Top 10 Reasons to Visit Kansas City in 2013
In 2012, Budget Travel magazine named Kansas City one of its Top 10 Budget Travel Destinations for 2012, touting the region as a “hotbed for high culture.”
Here are 10 reasons why the excitement for Kansas City will continue well into
the New Year.
• Travel + Leisure recently crowned Kansas City America's #1 Affordable Getaway. And what's more affordable than free? Kansas City offers more than 30 attractions at no cost—including one of the nation's largest monthly art walks (First Fridays), three acclaimed art museums and factory tours at Hallmark Cards, Harley-Davidson and Boulevard Brewing Co.
• Talk about cool. Just a few years after adding a top polar bear exhibit, the Kansas City Zoo is at it again—this time with a $15 million penguin attraction. Scheduled for completion in late 2013, the Helzberg Penguin Plaza will feature feathered friends of both cold and warm climates, complete with kid-friendly reviews, a 100,000-gallon pool and a coral reef aquarium.
• The five-year commemoration for the Civil War's 150th Anniversary continues in 2013. 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 in KC's Westport neighborhood in 1864.
• The tallest, fastest and "most extreme" water slide ever built is coming to Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark in summer 2013. A four-person raft ride, the Meg-a-Blaster speed slide will surpass the current record of 134.5 feet tall and speeds of 65.2 mph (opening May 25, 2013).
• Two of Mexico's most celebrated painters, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, will come together next summer for a new exhibit at KC's Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Through more than 100 paintings, sculptures and photographs, visitors will experience an exceptional private collection that highlights Mexico's past and underscores how the country's traditions remain inventive and vital today (May 25-Aug. 18, 2013).
• 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 2013, the whopping total comes to 66 teams and 58 games in just 12 days. The National Collegiate Athletics Association will celebrate 75 years of March Madness in 2013, and KC is set to host the Second and Third Rounds of the Division I Men's Basketball Championship (March 22 & 24, 2013).
• Praised for bartending excellence and its "friendly, approachable vibe," the Chicago Tribune recently tapped KC as "America's Next Great Cocktail City." While the cocktail revolution here seems to be newly rising to prominence, it's really just a resurgence of the culture that developed here during KC's Prohibition-era, speakeasy years. The "proof" of the city's dedication to the spirits is the annual Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival, a multi-day celebration of cocktails, food, history and culture in the Midwest.
• Worlds of Fun will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2013 with a major expansion to its waterpark Oceans of Fun. A new high-thrill, 65-foot slide tower will be the epicenter for six new slides—three of which are Aqua Launch chamber slides, where the floor suddenly drops out, sending riders on a high-speed, near-vertical drop and a series of loops and S-curves. Also new in 2013: two great parks for one great price, allowing every guest access to 235 acres of family thrills.
• Worlds of Fun isn't the only attraction celebrating a big anniversary in 2013. Other major milestones in 2013 include: the luxurious Westin Crown Center (40 years), the beautiful Powell Gardens (30 years) and family-friendly Shatto Milk Company (30 years). It's also been 25 years since archeologists uncovered an 1856 steamboat in a Kansas farm field, later becoming the inspirational story behind the Steamboat Arabia Museum.
• Finally, mark your calendars for April and May, when two month-long designations honor Kansas City's most treasured traditions. Celebrated for the first time ever in 2013, April is International Jazz Appreciation Month. Learn about the art form's rich legacy at the American Jazz Museum (the only museum in the country dedicated to the genre). Following right behind, May is National Barbecue Month—and when it comes to 'cue, Kansas City boasts more restaurants per capita than any other city. Visit well-known joints like Gates and Arthur Bryant's. For something different try barbecue breakfast at Southmoreland on the Plaza or vegan barbecue at FüD.