The Crown Center is a shopping, hotel and entertainment district on the southern side of Downtown Kansas City. It is named for the crown that is found in the Hallmark Cards, Inc. logo.
The Hallmark Cards Headquarters building is the cornerstone and original piece of the complex. It is located at the southeast portion of the Center. A Hallmark Cards Visitor Center is located near the Headquarters Building.
A sky bridge called The Link connects many of the facilities and attractions within the district. It connects the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center to the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center to Union Station.
Quick Facts about the Crown Center
- The Crown Center opened in 1971, when the first five buildings were completed.
- A walking elevated corridor called “The Link” connects the buildings within the center.
- It is located approximately 1.5 miles southeast of Downtown Kansas city.
- The Center contains over 50 unique shops, restaurants, theaters and experiences.
- The Center includes a LEGOLAND Discovery Center, SEALIFE Aquarium and ice skating rink.
- There is also a HALLMARK Visitor Center located within the vast complex.
- The Link connects the center to Union Station, a beautifully reconstructed train station that now includes a science museum, exhibits and an Amtrak Station.
- On July 17, 1981, 114 people tragically died when walkways collapsed at the Hyatt Regency.
- A National WWI Museum and Memorial are located nearby.
A little history
The Crown Center was the brainchild of the founder of Hallmark Cards, Joyce Hall, and his son Donald Hall. In the early 1960’s, the areas near the Hallmark Corporation’s headquarters in Kansas City consisted of dilapidated parking lots and buildings. Together, Mr. Joyce Hall and Mr. Donald Hall developed the Crown Center Redevelopment Corporation, a concept that became a subsidiary of Hallmark corporation and which set in motion a massive renewal near the downtown area.1
The project broke ground in 1968, and the original plan was for five connected seven-story office buildings. These first five buildings were completed in 1971.
Other buildings and features were added over time. Three additional buildings were completed from 1987 to 2000, and The Link sky bridge connecting The Westin to the office buildings and the Sheraton was added in 1988. Another part of The Link was added in 2000 that connected The Westin to Union Station.1
Things to do
There are some fantastic attractions and restaurants located within the complex. SEA LIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND – Kansas City are located on the southeastern side of the district. There is an open area here with water fountains and tables, and also an ice skating rink. The ice skating rink is open each year from around the beginning of November to the beginning of March.
If you cross over Grand Boulevard from here, you will find one of the main entrances to the shops and hotels within the Crown Center. This area is a great place to wander and explore. Spin Pizza, Einstein Bagels, and a large Crayola store are just some of the many shops lining the walkways. One restaurant, called Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant, delivers food to your table by overhead trains! It is a great experience for young children.
A few other shops include, but are not limited to:
- The Best of Kansas City
- The Apothecary (A great place to get essentials and snacks)
- Toy Time
- Amy’s Hallmark
The Link walkway continues out of this area through the Westin Hotel, where it passes by some wonderful gardens that can be viewed at leisure. From the Westin, the Link travels over Pershing Road to its final stop, Union Station.
Union Station is a railroad station that was originally built in 1914, and has since been re-purposed as both a station and an entertainment facility. While the station still services passengers on Amtrak, it is now also home to the Kansas City Science Center, The Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium, and numerous exhibits and events throughout the year. At Christmastime, thousands of children come to visit Santa, and the station hall is transformed into a Christmas wonderland with hundreds of beautiful Christmas decorations.
Crown Center Hours
According to the Crown Center website, the main facility hours are 10 A.M. to 7 P.M, Monday through Saturday, and 12 P.M. – 6 P.M. on Sundays. It is important to note that some restaurants and shops inside may not be open as long, while others may stay open even longer. The facility has adjusted hours on holidays as well.
Places to stay
The best places to stay while visiting this attraction are the Sheraton and the Westin. Both of these hotels are connected to all of the shops, restaurants and Union Station via The Link sky bridges. Sometimes you can find amazing deals on one or both of these hotels, but the deals are usually dependent on things going on in the city at the time of travel, such as football games or holiday shopping.
If you plan on visiting other parts of Kansas City, there are a number of great hotels in the downtown area as well. The Kansas City Marriott Downtown offers some spectacular views, and the Holiday Inn – Aladdin is very nice too.
Getting to the Crown Center
The Crown Center is near the crossroads of several major interstates and highways. Interstate 70 / 670, Interstate 35, Interstate 29 and Highway 71 all pass within a few miles of the district, making it extremely accessible from any direction. If you are traveling from I-49 N or I-29 S, please note that they seamlessly terminate into Highway 71 as you enter the downtown area. Once you are on Highway 71, you will encounter several stop lights as you approach the Center.
There are five garages in the complex. The Pershing Office and Westin Parking garages are accessible from Pershing Avenue. Two Public Parking garages are accessible from Grand Boulevard. The fifth is at the north end of the complex at the Sheraton Hotel. Each garage has electric charging stations. For more information on parking, visit the official Crown Center link here.
There are two war memorials just a few steps from the Crown Center. The National World War I Museum and Memorial is to the west of the center, and has many displays and artifacts including weapons, trenches, and even a tank. The Korean War Memorial is to the north of the Westin, and Washington Square park is connected to that. The parks are great places for remembrance, learning and getting outside to get fresh air.
Downtown Kansas City is just a few miles north of the Crown Center district. The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, the Sprint Center, and the Power and Light District are just a few of many items of interest here.
The Kansas City Zoo is several miles south of the Center, as are the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.