We have a family bucket list goal of visiting all 50 states before the kids graduate high school. This past summer (July 2019) we embarked on a giant 5,000-mile road trip to explore the Midwestern states. As the family vacation planner, this road trip was a lot to organize, as it contained stops in about 30 different cities. Among those cities that we visited was Kansas City. The number of great restaurants and fun family activities definitely surprised and impressed me. One of our favorite things to do in Kansas City was to visit the National World War I Museum. The Kansas City World War 1 Museum was a great way to beat the heat in the summer and learn a little more about world history. Here are some tips on visiting the National World War I museum.
Kansas City World War 1 Museum: Location
The National World War I Museum is located within 5-10 minutes of the downtown area. Here are some directions. It is also located right by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which is another great place to visit with kids. Parking at the World War I Museum and Memorial is free.
National World War I Memorial
Liberty Memorial Park contains both the World War I Museum and Memorial. While the Kansas City World War 1 Museum requires tickets to enter, the National World War I Memorial is free to the public. You can walk the grounds and view the memorial, but if you’d like tickets to the top, you would need to buy them inside at the museum.
Kansas City World War 1 Museum: Visiting with Kids
Let me start by saying that I’m a History teacher and explaining World War I to my 9 and 11-year-olds wasn’t that easy. While most older kids know about World War II, this war is often forgotten. I gave them a brief explanation of the causes of the war and how it all started with the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Then, I named the countries involved and discussed trench warfare, and the new technology of the planes, u-boats, tanks, and artillery.
The National World War I Museum does a great job of making this topic approachable to kids. While I feel that younger children may not get the full experience, I would say about 8+ works. Once you arrive, head to the main visitor’s desk to pick up a family gallery guide filled with activities. The booklet has a scavenger hunt, crossword puzzle, museum hunt, and so much more.
My kids loved working on the booklets and our family enjoyed completing the tasks together. I would recommend starting right at the beginning to watch the introductory movie. That way, the whole family gets a glimpse of what the war was about and gives the kids some background before they start completing their activity book.
The giant timeline in the East Gallery is a great starting point as it takes visitors through a chronology of the start of the war. There are displays that include artillery, a French tank, a giant walk-through crater that shows what the effects of an artillery shell look like, life-size trenches, and interactive tables. Our family loved the interactive tables because you could create a wartime poster, learn about the uses of camouflage, and see the inner workings of a machine gun.
Another favorite was the movie theatre in between the East and West Gallery that explained how America got involved in the war. This theatre was very unique has it was a giant screen but just under it was a replica of “No Man’s Land”, and the film often highlighted events and pointed to the battle scene below.
The West Gallery is all about the role America played in World War I. There were uniforms from various countries and military branches, artifacts, replicas, and how life at home was affected. We spent about 3 hours at the National World War I Museum and easily could have stayed longer if we weren’t on a schedule. Besides touring at your own pace, the Kansas City World War 1 Museum offers audio tours, hands-on history, and other family-friendly activities throughout the year. Check here to plan your visit.
Other Things to Know Before You Visit the National World War I Museum
Tickets are $18 per adult and $10 per child over 6. You can buy your tickets online or purchase them at the front desk when you enter. Once you are inside, you are given a visitor’s guide with highlights the exhibits being showcased and a map of where everything is located. There is a cafeteria with plenty of food options, a museum store, and elevators for those who need it or are traveling with strollers. Once again, I really wouldn’t advise this museum for toddlers or young children under 7. I don’t think they will get too much out of it, but in case you happen to be traveling with one and have older kids, they should enjoy completing the kids’ activity booklet.
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Kansas City was just one of the many cities we visited on our road trip. It was a three-week drive from Connecticut, across to Nebraska, down to Texas, across to Florida, and then back up the East Coast. We stayed busy with road trip activities, songs, and podcasts. Although we did move fast, our family really enjoyed seeing new sites along the way. Here is a list of some of our previous trip itineraries, and how we create a personalized travel map for each state we visit.
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We received complimentary media tickets for our visit; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission from any sale of a product linked to this post. DQ Family Travel is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. Your price does not change when you click on these links, but it does provide me with a small commission.