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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

December 2008 - Kansas City, Missouri

In this issue:

This month we are spending some time in the fun, midwest town of Kansas City, Missouri (not to be confused with twin city Kansas City, Kansas, just across the state line.) Kansas City International Airport (MCI) is the primary airport for western Missouri and the surrounding states of Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. Despite being a major airport, MCI is quaint, extremely easy to navigate and is a quick 20 minute drive to and from downtown Kansas City.

Jazz Musician

Kansas City is a perfect destination for hearing some live Jazz.

Kansas City is best known for three things

  1. Barbecue - It's impossible to visit Kansas City and not get a taste of some good barbeque. Over 200 restaurants serve slow-smoked (up to 18 hours) barbeque with various types of sauces. The barbecue highlight of the year though is the American Royal Barbecue, the kick-off for the American Royal Livestock Show and the largest barbecue in the world with about 500 teams competing in various culinary contests; 2009 will be the 30th annual World Series of Barbecue and will be held October 1-4, 2009.
  2. Jazz - Better yet, there's Kansas City Jazz. While Jazz may not have been birthed in KC, it certainly evolved here. 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District stems back to the 1920's and 30's. The American Jazz Museum is located here and offers extensive exhibits, displays, programs, films, the famous Blue Room jazz club and the Gem Theater (a 500-seat performing arts center). There is also a touching tribute to Kansas City's own jazz musician Charlie Parker.
  3. City of Fountains - Visitors are often surprised to find Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains. There are over 200 stunning fountains across the city. The fountains started out with the purpose of hydrating local animals. Today, these fountains are a staple in the Kansas City scenery.

Tip: You can order a free Kansas City visitors guide - which comes with the DiscoverKC Pass a money-saving pass with offers discounts to attractions, shopping districts and more around Kansas City.

Kansas City Ice Terrace

The Ice Terrace at Crown Center is the perfect place to enjoy the winter season.

Crown of the Town

Crown Center is an 85-acre complex located on the southern edge of downtown Kansas City. Crown Center is almost a city within a city. Offices, shopping and a residential community complete this area of KC. Crown Center Shops offers three levels of shopping and dining. Buildings are interconnected via a covered sky bridge called "The Link" which connects the two Crown Center hotels, the Hyatt Regency, Crown Center Shops and Westin Crown with Union Station. Crown Center Ice Terrace is Kansas City's only public outdoor ice skating rink and has been open all of 36 years (November through March).

Tip: On top of the Hyatt Regency is Skies, Kansas City's only revolving restaurant. It's a terrific place to retire for drinks or dinner and enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the city and downtown skyline after a day of exploring KC.

Tip: The Streetcar Named Desire is bar and restaurant on the first level. The menu offers an assortment of reasonably priced burgers.

The Crown Center area is home to Hallmark Cards. There are free activities hosted by Hallmark including the Hallmark Visitors Center with 14 exhibits. The Timeline exhibit has historical artifacts; one of the most fun attractions is the opportunity to press a button to create a star-shaped bow to take home as a souvenir. Kids love Kaleidoscope, Hallmark's art studio, where children (ages 5 - 12) can get creative during free independent, hands-on art sessions.

Fun Fact: Every Christmas the Mayor's Christmas Tree is displayed at Crown Center - the preceding year's wood is used to make limited-edition ornaments.

Boulevard Brewing Company

Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City's local brewery, offers several seasonal beers and five year-round beers: Pale Ale, Unfiltered Wheat Beer, Lunar Ale, Bully! Porter and Dry Stout. Free Brewery Tours are offered every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at varying times. Call for (required) reservations and tour times: 816-474-7095.

JC Nichols Fountain

The JC Nichols Fountain is just one of many fountains found throughout Kansas City.

Power Light District

The Kansas City Power Light District is an eight-block neighborhood full of fun. It's located in downtown KC and is a destination in itself with restaurants, hotels, shopping, and entertainment. KC Live! is a full block of dining and entertainment including Angles Rock Bar, Gordon Biersch, Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge, Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant and swanky Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge (bowling alley).

Nelson-Atkins Art Museum

The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum is a Kansas City treasure. Amazingly, admission is always free. There are 34,500 pieces in the Nelson-Atkins collection ranging through various eras - extending over 5,000 years. (My favorite is found outside on the museum's grounds: oversized badminton birdie sculptures.) There are two restaurants: The Café offers seasonal terrace seating which overlooks the museum's entry plaza and the buffet-style service Rozzelle Court Restaurant, with its stunning open-air Italian courtyard setting.

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Exchange homes and save on accommodation costs.

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

All photos courtesy of the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association

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