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    Independence is a winning destination for anyone planning a dream vacation, whether it be for family, romance, girlfriends, multi generational or spontaneous day trippin' travel. Here's the top 10 reasons why 2013 is THE year to visit Independence, Missouri.

1.    LOW COSTS: The secret's out - Independence is tops among budget friendly destinations. Travel and Leisure's readers recently chose Kansas City as the most affordable getaway city in America. As part of the KC metro area, Independence boasts rock bottom low costs for lodging, dining, attractions admission, sports and live entertainment. Conveniently located at the intersection of major north-south and east-west interstates, and only half an hour's drive from the Kansas City airport, Independence is easily accessible by car and plane. Bonus freebies include over a dozen no-cost attractions, activities and events, and plenty of free 24/7 parking.

2. NEW VISITOR CENTER:  Travelers who head to the historic Independence Square this summer will enjoy the resources, live assistance and planning aids found in the new Visitor Center and tourism offices in the renovated Truman Courthouse.  Pick up brochures, use interactive kiosks, buy tickets and access wi-fi in this start of the art center located in the heart of the city. Many tourism attractions are nearby, some within walking distance. The grand opening is planned for July.

3. TRUMAN:  Pay tribute to our nation's 33rd president, Harry S. Truman by exploring his legacy at what the Dallas Morning News hailed as the Best Presidential Library in the nation, A new special exhibit on Truman and artist Thomas Hart Benton opens in March and runs through October. Tour the Truman Home with a National Park Service ranger,, walk in Harry's footsteps o the Truman walking trail and sip a phosphate at Clinton's Soad fountain, where young Harry worked his first job.;. Don't miss the Truman courtroom and office in the Courthouse, which will begin offering tours on a regular basis when the courthouse re-opens.

4. CIVIL WAR: As the Civil War 150th anniversary continues, follow our Civil War Driving Tour brochure, with stops at two Civil War battles an the 1859 Jail and Marshal's Home Museum. The Jail is brimming with stories of outlaws and guerrillas like William Clark Quantrill, Frank James and other members of Jesse's gang. Hop on a Pioneer Trails Adventures covered wagon pulled by Missouri mules and hear yarns of the war and westward trails, then tour the Bingham-Waggoner Estate, home of famous Civil War artist George Caleb Bingham.

5. FRONTIER TRAILS:    Speaking of westward trails, did you know Independence was known as the Queen City of the trails? The Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails west all used this frontier town as a "jumping off" point, as illustrated by exhibits, film, artifacts and diaries of those who followed them at the National Frontier Trails Museum. Frequent gallery walks, workshops, demonstrations and lectures offer fresh reasons to visit again and again.

6. QUIRKY:  Do you savor the off-beat? If so, don't miss Leila's Hair Museum, where over 500 framed hair "wreaths" and 2,500 pieces of art and jewelry made from human hair are on display. You can also see hair of celebrities like Michael Jackson, Abe Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and JFK. For the young at heart, learn about puppets and marionettes at the Puppetry Arts Institute, a hidden jewel pick of Rand McNally. Paint your own puppet head, have a body attached and dream up a puppet show to perform on one of the stages.
Enjoy imaginative figures scattered throughout the hand painted woodwork of the "bowery" in the Vaile Mansion, an elegant Victorian home which has been fully restored to its' original

7. GOLF/OUTDOOR:  Where else can you play golf on a course that sits atop an active mine? Miners set off blasts every ay about 3 p.m. at the Winterstone Course, referred to by golfers as "thunder time." Or chose from spectacular courses at Drumm Farm Golf Club. or the Greg Norman designed course at Stone Canyon. Families might opt for mini-golf, a well stoked video arcade, go-karts and more at local favorite fun hot spot Cool Crest. The Adventure Oais Family Water Park boasts a lazy river, water slides, rock climbing wall and zero depth pool. Hunters, fishermen and sports fans can find all things outdoor at the Bass Pro Outdoor World,

8. ARTS/SHOPPING:  The Englewood Arts Distrit is home to some great galleries that band together every third Friday for a monthly evening "art walk" filled with chances to meet and watch local artists in action, nosh on refreshments and enjoy a live music, demonstrations or activities for kids. Primary Colors on the Square also carries local work and presents art classes for all Shop and dine to your heart's content in the one of a kind gift, antique and specialty shops and family owned eateries nestled on the Square. Or head to a treasure trove of contemporary stores along interstate 70 and in the regional Independence Center mall. 

9. MORMON HERITAGE:  The rich religious past of Independence is a major draw for many who come to discover roots of faith groups that stretch back to the 1830s. Tour the modernistic 300 foot high Community of Christ Temple and see sacred artwork, a museum, theater and striking sanctuary dominated by a world class organ. (free recital times listed at Walk across the street to the  Mormon Visitors Center and learn about the Mormons who settled in Independence during frontier times through live tours and interactive videos. The upper level explains doctrines of the

10. FESTIVALS:  Adore festivals and special events? Top annual picks include Truman's birthday celebration (May 4), the Vaile Strawberry Festival (June 1), Bingham-Waggoner's Antique and Craft Fair (July 13) and Santa Cali Gon Days, a festival that draws hundreds of thousands for free country and western music, crafts, concessions and carnival fun over the Labor Day weekend. During the holidays, a whole sled full of Christmas festivities are slated in November and December.

    See a complete list of 2013 events, print off discount coupons and view an interactive Visitor's Guide for 2013 at or call Independence Tourism at 800-748-7323.


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