I loved living in Kansas City. There was always an abundance of cultural events to attend, barbecue to devour, art to see, and jazz and blues to enjoy. I lived there for two years and tried to take advantage of all of the opportunities, but I know there were still so many that I missed. The following are a few of my family's and my favorites around town. (There are too many good places to mention!)
The Steamboat Arabia - Hands down, this is my favorite. In short, two families worked to find the location where they believed a store-delivery steamboat became caught on a tree snag in 1856. 123 years later, the river had changed its course and corn fields stood where the river once ran, but the families took a risk and found their treasure. Still filled with goods (perfume, cognac, china, buttons, needles, eyeglasses, umbrellas and so much more) that were intended to be delivered to general stores along the river, the families' finds provide a rare glimpse into American life in the 19th century. DO NOT MISS THIS!
The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum - Known for the unique shuttlecocks (or birdies) on its front lawn, the museum is beautiful, inside and out. (Be sure to visit on a clear day so you can enjoy the sculpture park.) There are so many unique collections to enjoy and separate galleries for locations around the world that you are sure to see art that you'll love - no matter your taste. The staff is extremely involved in the community, and I participated in many of their cultural programs for the area youth. Currently being renovated, with an anticipated unveiling of June 2007, the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum is something I hope to return to see!
Kansas City Zoo - Opened in 1909, this attraction has a rich history. Today, this 202 acre zoo is one of the most unique I've seen. The zoo is divided into continents, featuring animals solely from those areas, and the designers have worked hard to create large habitats natural to each species. Be sure to take time for the zoo AND its surrounding Swope Park, the second largest urban park in the United States. These 1805 acres of historic land feature several golf courses, the zoo, a theatre, several athletic fields and a nature center.
Union Station - When I lived in Kansas City, the Union Station was a big, beautiful but empty building. I would often walk around its perimeter, just wondering about all that happened in the station long ago and what would become of it. I didn't have to wait long, as renovations began soon after my departure from the city, and it's been a hit ever since. Complete with a railway exhibit, restaurants, and theatres (3-D movies & LIVE THEATRE!), the site's main attraction is Science City. Be sure to save time for the planetarium and special historical displays at the Kansas City Museum (affilitated with Union Station) - inside Corinthian Hall, a local mansion.
12th Street & Vine - A trip wouldn't be complete without a stop at this special landmark noted in the tune, "Kansas City." (Kansas City, Kansas City, Here I come.... Standin' on the corner, of 12th Street and Vine....) My parents and I had a fun time tracking this down so we could take a picture of Dad by the street signs. Nearby, don't miss the 18th Street & Vine Historic District. The American Jazz Museum is surrounded by a string of joints that look like they're still jumpin' every night, just like they were back in the 20's, 30's and 40's. The Negro League Baseball Museum preserves the rich history of so many who played America's favorite pasttime but who are often forgotten.
There are too many great sites about which to write...so I won't go on and on. (I just hope our friends Liz and George are beginning to enjoy these now that they're living in K.C.) But, I was SOOOO EXCITED to hear a new attraction that will open in Spring of 2008 (0riginally set to open Fall of 2007): The Advertising Icon Museum.
Need important info on Mr. Peanut, Cap'n Crunch, or Big Boy? This is the place you'll want to visit! The features will include - of all things! - a rare, seven-foot-tall Jolly Green Giant, one of only three known to exist. Be sure to check out their gallery of icons. You'll be surprised to see who and what is included on the shelves and shelves of characters.
I can't wait to return to Kansas City to see some of my old favorites - along with this new museum that is sure to be a new favorite!