The City of Independence invited Bryce and I to explore their wonderful town for an entire weekend …and OMG was it fun!
Growing up in Kansas City, it was very common to visit Independence, Missouri for school trips and educational experiences. I went there a lot as a little girl and haven’t really “toured” the town since the age of 12. I honestly think I was too young to understand or even appreciate what I was experiencing. Let me just point out the obvious real fast — it has bloomed into such a friendly, artistic community. I was completely blown away by the historic Square and how much charm the city displays. I could not get over how kind the people were and how much they cared about their town. The passion for Independence, Missouri was evident and contagious in each spot we visited.
Where We Stayed:
The Hawthorn Bed & Breakfast –
It was incredible and I would recommend it to anyone. Click HERE to read about my experience staying at the Hawthorn B&B. If you’re looking for a venue to host a shower or special birthday, this place takes the cake on hospitality and gorgeous decor.
If you are looking for a unique AirBnb, I recommend staying at the Secret Service House. After Truman’s presidency, the Secret Service stayed here to watch over him and his wife. The home has been refurnished since and is soooo stinking cute (can you say #instagram?). Click HERE to checkout the link for the Airbnb. PSA: It’s only $75 a night & I’m trying to convince Bryce that we need to go back and stay there.
Where We Ate:
Main Street Coffee – Add this place to your list of coffee shops to visit this summer. Bryce and I both decided that it had one of the best seasonal coffee menus in Kansas City. Make sure to get “The Glow Up,” an elderflower-lemon latte served on ice.
Courthouse Exchange – This charming restaurant was located right on the Square and an absolute must visit. It serves pub/comfort food in a cozy nook below street level. I would recommend going there on a nice day for dinner or lunch so you can eat outside on their patio.
3 Trails Brewing Company – We had an event held here our first night in Independence and didn’t want to leave. Bryce quickly became friends with one of the owners of the micro brewery (after loving on the guy’s dog) and he gave us a tour of the entire place. The beer was fantastic if you are into micro-brews! Overall, it had a really chill atmosphere, and I will definitely be taking my Dad. The live music made us want to hang out there the entire night. Such a perfect way to welcome us!
What We Did:
Chicago and Alton Depot – This was the first stop on our list, and it was SO COOL! I’m not the biggest history gal but I do enjoy trains. The Chicago and Alton Depot was an old train “station” or landing spot where you could hop on the train. It was rescued and rebuilt to its original 1879 charm. The stationmaster lived in the upper level of the building because his job was 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. It is a historical wonder and a must visit!
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum – With an Oval Office replica, President Truman’s office, and his final resting place … you need to add this to your list of things to do. The museum is home to permit displays and traveling expeditions. Check their calendar online for what is coming next. I loved the fact that President Truman himself gave tours when he was alive and trained the docents personally. If you visited this place when you were younger, I encourage you to go back and explore. It wasn’t until now that I fully understand what was occurring in history during his presidency. Remember it was a time without social media and your integrity meant everything.
Vaile Mansion – TBH this place deserves its very own storytime because boy did I have quite the experience here. My Mom and my friend Lizzy joined Bryce and I on the tour of the Vaile Mansion (which is stunning btw), and boy do I have a tale to tell. Let me set the scene … we pulled up to the beautiful home with its Steampunk Victorian architecture. Bryce decided to stay with Lizzy’s dog so my mom could go on the tour with us. The home had a lovely yard with a fountain and plenty of sticks for Stanley to play catch with. My Mom, Lizzy and I went on a guided tour. We explored the main floor and the first story of the home learning about its original owners and some of their life struggles. The home had unique features that could be seen only when certain light would hit it. Our guide used a flashlight to show us the details. It was a lovely restored home that is being renovated all the time. The home has a past of being a sanatorium, nursing home, and a spring water bottling company.
With that bit of history, here’s our experience…
We were admiring the Family Parlor — our guide and the rest of our tour group was in the the Ladies Parlor. It feels like a giant room but it is divided with a doorway. We could see our group and hear them, and mind you it was the middle of the afternoon. Along the wall was a lamp in the family parlor that had a top ball and a bottom glass ball. The lamp started violently shaking as though it had been bumped. I looked and saw nothing around it … I took off towards the tour group. My mom thought Lizzy’s bag bumped it but then quickly realized that Lizzy was nowhere near it. Lizzy and my Mom stood there and watched the lamp shake for a good amount of time. They were frozen in disbelief. My mom finally said, “Did you see that or am I imagining it.” We all three saw it. We went on with our tour and took a few photos inside. Then, my Mom and Lizzy were so confused why the lamp shook that they went back to look at it. I did not! At this point I’m like very ready to leave. I’m such a chicken. The lamp had shook so hard that only two of its four legs were still on the table. It was leaning against the wall and looked like it could fall. Lizzy told the workers that she was afraid the lamp would fall. We tried to come up with reasons the lamp shook like a train going by or someone running up the staircase. The wall the lamp was against had no staircase on its other side — just a hallway. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for what we saw but it sure seemed like something was trying to get our attention. It would be worth a trip back to see it decked out for the holidays. The guides were excellent! Put it on your list to visit this unique Victorian home. Check out HERE for upcoming events held at the Vaile Mansion.
Bingham Waggoner Estate – Independence is k-i-l-l-i-n-g the game at taking care of their historical sites. This was another mansion that Bryce and I visited over the weekend and it was gorgeous. The Bingham Waggoner Estate played a significant role back in the day because it was located on the Santa Fe Trail. Read more about the history of the estate HERE.
Farmer’s Market on the Square – If you are looking to grow fresh herbs … GO HERE before paying for overpriced ones at Lowe’s or a greenhouse. A lot of the vendors had amazing potted herbs for a fraction of the cost. Bryce and I came really close to buying mint and basil for our apartment.
Clinton’s Soda Fountain – I could not visit Independence without stopping here. Harry Truman’s first job was in this ice cream, shake, and phosphate soda fountain located on the historical Square. I have so many fond memories stopping here with my family or Girl Scout troop. I had to take Bryce and it did not disappoint. So take a break from sightseeing and have some delicious ice cream or edible cookie dough 🙂
Things We Missed:
Harry S. Truman Home – It is a look at his charming, modest home before he served as president and after returning from his terms. The house is going through renovations to save its structure so be sure to check the website to make sure it is open for tours. I toured it when I was a young girl, but I feel like I would truly appreciate seeing it now that I’m older.
1859 Jail & Marshal’s Home & Museum – This structure served as the county jail for Jackson County. It is packed full of stories of paranormal activity. However, it is rich in history of criminals that resided in its cells. Women and children were detained behind these bars along with characters like the infamous Frank James (the older brother of Jesse James of the James Gang).
I hope this post inspires you to take a little overnight trip or a day visit to the charming city of Independence! I’ll leave you with this quote from President Harry S. Truman –
“There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”
May this post add some value to your life! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and I will see you all back here next week.