First time touring the City of Fountains? Whether planning a weeklong vacation or a day trip on the fly, there are a few essentials everyone ought to know during your inaugural journey to Kansas City.
Kansas City is Known for its World-Class Barbecue
Truly. Slow-smoked goodness comes in many forms, but Kansas City style stands alone as one-of-a-kind. Some cook low and slow while others prefer high heat and faster results, but all pay homage to the forbearers of KC’s signature cuisine.
The city’s ‘cue craze can be traced back to Henry Perry, who in the early 1920s started barbecuing in an outdoor pit adjacent to his streetcar barn, serving slabs of meat wrapped in newspaper. Perry’s delicacies became so popular that fans began imitating his technique and style to create their own unique recipes.
Now, Kansas City barbecue enthusiasts can satisfy their cravings at more than 100 mouth-watering barbecue restaurants dotted around the metro.
There are Fountains Everywhere
Seriously. It shouldn’t come as a surprise where KC got its “City of Fountains” nickname. The only other destination that rivals Kansas City for most fountains is Rome.
Stroll through the Country Club Plaza, take in the sights outside Union Station and plenty others in between for some of the most iconic spouts in the city.
The “Paris of the Plains” Lives On
Once known as the “Paris of the Plains” during Prohibition, Kansas City’s rebellious spirit lives on in a cocktail culture that distills drinks into an artform and area breweries that keep customers satisfied with unique and flavorful brews.
Sample the city’s signature sound at jazz clubs around the metro, including The Blue Room and the Green Lady Lounge, or a late-night session at the Mutual Musicians Foundation.
Meanwhile, live music venues like T-Mobile Center and Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland regularly host uber-popular artists, from Drake and Lady Gaga to Chance the Rapper and Paul Simon.
Kansas City is Family-Friendly
From al fresco adventures to indoor entertainment, good eats and more, kids of all ages are welcome in Kansas City.
Head to Crown Center for imaginative adventures at Legoland Discovery Center, Sea Life Aquarium and Kaleidoscope. The Kansas City Zoo is an all-time favorite while The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is filled with wonder.
For thrills, make your way to Worlds of Fun, an amusement park filled with year-round entertainment, including high-speed coasters and unforgettable experiences such as Halloween Haunt and WinterFest.
Museums Reign Supreme in KC
Chart the course of American history at institutions such as the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the National World War I Museum and Memorial and the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, plus other national museums throughout the region.
Those in search of fine art need look no further than The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, two essential KC experiences.
KC Cuisine Features Far More than Barbecue
International flavors, comfort food delights, James Beard dishes and fine-dining experiences are all exemplary standouts in Kansas City’s culinary scene.
Try Manny's Mexican Restaurant for traditional Mexican fare, Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room for a medley of upscale flavors, Rye for down-home specialties and The Antler Room for intimate small plates.
Arts are Essential to KC Culture
The arts continue to shape Kansas City culture, from the maker movement and the 100-plus galleries scattered throughout the Crossroads Arts District to big-time events such as the Plaza Art Fair.
Awe-inspiring performances are the norm at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, home to the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, as well as big tour productions.
Iconic Sights Dot the Metro
There’s always something remarkable to discover in Kansas City. Tour the Country Club Plaza for signature boutiques and high-end shopping, but stick around for the Spanish-inspired architecture, countless fountains and picture-perfect patios.
Meanwhile, visitors find Insta-worthy installations throughout the region, including at local landmarks such as The Scout and Museum at Prairiefire.
Kansas City Loves its Teams
Diamond, pitch, gridiron or racetrack, Kansas City touts a rich athletic history and an even more passionate fan base, regardless of the time of the year or event. Plan on spirited tailgates, uproarious crowds and memories that last a lifetime.
Get to know KC’s sports culture.
- Population: 2.1 million (metro)
- Nicknames: KC, City of Fountains, Paris of the Plains, Heart of America
- Founded: 1838
- Famous Kansas Citians: Full list
For other useful information, check out Visit KC’s official Visitors Guide, a helpful resource for newcomers.
33 Free Things to Do in Kansas City
For sightseers in search of inexpensive adventures, the Kansas City metro is full of so many free things to do and see. Explore the City of Fountains with these 33 free activities that offer something for everyone.
Making the Most of your Event Along the KC Streetcar Line
Free to ride and connecting some of the city’s most vibrant districts, the streetcar transforms ordinary events and helps shape memorable experiences.
Kansas City is the Barbecue Capital of the World
“Kansas City” and “barbecue” have been synonymous for over 100 years. Today, barbecue still stands as the city’s signature cuisine. So much so, that it attracts people from all over the world who just have to see and taste it for themselves.
A Beer Drinker's Guide to Kansas City
Stop and listen, and you might notice something in Kansas City. The crescendoing sound you hear is a harmonious mix of boiling wort, clinking glasses and popped bottle caps that indicates something special: a beer revolution.