This was another city that found itself on my route due to the put-a-pin-on-a-big-map planning approach. I think Kansas also evokes some (seriously misguided) Wizard of Oz nostalgia. Scrub that image out right now! It’s a large, fairly bland metropolis for the most part, but I definitely uncovered some highlights and actually had a good time here.
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
NELSON ATKINS MUSEUM | couldn’t get enough of this place, absolutely loved it! I spent a whole afternoon in the beautiful grounds, surrounded by Henry Moore sculptures and giants shuttle cocks. What an amazing asset for any city to have.
ARTHUR BRYANT’S BBQ | I’d read a lot about American BBQ. And I tested a lot on this trip, too. Research purposes obviously. And I can hands down say this was the most amazing! So tasty, mind-popping huge portions, and most certainly worth the detour.
HISTORIC JAZZ DISTRICT | I enjoyed visiting the small Jazz museum in this area, to get a flavour of US music history so closely linked to a crazy time gone by when racial segregation existed prominently in this city, amongst many others in the States.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
MAIN STREET | was good for a stroll, albeit I don’t remember specifics. It had a pleasant vibe at lunchtime when all the office workers buzzed about, in stark contrast to St. Louis. Continue as far as River Market for cheap eats. Also check out: the ‘Power and Light’ district.
WW1 MUSEUM | I was having a rare freakish health kick at this point, and went for a morning run in the park next to my motel. Everything was dry, but provided nice enough views and a close-up of the Liberty Memorial. Downtown is totally within walking distance if you prefer to explore on foot like me.
AMTRAK | I actually quite enjoyed travelling by train, and caught it from St. Louis to Kansas, and then over night again to Albuquerque (offering lovely views of snowy Rockies the next morning). It’s not cheap though, and is slow and infrequent. Such a shame, as Greyhound buses are GRIM.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
CROSSROADS ARTS DISTRICT | I stumbled across this area next to the P&L district, but unfortunately I think it only has appeal for genuine art buyers, or when everyone flings open their doors on the first Friday only of the month – a common Arts theme in the States.
COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA | this was a strange shopping area that I made a bee-line for due to my inappropriate lack of cold-weather clothing! It’s got the essentials and a cinema if you get stuck with a rainy day. Supposedly it’s an upscale shopping district and residential neighbourhood, and the first in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.
CROWN PLAZA | I did lots of walking on my day in Kansas, and most things naturally led from one point of interest to another. This central recommended spot however was pretty lame. Couldn’t work out what I was meant to be seeing?! It’s just hotels and the home of Hallmark cards. Big deal.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
WAMEGO | an institution dedicated to The Wizard of Oz – I’d love to find some tenuous link to Dorothy’s Kansas! Here you can learn how homemade the special effects were in the 1939 classic. Even the toilets are made by a company called Toto.
AND KNOW THIS: Smith County, KS, is the geographical centre of the 48 contiguous states.