Introduction to Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, the largest city in Missouri, is located on the state's western border, at the junction of the Missouri and Kansas rivers. It is the only major city located within 250 miles of both the geographic and population centers of the US. Established as a trading post in the 1820s, Kansas City developed in the 1850s as a gateway for settlers heading west along the Oregon, California and Santa Fe trails. It quickly became a center for livestock, and in the 1860s, the arrival of the Missouri-Pacific Railroad and the Hannibal Bridge (across the Missouri River) further sped the city's growth. Several major companies have their headquarters in Kansas City, including H&R Block, Russell Stover Candies, Hallmark Cards, and Marion Laboratories (now Hoechst-Marion-Rousell). Today, Kansas City has a population of around 450,000, with a strong economy and one of the most affordable housing markets in the country.
Kansas City Culture
Among the city's cultural attractions are the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. The Kansas City Museum, located in a mansion on Gladstone Boulevard, has a planetarium and exhibits that trace KC's history from trading post days to the present. In the 18th & Vine historic district, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum are housed in a new, 50,000-square-foot building. Kansas City has more fountains than any city except Rome; from small to huge, comical to classical, simple to elaborate sculpture, KC's varied fountains may be its greatest cultural attraction. Penn Valley Park hosts the KC Jazz festival each July, Spirit Fest in August and the KC symphony's Radio Days Concert on Labor Day.
Kansas City is famous for its livestock, steakhouses and barbecue. Some of the best barbecue restaurants in the country can be found within the city, including the legendary Arthur Bryant's, which New Yorker columnist Calvin Trillin called "the best restaurant in the world." Each fall, KC hosts the American Royal, with livestock exhibitions and rodeos, horse competitions and the largest barbecue competition in the country.
Kansas City Sports and Leisure
Pro sports teams in Kansas City include baseball's Kansas City Royals and the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. The Royals play 8 miles east of downtown at 40,000-seat Kauffman Stadium, which has a fountain in center field. Next door is 79,000-seat Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs as well as major league soccer's Kansas City Wizards.
Kansas City Outdoors
Though Kansas City isn't near an ocean, that doesn't stop its outdoor lovers from enjoying the water. Lewis and Clark Lake, about 45v minutes north of the city, is a great spot for swimming, boating and fishing. Further north, Big Lake State Park has 435 acres for camping, boating, bird watching and fishing. Stockton State Park, about 100 miles southeast of the city, offers a myriad of water recreation on Stockton Lake, from swimming and scuba diving to boating and fishing. For a more woodsy feel, Wallace State Park, about an hour northeast of the city, has a 6-acre lake and four scenic trails. For those who prefer remaining within the city, Swope Park (the country's second largest urban park at 1,769 acres) houses the Starlight Theatre, the Kansas City Zoo, two golf courses and a Braille trail.
Kansas City at Night
The nucleus of Kansas City's nightlife scene is the Westport neighborhood south of downtown. Westport is packed with restaurants and bars that are open as late as 3AM. Country Club Plaza is another popular area for dining and shopping. Known as the birthplace of Jazz (and Charlie Parker), Kansas City has dozens of nightclubs downtown that feature all versions of its signature art form.