Named one of the “Best Trips 2019” by National Geographic Traveler, Kansas City, Missouri, is one of those cities that has everything someone would want in a destination. Full of live entertainment, culinary destinations, museums, outdoor attractions, casinos, and sporting events, Kansas City has no shortage of things to see or do no matter the time of year. And with direct flights to and from over 50 destinations — including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Las Vegas — KC is very accessible from major cities all over North America (and Iceland).
While its world-famous barbecue is one of the city’s big draws, that is only one of distinctions that helps bring over 25 million visitors to the Kansas City region each year. Known in the early 20th century as the “Paris of the Plains,” KC’s 12th Street was a jazz mecca from the Roaring ’20s to the early ’40s; it has since been home to plenty of jazz greats. The city was home to Walt Disney’s first animation studio, continues to be the home of Hallmark, and is continually the host of more college basketball games than anywhere else in the country. And that’s without talking about the Royals, the Chiefs, its 220 parks, 29 lakes, or 134 miles of trails and bikeways.
I had the pleasure of doing a 48-hour trip — Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon — to Kansas City, Missouri this month. I also had the pleasure of doing Q&A with some local experts about their hometown of Kansas City:
What do you enjoy most about Kansas City?
Rachel Bliss: The people and their love for this beautiful city. The energy and excitement for the growth that Kansas City has experienced in the past decade is palpable, and with that, there’s always something new to do/see/experience!
Mindy Hargesheimer: Where do I begin? What surprised me the most about KC when we moved back 3 years ago from Chicago is the hidden cultural gem it is. Whether it is food, festivals, cocktails, music, art exhibits, fashion, or otherwise, my philosophy of Kansas City is when you can’t logistically or financially travel around the world, you can simply make it a point to travel around Kansas City to experience something new, different, ethnic, delicious, colorful, historical, educational, and enlightening.
Kasim J. Hardaway: Kansas City is this bustling place of art, music, food, and innovation. However, it’s not overly-populated or saturated, meaning if you want to start a new venture tomorrow it’s completely achievable.
Petra Kralickova: The people and culture. So much to do all the time, from festivals, exhibitions, great eats, concerts to lectures. Kansas City is a bustling city and you can’t go a day without some amazing fun event happening. And when you go, you will either know “everyone” or surely make new friends. Very friendly and very welcoming vibe.
What do you wish more people knew about Kansas City?
Rachel Bliss: Is it cliché for me to say the arts scene? Because honestly, KC has one of the best in the country. Whether it’s performance art, visual art, fine art, etc. There’s such an expanse of theatres, galleries and more.
Mindy Hargesheimer: How many great things there actually are in this landlocked city to do and LOVE here! I manage @kansascitybucketlist on Instagram, which is an all-encompassing Lifestyle & Culture Guide to experiencing Kansas City inside and out. What people aren’t aware of is the plethora of options we have as a huge up and coming culinary hub, fashion district, coffee culture, arts and music scene, stunning art museums and exhibits, and a city with 3 major sports teams to get passionate about. Not even our residents are aware of the incredible market this is, and I am hyper-passionate about spreading the word to help people live their most fulfilling life… There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how I can pursue something new and fulfilling in my surroundings and document it through my love of photos and writing.
Kasim J. Hardaway: While we are well-known for our BBQ, Kansas City has a very well-represented global food scene.
Ray Doswell: That there are lots of fun, entertaining, and educational activities in Kansas City. Just the number of interesting history and art museums/galleries alone can keep someone busy and enlightened for several days.
Petra Kralickova: Visit Kansas City for the fun it has to offer — live shows, sports, museums, and food. Did I mention West Bottoms? Vintage everything with live entertainment and awesome places to eat.
Rachel Bliss: This one’s TOUGH. There are so many incredible restaurants, but my favorite has to be La Bodega. It’s on Southwest Boulevard and is a Spanish-tapas restaurant with great vibes and an awesome patio — if it doesn’t freak you out that the patio is basically under an interstate highway. Other faves: Blue Koi, Beer Kitchen, Q39 (BBQ, of course!). Heirloom Bakery in Brookside is amazing and gets a lot of my money on the way to work. (laughs) And I have to give a shout-out to my neighborhood haunt, Summit Grille in Waldo!
Mindy Hargesheimer: Can I answer ‘No?’ (laughs) Just kidding. I honestly have a really hard time choosing one, much less naming favorites here, because I am one of the biggest food fans around town. That being said, a few of my favorites include Q39, Corvino Supper Club, Gram & Dun, The Antler Room, Parlor Food Hall, Freestyle Poke, and Unforked.
Kasim J. Hardaway: There are absolutely too many to name, but a few that come to mind are Summit Grill, The Reiger, and La Bodega.
Ray Doswell: Kansas City has become a great food town, and not just BBQ. I have been enjoying Baramee Bistro — Thai — in the Crossroads as my current favorite. Jack Stack, however, is my go-to BBQ, but you can’t go wrong with many choices here.
Petra Kralickova: Right now, I quite enjoy two newly-opened restaurants, Ragazza on Main & Fox and Pearl on Summit. However, I crave Vietnam Cafe for its delicious mix of flavors and textures.
Rachel Bliss: Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World at Starlight — it was SUCH a good show!
Mindy Hargesheimer: 311 and Dirty Heads at Providence Amphitheater.
Kasim J. Hardaway: Making Movies.
Ray Doswell: Michael Buble at the Sprint Center Downtown was a great show. Sade before that was even better.
Petra Kralickova: Last month I attended La Frontera at the MTH Theater at Crown Center hosted Ensemble Ibérica with vocalist Mireya Ramos, bands Los Texmaniacs and Making Movies. What fun, impressive line-up, a full stage of talented musicians playing together and loving what they do.
Is there any city in the world that reminds you of Kansas City?
Rachel Bliss: I honestly can’t think of one — Kansas City is one of a kind!
Mindy Hargesheimer: Nope! We are expanding on our own unique identity in incredible ways, thanks to our amazing entrepreneurs and the passionate people who reside here.
Kasim J. Hardaway: I’m fairly-well-traveled in regards to the Midwest and feel as though Kansas City is a gem of its own.
Ray Doswell: I get to travel a lot for work, and I find Kansas City unique. It is truly Midwestern, unpretentious, but full of many great things you can find on either coast, without being overcrowded. The great balance of urban, suburban, and country-living.
Petra Kralickova: I lived in Ohio for some time, so maybe Cincinnati? However, both are quite distinct, which is probably best.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Rachel Bliss: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, whether it be in travel, at work, socially, etc. You will grow the most from the experiences that challenge you. And check out kcstarlight.com for the best shows coming to KC. (laughs)
Mindy Hargesheimer: “Every Day Is On My Bucket List” — a mantra I live by, the basis for my passion for ALL things “EXPERIENTIAL,” and the words that inspired Kansas City Bucket List; IG: @kansascitybucketlist Web: www.kansascitybucketlist.com.
Kasim J. Hardaway: If you want to take a virtual bite out of Kansas City, give me a follow on Instagram at @kasimjhardaway.
Ray Doswell: Music, tech, art, history, and food are all in KC waiting for you!
Petra Kralickova: Kids, don’t grow up too fast… And once you do, and you will, bring your adults to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, known as T/m, to reminisce about your childhood seeing toys you played with and get inspired by fine-scale miniatures made by artists to a perfect 1:12 scale. Big fun for everyone, no matter the age. If I may quote one of our FB fans that wrote: “Best. Museum. In. Town. Period!”
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