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Why Go to Kansas City

Kansas City is a friendly place, filled with salt-of-the-earth Midwesterners who smile at strangers as they pass them on the streets. But KC is also cool: The Power & Light District brims with trendy bars and restaurants and equally trendy 20- and 30-somethings. The city's cultural, too, with some surprisingly great museums like the Nelson-Atkins. Plus, the city's history – as a trading post in 1821 and an important stopover on the Oregon Trail in the early 1800s – gives it an interesting narrative. You can view parts of this history at the National World War I and Arabia Steamboat museums. The city's jazz and barbecue are just about unparalleled, but Kansas City has also successfully delved into other types of music and food (more on that in the dining section). And just so you won't be confused, Kansas City straddles both the Show-Me State of Missouri and the Sunflower State of Kansas. If you're a tourist, you'll probably be spending most of your time on the Missouri side since that's where most of the city's top attractions can be found.

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Best of Kansas City

Kansas City Travel Tips

What You Need to Know

  • Barbecue rules Kansas City's signature barbecue style is a slow-smoked, dry-rubbed meat and its sauces are typically tomato- or molasses-based with tangy, spicy and sweet flavor notes. You've got to sample some signature KC barbecue when you're in town.
  • Bring comfy shoes The Power & Light District, Westport and Country Club Plaza areas of the city were made for walking. Pencil in some time to stroll around and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Keep an eye on the weather Kansas City sees everything from extreme heat to tornadoes to vicious thunderstorms. Check the weather before your trip and plan accordingly.

How to Save Money in Kansas City

  • Trade four wheels for two Kansas City offers a bike-share program, B-cycle, which is a good option for getting around to see the top attractions and exploring the neighborhoods. The first 30 minutes of usage are free, then it's $2 per half hour after. Multiday options are also available.
  • Collect coupons The city's tourism board website offers coupons with deals on everything from hotel stays to family-friendly attractions. Local blog Kansas City on the Cheap is another great resource to check for discounts and deals on activities, meals and more.
  • Find free things to do Many of Kansas City's popular attractions are free. Wander around Westport, check out interesting outdoor art or hop on a free brewery tour.

What to Eat

Kansas City is home to some tasty cuisine, including its signature barbecue. In Kansas City, expect everything and anything to be barbecued: basically, no meat is off-limits (chicken, pork, ribs, beef brisket, ham, turkey, sausage and so on). Typically, the meat gets a spice rub treatment and then is slow-roasted over aromatic wood like hickory. Sauces vary by establishment but are usually thick, sweet, spicy and tangy all at the same time. Kansas City natives and travelers say some of the best spots to go are Danny Edwards Boulevard BBQ, Arthur Bryant's Barbeque, Jack Stack Barbecue and Char Bar.

Once you tire of finger lickin' good barbecue, head to one of KC's casual eateries or upscale dining options. The Farmhouse and Providence New American Kitchen receive praise for their affordable prices and farm-to-table fare while Novel and Bluestem restaurants earn rounds of applause for their decadent multicourse prix-fixe meals.

And don't forget about beverages. Kansas City boasts a growing craft beer scene and its hometown brewery, Boulevard Brewing Company, is one of the top brewpub operations in the Midwest. Locals say you should sample the "Thundercloud" – its version of a black and tan with the brewery's dry stout and wheat beers. Julep Cocktail Club, Ca Va and Green Lady Lounge are also lauded for their drink options and sophisticated atmospheres, plus Green Lady is a jazz bar with live performances nightly. 

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