Independence Tourism would be delighted to consider hosting  writers on commission in the Kansas City area for a night's lodging, personal escort for customized itinerary geared to your interests, lunch /dinner on the Square, covered wagon ride historical tour (weather permitting) and complimentary admission to attractions, plus access to high res jpegs and more. With sixteen heritage attractions, including Truman, trails, frontier, Civil war, world family religious  and family friendly sites plus pro hockey, soccer and blockbuster concerts in the Independence Events Center, we offer something for all ages. For info, go to media room or contact Janeen Aggen, 913-599-2080 or

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  • Sorry to be late responding to this information. Independence, MO does sound like a fun destination for a grandparent/grandchild trip. I'll keep it in mind.
    • never to late - just let me know if you need more information or have any questions I can answer. Happy day!
  • sorry I missed you! Our office didn't have the budget to attend so I came to one day on my own nickel (I'm a freelance PR consultant) but didn't feel I could justify the whole event. I'm sure your presentation was great and you surely picked up a lot of good tips from our friends in the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau - Alan Carr works with us regularly and he surely knows his stuff. Do keep us in mind when your trails lead back to our area.
  • Wow, Janeen, this would have been so helpful a year ago when we were researching our KIDS LOVE MISSOURI book. STill, we visited a little and asked a lot of questions of folks while in Kansas City for the 2009 PRSA conference which I spoke at. I need to do the wagon trail ride thru town and talk about the town from that perspective for the next edition and preliminary blog updates to KIDS LOVE MISSOURI. I will be in touch as soon as I know I'll be nearby! -Michele Z, family travel mom
  • our KIDS LOVE MISSOURI ( book has some feature on Independence but would like more flavor added for future and blog. Will keep in mind for spring visits west.
    • In the meantime, here's something that might whet your appetite. FAMILY FUN IN INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI

      Day 1 Learn about the Civil War, Outlaws, the Westward Trails and Lewis & Clark
      Begin on Historic Independence Square, with a visit to the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home and Museum. Step into the dungeon like limestone cells with 2 foot thick walls and hear about their famous visitors, including outlaw Frank James, Civil War guerilla Cole Younger and William Clark Quantrill of Quantrill’s Raiders. The Provost Marshal who oversaw the 12 cells lived in the adjoining home, fully restored and furnished with period antiques. Through a connecting door lies the museum, boasting authentic clothing, uniforms, handcuffs and irons and an exhibit of weapons confiscated from prisoners.

      Just outside of the jail you can hitch a ride in a covered wagon with Pioneer Trails Adventures and enjoy a horse-drawn ride and personally narrated tour through historic Independence, before returning to lunch at one of the quaint restaurants that line the square.

      A few blocks away stands the Bingham-Waggoner Estate, a beautifully restored 26 room home that sits along the Santa Fe Trail. Early residents of the home could stand on their porch and watch wagons depart for the west, as well as later civil war battles. There are many evidences of the children who lived in the historic home, from the life sized doll in the kitchen highchair to buggies and children’s clothes in the bedrooms to a large display cabinet with a collection of authentic toys that belonged to the Waggoners on the third floor. About 90 percent of the home’s furnishings are original to its earlier residents. Along one edge of the property, wagon swales (or ruts) from covered wagons can still be seen. Take the self-guided quarter mile swales walking trail with 9 interpretative signs along the way.

      Across the street is the National Frontier Trails Museum, the only museum dedicated to the history and preservation of three major paths to the west; the Santa Fe, the Oregon and the California trails. Besides full size wagons, clothing, tools, artifacts found along the trail, letters and journals of travelers, and the film “West”, children can “pack” their own wagon with the items they might choose to take along with them. A display on “Blazing the Way West” also includes models of Lewis and Clark boats, reproductions of drawings, maps, and copies of pages from the journals of the explorers. Take a few minutes and play the “Oregon Trail” computer game to see what kind of traveler you would make.

      Next door is the restored Chicago and Alton Depot, chock full of neat railroad equipment and memorabilia that was used during the 1800s in this working depot. Evening activities include a trip to major league sporting events (Kansas City Chiefs Football, Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball or Kansas City Wizards Major League Soccer) at the nearby sports arenas a five minute drive away or professional hockey with the Missouri Mavericks and Missouri Comets (indoor professional soccer) at the Independence Events Center. Don’t forget to save time for a stop at the mega-outdoor Bass Pro Shops for rock wall climbing, pistol and archery ranges, wildlife displays, massive aquarium and laser arcade, plus outdoor playgrounds, parks, fishing lake and walking trail on-site.

