Kansas City, Missouri is a city that offers something for everyone. Whether you're looking for amazing food, fun things to do or beautiful scenery to enjoy, KC has it all! Let's take a look at some of the best places and attractions Kansas City has to offer.
When I mentioned that I was heading to Kansas City, the responses were all over the place. Lots of people wanted to know if I was going to Missouri or Kansas, a few asked if there was a thriving Black community, there were an exuberant about of questions concerning possible racism and so many said, “why”. Truthfully it was never on my bucket list well maybe it was as I don't really have one. My process is anywhere that I have not been is a bucket list location. And Kansas City definitely made the list, so pack your bags and get ready to explore one of America's most underrated cities!
18th & Vine
I think one of the best things about Kansas City is 18th & Vine! Most people would probably say it's the food scene and while I had some great meals, this area made me feel at home. In fact, it's actually where the world of sports, music and food meet. I was able to relive the history of this historic African-American neighborhood at the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
I was already familiar with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as my dad has been a huge fan but experiencing it is indescribable. The statues and memorabilia is such a reminder of how big a role we had in the growth of baseball.
I was truly touched to see that there was a section dedicated to the powerful women of baseball. We all know that women in sports are often forgotten even though they have blazed many trails. Philly's own Mo'ne Davis was pictured with her mentor and inspiration, Mamie Johnson. At age 13, Mo'ne made sports history when she pitched a shutout in the 2014 Little League World Series of baseball. She was the first girl to pitch a shutout in the history of the tournament and the first African American girl to play in the competition. Her fast ball was clocked at 70 miles per hour.
After you visit the Negro League Baseball Museum pop across the hall and experience the history of Jazz at the American Jazz Museum. This area is where jam sessions were created. Musicians still come to the area and host sessions into the early morning.
The museum is interactive and is a great place to learn the history of Jazz. You can sample music from Duke Ellington while testing your jazz knowledge. As a fashion junkie, I loved seeing the performance outfits worn by Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie Parker’s gold pocket watch and cuff links.
Step into the Blue Room, a swinging jazz nightclub where you can enjoy authentic artifacts and the finest in both Kansas City's live music entertainment. Check the website before you go as unfortunately there were no sessions happening during my visit.
The area between the two museums houses a display that truly takes you on a walk of how the area has changed.
Across the street, the Gem formerly the Star which was initially a silent movie theater for African Americans in the area has been restored to a state of the art performance theater.
Power & Light District
Situated in downtown Kansas City, Power & Light is where you will find lots of action. There are restaurants, lots of entertainment and some really cute apartments if city living is your thing. Encompassing nine blocks the area is surrounded by landmarks and icons like Sprint Center, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the Crossroads Arts District and more.
During my visit, I was able to see it come to life with live performances at KCLive and lots of dancing at the local spots surrounding it. The street surrounding the T-Mobile center was blocked off and there were many dancing in the street while others rode skateboards or roller skating.
See the Fountains
Did you know that Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains. With more than 200 fountains, Rome is probably the only place to find more. Most fountains trace back to the late 1800s, when they served a purely utilitarian purpose: thirsty dogs and horses drank water while passing through town.
The fountains are an integral part to the city's heritage and culture. Many easily accessible in major areas while others are tucked away within building exteriors or street corners; these unique water features add a wonderful charm that you won't find anywhere else! The presence they provide for their immediate vicinity celebrates human creativity at its finest.
The City of Fountains Foundation, established in 1973 by Hallmark executive Harold Rice and his wife, Peggy, is dedicated to preserving and maintaining Kansas City’s beautiful fountains. These flowing sources of beauty not only provide a sense for celebration, but also help foster an environment that attracts visitors from all over the world!
Every year in early April the city celebrates Greater Kansas City Fountain Day marks a great source for pride in our fountains. These 48 publicly-operated water spouts provide us with energy, comfort and urban vitality as they spring back to life!
