Twelve Reasons to Visit Independence in 2012
TWELVE REASONS TO VISIT INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI IN 2012
Whether you are planning your dream vacation for family, romance, girlfriends, multi-generational or day trippin’ travel, 2012 is the year to discover historic Independence, Missouri, an American Original. Here’s a dozen reasons why:
1. The secret’s out – a stay in Independence is surprisingly easy on the wallet. The 2011 Reader’s Survey by Travel and Leisure magazine scored Kansas City as the most affordable getaway out of 35 major cities in America. As part of the KC metro area, Independence boasts a low cost for just about everything a vacationer needs – lodging, dining, transportation, admission to attractions, sports, live entertainment and even parking. (free). Tinyurl.com/3ltlbxq.
2. Independence is part of an area recognized as a sizzling hot travel destination. The editors of Frommer’s travel guides, along with authors, experts from around the world and readers picked Kansas City, the only American city included, as one of the top 10 destinations for 2012. Drive from the historic Independence Square to downtown Kansas City in about fifteen to twenty minutes and enjoy the landmark sites of both in one trip. Tinyurl.com/3av8l33.
3. In case you hadn’t noticed, 2012 is a presidential election year. Pay tribute to our nation’s 33rd president, Harry S. Truman by exploring his legacy at what the Dallas Morning News hailed as the Best Presidential Library in the nation, www.trumanlibrary.org, then tour the Truman Home, http://www.nps.gov/hstr/index.htm, walk in his footsteps through the Truman historical neighborhood or sip a phosphate at Clinton’s Soda fountain, where young Harry worked his first job. http://clintonssodafountain.com/
4. As the Civil War 150th anniversary heats up, program your GPS for a stop in Independence, site of two Civil War battles and home to the 1859 Jail & Marshal’s Home Museum, a key site brimming with stories of notorious outlaws and guerillas like William Clark Quantrill, Frank James and other members of Jesse’s gang. http://www.jchs.org/jail/museum.html. Hop on a Pioneer Trails Adventures covered wagon pulled by Missouri mules and hear yarns of the war and westward trails, then tour the Bingham-Waggoner Estate, home of famous Civil War artist and activist George Caleb Bingham. www.bwestate.org.
5. Speaking of westward trails, did you know Independence was known as the Queen City of the trails? The Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails west all used this frontier town for a “jumping off” point, as illustrated by exhibits, film, artifacts and diaries of those who followed them at the National Frontier Trails Museum.Walk across the street and follow the Swales trail, where you can still see ruts made in the 1800s by wagon caravans, oxen, cattle, mules and horses. www.frontiertrailsmuseum.org
6. Does the unusual appeal to you? If so, don’t miss Leila’s Hair Museum, where over 400 framed hair “wreaths” and 2,500 pieces of art and jewelry made from human hair are on display. You can also see hair of famous folks such as Abe Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and JFK. For the young at heart, learn all about puppets and marionettes at the Puppetry Arts Institute, a Rand McNally Hidden Jewel. Spend a little more time and money and paint your own puppet head, have a body attached and perform a spontaneous puppet play on one of their stages. www.hazelle.org.
7. Shop to your heart’s content – either in the one of a kind gift, antique and specialty shops on the Square nestled around the historic Truman courthouse, or in the latest national retail chains sitting in and around Independence Center along interstate 70. Outdoor lovers can easily spend an afternoon at the unique Bass Pro Shop set by a lake, playground and walking trail. www.theindependencesquare.com
8. Where else can you play golf on a course that sits over an active mine? Miners set off blasts each day about 3 p.m. at the Winterstone course, referred to by golfers as “thunder time.” www.winterstonegolf.com. Or chose from three other spectacular courses, historic Rockwood Club www.rockwoodgolfclub.com, (where Truman played), Drumm Farm Golf Club, www.drummfarmgolfclub.com, or the Greg Norman designed course at Stone Canyon. www.stonecanyongolfclub.com.
9. Feeling a little artsy or looking for a fresh piece of art to add to your collection? The Englewood Arts District is home to some great galleries, who band together every third Friday for an evening “art walk”, filled with chances to meet and watch local artists in action, nosh on refreshments and enjoy a little live music, demonstrations or activities for kids. www.englewoodartwalk.com. Primary Colors on the Square also features local work and offers art classes for all ages. www.primarycolorsgallery.com.
10. The religious heritage of Independence is a major draw for many who come to discover roots of faith groups that stretch back to the early 1800s. Tour the modernistic 300 foot high Community of Christ Temple and see sacred artwork, a museum, theater and striking sanctuary dominated by a world class organ. (free recital times listed at www.CofChrist.org. ) Walk across the street to the Mormon Visitors Center and learn about the Mormons who settled in Independence during frontier times and doctrines of the modern day church. Tinyurl.com/7tdsuzj. Drive by or stop in to a variety of other nearby historic churches.
11. Shake your family tree at the Midwest Genealogy Center, the largest public genealogy library in the nation. Cutting edge technology and a treasure trove of records available only at the center make this a valuable resource for anyone who has ancestors from the region and surrounding states. www.mymcpl.org/genealogy.
12. Enhance your Independence experience by visiting during one of our annual special events. Think: Truman’s birthday celebration on May 5, the Bingham-Waggoner’s Trails Breakfast and Vaile Strawberry Festival, both on Saturday, June 2, and Santa Cali Gon Days, the granddaddy of all Independence festivals, which draws hundreds of thousands for free country western music, crafters, concessions and carnivals over the Labor Day weekend. During the holidays, a whole sled full of Christmas events are slated for November and December. See a full list of 2012 events, print off discount coupons or view an interactive Visitor’s Guide at www.visitindependence.com or call Independence Tourism at 800-748-7323.