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Things You Need to do in Independence, Missouri During Your Trip
Just 20 miles from Kansas City, Independence, Missouri is an oasis of culture and entertainment. This historic city was the hometown of the 33rd President, Harry S. Truman. With walking trails and preserved buildings, you can follow in his footsteps.
Independence, Missouri was on the map before Truman though. This pioneer outpost was one of the most popular beginnings of the famous Oregon Trail and its history has been preserved with respect and dedication for thousands of visitors every year.
Museums and history tours are only some of the fun things on offer in this laid back city though. We’ve compiled this list of the best things to do on your vacation to Independence. Read on to find out how to make the most of your time here.
1. Little Blue Trace Walking Trail
Independence has lots of great opportunities to get outside and enjoy the sunshine but the Little Blue Trace Walking Trail is one of the best. This mostly flat trail winds its way along the Little Blue River with stunning trees and birdsong filling the air.
You can walk, run, or ride your bike on the trail and the surface is a mixture of asphalt and gravel. There are multiple places to join the trail and with a total length of 15 miles, you can spend an entire day on it getting some great exercise in nature.
2. Harry S. Truman’s History
Truman spent many years of his life in Independence, both growing up here and returning after the White House. The presidential library is one of just 14 in the nation and well worth visiting.
The accompanying museum is currently closed for around a year of renovation but there are plenty of other places to trace Truman’s life. Visit his beautiful home on N Delaware Street and take the Truman Historic Walking Trail to discover every spot in town that played a role in his life.
3. Independence Square
The heart of the city is Independence Square where you can shop, dine, and be entertained all day long. This is the best place to find a bite to eat with restaurants like the Italian-style Cafe Verona and the family-friendly Square Pizza place.
You’ll find antique shops, boutiques, and many more shops in and around Independence Square. When you’ve finished shopping, get yourself an ice cream in the sunshine or head to Pharaoh Theater to see a movie.
4. Vaile Victorian Museum
Built by Colonel Vaile and completed in 1881, this amazing Victorian mansion has been many things over the generations including a sanatorium. It’s now a museum and a perfect destination for anyone who loves Victorian architecture.
Marvel at the solid walnut staircase and high painted ceilings. Every inch of the house is beautifully crafted and you’ll see exquisite antiques throughout. This eye-opening tour of how the wealthy lived in Victorian times is even more impressive at Christmas when it’s adorned with lights and decorations.
5. Midwest Genealogy Center
If you’ve always wanted to know more about your ancestors, there are few better places in the US to do it than the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence. There are lots of things to do in this historic town but tracing your ancestors will give you greater insight into your own history than anything.
With 750,000 free resources and on-hand assistance from the librarians, you’ll soon know far more about your family than you ever thought possible.
6. Wagon Pioneer Tours
Step back in time when you climb aboard one of Independence’s mule-drawn wagons and experience the Oregon Trail for yourself. Choose from a range of tour options and get in-depth information about the town’s history from your tour guide.
You’ll start your tour at the 1859 Jail where Frank James, the elder brother of Jesse James, was held for several weeks after his capture. On your tour, you might visit battlefields from the Civil War or even see the Soda Fountain where Truman got his first job. It’s a little bit different from his job at the White House!
7. Mormon Walking Trail
The Missouri Mormon Walking Trail offers a fantastic insight into the Mormon history that this area is rich in. Mormons called Independence ‘Zion’ and it was an incredibly important place for them.
This walking trail will not only show you the history of the Mormon settlers in the 1800s but it’s a great way to explore more of Independence on foot. Wander its beautiful streets and see impressive buildings and churches of great importance.
8. McCoy Park
If you’re visiting Independence with children, McCoy Park is the perfect spot to play in the sun and have a picnic. With a playground, tennis court, and walking trail, there’s a lot of things kids can do for a runaround.
The picnic facilities and public restrooms mean you can relax here for hours and have everything you need. When the weather’s hot, the McCoy Splashpark is the best place for children to run in and out of the water geysers and have a wonderful time.
The Splashpark is free so you can sunbathe by the edge and laugh at their antics.
9. Top Hat Winery
In Independence Square, you’ll find the family-run Top Hat Winery where wine is the order of the day. Try Top Hat’s delicious variety of wines but if you’re more of a cider drinker then you’re in luck too. They specialize in amazing ciders made from local Missouri apples.
When your stomach starts rumbling, order some perfectly matched food from their menu and check out their evening events. With open mic nights, craft nights, and even painting events, there’s always something fun going on at Top Hat.
Have a Blast in Independence, Missouri
Steeped in pioneer and Civil War history, Independence, Missouri is a fascinating vacation destination with so much on offer. From the walking and wagon tours to the beautiful walking and biking trails, there’s never a dull moment.
Bring the children to learn all about the Oregon Trail and relax in McCoy Park when it’s time for a picnic. Independence is a laid-back and family-friendly place to visit with activities for everyone.
Follow us for more great vacation advice and enjoy your trip to Truman’s hometown!