Kansas City is nothing like the cow town many imagine it to be. From its sprawling suburbs to its big-city skyline, this charming, hospitable place offers visitors plenty to see and do.
The booming Northland provides many visitors with their first glimpse of Kansas City. The city's largest airport, Kansas City International, is situated in this area, while rolling hills and farmland are just minutes away. Several hotels, including the Kansas City Airport Hilton and Embassy Suites Hotel KCI Airport, are within walking distance of the airport and offer easy access to I-435.
A booming economy has made the Northland an area of widespread growth, with new houses and businesses popping up regularly. Visitors staying close to the airport do not have to venture far in search of fun. The area is packed with shopping centers, strip malls and restaurants, including Jazz, Chappell's Restaurant & Sports Museum, Smokehouse Barbecue North and Stroud's Restaurant.
Kansas City's impressive downtown skyline can be seen from most surrounding suburbs. Its tall buildings cast reflections on the nearby Missouri River and draw travelers to this central location. The recent renovation of Union Station and the River Market, along with the addition of Science City and the ongoing popularity of Crown Center, has energized the area. Fine dining establishments include the American Restaurant, Hereford House Restaurant and Lidia's Kansas City.
A number of historic hotels, including the Westin Crown Center Hotel and the Hotel Savoy, have made downtown a magnet for travelers. Sightseers wishing to step back in time can do so at the 18th & Vine District, the American Jazz Museum, the Black Archives of Mid-America or the Toy & Miniature Museum.
Charming and classy yet avant-garde is a good description for the popular Country Club Plaza and Westport areas, two contemporary districts that play host to entertainment seekers. The Plaza, America's first shopping mall, draws thousands of visitors annually thanks to its high-class shopping district, breathtaking Spanish colonial architecture and varied dining options such as Californos, Gates Barbecue, Grand St. Cafe and Figlio Italian Restaurant and Bar. Luxurious hotels and historic bed-and-breakfasts are within walking distance, with many offering magnificent views. During the holiday season, the Plaza is aglow with thousands of lights, bathing the sea of festive shoppers who flock there in twinkling white. Nearby Westport, a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, is best known for its contemporary clubs and restaurants. Both districts attract Gen-Xers as well as Baby Boomers, so no one should feel out of place.
Kansas City, Kansas
Like its Missouri neighbor, Kansas City, Kansas (known as KCK) is a place on the move. The Woodlands Racetrack, along with various shopping and dining establishments, attracts visitors from the metro and surrounding areas. Fun, family events, like the Kansas City Renaissance Festival make KCK a popular year-round destination for all ages.
Johnson County Johnson County, KCK's southern neighbor, is also growing, with new businesses and residential neighborhoods sprouting up everywhere. The area has a reputation as a classy place both to live in and to visit. Public venues, such as Town Center Plaza and Oak Park Mall, are always bustling with action. Like downtown, Johnson County is a hub for business, with several new office complexes, which have bolstered the area's economy. The plentiful accommodations here include the Overland Park Marriott, in addition to a variety of charming smaller hotels. East Metro
The stadiums that house the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals can be found in the East Metro District. If there is one thing that riles Kansas Citians most, it is their beloved Chiefs. Most NFL stadiums pale in comparison to Arrowhead, where excitement and explosive fan support bring the venue to life when the Chiefs are in town. For baseball fans, there's Kauffman Stadium, home of the Royals.
For those wishing to forego sports and opt instead for a slice of history, Independence is worth a stop. This historic town is the birthplace of former President Harry S. Truman and is home to the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum and a host of other historic points of interest, including the Vaile Victorian Mansion and the Bingham-Waggoner Estate.
The East Metro area offers great places to stay, including the Holiday Inn Sports Complex and the Woodstock Inn Bed and Breakfast. Stephenson's Old Apple Farm Restaurant and LC's Barbecue provide a taste of Kansas City cooking for those seeking a down-home dining experience.
South Kansas City
Like its northern counterpart, South Kansas City is experiencing growth in both the business and residential sectors. Locals and travelers alike enjoy dining at the many area restaurants, including the 75th Street Brewery, the Guadalajara Cafe and the locally renowned EBT Restaurant.
Travelers in search of entertainment can make a stop at Swope Park, which provides fun for all ages. The Kansas City Zoological Park makes for an enjoyable day trip. Finally, the open-air Starlight Theatre offers an array of theatrical productions during warm weather months.