is kansas city worth visiting

Is Kansas City Worth Visiting?

If you’re looking for the answer to, should I visit Kansas City?, you’re in the right place.

Admittedly, that’s a bit of a trick question – after all, we are The Local’s Guide to Kansas City.

As Kansas City locals for over a decade, we can’t help but to hold the City of Fountains in high regard.

The thing is, you don’t have to take it from us. Recently, Lonely Planet named Kansas City as one of the top ten cities to visit in the world for 2024.

Yes, in the WORLD.

AND Travel and Leisure named Kansas City one of the Top 50 Places to Travel in 2024! Oh and so did The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times – heard of those?

So, is Kansas City worth visiting? Sure is!

There are so many reasons to visit KC – top-tier culinary scene, numerous museums and historic districts, rich cultural diversity, affordable prices, and a booming craft beer scene – just to name a few.

shuttlecock statue on the front lawn of nelson atkins museum of art in kansas city
Kansas City Shuttlecocks

Why Should You Visit Kansas City?

Don’t just take our word for it – read on for all the reasons you need to have Kansas City on your list of cities to visit in 2024.

Planning a visit to Kansas City? Before you book anything, take a look through our article for The Best Guided Tours and Activities in Kansas City. Our list includes reputable, local guides and companies that we personally recommend to our out of town visitors.

1. Kansas City International (MCI) Airport’s Glow Up

Kansas City International Airport (MCI), known to locals as KCI, opened a long-awaited new terminal in 2023.

In a stark contrast from the former airport, the new terminal is strikingly modern and spacious, promising a seamless travel experience with plenty of amenities.

Most importantly, the new airport has meant new investments in air travel to and from the city.

There have been numerous direct flights added to Kansas City, meaning your travel travel time to the heartland just got a lot shorter.

In our personal experience, the new terminal is quick, efficient, and easy to get in and out of, making your travels that much better!

2. Kansas City is Easy on the Wallet

Forbes has named Kansas City as the thirteenth most affordable city in the United States for its low cost of living.

That means that when you go to that James Beard award-winning restaurant, it’s going to be less expensive yet just as incredible as that James Beard award-winning in one of those other cities that people like to visit.

Kansas City has all the fine dining and amenities that you need to make for a memorable visit, but it’s going to be easier on the wallet than other sought-after destinations.

3. Kansas City’s Rich Cultural Diversity

There are over 100 languages spoken in Kansas City – not bad for a “flyover city”!

The cultural tapestry of Kansas City is woven with vibrant threads – African, Asian, Latino, Italian, Irish, German, Native American, Slavic, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern, among many others.

The diversity of Kansas City has been long celebrated.

In 1976, an Ethnic Heritage Committee was created, which led to the inaugural Ethnic Enrichment Festival at Liberty Memorial in 1978.

All these years later, that festival still takes place each August.

Today, the Ethnic Enrichment Commission of Kansas City stands as a beacon of multicultural celebration, fostering unity among over 60 cultural communities.

These diverse cultural influences find expression in the city’s food, art, music, and lifestyle, making Kansas City an enriching place to visit.

kansas city coffee shop crossroads arts district
Cafe Corazon

Kansas City Has Something for Everyone. Really – name your interest. We’ve got it covered!

4. Kansas City is for Craft Beer Aficionados

Beer lovers will find themselves at home in Kansas City – it is one of the fastest-growing craft beer destinations in the country.

The combination of innovative brewmasters and a local community that appreciates a good pint has led to the success of numerous craft breweries both within and beyond the urban core.

There are over 30 craft breweries in and around the city with more opening each season. 

Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District, located right in the heart of it all, is a locally beloved blend of urban art and culture – and it has increasingly become a draw for craft beer aficionados.

In fact, a portion of the neighborhood has been dubbed Brewers Alleydue to the high concentration of breweries all within walking distance of one another.

Those looking to do a local brewery crawl have found their haven in the Crossroads. 

Make sure to carve out ample time to visit the renowned Boulevard Brewing Company.

Founded in 1989, Boulevard is one of the largest specialty breweries in the heartland and is sold in over 40 states. Stop by for a brewery tour and to visit the trendy Beer Hall where you can sample exclusive test beers.

In addition to craft brews, Kansas City also has quite a few local distilleries and even wineries.

kansas city distilleries
Lifted Spirits Distillery

5. Kansas City is for Foodies

If there is one thing you know about the City of Fountains, it is probably the beloved, finger-lickin’ Kansas City barbecue.

While the tender burnt ends are certainly something to be proud of, the culinary scene in Kansas City is expansive.

There are numerous local chefs and restaurants that offer a wide range of cuisines – from upscale eateries to more casual styles.

The rich cultural diversity in the city means that you can try all types of authentic dishes – from Blue Nile’s Ethiopian misir watt to Hien Vuong’s Vietnamese bò tái chanh, located just steps away from one another in the historic City Market.

And we have to mention the James Beard recognitions – six bars and restaurants were named semifinalists for 2024.

The culinary scene in Kansas City alone is worth a visit.

carollos sandwich on italian bread with tomato mozarella and proscuitto in kansas city

6. Kansas City is for History Lovers

For those who have a deep passion for history, Kansas City offers an extensive selection of captivating museums and historical districts to explore.

There’s the historic City Market, laid out the same way as it was in 1857.

