Like many American cities we largely dismantled our public transit systems in the mid-twentieth century. We love our cars. If you are from out of town "sorry".
If you do not have a friend in town to loan you a car or drive you around you will need to have a car of your own. I have seen friends tackle this in a couple of ways.
Most rent a car and then just drop it off at the airport when they leave. Easy and expensive.
Some that are staying in the U.S. and visiting several cities have had good luck buying a second hand car and then selling it when they leave. This takes a bit of work at either end. They seem to take a bit of a bath at the end. Overall this seemed to be the least expensive. This seems to work best if you are going to many places and are in country for an extended stay and like to wheel and deal.
I have had friends lease a car but they always seem to feel that it did not work to their advantage.
There are places in a parking garage about one block form the center intersection of Westport. They also have some surface parking, and street parking. The warning is make sure you do not go past the time limit on the street and some lots. That holds true for shops and designated bar parking, also. You get tickets and/or towed for a price that could hit $175 to get you vehicle back.
The Airport is about 25 miles from downtown and 34 miles from the south where the Yuppies live; like me, but an old one. It only takes around 45 minutes to get to the airport, though. The parking is also very easy, and the best place is most likely in the Economy lot operated by the city. Price is right and easy to get to the terminals. They have 3 terminals, broken down into the airlines operating there. Read the directions carefully as to where to park and fly out of. Parking is $5.50 a day, and around $12 a day closer in to the terminals.
This is the KC Visitor Bureau web site for review of how to best get around the city and how to use the bus system, etc. This also includes mileage distances, which is helpful. Still the most expendient method is to have a car since so many sites are spread out, and distances far between.
The attached website provides information about KCI and ground transportation (click on airport services tab). Special Shuttles also run to the rental car area and of course some of the local hotels also offer their own private shuttle services.
You can even see historical cars in the 18th & Vine district. This old car was going east on 18th Street. It's name was a clever takeoff on the movie, Back to the Future. The Red Vine and Barker Temple are in the background.
This is Skippy the Saturn...our old car that had 190,000 miles on it. We finally got a newer car and gave Skippy away. It was sad to see him go as he was the car that my wife and I dated with. He has been from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and Mexico to Canada. He was a great car! The two beautiful models that are showing the car are Callia and Sophia
Public transportation in Kansas City is awful. If you plan on getting around the area very much, there is no substitute for renting a car. KC is very spread out, making taxi rides long and expensive. And, you will find, with some exceptions, that traffic in Kansas City is not that heavy. Do be aware that the local drivers are not always reliable when it comes to using turn signals, however. Sorry.
Either bring your car, or if you are staying near the Westport or Plaza area, then cabs are relatively inexpensive at less than $10 a pop. From where we stayed in Embassy Suites, everything was within walking distance, though the Plaza was a bit of a trek--and would recommend cabbing it for next time.
Drive. If you're visiting, rent a car. One interesting thing you'll notice is that Kansas City is actually two cities: Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. When you're driving, the only way to tell what state you're in is by the color of the street signs, either green or white (I can't remember which state has what color sign, but I think Missouri is green?).
KCI airport had 10,000,000 people fly in and out last year. In addition to KCI there are 14 smaller airports. There are several major interstate highways and rail service to Kansas City.
Saw a lot of busses like this. I know there is bus service but since I drive to KC I always have a car and don't know a lot about the busses.
Despite the number of walking districts, Kansas City is an American city; therefore, a car is essential. I got stuck with a minivan at Thrifty, so believe me, if I enjoying tooling around the very hilly city in a Chrysler Town and Country, imagine how much fun a real car would be!
Getting around town you will need a car. that's one of our big problems in KC. Everybody loves their car.
Now, if you like driving on freeways, we've got the most per capita in the country.
We are working towards a light rail plan, but at this time, grab a car unless you are staying right downtown in which you can ride trolleys and buses.
Between Westin Hotel in Crown Center and Union station is a walkover that traverses across two streets. It also connect to the other Crown Center attractions. VEry convenient.
You can reach the Amtrak station form either Union Station, going way to the back, or from Main and Pershing Rd sector. It is in its own building, and parking in down under