Journeys: Kansas City

Kansas City is the perfect spot for trips, art, and of course—barbecue
The Crossroads neighborhood in Kansas City


Since Netflix-original Queer Eye featured Kansas City in its latest season, my friends have asked a lot of questions about my home city. I turn into a bit of a tour guide, rambling off suggestions and travel tips. For binge watchers and weekend travelers alike, KC is full of attractions and quirks.

First of all, there’s two cities: Kansas City, MO, and Kansas City, KS. The Missouri side contains most of the spots. Kansas has the professional soccer club Sporting Kansas City and some shopping, but the majority is east of the state line.

At the base of Kansas Citians’ food pyramid is barbecue, made with lots of dry rub and minimal sauce. No one is in agreement on the best ‘cue in the city. So try the following: Joe’s KC, Q39, and Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue (the original is in Martin City, MO). Joe’s has expanded beyond its original gas station location, but I prefer to get my pulled pork in the quirky place where it began. Q39 serves up burnt ends with a side of apple slaw and hipster flair. Jack Stack serves up barbecue chicken with a touch of class in a unique location. All three offer a different experience and juicy barbecue.

Twenty-somethings especially enjoy the scene at local breweries and tailgates before baseball games. Since the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015, a younger vibe has swept through the city. Popular districts are Power & Light, the Crossroads, and Westport. Expect a music scene with small venues along with Sprint Center, a 18,972 seat arena in Power & Light. Westport has a collection of compact bars and restaurants and stays busy throughout the night. The Crossroads is an artsy district that attracts large crowds on “First Fridays,” a monthly event bringing food trucks, art, and one-of-a-kind finds.

Family life is also thriving in the city. I never see more strollers than when I’m in Brookside, a charming neighborhood with restaurants and local shops. Popular attractions for kids are in Crown Center and Union Station. There’s a hands-on science museum inside this old-school train depot as well as rotating kid-friendly exhibits. Crown Center has a large store dedicated to Crayola as well as many shops for you.

Across from Union Station sits the National WWI Museum and Memorial. A ticket gets you a pass through an engaging, educational museum and a ticket to the best view in the city. An elevator takes visitors to the top of the Liberty Memorial, and it is one of the most photographed spots of the skyline.

If you’ve ever seen badminton associated with Kansas City, it’s because of the 18-feet-tall shuttlecocks on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It’s a great spot for a picnic before perusing the art inside. If you are interested in Asian culture, the collections here are for you.

There’s more gems to discover in this Midwestern city. Grab a group for a relaxed weekend trip six hours south.