An energetic city forged by a rich history, Kansas City is brimming with activities to keep visitors entertained—eclectic cuisine, swinging jazz, one-of-a-kind museums, a thriving arts scene and fantastic shopping. Part of the city’s charm lies in its beauty, with an impressive network of boulevards, spacious parks and of course, exquisite fountains. The world-renowned jazz legacy continues today in clubs throughout the city. For barbecue lovers, the city’s signature food can be found at more than 100 barbecue establishments, but visitors also delight in restaurants of every ethnic origin. Discover dozens of unique museums, including the world-class Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum. Shopping is elevated to an art form at the beautiful Country Club Plaza and at Hallmark’s Crown Center. Don’t miss the beautifully restored Union Station, Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun amusement parks or professional sports at the Truman Sports Complex. This city is passionate about the arts with outstanding symphony, ballet, theater and opera companies. The city’s central location makes it easy to get here and reasonable prices make fun affordable. Pack your bags and discover something unique and unexpected in Kansas City.
Kansas City 101
Kansas City Traditions
Kansas City is known for:
World-Famous Barbecue – The city’s signature food is served up at more than 100 barbecue establishments, each boasting its personal house specialty. The secret to KC-style barbecue is that it’s slow smoked for up to 18 hours, usually over hickory.
Dazzling Fountains – Kansas City is home to more than 200 fountains—more than any other city in the world except Rome, Italy. Our nickname is the City of Fountains.
Swinging Jazz – From the roaring ‘20s to the early ‘40s, jazz reigned in Kansas City, producing the swinging signature sound that became known as Kansas City-style Jazz. Live jazz can be heard regularly at more than 20 area nightclubs.
Just the Facts
KC ∙ City of Fountains ∙ Heart of America ∙ America’s Creative Crossroads
- As of 2010, KCMO has a population of 459,787. The metropolitan population is 2.1 million.
- Kansas City, Missouri, is the largest city in the state of Missouri and the 26th-largest metropolitan area in America.
- Kansas City is the most centrally located major metropolitan area in the U.S.
- It is the only major city located within 250 miles of both the geographic and population centers of the nation
- The maximum distance from Kansas City to anywhere in the contiguous U.S. is approximately 1,900 miles, or half the distance from coast to coast
- If you’re flying, Kansas City is just a three-hour flight from either coast
Kansas City International Airport:
- Serviced by 14 major airlines that fly to 70 nonstop destinations daily
- Since KCI isn’t a hub for any one airline, it’s often more affordable to fly into and out of than most airports in the U.S.
- KCI’s three terminals were the first designed under the “drive-to-your-gate” concept to minimize the distance from curb to aircraft, making airport access convenient and easy.
- KCI Airport is often distinguished as one of the most passenger-friendly airports in the world.
KC Based Companies
- American Italian Pasta
- American Century
- Boulevard Brewing Company
- Garmin International
- H&R Block
- Hallmark Cards
- Russell Stover Candies
- Yellow Roadway Corporation
- Bumper sticker
- Chicken Spiedini
- Rival Crock Pot
- Jazz jam session
- McDonald’s Happy Meal
- Multi-screen theater concept
- Wishbone salad dressing
Did you know?
Facts about area attractions
- The American Jazz Museum was the first museum in the country solely dedicated to jazz music.
- The Arabia Steamboat Museum houses the largest collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world, with more than 200 tons of recovered treasure from the sunken 1856 steamboat Arabia.
- The Country Club Plaza opened in 1922 as the nation’s first outdoor shopping district. With exquisite mosaics, statues and sparkling fountains, the Plaza covers 14 square blocks and contains more than 150 stores and restaurants. The Moorish architecture is modeled after Seville, Spain, one of Kansas City’s sister cities.
- With more than 50 galleries popping up over the past decade in the Crossroads Arts District, the area has become a haven for Midwestern artists. The first Friday of each month transforms the district into one of the nation’s largest art crawls.
- The Hallmark Visitors Center tells the story about the world’s largest greeting card company. Joyce C. Hall arrived in Kansas City in 1910 with two shoeboxes full of postcards and a dream. Today, the company he founded produces more than 2 billion greeting cards each year in more than 30 languages and distributes them in more than 100 countries.
- The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is the only museum in the United States dedicated to WWI. It houses the second-largest collection of WWI artifacts in the world.
- The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum chronicles the history of the professional African-American baseball leagues, first founded in Kansas City in 1920. Players included the Kansas City Monarchs’ Jackie Robinson, who became the first player to break the color barrier when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
- The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art ranks as one of the most comprehensive art museums in the nation including one of the world’s best Asian and Native American art collections.
- Union Station is the second-largest working train station in the nation, behind Grand Central Station. The 1914 building was reopened in 1999 after a $200 million renovation thanks to the nation’s first bi-state tax. It features a science center, rail museum, theater district, restaurants and Amtrak service.
Fun Facts about KC
- Kansas City has a vibrant performing arts scene. With more than 65 performing arts organizations in Kansas City, it’s rare that the city’s stages are dark.
- Kansas City is a college basketball mecca. The city has hosted more NCAA basketball games than any other city in the U.S. And, Municipal Auditorium has hosted more Final Fours than any other building in the country.
- Kansas City is home to five professional sports teams: Kansas City Chiefs (football), Kansas City Royals (baseball), Sporting Kansas City (soccer), Kansas City Explorers (tennis) and the Kansas City Brigade (arena football).
- The scoreboard at Arrowhead Stadium was the first to transmit instant replay.
