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What to do in Kansas City?

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Kansas City in 2012

Boulevard Brewing Company_039_AA.jpgDeclaring it "a hotbed for high culture," Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine has named Kansas City one of its Top Budget Travel Destinations for 2012. Here are 10 more reasons to visit Kansas City in the New Year.

1. All eyes turn to Kauffman Stadium next July, as KC welcomes the Major League Baseball All-Star Game for the first time in 38 years. Fans new and old will enjoy a week's worth of festivities, including a massive FanFest at the KC Convention Center.

2. This fall, Travel + Leisure's readers crowned Kansas City as America's #1 Affordable Getaway. Explore KC's many free attractions, including factory tours at Hallmark Cards, Harley-Davidson and Boulevard Brewing Co.   

3. As the world pauses to reflect on the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic, Union Station will pay tribute to the tragedy with a poignant look at the ship and its passengers. "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition" will feature more than 300 relics from the ship and its debris field (March 3-Sept. 3).

Kauffman Exterior Small4. A cornerstone of KC's cultural renaissance, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opened this fall to national acclaim. Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the $413 million facility is KC's new address for ballet, symphony, opera and more.

5. The five-year commemoration for the Civil War's 150th Anniversary continues in 2012. Situated between pro and anti-slavery forces, the Kansas City region has several ties to the turbulent time period. In fact, the largest battle west of the Mississippi River was fought in KC's Westport neighborhood in 1864.

6. Known as the College Basketball Capital of America, Kansas City hosts more college basketball tournament games than anywhere else in the country each March. In 2012, the total comes to 63 games in just 14 days.

7. Crown Center-home to Hallmark Cards-will soon unveil the city's first aquarium, SEA LIFE Kansas City. Making a splash this April, the facility will house more than 30 displays of diverse marine Sea Life Sharklife-everything from starfish and seahorses to sharks and rays.

8. Brick by brick, Crown Center is building America's fourth LEGOLAND Discovery Center, debuting this May. Based on the ever-popular LEGO toys, the attraction will feature a 4-D theatre, master building classes, a LEGO ride and more.

9. The Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway will debut this February with 2,000 slot machines and 52 table games. The entire 100,000-square-foot complex will overlook turn two of the racetrack.  

10. Before you vote, revisit one of America's most prolific presidents. Candidates from both parties are quoting Harry S. Truman on the campaign trail. Learn about the tumultuous events of his presidency at his museum in nearby Independence, Mo.

Picture Your self in Kansas City

By Darren Mark

Spoiler alert.

The Bloch BuildingYou won't find the Eiffel Tower in Kansas City. Same goes for the Stature of Liberty. Sorry, America, but those attractions are elsewhere.

But here's a curious thought: We're okay with it.

Those intrepid travelers who vacation here embrace an incredible process of discovery. For tourists, a visit to KC means uncovering an incredible shopping district, a world-class museum, or a James Beard Award-winning restaurant-each bursting with a where-have-you-been-all-my-life appeal.

It's that magic factor that makes outsiders feel a kinship to this place, as if they're in on a fabulous secret: Kansas City is a rock star's paradise, hidden under a cozy blanket of Midwestern humility.

Liberty Memorial_048_AA.jpgAnd there's that process of discovery. Outsiders before; insiders forever after.

So it's understandable when out-of-towners reveal that a visit to Kansas City is difficult to imagine. Sure, the city is finding more national attention thanks to attractions like the National World War I Museum and the bulked-up Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, but for many, the picture is still unclear.

So to those cataractous travelers, a suggestion: Jump into our world, exhume the Kodak moment, and picture yourself in Kansas City.

Picture 1: The Country Club Plaza

Country Club Plaza_121_AA.jpgMake no mistake: this isn't a golf course strip mall. Known as "The Plaza", this 55-acre site is Kansas City in her most glamorous pose-hair "did", makeup flawless, acrylics polished. Speaking of poses, pose in front of the designed-in-Paris J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain for a snapshot, grab your credit card(s), and work it!

Picture 2: Union Station

Union Station_014_AA.jpg

Romantics treasure the scale and polish of this Beaux Arts beauty. Cynics love its gritty past, and its custom-fitted connection to the Prohibition-era '30s thanks to gangster, Pretty Boy Floyd. Whatever version you want, the second-largest working train station in the country has something for everyone. Pose on the grass patch below neighboring Liberty Memorial and proceed inside. Single file, of course.

  • Don't miss Art of the Chopper this first-of-its-kind exhibition includes 30 "rolling sculptures" along with portraits of the
    builder/artists and information about the science and art behind these motorcycles.
  • Art of the Chopper will be on display from June 24th through September 25th, 2011 at Union Station. .

Picture 3: Boulevard Brewing Co.

Boulevard Brewing Company_034_AA.jpgHold the mighty smokestack in the palm of your hand as you picture yourself in front of the incredible Boulevard Brewery, a veritable temple for the brew-loving men and women of this free nation. Who's up for a feel-good fist bump?! (Anyone?)

