US Presidents Historic Sites – Visiting the Harry Truman Library and Museum

This is one in a series of travelogue articles spotlighting U.S. Presidents historic sites. Each president has at least one historic site, and they are an ideal destination for those interested in American history and cultural travel. Let’s take a closer look at the sites dedicated to America’s 33rd president, Harry Truman…

Visiting the Two Truman Historic Sites

Harry Truman was born and raised in Independence, Missouri, a small community about fifteen miles east of metro Kansas City. Fittingly, the two sites dedicated to him are both here, his family home and the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

The family home has undergone significant preservation and renovation to better portray the historical aspects of Truman’s life both before and after his presidency. After his wife Bess passed away in 1983, the home became an official historic site. The home is open for tours and is conveniently located on North Main Street in Independence. Thirty minute tours are offered for a nominal fee. Groups are kept small, with a maximum of eight participants per tour to provide a more personalized experience.

Not far from the family home is the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. This is where visitors can view numerous permanent and temporary exhibits depicting Truman’s time in office from 1945 to 1953. New and enhanced audio and video are available and a special exhibit on the Korean War has been added.

A particularly interesting exhibit reveals the personal side of the president. Numerous letters to his wife Bess are displayed, showing the humor of Mr. Truman along with his thoughts on Washington, the presidency, and world events. You will also learn how a man with modest ambitions came to ascend first to the vice presidency and then to president, an office he never sought.

Visiting Nearby Kansas City

These historic presidential sites are perfect to combine with a visit to Kansas City, about twenty minutes west of Independence. A lively, bustling metropolis, Kansas City is well known for its musical influence, particularly jazz, and world class barbecue. If live music and great food appeals to you, you’ll love Kansas City!

Accommodations are plentiful and the downtown area is quite compact, although you will need a car to explore other parts of the city and suburbs. There are numerous entertainment and shopping districts here, including The Plaza and the Power and Light District. The Plaza, in midtown, is a Spanish styled open air shopping mecca filled with stores, boutiques, bars, and restaurants. You can easily spend an afternoon and evening here exploring all there is to see and do.

For authentic barbecue, Kansas City is hard to beat. We recommend Rosedale Barbecue, near the state line and convenient to mid town. Pork sandwiches, ribs, and smoked sausage in on the menu in plentiful portions and blue collar prices. There are scores of barbecue restaurants in the metro area, so sample a few and decide on your own which you like best.

For nightlife in Kansas City, stop in at one of the many jazz clubs or head to Westport, a shopping destination during the day and a lively bar scene at night. One of the oldest taverns in the midwest is right in the heart of Westport, Kelly’s Westport Inn. It’s a real slice of Kansas City and lots of fun at night.

Summary

For a great historical travel destination, consider the two Harry Truman presidential sites in Independence, Missouri. A trip here is easily combined with nearby Kansas City, a world class destination for great music and barbecue.