Country Club Plaza
Designed in the 1900's as a shopping district, it has transformed into much more providing a walking open-air art gallery, and lots of dining options. Here you will find one of Kansas City's most famous fountains, the J.C. NICHOLS (1880-1950) MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN Dedicated to the developer of The Plaza, these four heroic horsemen, which represent the rivers of the world, were sculpted in Paris in 1910 by the late Henri Greber.
While there is no Nordstrom in the plaza, you can shop from locally and women owned businesses. Country Club Plaza has lots to see in these 15 blocks surrounding Ward Parkway.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
This museum is worth mentioning but unfortunately I was unable to experience it during my stay. The website has me definitely wanting to return. The African Art collection spans about 2,500 years and showcases historically significant works in a variety of materials that display the talent and extraordinary craftsmanship of Africa’s artists, past and present.
It is free to experience the permanent collection which includes includes Caravaggio’s Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines, and Van Gogh’s Olive Trees. The building alone is art and make certain you take a peek at the sculpture outside.
Ride the Streetcar
Kansas City's free streetcar is a great way to explore the city. It runs through downtown, including areas rich in entertainment and culture as well as hotels! It runs every 10 to 15 minutes, seven days a week and pretty fun to jump off and on. It was probably one of the cleanest public transportation rides that I have ever experienced. The streetcars are also wrapped in Kansas City culture.
I am a huge fan of street art as it generally tells the story of the neighborhood. The city is our canvas. Whether it be inside or out, on the surface of a bridge or in between paving stones – there's no limit to what can be designed as an artwork for this public form!
Murals are an excellent way to add character and life into any neighborhood. They provide a sense of identity, history or community that cannot otherwise be brought through small-scale art pieces which can easily get lost in translation on the street level due its size limitations.
For me personally I enjoy taking time exploring these large public works without having been told too much beforehand but instead experiencing everything firsthand while walking around unaware until suddenly coming upon one specific piece among many others
Yup, the train station. I laughed when it was suggested that I take a peek inside and then I remembered how beautiful the train stations in Philadelphia and New York City (newly renovated one) are. Union Station is no different and could easily be called a museum. The walls almost seem to be adorned in gold jewelry. The station houses restaurants, a science center and a theater.
Where to Eat?
The city is home to some of the best BBQ in the country, as well as a variety of other delicious cuisines. If you're looking for a good meal, you won't be disappointed in KC!
If you ask anyone where to go, you will get several recommendations but everyone will say get the burnt ends. Yup sounds nasty but it is a Kansas City favorite. Burnt ends refers to the burned edges of brisket. When done right, burnt ends are a culinary exclamation point that will have your mouth watering for more. These tasty treats can be found on some good old-fashioned grills after smoking them over open flame grill fires for hours upon end with just enough time spent under heat lamps to give off that signature smoky flavor without drying out or burning up too much meat at once. It is something you have to try to appreciate.
Jack Stack Barbecue
This fourth generation of family-ownership and has evolved into the largest hickory wood-fired cookery in the United States and they ship nationwide. They have six locations around Kansas City.
Arthur Bryant Barbecue
Created by the legendary King of Ribs, Arthur Bryant, no relation, it is no wonder that they are known for the best barbecue in Kansas City. And rumor has it the lines were once so long that they would give people free burnt ends for waiting.
Nationwide delivery is also available and I suggest you add the sauce, the sweet heat is my favorite.
This restaurant has fed many former Presidents from Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama and the pictures on the wall tell the story. If you are looking for upscale dining, this is not it.
Award winning barbeque since 2001, this place was close to the hotel and was perfect for a quick lunch. Created by Todd Johns and his brother-in-law, Randy Hinck out of the spirit of competition as they traveled the world competing.
Where to Stay?
Downtown Kansas City offers you a quick entrance to most attractions. The Marriott Downtown Kansas City which offers amazing views and is situated in a historic building. You will also find a Hilton and the historic Hotel Kansas City.