Walk down the quaint, tree-lined street of North Delaware, and imagine seeing Independence’s hometown hero, Harry Truman, ambling down the sidewalk on his daily jaunt. Or, spend some time on the square or learning about pioneer history in this revitalized, quintessential, Midwestern town. Independence, Missouri is not just the hometown to our 33rd president, it’s a town chock full of family-friendly activities.
The jewel of Independence is the Truman Presidential Library and is perfect for even the smallest constituent. The museum houses more than 30,000 artifacts from Truman’s life and presidency and incorporates them into audio/visual and interactive presentations. America: 1952 and the children’s area are our family’s favorite exhibits. Scan the walls of the America: 1952 exhibit lined with Life Magazine covers depicting the historical issues occurring when Harry Truman left the presidency. Sway to the songs of 1952 that can be heard overhead while advertisements for period products run on small screens. What a way to reminisce or introduce kids to life 60 years ago. The children’s area downstairs shouldn’t be missed if you have youngsters.
Kids love the hands-on activities based on Harry Truman’s life and can continue learning at home through the library’s online games. (TrumanLibrary.org)
President Truman may have said, “The buck stops here,” but the activities of Independence don’t stop at the Truman Library. Leave your car in the parking lot and hop aboard the Truman Trolley for the first stop: Historic Independence Square. (NewIndependenceSquare.com)
The trolley drops you off outside Clinton’s Soda Fountain; formerly Crown Drug Store. This is where Harry Truman had his first job. Stroll on in and climb up on a counter stool for a nostalgic ice cream sundae, shake or phosphate. It’s a great way to cool off.
Across from Clinton’s, in the center of the square, is the courthouse where Harry Truman was a county judge. And, across the street from the courthouse, you’ll find the underground restaurant, Courthouse Exchange. This is a great place to grab some lunch, if you are still hungry after Clinton’s, of course. You’ll find the locals enjoying a great meal and discussing matters of the day. Or, try Cafe Verona on Mondays for “All You Can Eat Spaghetti” and kids under 12 eat free.
Now that you’re fueled up, it’s time for some kid activities. The artist in your family begs to stop at the charming Primary Colors Gallery to view their latest exhibit or try out one of their classes. Need your little one to release some energy? Bowl a strike at Diamond Bowling while Mom slips out for a little bit of retail therapy around the square!
You could spend the entire day on the square, but there’s more to see and do in Independence. That means it’s time to jump back on the trolley. (NewIndependenceSquare.com/Trolley)
If peaceful harmony eludes your family at times, a visit to the Children’s Peace Pavilion might be just the answer. Located in the uniquely designed Community of Christ Church, this “Do Touch” museum invites children to learn about peace for themselves, their family and the world through handson activities. While you are there, take a tour of the church and view the inside of the amazing steeple inspired by a nautilus shell. It’s breathtaking!
After you’ve learned a little about today’s Mormon’s, hop back on the trolley and head on over to the Frontier Trails Museum. This museum illustrates the major role Mormons and the town of Independence played in early pioneer
history. The gallery’s exhibits display the vital artifacts pioneers needed for their early westward travels and how the railroads eventually took the place of the covered wagon for migration to the west. A visit to the Frontier Trails Museum wouldn’t be complete without a covered wagon ride and a view of the swales to truly experience the pioneer way of life.
Head on back to the tree-lined streets of North Delaware and be a guest in the Truman’s humble family home. The home is cared for by the National Park Service and rangers are on site to share the legacy of Truman’s life. Before you visit, download a copy of the Junior Ranger booklet filled with puzzles, games and information about Harry Truman.
Bring the completed booklet with you and your kids will receive a certificate and Junior Ranger badge. Not only that, your kids will already know a lot about Harry Truman before they visit Independence. (Nps.gov/hstr/index.htm) The fun in Independence doesn’t stop here but, unfortunately, the space for my article does. So whether you’re staycationing or hosting visitors, add Independence to your summertime activities.
Special offers and coupons for Independence activities can be found at VisitIndependence.com.