Being situated in the middle of the American Heartland, it’s difficult to picture Kansas City as a tourist destination. Yet, this mid-sized American metropolis boasts more fountains than any other city in the world except for Rome, it is a center of jazz music and African-American culture, and it is home to one of the most thrilling (or frightening, depending on your point of view) water slides in the entire world as of this year.
Add all of this to the fact that this city is one of the BBQ hotspots in the nation, and your time in Kansas City will prove to be a pleasure for most, if not all of your senses.
Culture lovers will want to begin their visit to Kansas City by dropping by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. You’ll appreciate this place from the moment of your arrival, as the neoclassical architecture that comprises the outer portion of this art gallery is a work of art in itself, and a series of postmodern giant shuttlecocks (seriously) on the front lawn acts as a jarring contrast to the traditional beauty of the building behind them.
Stepping inside, their Asian art collection is their greatest claim to fame, with its collection of Chinese antique furniture and pottery being especially noteworthy. On top of this, its American paintings, photography, and its sculpture garden outside make this place an anchor in your explorations of Kansas City.
Those that are fascinated by the history of war will want to visit the Liberty Memorial. This monument honors American military members that gave their lives in the First World War.
While this limestone spire is spectacular enough on its own, a museum located within its granite base bring America’s war effort to life with artifacts, live theater shows with period actors, and detailed exhibits that will fill you with knowledge on one of the most brutal wars in world history.
Throughout the history of the USA, Kansas City was a center of African-American culture, a fact which is lovingly preserved by such institutions as the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Situated in the same building in the 18th and Vine District, these sister institutions profile the American history of jazz music and the history of the segregation-era professional baseball league for African-Americans respectively.
The Jazz Museum carries instruments from luminous artists like Charlie Parker and offers an actual jazz club on site (The Blue Room), while the Negro Leagues Museum trumpets the previously ignored accomplishments of talented athletes like Josh Gibson (the so-called Black Babe Ruth) and Satchel Paige (one of the best pitchers in the history of the league, who became the oldest “rookie” in the history of Major League Baseball in 1948), along with game-worn equipment and other artifacts.
Want to ride one of the scariest looking waterslides in the world these days? If you find yourself in Kansas City during the summer, you are in luck, as the Schlitterbahn Water Park is home to the terror that is Verruckt.
Beinga high-speed kamikaze waterslide, those that are foolhardy enough to attempt this beast will rocket down a 168 foot drop at close to 60 miles per hour on the first decline, only to rocket up a second incline that sets you can your friends up for a second 50 foot plunge.
In addition to this insanely popular ride, all the other attractions of a water park are here (wave pool, lazy river, water slides that are much more sane, etc), so be sure to visit if you are sweating bullets in the midst of a punishing Midwestern heat wave.
One of the better places in America to view non-native animals in a conservation focused environment, the Kansas City Zoo is an ideal place to take the family or those interested in exotic creatures.
Many experts in the field have lauded this institution for its collections, with Jane Goodall topping the list with her praise for the Chimpanzee exhibit lauding it as one of the best of its kind in North America.
Before carrying on to other destinations in the Midwest, the Deep South or in the Mountain states to the west, live it up a little in the Power and Light District. Composed of a large number of shops, restaurants and bars, revelers socializing within this area are allowed to consume alcoholic beverages on the street (it remains banned elsewhere in the city), making it a relaxed place to let one’s hair down.