LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
The Nelson Atkins Art Museum
South Side- Lawn, Columns, Bloch Building, art installments, tree-lined stone pathway
North Side- Reflecting pool, Columns
Across Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard on the South side of the lawn is a cute park, Frank A. Theis. Down the street to the East, hang a right on Troost, you'll see the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center next to the Kauffman Legacy Park.
Northwest Side- Rose Garden, Architecture, Fountain
East Side- Pond, Bridges, Trees
Lawns and trees for days throughout the park
Spray water park for the kids, on the West side, near the tennis courts. Playground on the North side
Country Club Plaza
South Side- Brush Creek, Bridges, Intercontinental Hotel waterfall
West Side- Cancer Survivor's Park
East Side- JC Nichols Fountain in Mill Creek Park
Strolling around the Spanish themed architecture in the Plaza, you'll find many sculptures and water features. Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains, second only to Rome. A great staircase is on the North side of 47th street to the East of McCormick & Schmick's.
Parking on the South side of the memorial, approaching the monument are trees and lawns. At the base of the monument is a great skyline photo opportunity. Don't get up on the wall or security will yell at you. The mosaic tiles near the entrances on either side of the monument are blue and beautiful. Venturing down to the lawn, there's another skyline opportunity. This time, you'll get a great shot of Union Station and a clearer view of the cityscape. Turning around, you'll have an amazing shot of the memorial in all its glory.
Shooting indoors professionally will cost you. $25-$75, small portrait session to a bridal party. Pay downstairs on the West side of the building, the movie ticket location beneath the post office. Outside, the fountains offer a photo op with either the Liberty Memorial behind or Union Station. Timing is crucial with this fountain. Placing the subject on the opposite side of the fountain, carefully on the ledge, you'll achieve a reflection shot. The streetcar picks up/ends/begins on the East side of Union Station. Across the street is Washington Park, which offers: many trees, a decent skyline shot, and a good shot of the Western Auto sign.
Crossroads Art District
Roughly between Union Station and I-70, I-35 and 71, is the arts district in Kansas City. First Fridays is the largest celebration consistently occurring each month, weather permitting. Parts of 18th street, the main thoroughfare of the Art District, are shut down for people and food trucks. Quite the photo opportunity for street photography. Graffiti will be found throughout KC, but there's a ton in this area. Hidden gems like Graffiti Alley between 18th and Baltimore Ave & Wyandotte Ave, Kansas City I'm So In Love is next to Fortuity boutique at 1919 Baltimore Ave, #KCLoves 1720 Main at the top of the garage, KC Royals mural at 17th and Oak, KC mural in a small parking lot on the South side of SW Blvd next to Foxx Equipment Company, and check out Art Alley 1739 Oak. 18th and Broadway has an Urban Garden and there's a cute alleyway with string lights next to The Bauer on 18th and Wyandotte.
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
16th and Broadway, the South side of the building is glass and lawn, the North side is a conch-like metal architecture with some landscaping. A great shot of the Kauffman Center is from the South lawn of the KC Convention Center, crossing the street to the North of the Center. On the East side of the Kauffman Center is a landscaped grassy garden with places to sit.
Power and Light District
Between Main and Grand streets on 14th street are blue lights strung up above the road. Landscaping and architecture are the key elements of this location. Walking around downtown, there are many hidden spots with trees and benches. On the West side of the city is Ermine Case Junior Park with some Spanish style architecture and the KC Park River View with a Lewis and Clark statue.
