This is a fun place to visit especially if you appreciate history and great architecture. The building was built in 1914 and saw the heyday of the railroad. It underwent a major renovation after being abandoned and has found new life as a venue for special events and exhibits, a train museum and also a children's museum. Though separate and fee based, the Science City children's museum is very fun for young children and those that get to see the world through their eyes. The also separate and fee-based KC Rail Experience is very interesting and would be a must-see for train buffs of all ages. We enjoy visiting Union Station as an interesting and free afternoon excursion just to enjoy the beauty and novelty of the building. Out front there is a dancing fountain in the warm months that is worth a drive just to see. There is a "Link," which is a glassed-in and somewhat temperature controlled elevated walkway that connects Union Station to the Westin and Crown Center, which is a shopping area. The Link continues on to another nearby hotel as well, the Hyatt I believe. It is quite fun to catch a view of the downtown skyline at night from a great vantage point, or to enjoy walking in the snow or rain between buildings protected from the elements. The Mariott hotel downtown has a rather unique light display at night and especially during the holidays that has become a tradition for our family to watch from the Link. If you come, parking is free with validation for 3 hours if you park in the covered parking spaces at Crown Center. Parking is limited and a fee is charged at Union Station itself. The walk over on the Link is part of the experience. Restaurants at Union Station and Crown Center are horrible however. It is worth it to drive or in good weather walk over the bridge to the Freight House area behind the train tracks and eat at Fiorella's Jack Stack or Lydia's which are both excellent choices. Jack Stack has sandwiches for around $11-15, and dinner entrees around $17-39. Portions are so large however that you can quite easily share. Lydia's is an amazing Italian restaurant of around the same price range. If you are looking for inexpensive food, walk to Panera Bread on Grand Avenue in front of Crown Center. Don't bother trying to eat at any of the beautiful, but deceptive locations at Crown Center or Union Station. The one exception may be the American Restaurant, which serves the smallest portions, but very tasty food. You can expect to pay about $150-200 for dinner for two with wine by the glass however. If you are a family on a budget just pack a lunch because there is not a fast food restaurant nearby in this neighborhood.
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