Kansas City Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Kansas City Trip Guide

The state’s second-largest metro has way more to offer than just its famed jazz and barbecue. See our guide for recommendations on what to do, where to eat and where to stay.


American Jazz Museum The exhibits tap KC’s musical heritage. Visit in the evening for live sets in the Blue Room nightclub. americanjazzmuseum.org

American Royal World Series of Barbecue Hundreds of teams vie for smoky glory on 20 acres in October. Vendors serve barbecue to hungry spectators. americanroyal.com

American Royal World Series of Barbecue

American Royal World Series of Barbecue

Arabia Steamboat Museum Well-preserved cargo recovered from a Missouri River steamboat that sank in 1856 give insight into life in that era. 1856.com

Boulevard Brewing Company Free 60-minute tours end with tastings of the Midwest’s  largest line of specialty beers. boulevard.com

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

Crossroads Arts District The area contains more than 150 galleries and artists’ studios, as well as 60 restaurants and 40 shops. Thousands come for First Friday art events that include live entertainment. kccrossroads.org

Crown Center Kids dig creating crafts with Hallmark materials in Kaleidoscope as well as visiting the Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center. crowncenter.com

Kansas City Zoo See 1,100 animals, including 60-plus penguins, a sea lion show and a lively gang of orangutans who show off painting skills. kansascityzoo.org

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Two venues promise world-class acoustics for musical and theatrical productions from the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. kauffmancenter.org

Kauffman Stadium Come to watch the World Series champions Royals. The National Football League’s Chiefs play in the remodeled Arrowhead Stadium next door. 

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art This free museum packs a lot into a relatively small space. The artistry continues at Cafe Sebastienne. kemperart.org

National Museum of Toys and Miniatures Peer at tiny masterpieces and vintage toys among the 72,000 objects collected by this University of Missouri-Kansas City museum. toyandminiaturemuseum.org        

National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial Exhibits at the nation’s only World War I museum reveal the high cost of a war often overshadowed by World War II.  theworldwar.org

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Learn about racial segregation’s effect on America’s pastime and see tributes to players. nlbm.com

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art A 22-acre sculpture park acts as prelude to the museum’s global collection. nelson-atkins.org

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Power and Light District The downtown entertainment area pulses with energy from bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, theaters and concerts. 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

Taste of Kansas City Between bites, get the lowdown on 1930s Missouri political boss Tom Pendergast’s bootlegging and the Crossroads Art District renaissance. tasteofkansascityfoodtours.com

Union Station A 1914 depot houses shops, Science City, a planetarium, traveling exhibits, a stage and movie theater. Pierpont’s at Union Station serves steaks and seafood in an upscale turn-of-the-century ambience. unionstation.org

Union Station

Union Station

Westport Since 1850, Westport has been known as a resupply spot; these days visitors hit cafes, galleries and boutiques. westportkcmo.com

Worlds of Fun One ticket grants entry to both the theme park and Oceans of Fun water park. Planet Snoopy has rides for the youngest kids. worldsoffun.com


BBQ The town has too many barbecue joints to list, but here are a few to whet your appetite: Arthur Bryant’s, BB’s Lawnside BBQ, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue, Gates Bar-B-Q, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Snead’s Bar-B-Q, Q39 and Woodyard Bar-B-Que. 

Blue Bird Bistro This cheerful Crossroads District cafe puts locally sourced organic ingredients to tasty use. bluebirdbistro.com

Blue Bird Bistro

Blue Bird Bistro

Bluestem Choose a three-, five- or 10-course meal with inventive dishes such as ricotta cappelletti with braised rabbit. bluestemkc.com

Bo Lings Seasonal specials round out a huge menu at this award-winning Asian restaurant, which operates six area locations. bolings.com

City Diner Platter-size pancakes and friendly service ensure regulars keep coming back to this classic diner in the River Market area. citydiner.info

Classic Cup Cafe Country Club Plaza shoppers nosh on fluffy buttermilk pancakes, Thai chicken pizza and bread pudding with caramel sauce. classiccup.com

Eggtc Plan on a wait for all-day breakfasts like the veggie-filled Garden of Eden Frittata. eggtckc.com

El Pollo Rey The stacks of wood out front fuel indoor grills cooking chickens at the no-frills spot. (913) 371-4243

The Farmhouse Simple farm-to-table brunches and dinners star in the River Market neighborhood. eatatthefarmhouse.com

Glace Artisan Ice Cream Ingredients like dark chocolate, bananas and salted pretzels swirl together in fresh ice cream. glaceicecream.com

Gram and Dun Specialty beers pair well with starters of hand-cut potato chips served with three ketchups and meals of mac ‘n’ cheese topped with burnt ends. gramanddun.com

Happy Gillis Cafe and Hangout The owners admit they kinda like beer; you’ll kinda love meals here in the Columbus Park neighborhood. happygillis.com

La Bodega The only place in town for Spanish tapas and cuisine is always packed, especially on Wednesdays when paella is the special. labodegakc.com

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

McCoy’s Public House In the Westport neighborhood, its patio is the place to dine on burgers, oven-fired pizzas and beers brewed on-site. mccoyskc.com

Michael Smith You can easily drop a bundle at the James Beard Award-winning chef’s restaurant, but his eight-hour pork roast and risotto are worth it. Or go next door to less pricey Extra Virgin. michaelsmithkc.com 

PotPie There are potpies, but try the down-home meals at this edgy Westport spot. Maybe a spinach and Brie tart with red wine caramel sauce? kcpotpie.com

The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange A sedate place for dinner hides an old-school speakeasy in its basement. theriegerkc.com

Succotash Indulge in plate-size pancakes, just-squeezed juices and fresh ingredients in an artsy setting. succotashkc.com

Westport Cafe and Bar The black-and-white checkered floor and brick walls create a casual space for impressive French-inspired food. westportcafeandbar.com

Winstead’s The landmark diner serves the same classic steak burger it has since it opened its doors on Country Club Plaza in 1940. winsteadssteakburger.com


816 Hotel Themed rooms (such as the Kansas City Zoo Room) add pizzazz to a former chain hotel on the western edge of Westport. 816hotel.com

Crowne Plaza Kansas City In the Power and Light District, this sleek place is central to everything. ihg.com/crowneplaza

Hotel Phillips Gold leaf, Art Deco details and helpful staff make this downtown hotel sparkle. hotelphillips.com

The Raphael Hotel This boutique hotel in Country Club Plaza mimics an elegant English manor raphaelkc.com

Southmoreland on the Plaza Known for its breakfast BBQ, the 1913 Colonial Revival’s 13 rooms bear names of famous locals. southmoreland.com

For information: Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association visitkc.com

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