Deep in the heart of the Midwest, amid rolling hills and miles of tree-lined boulevards lies Kansas City. Known as the “The City of Fountains,” due to its more than 200 water-spraying wonders, second only to Rome, Italy, this former cattle town straddles both Kansas and Missouri, divided by a street appropriately named State Line Road.
Over the years, KC (as locals call it) has been known for its barbecue, jazz and blues, strip steaks and stockyards, but today the area has a lot to offer the suburban dweller, outdoor adventurer and city slicker.
Here are 25 things you can do and see while touring this gateway to the west:
1. Visit Lakeside Nature Center and the Kansas City Zoo, play golf and explore more than 1,805 acres in Swope Park, one of the country’s largest city parks. Twice as big as New York’s Central Park!
2. Eat, drink and enjoy live music at KC Live! located in the Power & Light District.
3. Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum and marvel at more than 33,500 objects from ancient times to modern day.
4. Stroll, relax or picnic at Loose Park, a 74-acre natural retreat featuring a fragrant rose garden, scenic walking paths and a tranquil lake.
5. Climb to the top of the Liberty Memorial monument for a 360-degree view of the city and visit the nearby National World War I Museum.
6. Shop, see a movie and grab a bite to eat at Crown Center, the home of Hallmark Cards World Headquarters.
7. Spend the day in Union Station, an historic train station that was once the infamous site of mafia massacres, but is now home to more pleasant restaurants, shops, museum exhibits and Amtrak.
8. Enjoy a brew at Kelly’s Westport Inn, an Irish-themed bar located in the oldest building still standing in Kansas City. The Historic Westport district also offers several venues for live musical entertainment and dining.
9. Shop and dine at the City Market, one of the largest public farmers markets in the Midwest.
10. Do a little Las Vegas-style gambling on one of the riverboat casinos while trolling the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
11. Grab a beer (and a funky T-shirt) at Tomfooleries restaurant and bar on the Country Club Plaza.
12. Enjoy some famous food at Gates Bar-B-Q, the area’s oldest barbecue restaurant, established in 1946.
13. Catch a Broadway show or concert under the stars at the 8,000-seat Starlight Theatre, one of the country’s last remaining outdoor theaters.
14. Enjoy a full bar, classic food and live jazz nightly at Jardines Restaurant and Jazz Club, a cozy little spot with a European feel.
15. Catch a Royals major league baseball game at Kaufmann Stadium or watch the KC Chiefs pro football team at Arrowhead.
16. Savor an aged and hand-cut Kansas City steak at the historic Golden Ox Restaurant, the most famous of the original steakhouses, established in 1949.
17. Examine the papers, books, photos and other historical memorabilia related to the 33rd President Harry Truman in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, located in his hometown of Independence, Missouri.
18. Sit outside and enjoy the sites of the Country Club Plaza while dining and sipping a glass of wine or cup of tea at The Classic Cup Café.
19. View the works of local artists at the Crossroads Art District, featuring more than 70 art galleries, and enjoy numerous restaurants and music venues, located in historic warehouses and industrial buildings.
20. Marvel at more than 900 acres of botanical gardens at Powell Gardens, displaying a variety of plants and flowers year-round.
21. Tour a village of more than 20 historical buildings, dating from 1807 to 1885, on the 80-acre Shoal Creek Living History Museum.
22. See cans of paintbrushes, opened paints and stretched canvas exactly as renowned artist and muralist Thomas Hart Benton left them when he died in his studio in 1975, at the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site.
23. Enjoy fun on the slopes. Ski, snowboard, or go tubing on powdery trails at Snow Creek in Weston, MO, just north of Downtown Kansas City.
24. Explore the many shops and restaurants on Parkville’s Historic Riverfront, and enjoy beautiful architecture and acres of natural parks and walkways just north of Downtown Kansas City.
25. Learn about the birth of jazz in Kansas City at the American Jazz Museum on the famed 18th & Vine. The district also is home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Gem Theater, and the Blue Note.