      Day 2 Learn about puppets, village rural life of 1800s, a rebuilt 1800s Fort and How to Live in Peace.

      Begin at the unique Puppetry Arts Institute, for an entertaining and educational
      morning learning about the fascinating world of puppets. This organization was created to help share the collection and inventory of world famous puppeteer Hazelle Rollins, who operated what was the largest puppet factory in the world from Kansas City. View beautiful, authentic ethnic puppets, including shadow puppets, hand puppets, rod puppets and marionettes in the International Room, and over 200 individually handcrafted puppets made by the Hazelle factory in the Hazelle room. There is also a Punch and Judy display, a puppet reference library, and a video of the life of Hazelle. The highlight comes when children are able to pick a head from the factory inventory, paint, dress and create their own puppet and then put on an impromptu show for the family on stage.

      Slow down with a visit at the one-of-a-kind Children’s Peace Pavilion, in the Community of Christ Auditorium. The Pavilion encourages children to touch, ponder and experiment through a creative display of interactive, hands-on exhibits and activities. Children can explore mazes, put on puppet shows, create artwork, do puzzles and crawl through a cave as they discover ways that they can discover four main areas of Peace.

      Then head to the Harry S. Truman Museum and Library, where interactive “decision”
      theaters let visitors “vote” on what they feel were important factors that influenced the President’s
      decisions. On the lower level, kids can dress up like Harry, Bess or Margaret, sort mail as Truman did
      while postmaster, make their own campaign buttons, engage in a computerized “race” to Bess’s home
      and play a Trivia game.

      Unwind at an Independence amusement center, Cool Crest, with mini-golf, video arcade, batting cages, go-karts and pizza, or by visiting the Oasis Adventure family aquatic center. The cutting edge water park offers a 900 foot lazy river, water slides, water sprays lap pool, sun deck, poolside climbing wall and zero-depth beach. Ice skating at the new Independence Events Center is a great option, as are free high school hockey games or professional Missouri Mavericks matches and all kinds of concerts and special events ranging from Disney magic to Barney and Curious George shows, Riverdance concerts and dog shows.

      Many one of a kind lodgings such as charming B & Bs or national chain motels abound, and unique eateries on the square as well as well known restaurant offer choices for all ages. The Independence Tourism web site, www.visitindependence, lists details and printable discount coupons, as well as the chance to flip through an interactive brochure.

      For jpeg digital photos, contact Janeen Aggen, Media, Independence Tourism 913-599-2080,, 14511 W. 81st St. Lenexa KS 66215
  • Our baby boomer readers would enjoy this. I'll let be in touch when our itchy travel feet take us in the direction of Independence, MO.

    Donna Hull, publisher
    My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer's Guide to Travel
    • Donna: Here's something that ties into the grandparent/grandchild travel trend - A GREAT GRANDPARENT/GRANDCHILD DESTINATION,Independence, Missouri a Perfect Fit

