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Kansas City Trip Guide

An arts district, an entertainment district and (arguably) the nation's best barbecue are just the start.
Country Club Plaza.
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Sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
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Kansas City Power and Light District. Photo courtesy of Kansas City CVB.
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River Market farmers market.
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For years, this jazzy, barbecue-loving, state-line-straddling town was somewhat of a secret. But a $7 billion investment over the past few years has put Kansas City and its rehabbed downtown in the national spotlight. Kansas City's newer attractions include the Power and Light district, where daytime crowds file in for lunch and shopping and nighttime jumps with movies, clubs and concerts. Meanwhile, the sleek Bloch Building has brought new attention to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. But the reliable old favorites aren't going anywhere: the magnificent fountains and parks, jazz and blues, and Kansas City's famous barbecue and strip steaks

What to do

American Jazz Museum Located in the historic 18th and Vine jazz district, the museum’s exhibits tap KC’s musical heritage. Visit in the evening for live sets at the Blue Room nightclub. (816) 474-8463; americanjazzmuseum.com

American Royal World Series of Barbecue Hundreds of teams vie for smoky glory on 20 acres (September through November). Vendors serve barbecue to hungry spectators. Admission charged. (816) 221-9800; americanroyal.com

Country Club Plaza High-end stores, friendly restaurants and several of Kansas City's signature fountains (including one modeled after a 13th-century fountain in Seville) fill this Spanish-style shopping district. (816) 753-0100; countryclubplaza.com

Kaleidoscope Kids dig creating crafts with Hallmark leftovers (and plenty of paint, markers and tape) at a colorful, run-like-clockwork free attraction in Crown Center, the company’s headquarters. (816) 274-8300; hallmarkkaleidoscope.com

Legoland Discovery Center Another great place for kids, the highly interactive center includes rides, a 4-D theater and incredible reconstructions of Kansas City landmarks. (816) 471-4386; legolanddiscoverycenter.com/kansascity

National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial Films, memorabilia and quotes from world leaders reveal the Great War’s lasting impact. (816) 888-8100; theworldwar.org

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art A 22-acre sculpture park is just one of the draws to this free museum. (816) 751-1278; nelson-atkins.org

Power and Light District Bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and theaters fill this eight-block area. (816) 842-1045; powerandlightdistrict.com

River Market Kansas City’s oldest neighborhood has ethnic grocers, shops and loads of restaurants, plus it hosts a farmers market on weekends. kcrivermarket.com

Union Station A 1914 depot houses restaurants, shops and Science City, as well as traveling exhibits. (816) 460-2020; unionstation.org

Westport North of Country Club Plaza, cafes, nightclubs, galleries and boutiques fill a reborn historic district. (816) 531-4370; westportkcmo.com

 

Where to eat

Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque Come to one of three locations for burnt ends, ribs and sandwiches doused in Bryant’s special sauce. (816) 231-1123; arthurbryantsbbq.com

Bo Ling’s River Market’s award-winning Asian restaurant offers a huge menu, plus seasonal specials. Try the dim sum. (816) 423-8036; bolings.com

Classic Cup Cafe Country Club Plaza shoppers nosh on fluffy buttermilk pancakes, Thai chicken pizza and bread pudding with caramel sauce. (816) 753-1840; classiccup.com

The Farmhouse Simple farm-to-table lunches (and brunches on weekends) star in the trendy River Market neighborhood. (816) 569-6032; eatatthefarmhouse.com

Gates Bar-B-Q Staff greet customers with “Hi, may I help you?” before serving generous portions of signature pork ribs. Eat at six locations around the metro. (800) 662-7427; gatesbbq.com

Jack Stack Barbecue A local chain (there’s one in Country Club Plaza) serves great BBQ and amazing baked beans. (877) 419-7427; jackstackbbq.com

Lidia’s Kansas City North of Union Station, PBS TV chef Lidia Bastianich lends her name (and her recipes) to a menu heavy with authentic Italian fare. (816) 221-3722; lidias-kc.com 

Michael Smith You can easily drop a bundle at the James Beard Award-winning chef’s restaurant, but his tender eight-hour pork roast and green-onion risotto are worth it. (816) 842-2202; michaelsmithkc.com 

Succotash Indulge in plate-size pancakes, just-squeezed juices and fresh ingredients in an artsy setting. (816) 421-2807; succotashkc.com

Where to stay

Hilton President A renovated 1926 landmark lends historical class to the Power and Light District. (816) 221-9490; presidentkansascity.hilton.com 

The Raphael Hotel Billed as Kansas City’s original boutique hotel, The Raphael’s recent renovation balances historical touches with plush amenities. See reviews and ratings. (816) 756-3800; raphaelkc.com

For information: Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association (800) 767-7700; visitkc.com

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