Kansas City is known for its incredible barbecue and stellar jazz scene—but there's also a weird side to the City of Fountains. If you're up for an adventure, it's not hard to add some offbeat fun to any trip through Kansas City.
Originally named State Lunatic Asylum #2, the Glore Psychiatric Museum once served as one of the first medical centers in the country that worked primarily with mental health patients.
Most people visit the museum to see the medical equipment, including the “Tranquilizer Chair” and the “Bath of Surprise,” which was used to submerge patients into a pool of ice water. There’s also the “Lunatic Box”, an upright coffin in which patients would be locked to induce "calm."
Admission gives you access to both the Glore Museum and the St. Joseph's Museum located in the same building.
Lovingly restored after an arson gutted the building in the 1990s, Whiskey Mansion, originally built by a local whiskey baron in 1885, is now a beautiful inn that lets guests spend a night in the past—but with 21st century amenities.
Rooms come with a great view, a massive tub, and era-appropriate antique furnishings. Rumor has it, you might even get a ghost or two to boot.
You might not guess that one of Kansas City's coolest sights is a downtown parking garage, but the Kansas City Library has turned a seemingly mundane structure into a must-see photo op: a gigantic bookshelf filled with selections from your favorite authors.
Library patrons were asked to vote on which 25-by-9-foot titles should be painted on the massive shelf, and they landed on 22 classics ranging from The Lord of the Rings to Fahrenheit 451.
The best time to grab a great photo of the big bookshelf is in the early spring or late fall. In the summer, the more ornate features of the books are hidden by trees.
Part museum, part theater, and part workshop, the Puppetry Arts Institute is one of the most offbeat museums in Kansas City. As long as you're not scared of dolls, you’ll have an awesome time here.
Check the schedule before you visit to catch one of the monthly puppet shows at the in-house stage. Traveling with kids? Call ahead and schedule a puppet-painting class.
Leila’s Hair Museum is everything you’d imagine a museum of hair might be, and it's billed as the only one of its kind in the world.
Founded by cosmetologist Leila Cohoon, this collection of hair art includes at least 500 wreaths, 2,000 pieces of jewelry, plus brooches, art, and more, all made out of hair. There's even a collection of celebrity hair straight from the heads of Elvis Presley, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln.
Whether you find them cute or a little creepy, dolls are a popular collector's item. The United Federation of Doll Clubs' Museum and Headquarters in Kansas City houses an impressive collection of antique and vintage play and art dolls from the 18th century to today.
Located on a quiet street within walking distance of many of Kansas City's downtown attractions, Hotel Phillips make a perfect place to crash while you're exploring Kansas City weirdness. The 1931 building and art deco lobby add to the unique vibes of this boutique hotel.
Dive bars usually have a reputation for being a little odd, but it doesn't get much weirder than Fat Matt's Vortex. It's a dive bar built inside an old funeral parlor, and the old crematorium still sits in the basement of the joint. Unsurprisingly, it's rumored to be haunted.
Back in the mid-1800s, the Arabia Steamboat sank on the Missouri River. Thanks to the gradual shifting of the river's course, the sunken ship ended up buried beneath a cornfield. Long story short, five men learned about this historic wreck in the 1980s, traced its location, and got to digging. The result is the Arabia Steamboat Museum, a collection of well-preserved artifacts from one of the strangest discoveries in the history of Kansas City.
If you've been on the hunt for a WWII gas mask, a taxidermied dog, or a vintage Elvira pinball machine, Weird Stuff Antiques is going to make your day. The store lives up to its name with a huge assortment of the strangest stuff jammed into one place.
The owner, Terry Sanchez, has such a knack for tracking down strange items that he's regularly recruited by films and television shows to lend his collection. Need something specific? Go ahead and ask—Terry's probably got one stashed away somewhere.