Frommer’s just released their list of Top Destinations for 2012. The only US city to make the list was Kansas City, Missouri. Another reason to love KC? Travel + Leisure named it #10 for affordable cities and #11 for fall travel destinations. Looking for a reason to visit Kansas City? Here are 5 Things you won’t want to miss at this top destination.
1. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a general art museum with more than 33,000 pieces. The BBC called it one of the “world’s most beautiful museums” for its mix of the 1930s neoclassical building with the contemporary additions surrounding it. If you think the outside is a work of art, the contents inside are just as amazing. The art ranges from ancient to modern, African to American Indian. They have a wide range of temporary exhibits, right now they are featuring George Ault, Romare Bearden, Landscapes, and an amazing exhibit called After Ghostcatching. The museum is free though special exhibits may have a small fee to visit. Outside there’s a beautiful sculpture park to explore and relax in.
2. National WWI Museum
The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is a rare monument to World War I. The museum originally opened in 1921 but in 1994 the building was so deteriorated it had to close. Keeping the legacy alive, Kansas City had a new museum built and restored with new artifacts added. The museum was so thorough at discussing the history of the war and those in it that in 2004 it was designated by Congress as the United States’ official World War I Museum.
Inside the museum you’ll see history from 1914 to the war’s end in 1919 and even the lasting legacy of WWI. One exhibit shows what a real trench looked like while others show the devastation that the weapons of that era left behind. There are also special exhibits that rotate and display artifacts from other museums around the globe.
3. Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ
It’s said the best BBQ in Kansas City sits inside a gas station. Oklahoma Joe’s is a tiny little roadside stop but that didn’t stop Anthony Bourdain from naming it one of his 13 Places to Eat Before You Die. For an authentic Kansas City barbecue experience, make sure to get brisket, ribs, burnt ends, coleslaw, and fries.
4. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum/American Jazz Museum
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum covers the history of baseball for African-American players, specifically from the 1800s through the 1960s. Audio by James Earl Jones conveys just how far discrimination went in baseball. Videos show examples of regular behavior during the segregation era. The exhibit seeks to show the segregation of baseball by keeping visitors behind fencing for part of the tour. Over 100 years of history including the Negro Leagues are covered. Statues, displays, and music all set the stage for the exhibits in the museum. Like so many museums, Jackie Robinson’s legacy is discussed but the museum goes beyond Robinson showing how baseball was shaped by so many of that era.
Inside the same building you’ll find the American Jazz Museum. The museum focuses on the preservation, exhibition, and advancement of jazz. Artists like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and hometown legend Charlie Parker all feature in the exhibits here. While this is a museum, it also has performance space for local and national performers.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium is the home to the Kansas City Chiefs. During the football game it’s the loudest stadium in the NFL. Right now the team is tied for first in the AFC West after an amazing overtime victory on Monday Night Football this week. If noise isn’t your thing, you can take a quiet tour where you’ll see the stadium’s newest features, a short video, and even inside the locker rooms.