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It’s not just the barbecue that’s causing the City of Fountains to make a splash in the Midwest. Whether you’re in the mood for fine art, bebop, or baseball, this bi-state metropolis overflows with options sure to pique the interests of even the pickiest traveler. Ready to dive in?
By Amanda Gleason
The Raphael Hotel Don’t let the grandiose façade fool you—guests of this Euro-feeling grand dame get loose in the Chaz Lounge, where local jazz, blues, and rock musicians jam out.
Hotel Phillips Snag a seat in the Art Deco lobby of this historic spread, where you may be the subject of the resident illustrator’s next drawing.
Southmoreland on the Plaza This cozy B&B invites sports fans to stay in the Leroy “Satchel” Paige room, modeled after the baseball legend’s favorite fishing cabin.
In search of sports history? How about a…
As a result of federally mandated segregation in 1896, African-American baseball leagues began sprouting up nationwide. But it wasn’t until 1920 that a group of team owners met at a Kansas City YMCA and the Negro National League was born. Soon, rival organizations arose and fields brimmed with icons like John “Buck” O’Neil, the nimble first baseman, and Oscar Charleston, whose home run record scored him comparisons to Babe Ruth. Though all the leagues folded by the early ’60s, their stories live on at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Eye autographed baseballs, game-worn uniforms, and hundreds of vintage photos before venturing onto a scaled–down baseball diamond, where 12 bronze sculptures of Negro League greats stand forever poised for the game.
Drunken Fish Sushi in a stylish setting is the theme at this eatery in the buzzing Power and Light District. Inventive rolls range from “Mango” to “B.L.T.”
National World War I Museum Peruse more than 75,000 wartime artifacts, including uniforms and weapons, then trek to the top of the 217-foot-high Liberty Memorial tower.
Let the youngsters lead the way on a…
Ever wonder what happens to the leftover ribbons, bows, and paper used in making Hallmark cards and products? The Kansas City–based company donates its extra materials to Kaleidoscope, a children’s art center where youngsters can create their own masterpieces during free family art sessions held throughout the day. Once the glue has dried, make your way to Sea Life, the city’s aquarium, to spy on blacktip reef sharks and octopuses (did you know their boneless bodies can squeeze through quarter-size holes?), then continue your jaunt next door at the country’s newest Legoland Discovery Center, where aspiring architects can see how the colorful bricks are made, watch a 4D movie, and build their own tower. Next up: a good night’s sleep.
Treat yourself to a stop at…
Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen Take your pick from the ever-changing menu of reds and whites while relaxing on the intimate patio.
Manifesto Guests of this speakeasy-style cocktail bar, located in the basement of the Rieger Hotel, must call or text for reservations to receive the password for entering.
Satisfy your inner Picasso with an…
If the Beaux-Arts exterior doesn’t get your creative pulse pumping, one look inside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art should do the trick. Home to more than 33,000 works ranging from classic to modern, this grand structure is especially rich in its European, Asian, and photography collections. Marvel at 17th-century oil paintings by Rembrandt and admire ancient Chinese ceramics, then make a beeline to the architecturally stunning Bloch Building to scope out the rotating collection of photos that includes shots from as far back as 1839 (through September 2, see Timothy O’Sullivan’s works from the American West.) “I want people to use the museum to find pleasure,” says Julián Zugazagoitia, director and CEO. Trust us, that won’t be a problem.
Pay a visit to…
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Home to KC’s Symphony and Ballet, this year-old structure also hosts choral, comedy, and Broadway shows.
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art Art addicts can also browse the esteemed Oppenheimer collection, a riveting stock of 100 works by emerging and established artists.
Let your tastebuds lead the way on a…
However you slice it, Kansas City has some of the best barbecue around. With more than 100 restaurants serving the slow-cooked delicacy, this city’s ‘cue is distinguished by its tomato-based sauces and variety of bases (pork, beef, chicken, turkey, and sometimes fish). Lead your empty stomach to Oklahoma Joe’s, but don’t let its location disenchant you. Situated inside a gas station, this famed eatery is known for its brisket—smoked for about 17 hours. To see where celebs like Jack Nicholson dine when they’re in town, swing by the cafeteria-style Arthur Bryant’s, known for a secret sauce involving vinegar and paprika. If fancier digs are more your style, slide into a cozy leather booth at Jack Stack Barbecue and ponder the art of smoked goodness—a true KC masterpiece.
Getting There Fly into Kansas City International Airport (MCI), about 20 miles north of downtown.
Getting Around For downtown exploring, hitch a ride on the Metro Area Express, the city’s bus system ($3 for a day pass). If your travels take you farther, renting a car is your best option. visitkc.com
Getting Out Autograph signings are among the fun-filled events fans can enjoy in the days before Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game July 10 at Kauffman Stadium.
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