Tucked away on the West side of Kansas City, the railroads and I-35 section-off the West Bottoms between the conflux of Kansas and Missouri River, split rather evenly between Kansas and Missouri. The 12th street bridge is a simple way to travel down to the Bottoms. This area is popular for the haunted houses and antiquing, which seem to be rather similar in nature. Architecture and graffiti aplenty, remain safely off the railroad tracks. It is illegal, after all, to be on or too close. The bridges have great vantage points, but always be cautious when photographing in a high traffic area. On the North side of the Bottoms on Forrester Rd is a sidewalk over the bridge. A little walk up the bridge will offer unique viewpoints of the Bottoms and KC. A popular graffiti location is between W 9th and St Louis Ave in an alleyway where Liberty St should technically pass through. Cross over to the Kansas side of the West Bottoms, the West West Bottoms if you will, beneath the Central Ave Viaduct Bridge is Central Ave. This road passes beneath the bridge for some totally cool, industrial shots. Be careful, the portion beneath the bridge is not a common road and small items can be dropped down through the cracks and be lost in the Kansas river forever. Nearby the bridge are some scrumptious shipping containers. I do recommend remaining on public property for the photographs and do not bother the folks who actually work there. Big trucks come barreling down Central Ave and there's not room for mistakes. Thankfully, there is another small wall of graffiti on the opposite side of Central Ave just in case you need another option. Hop up and over the river onto Fairfax Trafficway to reach Kaw Point Park. A spectacular view of Kansas City, especially at night with the reflection of the skyline in the river bend.
Swing it up just North of Downtown KC to the River Market. The streetcar makes it's loop through this area and returns down to Union Station. A car arrives around every 15 minutes. Architecture is the draw to this location. Retro buildings, tons of brick, some beautiful fire escapes. Catch the Farmer's Market hustling and bustling on a Saturday morning. The North side of Main and 2nd streets is the Riverfront Heritage Trail which leads to the Town of Kansas Observation Deck overlooking the Missouri River. Take the stairs to the right down a few flights to a trail. The trail isn't terribly interesting until you're through the small wooded area and the grand old buildings in the River Market offer a great background for a photograph. Down Grand Boulevard, beneath the Heart of America Bridge, River Front Road begins. Take that to the left and park. Traverse the area for good spots with the river and the Bond Bridge, in all its cable glory.
North of KC
Skipping up and over the river, traveling North, you might want to visit the Riverside Waterfall at 1920 NW Platte Rd, Riverside, MO 64150. Go a little further NW to find Parkville. Downtown is super cute and the English Landing Park near the river is a good spot for photos. Just North East of I-435 and 152 highway is Hodge Park. Enter the park, walk about a half mile down the way, you'll find a little town stuck in time. Totally adorable for photos.
East of KC
A little farther East, you'll find the Kansas City Museum next to Kessler Park. The Colonnade is a good location for some unique architecture. Enter Independence to discover Vaile Mansion and the Bingham Waggoner Estate. Both have their own landscaped grounds and unique architecture. Great locations for autumn. Further East, in Blue Springs, up 7hwy, is Burr Oak Woods. At the entrance of the park, to the right of the gate, is a small parking lot with a wooden fence. Park there first, walk past the gate on the right side of the road, turning straight into the woods. The pines shoot straight up and provide a breathtaking view upon entering the forest. The path will lead you back and to the left, into the perfectly lined trees. Don't forget, trees provide a ton of shade which means less sun for the later hours, plan accordingly! And the bug spray.
South of KC
James A Reed Memorial Wildlife Area is sort of in the sticks, but it's Powell Gardens out Southeast that'll bring you into the country. Manicured gardens and landscaping that'll make your mother cry. The chapel across the pond is just one attraction. Pay the entrance fee and photograph until your heart's content. Back to Lee's Summit, the downtown area is cute with a train depot. A big, red caboose sits on display near a fountain and some pretty trees. A neon heart is located in the central part of downtown Lee's Summit. Stroll down Douglas to find a retro gas station-turned-restaurant. Longview Lake is another great location in Lee's Summit.
The Overland Park Arboretum has tons of options for photos, but they charge a $25 photo fee. Shawnee Mission Park is a decent spot for some trees, grass, and some water. Also, the Museum at Prairie Fire in Overland Park has a brilliant facade.