Located within the market is the Steamboat Arabia Museum, which houses fascinating artifacts salvaged from the Arabia, a steamboat that sank in the Missouri River in 1856.

You can’t miss Liberty Memorial standing tall since 1926 atop the National World War I Museum, home to more than 100,000 artifacts. You can spend all day exploring the various exhibits.

With the historic 18th & Vine district, you can visit the The Negro League Baseball Museum, celebrating the Negro National League and the legendary Kansas City Monarchs.

While in the neighborhood, you should definitely plan a visit to the American Jazz Museum.

The National Archives of Kansas City, housing historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s, stands as one of 15 esteemed facilities nationwide.

Here, the public enjoys free access to Federal archival records, with an extensive collection of over 50,000 cubic feet of documents. Notably, among these records is the groundbreaking judgment from the Brown v. Board of Education case.

exhibit of a historical bike at a museum
Kansas City History Museum
Kansas City Historic Webster School
Historic Webster School

7. Kansas City is for Art Enthusiasts

The Crossroads Arts District, nestled in the heart of Kansas City, is a thriving hub for artists, musicians, and performers.

This vibrant neighborhood is teeming with creativity, boasting numerous galleries, studios, and live music venues that come alive with artistic expression.

One of the highlights of the Crossroads Arts District is the First Fridays Art Walk, a monthly event that brings the neighborhood to life.

On this special night, galleries open their doors to visitors, inviting them to wander through the vibrant art spaces, soak in the mesmerizing displays, and engage with the talented artists behind the creations.

Beyond the Crossroads Arts District, there is the internationally renowned Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which features more than 35,000 works that cover over 5,000 years of history along with rotating exhibits.

kansas city art galleries
Cerbera Gallery

Another must-visit is the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses one of the Midwest’s foremost collections of contemporary art.

The museum’s ever-changing exhibitions are vibrant and thought-provoking, showcasing the works of emerging and established artists.

exhibit at the nelson atkins art museum
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

For performance art, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is the crown jewel.

This architectural marvel hosts a range of world-class performances from the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Ballet, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

It would take multiple visits to the heartland to see all that there is to offer in terms of fine and performing arts.

kauffman center for the performing arts kansas city
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

And There’s More To Come!

Kansas City just keeps getting better and better. In 2024, the Berkley Riverfront will be home to the first ever stadium completed dedicated to a women’s sport, the Kansas City Current soccer team.

The Rock Island Bridge will be completed this year, establishing the country’s first entertainment district over a river. This bridge will be utilizing a historic piece of railroad infrastructure. How neat!

In August, the first-ever PickleCon will fill the KC Convention Center with 100 courts – plus clinics, adaptive play and other opportunities for fans at all levels to get in the game.

And did you hear – Kansas City has a new ferris wheel downtown at Pennway Point!

Traveling with the kiddos? Kansas City has plenty to do for the younger visitors to stay occupied.

KC Wheel
KC Wheel
STEM exhibit at science city in union station
Science City

The Heartland is Waiting for You

These highlights are just a handful of the attractions that Kansas City has to offer – we didn’t even get to the Country Club Plaza, offering fifteen blocks of shopping, dining, architecture, and traditions since 1923.

So, what are you waiting for?

The answer to the original question “should I visit Kansas City?” is a resounding YES – Kansas City is worth visiting in 2024!

We can’t wait to show you our signature Midwestern hospitality.

kansas city chiefs sign in union station kcmo
Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Frequently Asked Questions

We know you’re wondering, so we’re dishing out the details!

Do You Need A Car To Visit Kansas City?

It depends. The Kansas City Streetcar, a new addition (2016) inspired from historic local transit, is free to ride and travels two miles through the heart of downtown.

It covers quite a bit of Kansas City attractions – Crossroads Arts District, Power & Light District, River Market/City Market, Kansas City Union Station, and several other stops. You could certainly spend an entire weekend just in this area of downtown.

If you want to visit other neighborhoods in Kansas City, such as the Country Club Plaza or Westport, it’s very easy to get an Uber or Lyft. There are also low-cost electric bikes located all around the city through Bike KC.

Is Kansas City Safe To Visit?

As with any large city, there is crime here. What visitors need to know is that the areas and neighborhoods most frequently visited by tourists are very safe.

If you want a complete breakdown of crime data for the city and what it means for visitors, read our article about safety in Kansas City, Missouri.

We have lived in midtown, just minutes from downtown Kansas City, for over a decade, and we frequently go out on the town – and in our 20’s stayed out quite late – and have never had an issue.

As would be suggested for any place you’d visit – be smart. Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle. Don’t get too intoxicated to where someone could take advantage of you. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk around by yourself late at night.

Really, just follow general safety guidelines that should be practiced anywhere you go.

Which Kansas City Is Better? Kansas or Missouri?

Did you really think we’d answer that? We certainly do not want to offend our neighbors on the other side of the State Line Road – literally, there is a State Line Road separating the two.

One is not better than the other – they’re just different.

If you follow our recommendations, you will spend the majority, if not all, of your time on the Missouri side. That is where many of the most well-known Kansas City attractions are.

sunset at the Town of Kansas Bridge
Town of Kansas Bridge

We can’t wait to welcome you to the City of Fountains!

On our website, you’ll find guides, suggestions, and itineraries from Kansas City locals who know it best. Take a peek around to inspire your visit to the City of Fountains!