Arriving early on a Friday evening permits the opportunity to check into your hotel and not have to miss an evening in cultural and cosmopolitan Kansas City, Mo. First you’ll want to experience the culinary king of KC, barbecue. Try the third-generation-perfected barbecue at Gates Bar-B-Q or the Zagat-praised Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue. Feel free to indulge, because you can work off some of dinner’s calories at some of the highest energy nightlife venues in the city afterward. Dance at Marquee in downtown’s Power & Light District or enjoy a classic cocktail at the deliciously old-school speak-easy-inspired Manifesto in the Crossroads District. Czar Bar on Grand Boulevard downtown features live music and DJs in an environment both intimate and energetic. If your nocturnal travels take you to Westport late, check out the wine flights and eclectic menu at Firefly Lounge.
Grab breakfast Saturday morning at your hotel or enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at Happy Gillis or the equally friendly Cook Shack Café. You’ll need your strength for the day’s whirlwind tour of the city. Strategically map out the best route to visit Kansas City’s most colorful sites, such as the Jesse James Farm & Museum, Arabia Steamboat Museum, National Frontier Trails Center and Fort Osage National Historic Landmark. For high culture, the American Jazz Museum is a must-see, and you will want to stroll the Crossroads Arts District to get a look into the vibrant art heart of KC. Don’t miss The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. For an indulgent Saturday night dinner, pull yourself away from iconic barbecue and instead consider The American Restaurant, Kansas City’s only Mobil Four-Star Restaurant, or the acclaimed Progressive American culinary stylings at Bluestern. Your must-see evening jazz crawl should include visits to The Blue Room and The Phoenix Jazz Club. Definitely end up at midnight at the Mutual Musicians Foundation for the historic venue’s weekend “The 12 O’clock Jump” live radio program and general bacchanalia.
Sunday morning after breakfast, see the sites you missed on Saturday, plus the new handsome Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and check and see if any of the numerous annual festivals are underway. Otherwise wind down your visit with shopping at the City Market or Country Club Plaza, lunch and a farewell to KC.
Kansas City has a broad range of accommodation types, including these options.
The Raphael Hotel is conveniently located in the Plaza district and renowned for quality of service and simple elegance. www.raphaelkc.com
The Hyatt Regency Crown Center is a traditional full-service hotel catering to conference guests, so it’s also buoyed by excellent staff, an impressive array of services and amenities and immaculate rooms. Grab an upper floor room for a terrific city view. http://crowncenter.hyatt.com
Q Hotel & Spa is Kansas City’s inclusive “green” hotel located in the heart of the city and complete with free amenities such as parking, wi-fi, yoga, breakfast, evening drinks and shuttle service to area attractions. Affordable accommodations range from clean and simple to the stellar Special Occasion Suite. www.theqhotel.com
Kansas City has been dubbed “Paris of the Plains” as well as the “City of Fountains” for its 200-plus fountains located around the city. Situated opposite of Kansas City, Kan., the surprisingly cosmopolitan city is well-known for its contributions to the musical styles of jazz and blues as well as to cuisine (Kansas City-style barbecue).
Access: Although just a few hours easy drive from most of Oklahoma, Kansas City is also served by most major American carriers via Kansas City International Airport.
Population: Approx. 460,000
Climate: Located not far from the middle of the country and sitting at the confluence of the Missouri River and Kansas River, Kansas City’s weather is entirely seasonal with its most extreme weather at the height of summer and winter.
Main Attraction: Arts and culture abound in the Paris of the Plains, including a new performing arts theater, numerous art and history museums and music venues that conjure the original jazz era. Nightlife and dining resemble those of larger, cosmopolitan cities back east.
Shop: For more than 150 years, KC’s City Market has linked local growers and small businesses to city residents. Consider a weekend morning visit for a vibrant farmers market, but there are also numerous fulltime vendors.
Eat: The Golden Ox (www.goldenox.com) is Kansas City’s most famous steakhouse and conjures memories of when KC was home to the second largest stockyards in the country (after Chicago).
Fest: Beginning in September and running for almost three months, American Royal is an annual celebration originally inspired by agriculture but now encompassing everything from a launch parade to equestrian events, shows, balls and special events that accentuate KC and Great Plains life and history.