Kansas City Missouri
When Kansas City's Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opened in September 2011, the new building was immediately hailed as an architectural icon. Looking something like metallic nesting cups tipped on their sides, the new home of the Kansas City Ballet, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City not only looks interesting, it's one of the most technically advanced performance halls in the nation.
But it was no surprise to those in the know when Kansas City unveiled yet another world-class cultural attraction. The National World War I Museum -- the only such museum in the nation -- opened its doors in Kansas City in 2006. The next year, residents buzzed over a new contemporary wing to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, while the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art debuted its own collection in suburban Overland Park. That same year the interactive College Basketball Experience opened its doors. (OK, so basketball isn't exactly an art form, but if you know anything about Kansas City, you know that college hoops are a big part of the local culture.)
These new hot spots join a long list of terrific Kansas City attractions: The American Jazz Museum; the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; the gleaming motorcycles at the Harley-Davidson factory; the roller coasters at Worlds of Fun; the live music, dining and shopping of the Power and Light District.
And let's not forget Kansas City barbecue. Dig into the slow-cooked briskets and burnt ends at Arthur Bryant's, Gates or a dozen other joints across town and judge for yourself which is best. After all, they say Kansas City has barbecue down to an art.
Amy S. Eckert contributes to Frommer's USA and Frommer's Europe by Rail. She has lived in and loved the American Midwest her entire life.