Visiting Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri

When visiting a city, you’re likely to wonder, what is this place known for?

As Kansas City natives, we are all too familiar with – and appreciate – what our hometown is known for. 

Spoiler: it’s more than just barbecue. 

We’ve put together a complete list so you can plan to make the most of your Kansas City visit! 

7 Things Kansas City, Missouri Is Known For

You don’t want to skip out on these!

1. World-Renowned Barbecue

If you know anything about Kansas City, it’s likely that you’re aware of our barbecue scene. 

The origins of this finger-lickin’ dish date back to the city’s beginnings when Kansas City was one of the largest stockyards in the country. 

The barbecue is not only top-notch – it’s everywhere. In fact, there are over one hundred barbecue establishments around town, from upscale restaurants to hole-in-the-wall joints. 

The city’s unique style involves slow-smoking meats ranging from brisket to ribs, then slathering them in a thick, tomato-based sauce with a sweet, tangy kick. 

We’re most known for our burnt ends, which are the rich trimmings from a smoked brisket. You’ll find them at just about every barbecue place in town.

The annual American Royal World Series of Barbecue only adds to the city’s smoky prestige, attracting competitors and foodies from all over.

If you’re planning to indulge in our hometown cuisine, we recommend letting the locals show you around by booking a barbecue tour!

Meat Mitch Kansas City Airport
Meat Mitch Barbecue

2. Jazz Music Heritage

Kansas City played a pivotal role in the history of jazz music and culture, with the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District serving as a cradle for the musical genre in the 1920s and 1930s. 

This era saw the birth of the Kansas City jazz style, characterized by its big band sound, spirited improvisation, and influential figures like Charlie Parker and Count Basie. 

We love visiting our local jazz clubs around town – you should absolutely add one of them to your itinerary. 

Additionally, the American Jazz Museum gives visitors insight into the impact the music had on Kansas City. 

musical set at jazz club the blue room
The Blue Room

3. The “City of Fountains”

Dubbed the “City of Fountains,” Kansas City has over two hundred public water features. 

These range from ornate classical designs to modern artistic expressions, adding a touch of elegance to the urban landscape. 

The fountains began in the late 19th century when the first fountains were installed out of necessity. These early fountains were practical, serving as watering troughs for horses and dogs. 

This was especially important as Kansas City was a pass-through city for those heading westward on the Santa Fe trail. 

The early 20th century saw a significant push towards beautifying Kansas City, inspired by the City Beautiful movement that swept across America. 

This movement emphasized the importance of using monumental architecture and designed green spaces to promote social order and harmony. 

Influential figures, such as urban planner George Kessler, played a pivotal role in this era, designing parkways and boulevards that incorporated fountains as focal points of beauty and community gathering spots.

Today, the arrival of spring is celebrated by Fountain Day in April, when all of the fountains are turned on for the season. 

If fountains interest you, we recommend visiting the Country Club Plaza. There are numerous fountains around the historic shopping district, including the most iconic in the city, the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain. 

J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain country club plaza kansas city
Country Club Plaza

4. Arts and Culture

Kansas City has become known for a burgeoning arts and culture scene, which has grown significantly in the last few decades. 

The Crossroads Arts District is beloved by locals and features street art alongside both eclectic and upscale art galleries. They host First Friday each month, which is when the art galleries open to the public and the streets are filled with performances and artist pop-ups. 

kansas city art galleries
Jones Gallery

Kansas City is proud of local museums, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. With vast collections ranging from ancient to modern, these institutions showcase the city’s commitment to the arts. 

Additionally, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, an architectural marvel, is home of the Kansas City Ballet, Lyric Opera, and Kansas City Symphony, among other performances. 

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

5. Craft Beer

Kansas City is one of the fastest-growing craft beer destinations in the country. 

The vibrant community of local brewers has transformed the city into a haven for beer aficionados and casual drinkers alike. 

dark beer at vine street brewing
Vine Street Brewing

While there are craft breweries in several neighborhoods around town, the Crossroads Arts District is home to “Brewer’s Alley,” named as such because of the high concentration of breweries within walking distance from one another. 

kansas city craft brewery casual animal
Casual Animal Brewery

The breweries craft a range of beers that pay homage to traditional styles while boldly experimenting with new flavors. Several are earning regional and national recognition for their brews. 

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Boulevard Brewing Co., which opened its doors in 1989 and pioneered the craft beer movement in the Midwest. 

6. Historic Landmarks

From the Union Station to the Liberty Memorial, Kansas City is home to numerous historical landmarks.

There are also several history-centered museums, like the World War I Museum, Steamboat Arabia Museum, and Kansas City Museum.

And, of course, the local favorite City Market, which features a farmer’s market and dates back to 1857. 

old mail carrier at union station
Union Station

7. Sports Enthusiasts

Kansas City’s locals are complete sports enthusiasts. 

The Chiefs, based out of Arrowhead Stadium, boast a fervent fan base and a storied history, including multiple Super Bowl appearances. 

The Royals, playing at Kauffman Stadium, have also captured the hearts of locals with their 1985 and 2015 World Series titles. 

The local soccer scene is growing and includes Sporting Kansas City and the Kansas City Current, who built a new stadium on the city’s riverfront. 

Kansas City Chiefs street mural
Kansas City Chiefs

Thanks For Supporting Local!

Kansas City is a city that truly captivates. 

Whatever draws you to the heartland, you’re sure to love your time here. 

For more suggestions of how to spend your visit, be sure to read our Kansas City visitor guides.