1. Fort Osage National Historic Landmark
The point overlooking the Missouri River where Fort Osage stands today was noted in William Clark’s journal in June 1804 as a good location for a trading post. Clark returned in 1808 to build the fort, which was reconstructed in 1941. Today, you can tour the blockhouses, officers’ quarters and soldiers’ barracks, which frequently come to life in living-history programs depicting the period.
Location: Take Interstate 70 for 35 miles northeast of downtown Kansas City to U.S. 24 to Sibley. Open Wednesday–Sunday 9 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. Call 816-795-8200.
2. National Frontier Trails Center
The massiveness of the American West that opens up from the doorway of Kansas City will all but overwhelm in the floor-to-ceiling displays here that map each of the trails west. Interactive exhibits test your knowledge of the trails and allow you to see some of the supplies that explorers and pioneers brought through this region.
Location: Located in downtown Independence, Mo., at 318 W Pacific Ave. Open Monday–Saturday 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Sunday 12:30–4:30 p.m. Call 816-325-7575.
3. Alexander Majors Historic House & Museum
Alexander Majors and his freighting firms helped build many of the small towns that popped up along the Santa Fe Trail. Tour his home and barn, which for a short time served as the headquarters of Majors’ best-known venture, the Pony Express.
Location: 8201 State Line Rd., on the border between Missouri and Kansas. Open for tours Tuesday–Saturday, May– September. Call 816-333-5556.
4. Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm
Tour the three original buildings of this last remaining stagecoach stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Take a stagecoach ride and participate in the activities travelers of the 1860s did when they stopped here on their way west.
Location: 1100 N Kansas City Rd. in Olathe, Kan., about 20 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, Mo., on Interstate 35. Open Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday noon–4 p.m. Call 913-971-5111.