- The Urban Institute recently ranked Kansas City third among the top 50 cities in the country for the most festivals and special events.
- Kansas City is a global leader in the animal health industry, with area companies accounting for one-third of all sales in the $15 billion industry.
- By 1949, 86 factories were manufacturing garments in Kansas City. It was said that one in seven American women wore clothing made in Kansas City.
- KCPT tower at 125 E. 31st Street is taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The KC tower stands 1,067 feet; the Parisian tower is 1,024 feet tall.
- The city’s location along the Missouri River made it a gateway for pioneers heading west. Beginning with the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804–1806, four national trails passed through Kansas City, including the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails.
- The width of Grand Boulevard was set by Mayor Milton McGee, who laid out the street wide enough so that he could turn his horse and buggy around without having to back up.
- Walt Disney attended the Kansas City Art Institute in the early 1920s. He opened his first animation studio in Kansas City, Laugh-O-Gram studios. Disney fed a small mouse in the building that eventually became the inspiration for Mickey Mouse.
- Years before he became a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a young Ernest Hemingway worked as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star from 1917 to 1918, covering fires, crimes, the General Hospital and developments at Union Station.
For more information about all there is to see and do in Kansas City, go to VisitKC.com.
Kansas City Districts and Neighborhoods
To experience a lively and unique neighborhood, head to the River Market. Situated just south of the Missouri River, the area features historic brick buildings, loft apartments, bars and restaurants and one of the Midwest’s largest farmers’ markets—the 150-year-old City Market. The market is especially lively on weekends when more than 140 farmers bring their goods for sale. The Arabia Steamboat Museum, ethnic food stores and antique shops are also in the area. thecitymarket.org; 1856.com
Downtown/Kansas City Power & Light District
Amid the skyscrapers and fantastic Art Deco buildings, you’ll find a vibrant, new energy in the heart of the city. Just two blocks from the Kansas City Convention Center and downtown hotels is the new eight-block Kansas City Power & Light District, which is filled with more than 40 restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. Downtown is also a prime destination for the performing arts with the new Sprint Center arena, a concentration of historic theaters and the $413 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, slated to open in September 2011. powerandlightdistrict.com; downtownkc.org; sprintcenter.com
18th & Vine Historic Jazz District
There’s no better place to learn about Kansas City’s jazz legacy than in this neighborhood that was once the epicenter of the city’s African-American community. The area features the American Jazz Museum and the Negro
Leagues Baseball Museum in a combined complex. Hear live jazz at The Blue Room or the Mutual Musicians Foundation. To the north, the Goin’ to Kansas City Plaza at Twelfth Street and Vine pays tribute to the song that made the intersection famous. americanjazzmuseum.com; nlbm.com
Crossroads Arts District/Westside
If you’re looking for an eclectic gathering place, head to the Crossroads. Once-vacant buildings now house unique shops, restaurants and a thriving art scene. First Fridays are a local favorite when more than 60 galleries and shops remain open until 9 p.m. the first Friday of each month. The adjacent Westside neighborhood along Southwest Boulevard offers shopping, dining and entertainment, including some of the city’s most popular Mexican and Latin American restaurants. kccrossroads.org
Crown Center/Union Station
This is a great area for family fun. Situated between Downtown and the Country Club Plaza, Hallmark Cards’ Crown Center is an enclosed complex of more than 60 shops and restaurants, exhibits, live theater and the Hallmark Visitors Center. The outdoor plaza is home to numerous festivals and special events as well as a winter ice terrace. Next door is Union Station, a renovated train station that houses a science center, theaters, restaurants, touring exhibits and Amtrak. Just to the south is the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. crowncenter.com; unionstation.org; nwwone.org
Westport/39th Street West
Locals know Westport as a popular nightlife district. However in the 1800s, Westport stood as a bustling outpost offering the last taste of European civilization at the doorstep of the great West. Westport’s 19th-century charm remains with historic buildings, old-style lampposts and tree-lined boulevards. The area features fun and funky shops, diverse restaurants and a variety of bars and nightclubs. Just to the west is 39th Street West, which offers an eclectic mix of ethnic restaurants and colorful shops. westportkcmo.com; 39thstreetwest.com
Country Club Plaza
No trip to Kansas City is complete without a visit to the Country Club Plaza. This 15-square-block outdoor shopping and entertainment district is filled with romantic Spanish architecture, European art and dazzling fountains. Designed in 1922, the Plaza features boutiques and fashionable national stores as well as distinctive restaurants, outdoor cafes and nightlife hotspots. Two nationally renowned art museums are located nearby, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. countryclubplaza.com; nelson-atkins.org
Built in 1920, this charming neighborhood shopping district is home to more than 70 shops, restaurants and offices that keep with the area’s original neighborhood charm and architecture. Brookside hosts an art fair in early May and a parade leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Further south around 75th Street, explore the heart of the Waldo neighborhood, which offers local shops, antique stores and restaurants. brooksidekc.org; waldokc.org
Located in the southeastern part of the city, the 1,769-acre Swope Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. It houses a number of family-friendly attractions. The Kansas City Zoo features a 95-acre African exhibit with more than 400 animals in naturalistic and an Australian exhibit with free-roaming kangaroos. Catch a musical or concert under the stars at nearby Starlight Theatre. You’ll also find Lakeside Nature Center, two golf courses, picnic shelters and a Braille trail. kcmo.org/parks; kcstarlight.com; kansascityzoo.org