DescriptionUpon his return following the end of his presidency, Harry S. Truman called Independence “the greatest town in the United States” and “the center of things for me.” Truman thought the world of his hometown, and a day spent in the town’s center, Independence Square, will help newcomers understand why.
Independence Square is where you’ll find Clinton’s Soda Fountain, 100 W. Maple Ave., where young Harry had his first job as a store clerk, doing everything from sweeping the floors to dispensing flavored phosphates. Sit at the fountain’s 100-year-old marble counter and slurp a cherry phosphate or feast on an ice cream sundae in Harry’s honor.
Take a leisurely stroll through Independence Square, much like Harry did every day during his retirement, and you’ll happen upon delightful one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques, family-owned restaurants and specialty shops selling home interiors, gifts and antiques. In the Englewood Station Arts District, galleries stay open late and offer demonstrations, children's activities and meet-the-artist events on the third Friday of every month. A covered wagon historical tour, offered April through October by Pioneer Trails Adventures, panders to aching feet and pioneer spirits, with fun 45-minute ghost tours, led by paranormal experts, on October Friday evenings; phone (816) 254-2466 for reservations. With the past in mind, a large number of visitors come to check out their ancestry at the Midwest Genealogy Center, reputedly the nation's largest; phone (816) 252-7228 for information.
During the holiday season, Independence Square turns into a winter wonderland. On the third Saturday in November, townspeople gather for the annual tree lighting ceremony. Festivities include live music and dancing, children's activities, visits with Santa and sleigh rides. Other major events include Truman Days in May, the Vaile Mansion Strawberry Festival in June and the 4-day Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival in late August and early September.
While Independence is well-known for its Truman-related historic sites, it was a major “jumping off” point for the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails, earning the city the nickname “Queen City of the Trails.” The moniker still holds true today. The Little Blue Trace Trail runs north for 11 scenic miles along the Blue River and is accessible from the Hartman Heritage Center, I-70 and Little Blue River Road.
Visitor InfoIndependence Department of Tourism 112 W. Lexington Ave. INDEPENDENCE, MO 64050. Phone:(816)325-7890 or (800)748-7323
Self-guiding toursThe Missouri Mormon Walking Trail, which begins at Walnut and River streets across from the Community of Christ Auditorium, is a 1-mile trail with 14 plaques commemorating early Mormon sites. The Truman Walking Trail, beginning at the Harry S Truman National Historic Site ticket office at Main Street and Truman Road, meanders 2.7 miles through the Truman neighborhood, with 44 plaques embedded in sidewalks along the way.
Things to See1859 Jail, Marshal's Home & Museum