The best things to do independently before a Royals or Chiefs game
No doubt about it: Kansas City has a passion for its professional sports teams! The NFL chiefs and MLB royals regularly draw crowds to their stadiums, both just 15 minutes from the historic city of Independence, Missouri.
If you’re attending an evening game at Arrowhead or Kaufman, a day trip to Independence is absolutely doable and great fun. There’s something for everyone! Here are some of our favorite ways to spend the day, all of which can be done with plenty of time for the big game.
Follow Truman’s trail
Independence is recognized nationally as the place where the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, grew up and began his career in politics. And as you can imagine, there are plenty of places here to follow in his footsteps!
The first stop for many is the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. The complex is in the final stages of a multi-million dollar renovation and is slated to open later in 2021, just in time for the 75th anniversary of Truman’s president. This large library houses Truman’s archives, artifacts, and experimental exhibits related to his life and presidency. Its courtyard is the final resting place of Truman, who preferred a private library service to an official funeral in Washington, DC. her daughter Margaret; and Margaret’s husband.
If you’re also looking to get a better feel for Truman before he assumed the highest office in the country, a visit to Harry S Truman National Historic Site should be on your list. It actually includes a couple of buildings in Independence, like the Harry S. Truman Home, where Harry and Bess lived before and after their time in Washington. Across the street and also part of the historic site is Noland House, where Truman’s aunt and uncle lived. Both are free to enter, but you will need a ticket, which you can get at the visitor center.
The historic courthouse where Truman served as a judge is now the permanent seat of the Jackson County Historical Society; Tours of the office and courtroom where Truman once worked and presided are available.
Pro tip: Near downtown, look out for large navy blue signs showing a silhouette of former President Truman. These point out areas of interest for those who want to see additional places that are important to them. There’s also a self-guided walking tour that includes more stops along a 4.7 mile route – perfect if you want to take your steps before the game!
In the pioneering days of the 19th century, independence was literally the crossroads with the west. The trails in Oregon, Santa Fe, and California all originated in the city, and thousands of people came on their way there for land, fortune, and sometimes shame. To learn more about these indomitable people and Independence’s role in expanding westward, head to the National Frontier Trails Museum a mile south of downtown.
The museum is a gem, filled with original journals, journals, and exhibits that give you a firsthand feel for what the journey west really was like more than 150 years ago. It was tough, rough, and difficult, with a range of hardships endured along the way. You will leave with true appreciation for the pioneering efforts and perhaps a little gratitude for the way we live today.
Pro tip: Rail enthusiasts won’t want to miss the 1879 Chicago & Alton Depot. The train station, located on the museum grounds, was reconstructed and relocated from its original location by a group of volunteers who offer guided tours of the historical room.
Take a self-guided architecture tour
The historic residential areas of Independence are real eye-catchers for architecture fans. Of course, downtown has many wonderful historic buildings and homes, so the area around Truman’s house has been designated a Historic District. Take time to stroll around the Bingham-Wagoner Estate. Laid out in 1827, mural painter George Caleb Bingham once called it home.
The three-story Victorian Vaile Mansion north of downtown is also worth a visit, with its marble fireplaces, rich walnut woodwork, and onyx accents. Built in 1881 for a wealthy businessman and his wife, it is now open for tours and special events, including ghost hunting expeditions!
Independence has put together a comprehensive tour with many other architectural highlights. From log cabins to artisanal creations and everything in between, you’ll be amazed by the different historical styles you see around the city.
Stroll (and shop!) The historic Independence Square
You might want to do a retail purchase before heading to the stadium. No problem there! Historic Independence Square was the center of action for pioneers heading west and is still the beating heart of the city. The Historic Truman Courthouse is in the center of the district, where you’ll find galleries, boutiques and shops, many of which are housed in multi-story buildings. Gourmets will be delighted at Gilbert Whitney & Co., which is located on the site of a trading house of the same name from 1833. Here you can find everything for your kitchen, from appliances and tools to bedding and dry goods, including coffee, tea and jam specialties. There is also a great selection of cheeses and wines!
Tivona Naturals, with its full line of natural body care products with essential oils, is the perfect place to stop and stock up when you want to treat yourself to something good. We love their body butters and soaps.
Bottom Line: The Square is the best stop to really get a feel for what Independence is all about before you dive into the ball game.
Visit the farmers market
If you’re attending an evening Royals game on Saturday, another great place to try out is the Independence Uptown Market. Here you can enjoy some farm-fresh snacks and browse handcrafted items like jewelry, textiles, and even natural pet treats. The market, which takes place on Saturdays from May to October, is right next to the square.
Grab a craft brew
If you’re a microbrewery fan, your ideal pregame routine might include some samples from a local brewery. If that’s the case, go to 3 Trails Brewing. This fun place has a variety of beers on tap, including IPAs, stouts, and even in season sours. Flatbreads are available for snacking and there is an adjoining art gallery in the room next door. 3 Trails (named after the three pioneer trails that originated in Independence) also offers flights if you just can’t decide which beer you fancy – just take a sip of it!
Are you the designated driver? No problem. Instead of a beer, treat yourself to a Polly’s Pop! This locally made lemonade comes in a variety of flavors, from root beer to black cherry, grape, and even pineapple. Since Polly’s is done right in Independence, many places – including 3 trails – proudly serve it as a tasty and nostalgic non-alcoholic alternative.
Eat a great meal before the game
Perhaps the idea of ââmaking a “meal” out of loaded nachos, hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts is not your idea of ââacceptable food. We get it! Because of this, a trip to Independence before a Royals or Chiefs game is a great idea, especially for foodies. Vivilore, which is also home to an extensive antiques collection and homeware store, offers incredible steaks, seafood and other classics with flair and finesse. The food is beautiful, as is the room, which is located in the historic Englewood Station Arts District – more on that below.
Ophelia’s on-square restaurant serves modern American cuisine with a Cajun accent, with favorites like shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese.
Pro tip: Ophelia’s also has a charming inn with spacious rooms, nice amenities and even a communal area to gather above the restaurant for tea or coffee. If you’re looking for a place to spend the night after the game, the inn is a great option!
Admire the art
For some culture before a baseball or football game, head straight to the historic Englewood Station Arts District in Independence. This section of 1940s buildings, anchored by the old Englewood cinema, has a unique charm and funky feel all of its own. Galleries, studios, shops and cafes line the district, giving you the perfect opportunity to browse and maybe buy the perfect new accent for your home! Special events are held at Englewood Station year-round, including art walks and open galleries.
To learn much more about all the amazing things to see, do and experience in Independence, Missouri – before the big game and beyond! – Check out the city’s online visitor guide, a first-person pregame experience or visit our Independence content here.