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Exploring Kansas City - Elegant Fountains, Live Music, and Smoky Barbecue

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Kansas City is practically built for fans of American music and cuisine. But the sounds of jazz and the taste of barbecue are far from the city’s only sources of intrigue. A drive along one of KC's wide boulevards could lead you to a family-friendly museum, a boutique-lined shopping district, or past elaborate fountains.

Downtown Kansas City

 

Kansas City’s downtown area has long been the epicenter of its jazz-fueled nightlife. Yet art lovers will also want to hang out in the city’s downtown loop to admire colorful murals and thought-provoking public sculptures. You’ll be able to snack on fresh bread, cheese, and seasonal fruit or browse for antiques along the Missouri River at the open-air Kansas City River Market. If you want a glimpse of the Missouri’s natural power, you can head to Arabia Steamboat Museum and see pre-Civil War artifacts pulled from a vessel wrecked in the the waterway.

 

18th & Vine

 

Downtown’s jazz scene can be directly traced back to this 6-block area, where the city’s blues and bebop-infused style of jazz was born. The legacy of this famous area can be explored with a trip to American Jazz Museum, where you’ll be able to explore interactive exhibits and catch a show in its own club, The Blue Room. Look out for Charlie Parker’s old saxophone, which was donated to the museum by former President Bill Clinton. When you’re done, you can stay in the same building and check out the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s artifacts and memorabilia collection.

 

  • American Jazz Museum, 1616 E. 18th St., Kansas City, MO 64108; Tel: +1 816 474 6262; Website: American Jazz Museum
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  • Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, 1616 E. 18th St., Kansas City, MO 64108; Tel: +1 816 221 1920; Website: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

 

Union Station

 

Trains have been heading in and out of town from Union Station since 1914. Yet today, you and your family can do much more than simply catch a rail connection here. The sprawling structure’s main attraction is Science City; an educational playground packed with fun, interactive scientific exhibits. Want to relax? You can always catch the latest family-friendly flick on the station’s massive 80 by 53 feet 3D movie screen. Alternatively, why not hang out in the Grand Hall, where you can admire 3 ornate, 3,500-pound chandeliers dangling from the 95-foot-high ceiling?

 

  • Union Station, 30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108; Tel: +1 816 460 2020; Website: Union Station
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  • Science City, 30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108; Tel: +1 816 460 2020; Website: Science City

 

City tours

 

There are more than 240 neighborhoods in Kansas City, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. You can make sure you hit the city’s highlights by booking a trip with Kansas City Fun Trolley Tours. You’ll be whisked around the city on a 75-minute bus ride, where you’ll hear stories about the Missouri River, Union Station, and a few of the city’s legendary fountains. If you want proof that there’s more to the Kansas City food scene than barbecue, Taste of Kansas City Food Tours offers several different guided journeys that cover ethnic foods, craft cocktails, and more.

 

 

Spotting KC's fountains

 

Kansas City’s fountains are spread throughout the city. Some of the more famous water-spouting structures like the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain are clustered around the shops and restaurants of the Country Club Plaza district. You’ll also find several fountains in Swope Park, including some that are located in the park’s main attraction, the Kansas City Zoo.

 

  • Country Club Plaza, 4750 Broadway St., Kansas City, MO 64112; Tel: +1 816 753 0100; Website: Country Club Plaza
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  • Swope Park, East Meyer Blvd. and Swope Parkway; Website: Swope Park