18th & Vine
Kansas City’s historic jazz district is home to legendary smoked meats, the stellar Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and celebrated live music clubs. It’s this combination of barbecue, baseball and bebop jam sessions that melds together for one sweet melody.
Things to do
As luck would have it, two of the city’s most acclaimed museums are under one roof. A frequent stop for visiting celebrities and dignitaries, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum chronicles the stars and stories of America’s favorite pastime from the leagues’ origin after the Civil War to their demise in the 1960s. Next door is what The New York Times called “an interactive paradise,” the American Jazz Museum, with its many listening stations, touch-screen adventures and custom-mixing soundboards. Keep your eyes peeled for Charlie Parker’s saxophone, a gift to the museum from former president Bill Clinton.
Sample KC’s signature sound at the district’s acclaimed Jammin’ at The Gem series or inside the museum’s working jazz club, The Blue Room. Night owls are in for a real treat at the Mutual Musicians Foundation, where the late-night sounds bebop until 5 a.m. Have an instrument of your own? You’re welcome to join—this is where the jam session was invented after all.
What to eat
Celebrities and “common folk” alike have made the pilgrimage to 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. While you wait in line, take a look at the wall for a glimpse of the many A-Listers to belly up to the bar. For a jazz-inspired meal, try the blues brunch at KC Blues & Jazz Juke House or a taste of Cajun country in the Heartland at Bayou on the Vine. Both feature live music on the regular.
Souvenir Stop: Show your support of Negro Leagues heroes with a 1949 KC Monarchs replica wool cap. • $14.99