crafts and plenty of food from the 16th century at the Kansas City Renaissance Fair.
If groups plan to visit around the winter holidays, Kansas City has dazzling holiday lights outlining every store and building at Country Club Plaza. After Country Club Plaza, stop by Crown Center and see the 100-foot-tall Mayor’s Christmas tree.
Visitors of any faith will find something new and exciting to discover in this city, which opens its arms to newcomers.
“Because of its location in the Heart of America, Kansas City has been known over the years as a crossroads of ideas and culture,” Klaus said. “For that reason, the KC metro offers many sites that would be of interest to religious groups – the Community Christian Church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Community of Christ Temple, just to name a few.”
Written by: Nancy Wolens