Kansas City Travel Guide

Joe's Kansas City BBQ

When I told people I was going to Kansas City, the most common response was “Oh…um… do you have family there?” No, I do not. But I do love BBQ, and isn’t that enough of a reason to take a trip somewhere?

As a Midwesterner, Kansas City reminded me of what I miss about living in the flyover states – affordable prices, generally friendly people, and unexpected quality. If you’re wondering what I don’t miss is that you can’t really walk everywhere (consider more sidewalks and crosswalks, KC!).

Also, BBQ is my family now.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen’s Shuttlecocks at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

To Do

Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site
Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site

Kansas City is nicknamed “The City of Fountains.” Unfortunately, my grand plans of touring all of the fountains the city has to offer were dashed by the unseasonably cold weather. So here are some other things you could do that sadly don’t involve fountains.


  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – Free art museums are the best art museums. The Nelson-Atkins has an encyclopedic collection and a sprawling sculpture garden (Does one really need four large shuttlecock sculptures? Yes).
  • The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures – If you’ve been to the Art Institute of Chicago and enjoyed the Thorne Miniature Rooms or adore tiny things, then this will be a good way to spend a few hours oohing and aahing at every tiny chair on view. Best $5 I’ve ever spent.
  • National World War I Museum and Memorial – Whether you’re a WWI history buff or can’t entirely remember which countries fought in WWI and why, this museum will have something for you.
National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
Versailles rooms at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Take A Tour

  • Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site – You don’t need to know anything about the Regionalist artist and muralist to enjoy the tour of his house and studio.  The house is located in the historic Roanoke neighborhood and, I kid you not, is right next to a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house (which you unfortunately cannot go in).
  • J. Rieger & Co. Distillery –  The distillery is a part of Kansas City history – the original distillery was shutdown due to Prohibition and reestablished in 2014 thanks to some determined and curious people who rediscovered its history. This tour was unique in that it included a Kansas City history lesson in addition to the typical process explanation. You’ll definitely want to try their Kansas City Whiskey after basking in the smell of it for two hours.


J. Rieger & Co.
At J. Rieger & Co., you can take a barrel home if you can carry it



Joe's Kansas City BBQ
Burnt Ends and Pulled Pork Sandwiches at Joe’s KC BBQ

To Eat and Drink

Kansas City BBQ

When you’re going to Kansas City, your biggest concern should be how you are going to consume all of the BBQ you want. You’re going to have to make some tough decisions. You’re going to want to eat BBQ for every meal and then realize that most BBQ places are not open for breakfast.

  • Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – No matter what time you go, there will probably be a line out the door. Which is unsurprising, because the pulled pork and burnt ends sandwiches were so good that it made me question whether I’d even eaten any good BBQ before.
  • Q39 – After you’ve committed to eating BBQ for most meals, you may decide that ordering a sandwich called the Triple Threat (sausage, pulled pork, and pork belly) is the right decision. Order the spiced onion straws and macaroni and cheese before you can talk yourself out of it.
  • Slap’s BBQ – From Slap’s, I opted for “The Sandwich” – pulled pork or smoked brisket topped with the infamous Provel cheese and your choice of fried onion rings or fried jalapeños. It was surprisingly sweet (in a good way) and perfect with or without their sweet or spicy BBQ sauce. Oh, and they sell hush puppies as a side. Enough said.
  • Everywhere else – With only so many meals, it was easy to miss out  on other’s favorites: Arthur Bryant’s, Gates BBQ, LC’s Bar-B-Q, Woodyard Bar-B-Que


Smokin’ Choke, Devil’s Advocate, and Shatto Blanc at Manifesto

Non-BBQ Meals

As shocking as this might sound, Kansas City does have food other than BBQ.

    • Manifesto – Located in the basement of The Rieger, this bar is cozy and very dimly lit (which won’t stop you from noticing that every guy that works there is your dream boyfriend). The cocktail options are anything but common, and the staff can point you in the right direction if the ingredients are a little too intimidating (read: still not understandable what it tastes like after you covertly Google it).
    • Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room – After stuffing my face with BBQ, my body was almost shocked by the unexpected, and delicious, flavor combinations at Corvino. Aged cheddar-topped ice cream? Sign me up.
    • Port Fonda – If you’re like me, you’ll still find a way to order a pork product (I got the very delicious Huevos Benedictos). The drink options were vast and the salsa tasting is a must.
Hamachi Ceviche, Seaweed Donuts, and Quesadilla Salvadoreña at Corvino Supper Club

To Listen

Ever wonder how many versions of the song “Kansas City” there are?

Map It


This post is the third in my 12 Trips in 12 Months challenge. See my trips to Atlanta and Seattle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: