Kansas City is the barbecue capital of the world. With more than one hundred outstanding barbecue restaurants strewn throughout the metro area, it’s hard to choose which one to experience first. Click here for a full list of can’t miss KC barbecue joints.
In Kansas City, there truly is something for everyone. Frequently referred to as the City of Fountains, Paris of the Plains, and the Jazz Capital of the World, from sports, to arts, to shopping, there is never a dull moment in KC.
Kansas City is comprised of over 240 neighborhoods, each with their own unique history and attractions. Much of the 27th International Sculpture Conference will take place near Country Club Plaza, as well as popular neighborhoods such as Crossroads, West Bottoms, Midtown-Westport, and others. Continue reading below to learn more about what the most popular neighborhoods and districts in KC have to offer during your stay.
Kansas City, in addition to its numerous museums and galleries, has a plethora of public art spaces, sculptures, and fountains which you can visit and interact with at your leisure. A must see is the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, a 22-acre oasis in the heart of Midtown Kansas City that is home to 36 sculptures. The sculpture park is located at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, three blocks east of Country Club Plaza, and it is open dawn to dusk, 365 days a year.
Photo: Crying Giant by Tom Otterness at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Missouri Division of Tourism, Kemper Museum
For more information about Kansas City and to help plan your trip, visit: visitkc.com.
Above: BB’s Lawnside BBQ. Photo by Neil John Burger. Courtesy of Visit KC.
Crossroads Arts District
Crossroads Arts District - It’s more than just an intersection of two streets in downtown Kansas City. It’s a vibrant and diverse community that welcomes all walks of life and all forms of artistic expression. Home to more than 400 local artists and 100 independent studios, the nationally recognized Crossroads Arts District is one of the most concentrated gallery districts in the nation. Beyond the galleries, restaurants and storefronts, you’ll find an equally impressive collection of professional design studios, architectural firms, advertising agencies, and other innovative businesses intersecting all disciplines.
Crossroads is also known for its First Fridays where on the First Friday of every month thousands of residents and visitors fill its sidewalks enjoying what has become the city’s liveliest and most popular recurring event. Arts organizations, galleries, studios, and a wide variety of local businesses feature local, regional and national artists as well as live entertainment.
Here are a some galleries, just to mention a few, to check out in your travels:
Studios Inc. provides studio space, professional development, networking, and exhibitions for mid-career artists in Greater Kansas City. The opening reception for the 27th International Sculpture Conference will be held at Studios Inc. as well as open artist studios.
The Belger Arts Center, located in the Crossroads Arts District, has staged more than forty major art exhibitions and has displayed a wide variety of 2D, 3D, and 4D artworks. The Center has a varied exhibition program encompassing art and design from the John and Maxine Belger Family Foundation as well as from generous collectors and artists around the world. A reception for the opening of the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards Exhibition will be hosted during the conference at the Belger Arts Center.
The Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA), also located in the Crossroads, strengthens and supports artists, cultural organizations, and communities throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and beyond. The M-AAA is especially committed to enriching the cultural life of historically underserved communities by providing high quality, meaningful, and accessible arts and culture programs and services.
For the past 20 years, the Charlotte Street Foundation has provided resources for individual artists by building upon its core principles of supporting, challenging, and empowering artists of exceptional vision—all the while, cultivating an environment in the Crossroads where artists and art can thrive.
Many of the conference’s events as well as optional tours, activities, and workshops will take place in the Crossroads Arts District.
Country Club Plaza, or simply “The Plaza”, stretches 55 acres and is one of the country’s oldest shopping and entertainment sites. Designed architecturally after the Spanish village of Seville, the 30+ statues, ironwork, and hand-painted mosaic tiles are a work of art in themselves. Further, the blocks feature major architectural reproductions such as the Cathedral of Seville and a replica of San Francisco’s Path of Gold Streetlights. Stores include name and designer brands, as well as local shops and boutiques with true Midwestern flare. The Plaza is located in downtown Kansas City, on Broadway Street between W. 47th St. and Nichols Rd.
The Kansas City Art Institute, whose vision is to be an innovative leader in art and design education, has a beautiful, visually inspiring campus which is uniquely situated between two exceptional art museums—the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a world-class encyclopedic museum, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, a renowned contemporary art museum. Of note, admission to both of these incredible museums is free and this year’s conference panel discussions will take place at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
To enhance and sustain a strong and vibrant regional arts ecology, the H&R Block Artspace organizes and presents innovative and diverse exhibitions and public programs featuring established and emerging regional, national, and international artists.
Above: Chris Murphy Court of the Penguins via flickr
River Market is Kansas City’s oldest and first established district, located right on the water. The large riverfront warehouses that were once used for storing goods that came in on the Missouri River in the 19th century have since been renovated and transformed into restaurants, bars, shops, and cafes. This district is known for its blend of international flavors and diverse assortment of eateries.
If food is what you are looking for, River Market offers a plethora of highly renowned dining options. Among them include The Farmhouse, which offers “farm-to table, tip-to-tail” KC style comfort food, Beignet, a New Orleans-themed spot serving sweet & savory beignets & crępes along with classic Cajun dishes, and the Opera House Coffee & Food Emporium, which offers a uniquely upbeat atmosphere with fantastic coffee, a delicious menu with healthy options, and a cocktail bar . If you’re looking for a little bit of everything, join the locals at the City Market during the weekend.
Seeking that one of a kind vintage item? Visit River Market Antiques and browse from over 120 quality dealers in a 30,000 square-foot Antique Mall, housed in a four-story building built in the early 1900s just a few blocks from the Missouri River.
The Arabia Steamboat Museum is located at River Market. This unique Kansas City attraction is not your typical museum. Visitors have the one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the everyday objects that made life possible for pioneers in the 1800s. It is the largest single collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world.
Appropriately named, the Power & Light District, located right in between Crossroads and River Market is a thriving point of interest for all things nightlife. If there is a citywide party or concert, the Power & Light District, comprised of nine downtown street blocks, is likely where it will be held.
It transforms itself from a unique lunch and retail destination by day to an exciting dining and entertainment experience in the evening. With more than 50 unique and captivating restaurants, bars, shops and entertainment venues, the Kansas City Power & Light District offers something for everyone.
For those looking for a fun night on the town, check out KC Live!, an entertainment plaza with two levels of high-energy bars, restaurants, and nightclubs plus live music, and more.
The Garment District is a fashion boutique with a twist located in the Power & Light District. This boutique offers a wide array of the latest styles and fashion trends for both men and women, plus the luxury of having a cocktail while you shop.
If you’re looking to learn a bit about Missouri history, Westport is the place to go. Notable for being Kansas City’s most historic district, you can find KC’s oldest standing buildings as well as tributes to the Battle of Westport, the largest Civil War conflict to the west of the Mississippi.
But that’s not all, Westport is known for its blend of tasty eateries, trendy boutiques, and popular nighttime hot spots.
McCoy’s Public House, recognized as one of Kansas City's best brewpub, serves delicious comfort food and hand-crafted ales. Beer Kitchen, Kansas City's first gastropub serves an extensive menu of gourmet burgers, hand-cut fries, homemade pretzels, and upscale comfort food. Westport Flea Market dishes out one of the area’s most popular burgers.
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect souvenir, Westport is likely your best source. Fun and funky gifts from colorful shops are this area’s specialty. Stop by Normal Human for locally designed and produced KC apparel or try The Bunker to find your favorite KC T-shirt. After jamming all night on 18th & Vine, you might want to stop by Mills Record Company to pick up a few vinyls.
The Westport Saloon has become the Midwest’s home for Roots, Honky-Tonk, and Twang offering free live music every night of the week.
West Bottoms is an industrial area located immediately to the west of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. This area is one of the oldest areas of the city. While West Bottoms is still home to several industrial buildings today, its antique shops and haunted houses are very popular. Additionally, there are several art galleries and restaurants located in West Bottoms.
Haw Contemporary features contemporary fine art by regional and national artists in all mediums.