      Just minutes east of the Kansas City International Airport, the unique city of Independence offers a wealth of interesting and unusual kid-friendly and senior-friendly sites and attractions. A little planning can create a weekend or longer trip certain to entertain children from toddler and preschool ages up through high school.
      Even the youngest children will adore a visit to the Puppetry Arts Institute, 11025 E. Winner Road, a special place with hundreds of puppets on display that also allows hands-on activities. All types of puppets from many countries around the world are exhibited, as well as a Punch and Judy display, a room of puppets from the collection of world famous manufacturer/collector Hazelle Rollins of Kansas City, and exotic over-sized marionettes crafted especially for a Las Vegas show.
      Perhaps the highlight for all visitors is the chance to choose a puppet head from the former inventory of the Rollins puppet factory, apply professional paint and costume the puppet, then perform an improvised show on stage. Recognized as a “Best of the Road” attraction by the Rand McNally 2005 Atlas, the Institute is located at 11325 E. Winner Road , phone 816-325-833-9777. The web site offers,, offers details about workshops, birthday parties and monthly professional puppet shows.
      Another attraction popular with the youngest children up through age 12 is the Children’s Peace Children, located in the Community of Christ Auditorium, 1001 W. Walnut. Here kids can easily spend an hours or two doing puzzles, climbing into a “Nature” cave, making rubbings, weaving, acting out peaceful ways to resolve conflicts with puppets, and playing computer games, all connected to themes of creating peace with others, themselves, and the planet. At this extraordinary site, children are encouraged to touch, ponder and experiment. A bonus is the free admission. Call 816-521-3033 or visit for more information.
      School age children focus right in on the excitement of the old west with two frontier/pioneer era attractions. The National Frontier Trails Museum, 318 W. Pacific, dedicated to the California, Santa Fe and Oregon westward migration trails, offers displays and exhibits related to Lewis and Clark and the mountain men and trappers who blazed the trail west. Kids can “pet” different swatches of fur, play a computer trivia game, see actual covered wagons, have a chance to participate in a “pack your wagon” or “pack your saddle” activity, watch an award winning movie or during good weather, take a covered wagon ride and see actual wagon swales (ruts in the earth made by wagon wheels) still visible near the Trails Museum.
      Up on historic Independence Square, take a fascinating tour of the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home, 217 N. Main. (Note: the Jail is closed January – March) Gloomy two foot thick limestone walls with heavy grated doors encourage visitors’ imaginations to run wild as they sit in the cells and realize that famous outlaws like Frank James and Civil War guerillas like Quantrill’s raiders were housed in the same dungeon like rooms. An adjoining museum displays authentic weapons, clothing, photos and artifacts from the 1800s, and the marshal’s home, which sits in front of the jail is also open for tours. Occasionally, the jail hosts re-enactments, where visitors can peek into history as they see “prisoners” being arrested or watch the “marshal” and his men plan a raid.
      Upon leaving the jail, walk across the street to Clinton’s Drug store, on the corner of Main and Maple, and pull up a stool at the old fashioned soda counter for a hand-dipped waffle cone. As a teenager, Harry Truman had his first job here, sweeping floors and dusting displays. Just outside of Clinton’s catch a ride on a covered wagon or, during the holidays, a horse drawn sleigh, for a narrated historic tour of Civil War battlefields and stories of Wild Bill Hickock in a shootout at a local saloon.
      The Harry S. Truman Museum and Library, described last summer by the Dallas Morning News as the best presidential museum in the nation, is located at 500 U.S. 24 Highway. The Museum has undergone a major renovation and has many audio visual exhibits where children will enjoy listening and watching right alongside their grandparents. View actual footage of world famous events unfold , use individual “wands” to hear audio tapes and information, have a chance to cast your “votes” electronically in one of the two interactive “decision” theaters or watch one of two movies about Truman, his life and presidency.
      The“ Life and Times of Harry S Truman” permanent exhibit focuses on the personal side of the former president and his family. Children have a chance to make (and keep) campaign buttons, dress up like Harry, Bess or Margaret in period clothes, deliver letters as they play at being postmaster like Harry was, or compete in a “race” to see who can reach Bess’s home first in Independence from the Grandview farm, where Harry lived during their courtship. There’s also an interactive trivia quiz to take when you have finished the exhibit to see how much you learned and remember.
      Take a few minutes to tour the Truman Home, 219 Delaware, a National Park Historic Site, also known as the Summer White House. The white two-story Victorian home is left just as the Trumans furnished it, down to Harry’s hat, coat & cane still hanging in the entry where he left them. A beautifully presented audio-visual slide show in the Truman courtroom at the historic Jackson County courthouse on the square nicely finishes up all the Truman legacy sites.
      Nearby Historic sites include Fort Osage, 105 Osage Street, in Sibley, an authentic trading/military outpost and Missouri Town 1855, 8010 E. Park Road in Lee’s Summit. This site boasts 25 original structures ranging from schoolhouses to blacksmithing shops, full of furnishings and equipment of the 1850s. Interpreters in period attire raise authentic field and garden crops and rare livestock breeds depict the lifestyles found in the mid-19th century.
      The massive Bass Pro Shops, spread over 180,000 square feet features a 20 foot waterfall, 32,000 gallon freshwater aquarium stocked with record size game fish, rock climbing wall, laser arcade, archery range, pistol range, murals, wildlife dioramas, kayak pond with ten foot waterfall, turning water wheel and old mill, and boat showroom inside. Outdoors, enjoy a new 30 acre park with a stocked 17 acre lake, picnic pavilion, playground and paved walking trail. The Adventure Oasis Family water park offers a lazy river, water slides and an interactive family pool. In the spring, summer and fall the Kansas City Royals, Kansas City Wizards or Kansas City Chiefs professional baseball, soccer and football teams play in the Truman Sports complex, just minutes away. The Missouri Mavericks professional hockey team plays in the newly opened Independence Events Center, which also offers community ice skating and big name draw live concerts and family friendly entertainment.
      More information about Independence, its many sites and attractions, lodging, restaurant and shopping information is available by calling Tourism, 800-748-7323 or by going to
  • Thanks Janeen, I'll keep that in mind when I get a chance to visit Independence.
    Cheers, John
    • Sounds good - happy trails!
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