This duo of history-rich houses showcase antebellum architectural styles, while providing insight into the mores of the era. With four tour tickets total, the historically inclined can visit each house twice or bring a friend along for each visit, while family memberships net unlimited entries for the nuclear unit, along with advance invites to special society-only events. A Greek revival-style home from 1858, the John Wornall House beckons history lovers in to watch costumed reenactors living in the past, where they play period-specific video games while drinking period-specific Mountain Dew. Regular special events at the house include paranormal investigations by local ghost hunters and recreations of the house’s past as a Civil War hospital. Dogs can sprint across the lush grounds while their two-legged companions waft in luscious scents from the herb garden, which contains a variety of delicate plants used in medicines and recipes.
Grabbing the top spot in CityVoter’s 2009 Best Museum poll, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art serves as Kansas City’s intersection of art, culture, and history. Boasting more than 33,500 pieces and art objects, the museum’s vast collections are organized by period, geography, and medium and feature everything from photographs to sculpture to haunted portraits with eyes that follow visitors around the room. Rotating exhibitions encourage return visits, like a sentient boomerang that grabs your hand and refuses to let go. The current exhibit, Solitary: Alienation in Modern Life, explains away loneliness with works from artists including Henri Matisse, Otto Dix, and Paul Klee, who moonlighted as a self-help guru and was the first to posit that men and women may be space aliens hailing from separate planets. This Saturday, the museum opens two new exhibitions, Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 to Present and Romancing the West: Alfred Jacob Miller in the Bank of America Collection, which members get to see for free.
American Jazz Museum’s annual Rhythm & Ribs Jazz and Blues Festival is a one-day music extravaganza that colludes the talents of soulful singers, strummers, horn blowers, and string twangers across three performance stages. Headlining the event, the seven-member band War (10 p.m.–11:30 p.m.) blasts its funk melodies into the air. Before War takes the stage, Bobby “Blue” Bland (7:30 p.m.–9 p.m.) serenades the audience with sultry favorites, such as his rendition of Bill Withers' “Ain’t No Sunshine,” after Christian McBride with Inside Straight (5 p.m.–6:30 p.m.) cues the miniature musician living inside his standup bass to play a euphony of soul. Throughout the day, patrons can indulge in fare from local food vendors (not included with this Groupon) such as City Bar-B-Q, snacking until their fingers are covered with enough sauce to ensure easy snapping.
With 41,500 square feet dedicated to men's collegiate basketball, The College Basketball Experience provides hours of all-ages amusement. Learn about influential hoop-dreamers in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, and rediscover and get schooled in key moments in Kansas City's role in shaping the game. Visitors can also participate in hands-on, interactive exhibits that place them in front and at the center of the courtside action, from announcing plays to sinking game-winning shots.
Kansas City pit-masters are a bit like wizards: with dashes of sauce and wisps of wood-smoke, they summon barbecue aficionados from across the world. But tourists aren't the only ones who hunger for their savory-sweet brisket, ribs, and burnt ends??locals do, too. Bethanie Schemel, owner of KC Barbecue Tours, gives both locals and travelers insider's access to the rich history??and deep flavor??of the city's smoked-meat scene through bus-guided food tours.
On these tours, groups visit famed barbecue hot-spots. They also make stops at beneath-the-radar barbecue joints. "We do have a couple smaller places on our tour that we tend to keep a secret because they are the hidden gems that not a lot of people know about," owner Bethanie Schemel told KCTV 5 News. Food isn't the only reason for booking a spot on one of KC Barbecue Tours' expeditions?participants also get a peek at behind-the-scenes preparation techniques, and can ask pit-masters for tips on what type of wood chips to use or how to build a xylophone from leftover rib bones.
Charlie Parker's Grafton saxophone, Louis Armstrong's trumpet, a sequined gown worn by Ella Fitzgerald?at the American Jazz Museum, each of these artifacts represents a mark on a musical timeline. Established in 1997 at 18th and Vine, the museum immerses guests in jazz via several mediums: films, sheet music, album covers, and concert posters, to name a few. Listening stations emit interviews and samples of classic tunes, but to hear entire songs, you can visit Jazz Central, the in-house musical library of more than 100 recordings.
Preserving the jazz stylings of the past is not the museum's only mission, however. At mixing boards, visitors can create their own melodies without bringing their stand-up bass from home. As for live jazz, there are more than 200 yearly performances and events at the museum, such as the annual Kansas City's 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival. There's also the Blue Room?a smoke-free jazz club inside the building itself, where musicians play at least four nights a week.