PLUG PROJECTS is a curatorial collaboration by six Kansas City artists who share the mission of bringing fresh perspectives and conversation to the local art community. Their goal is to energize artists and the public at large by exhibiting challenging new work, initiating critical dialogue, and expanding connections of artists in Kansas City as part of a wider, national network of artists.
50/50 Gallery, founded by two Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) graduate students and built in collaboration with the Kansas City Design Center (KCDC), is a unique gallery constructed of two shipping containers, and houses exhibitions featuring local and national artists. Since its opening in August 2015, 50/50 has received critical acclaim.
The Ugly Glass Company carries locally made and vintage gifts, home decor and furnishings in a 100+ year old West Bottoms warehouse. They have over 7,000 square feet and more than 40 vendors from all over the KC Metro area.
The Beast Haunted House is America’s largest haunted house and has been a top 13 haunted house in the nation for years. Traverse through this haunted house in a true 4D experience that includes movie-quality special effects, holograms, props, animatronics, and a real alligator.
For a unique bar experience check out The Ship, a classic cocktail bar that hosts live jazz and soul performances as well as rare record parties, or visit the tasting room at the Amigoni Urban Winery where you can enjoy a glass of wine and tour their historic building, the Daily Drover Telegram Newspaper building, built in 1909.
Stop in Stockyards Brewing Co. where you can sample a West Bottoms take on Kansas City’s booming craft beer scene.
If you’re searching for an authentic KC experience, you’ll find it at 18th & Vine. Baseball, barbeque, and blues all come together here in the city’s Jazz District.
The American Jazz Museum showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibitions and films, visual arts exhibitions in the Art Gallery and Photography Gallery, the Blue Room Jazz Club, and the Gem Theater performing arts center.
At the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum video presentations and memorabilia chronicle the history and heroes of the leagues from their origin after the Civil War to their demise in the 1960s.
If you’re looking to try KC’s most popular barbeque joint, you’re in the right place. Celebrities and locals alike gather at Arthur Bryant’s for its legendary barbecue, slow-smoked with a combination of hickory and oak woods, mellowed to the peak of flavor, then splashed with Original or Rich & Spicy sauce.
Photo: Miguel Vieira Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Southwind Trail via Flickr
Alternatively, you can escape to Flint Hills, Kansas, about a 2-hour car drive (130 miles southwest of Kansas City, MO), to visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. There you can experience the true vastness of the prairie landscape with a ranger during a free guided tour which is offered daily.
Photo: Jayhawk by Elden Tefft outside Strong Hall on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Via Mark Roland on Flickr
Why not take a 50-minute drive to Lawrence, Kansas the birthplace of the International Sculpture Center?
In 1960, Elden Tefft organized the National Sculpture Conference at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and with that conference the International Sculpture Center was born. Elden had long had a passion for sculpture, beginning at Lawrence High School, then continuing into his career at art school at the University of Kansas and Tulsa.
The International Sculpture Center in collaboration with the University of Kansas will be offering post conference tours and activities. Please check back for updates on the conference schedule and optional activities.
The University of Kansas Lawrence Campus is enlivened by sculptures that form a unique and diverse body of artwork. Many of the sculptures are in the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, while others belong to university institutions.
The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas has a collection that exceeds 45,000 objects spanning the history of European and American art from ancient to contemporary, with broad and significant holdings of East Asian art.
A great way to enjoy Downtown Lawrence is by taking a walking tour of the Outdoor Downtown Sculpture Exhibition. Some of the artworks might challenge the viewer in unexpected ways and others can be enjoyed purely for their aesthetic qualities.
The Lawrence Arts Center, the City’s leading and unifying arts organization, features galleries, contemporary exhibitions, and art talks that are all free and open to the public.
Above: University of Kansas, Moses, Elden Tefft. Photo by Rough Tough, Real Stuff via Flickr.
Please indicate if you require any accessibility accommodations by contacting the events department at 609.689.1051 x302 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The International Sculpture Center is committed to ensuring that all events are accessible to all of our patrons.