Walking in to Kansas City‘s Union Station is like taking a step back in time to the gilded age of rail transit.
Union Station was built in 1914 and in 1917 almost 80,000 trains came through the station. The 850,000 square foot facility originally had 900 rooms and a glance at the ceilings gives you an idea of the grandeur that greeted travelers in the early 20th century.
As air travel increased Union Station fell into disrepair and closed in the 1980′s. In 1996 restoration began and was completed in 1999.
You can once again catch a train at Union Station’s Amtrak stop- or just step out onto the trestle bridge over the tracks and watch the trains go by. Enjoy a relaxed lunch at Harvey House Diner or an elegant dinner at Pierponts. Do a bit of shopping at one of the unique gift shops or the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
True to it’s railroad heritage you can see an incredible model train display or visit the KC Rail Experience exhibit. Other permanent exhibits include the Engineerium, a planetarium, Science City- a hands on children’s science museum- and live theater.
Union Station also hosts traveling exhibits. Through January 3 you can learn all about chocolate at Chocolate the Exhibition. Through January 10 the Andy Warhol Portfolios exhibit is on display.
If you’re even the tiniest bit Irish you’ll want to stop in the Irish Museum and Cultural Center. Here you can trace your ancestry, take in a session or browse the small gift shop.
There is no charge to enter Union Station. Attractions are closed on Mondays, except certain federal holidays. Attractions are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve.
Parking is available, charges apply.
Union Station is handicapped accessible.
An ATM machines are available in the building.
A nursing station is available in the women’s restroom in Festival Plaza.Jody Halsted shares her tips for family travel in the Midwest at Have Kid Will Travel.