  • No Kidding: 16th largest brewery in the U.S.
  • No Bill: Drink up an extended tour schedule, featuring free guided tours every day but Tuesday. Reservations required.
  • No Joke: Savor the brewery's ever-evolving line of sophisticated craft beers called the Smokestack Series. Enjoy limited addition runs like the fabulously complex Chocolate Ale, Saison-Brett, and Rye on Rye.

Picture 4: CommunityAmerica Ballpark & LIVESTRONG Sporting Park

Kansas City WizardsCalling Kansas City "Title Town" doesn't make you a liar. It doesn't make you an optimist either. You're just calling it like it is, thanks to the efforts of Kansas City's other sports teams, the Kansas City T-Bones and Sporting Kansas City (formerly known as the Kansas City Wizards). Grab a snapshot with your favorite player, then take your seat for a memorable night.

 Kansas T-Bones

  • Field of the Year, 2010
  • 2008 Northern League champions
  • Catch future major leaguers before they hit the big time
  • Enjoy pre-game autograph sessions, post-game fireworks (selected dates only) and unique promotions. Visit for information.
  • Family-friendly pricing includes great deals on tickets and concessions.  

Sporting Kansas City 

  • Kansas City's other major league professional sports club, Sporting Kansas City are one of Major League Soccer's 16 teams.
  • The new $200 million LIVESTRONG Sporting Park opened June 9, 2011, combining the best attributes of European and South American soccer stadia with the modern fan amenities.
  • Winner of the 2000 MLS cup
  • Home to internationally-renown "football" stars, as well as hometown heroes.

Picture 5: Snag a pic with a culinary rock star

Chef Debbie GoldSure, Kansas City is home to celebrities, and lucky for you, many of them happen to live in the kitchens of the city's best restaurants. Can't snag that shot with your favorite Royals or Chiefs player? No problem. Grab a bite, take a picture and leave happy.

  • Debbie Gold (pictured right): She's the city's first chef to appear on a national reality show. In May 2010, Gold debuted on Bravo's Top Chef Masters representing the restaurant that doubles as her canvas, Kansas City's The American Restaurant. Enjoy sophisticated dining (while overlooking Crown Center and downtown Kansas City) at the hands of this James Beard Award-winning chef.
  • Colby Garrelts (pictured below right): Over the last five years, he's made cameos on the cover of Food and Wine magazine, and on the front page of the New York Times dining section. This spring, Garrelts finds Chef Colby Garreltsout if "5" is his lucky number, as he competes for the title of James Beard's "Best Chef Midwest" for the fifth year in a row. Check out his restaurant, Bluestem, and enjoy multi-course fare in the dining room, or an unbelievable, value-oriented happy hour in the bar.
  • Michael Smith: Escape to Europe, if only for the night, and celebrate the city's best tapas at Extra Virgin, one of Smith's two restaurants in Kansas City. Smith, a James Beard Award-winner, as well as a Beard semifinalist this year for best chef in the U.S., embraces Mediterranean cuisine with expertly grilled meats and seafood, as well as finely edited selections of cured meats and cheeses.
  • Stretch: This sculptor-turned-restaurateur is a budding icon in Kansas City. His appearances on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition set the stage for a growing celebrity that landed him on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and most recently, the Food Network's Guy's Big Bite. His restaurant, Grinders, is a fixture with anyone who loves Philly cheesesteak, off-the-wall pizza combos and tater tots.

Dining 101

KC's Favorite Foods

KC knows how to eat. And with dining options to suit any palette, KC can cook up whatever you have a taste for. The specialty is always barbecue, which is served up at more than 100 restaurants. You'll also find innovative culinary creations from restaurants that have earned national reputations, as well as favorites from nearly every ethnic origin.


Slow smoked for up to 18 hours. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb…you name it. Burnt ends are a local favorite.


Kansas City Stockyards are gone, but the tradition of great beef remains. Try the Kansas City Strip-some might mistakenly call it a New York Strip, until you've had the KC version.

Fine Dining

Innovative cuisine abounds. Chef Celina Tio at the American Restaurant was named 2007 Best Chef Midwest by the James Beard Foundation and Colby Garrelts of Bluestem was also nominated.

Soul Food

Try the fried chicken, sweet potato cornbread or peach cobbler at restaurants like the Peachtree or The Mango Room, which also offers Caribbean flavors.

Mexican & Southwest

With a growing Latino community, you'll find a number of Mexican restaurants along Southwest Boulevard. Tex-Mex, Mexican, Spanish and tapas.


KC has you covered from upscale to family style, traditional pasta to Northern Italian. Garrozo's serves up a KC favorite, chicken spedini, and Lidia's offers dishes by renowned chef Lidia Bastianich.

And More

Find casual diners, burger joints, kid-friendly cafes or great world flavors from French, Middle Eastern or Ethiopian to Chinese, Indian or other Asian fare.

Bon appetit!