Kansas City: more to do than just eat great barbecue!

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

The largest city in Missouri, Kansas City borders Kansas on the western part of the state.  Far beyond its reputation as a destination for barbecue lovers, the city offers a surprising cultural diversity in its museums, music scene, vibrant neighborhoods and performing arts venues.  Its museums in particular cover a fascinating range of historical, artistic and musical genres and are must-see points of interest on any itinerary.

Guest Blogger: Tod Hughes, Tasteful Detours

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Hart Benton Home

Art, History and Jazz on display at Kansas City Museums

History buffs will want to visit one of several great local museums, including the expansive World War I museum perched on a hillside across from Union Station with great vistas of downtown.  Hear the unforgettable music of jazz greats like Charlie Parker at the American Jazz Museum. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art near Country Club Plaza, which its architects modeled after Seville, Spain, is a world class trove of art. Kansas City’s western heritage is on display at the Arabia Steamboat Museum in the City Market just north of downtown, featuring the full contents of the sunken ship, like a Sears Roebuck store preserved in time from 1856. 

And learn about Harry Truman’s presidential life and times at the Truman Presidential Library Museum in nearby Independence.  Art lovers will enjoy a tour of the Thomas Hart Benton home and studio to learn more about one of America’s great regionalist painters.

Café Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum

Top Dining, Barbecue and Beyond

Any mention of the Kansas City dining scene has to start with great barbecue, but there is so much more than that.  Talented local chefs have trained elsewhere or overseas, then come home to open a wide array of top quality restaurants in KC. There are many quality choices for succulent barbecue in town, but having sampled all around town, I would recommend these as the top three: Q39 in the Westport area, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue in the historic freight yard building near Union Station and Joe’s KC, with its original location in a service station. Venture beyond barbecue and you’ll find great choices such as:

  • Chef Rick Mullins innovative cuisine at Café Sebastienne in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

  • The Power and Light district has some average fare to be sure, but several chains really do provide great meals, including 801 Chop House for steaks, Bristol for  seafood (tough to get good quality in landlocked KC) and the extensive menu at the Yard House.

  • Top farm-to-table experiences can be found at The Farmhouse near City Market and Blue Stem with its tasting menu in Westport.

  • There are are several opportunities to try Ethiopian food in town, including at Mesob, and at the Blue Nile in the City Market.