20 Reasons to Visit Kansas City in 2024
Looking for your next great travel destination? Put Kansas City at the top of the list.
As one of just two U.S. cities recognized by Lonely Planet in the publication’s 2024 Best in Travel awards, the reasons to make a trip to the Heart of America in the year ahead are virtually endless.
To get started, here are more than a dozen new additions and top trends that can’t be missed during your visit.
A Global First for Women's Sports
In early 2024, the National Women’s Soccer League’s Kansas City Current will debut an all-new—and entirely unique—stadium on the banks of the Missouri River. The 11,500-seat venue will be the world’s first stadium purpose-built for a women’s professional sports team. A crown jewel for the Berkley Riverfront area and an unprecedented investment in women’s soccer, the stadium is designed to maintain a loud and lively atmosphere while keeping attendees close to the action, ensuring players and fans alike are met with a top tier matchday experience.
Renaissance on the Riverfront
Anchored by the stadium, Kansas City’s Berkley Riverfront is quickly becoming an essential destination. Bar K is a bona fide paradise for dog lovers, while the Riverfront Heritage Trail invites pedestrians, bikers and active travelers of all kinds to embrace their natural surroundings. Plus, the 118-room Origin Hotel opens in 2024, offering immediate access to the parks, paths and entertainment options found in the burgeoning district.
Storybook Tales Come to New Life
Slated to open on March 12, 2024, the Rabbit hOle brings a brand new (and totally immersive) literary experience to North Kansas City, taking the tales of favorite children’s books and transforming them into interactive museum experiences. The result? An endlessly whimsical, one-of-a-kind children’s institution that stretches across multiple floors and invites guests to fully immerse themselves in a world of wonder.
World-Class Amenities for Air Travelers
Following its debut in early 2023, the new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport has earned high praise from travelers and industry experts. Condé Nast Traveler recognized it as one of the publication’s Bright Ideas in Travel for 2023, applauding the terminal’s commitment to inclusivity and focus on collaboration with KC-area partners throughout the design process. From regionally inspired artwork to favorite Kansas City restaurants, countless local touches deliver a warm welcome upon each visitor’s arrival in the Heart of America.
Disney’s Roots in Kansas City
Before his cartoon mouse became an iconic figure, Walt Disney began his animation career right in the heart of Kansas City. He established his first professional business, the Laugh-O-gram Studio, on East 31st Street. Here, late nights drawing and sleeping in the studio led to an encounter with a particularly brave mouse in search of leftover food scraps—the regular visitor became a companion to Walt and, eventually, the inspiration for Mickey Mouse.
An Elevated Entertainment District
The Rock Island Bridge gives new life to a historic piece of railroad infrastructure, establishing America’s first entertainment district over a river. Coffee shops, bars, event spaces, pathways for pedestrians and bikers, restaurants and more attractions will fill the reimagined bridge, creating an entirely unique venue suspended above the Kansas River. The Rock Island Bridge also aims to bring greater recreational activity along the Kansas Waterfront and offers a new connection between Kansas and Missouri, all steps away from Hy-Vee Arena and other popular West Bottoms destinations.
A New Adventure in the Heart of the City
Pennway Point promises an all-new option for your next KC outing in 2024. By making use of a former industrial site just a few blocks away from Union Station and other Downtown Kansas City institutions, the district offers a central location and plans to host local restaurants such as Chef J BBQ, as well as bars and a variety of entertainment activities, all connected by a central hall that serves as a gathering space for groups of every size. A beer garden, mini golf, a display of vintage neon signs collected from across the city and a soaring Ferris wheel add to Pennway Point’s choices for fun and games.
A Perfect Place for the Country’s Hottest New Sport
Pickleball has taken the nation by storm—and the center of all the action can be found here in the heart of the country. Now a nationwide phenomenon, Chicken N Pickle’s original location opened in North Kansas City in 2016. It’s one of the company’s two KC-area operations today, with a sprawling second location in Overland Park’s Prairiefire district. And the friendly competition doesn’t end there: In August 2024, the first-ever PickleCon will fill the Kansas City Convention Center with 100 courts, plus clinics, adaptive play and other opportunities for fans at all levels to get in the game.
Modern Creations and Timeless Legends at 18th & Vine
Home to sites that reflect crucial moments in local and national history—including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the American Jazz Museum, the Black Archives of Mid-America and the Mutual Musicians Foundation—the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District has been an important visitor destination for many years.
Vine Street Brewing is Missouri’s first Black-owned brewery, serving beers inspired by the neighborhood’s rich culture along with a regular lineup of live music. The Spot, an all-day café from award-winning chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant, operates with a mission to provide hands-on culinary training to high school students.
A Splashy New Ocean Adventure
A new era of exploration has arrived at the Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium. Inside the 650,000-gallon Sobela Ocean Aquarium, six distinct habitats accommodate undersea life of all kinds, cultivating atmospheres that range from warm coastline climates to the open ocean. In total, the aquarium features 34 unique exhibits.
An immersive design invites visitors to journey forward through a collection of oceanic atmospheres, enjoying up-close encounters with the inhabitants of many vibrant ecosystems along the way.
Outstanding Cocktails, Full Strength or Zero Proof
The reasons to raise a glass in the Heart of America never end. Snag a stellar frozen drink from Electric Park Garden Bar at J. Rieger & Co., take your pick of distilleries and upscale venues in the Crossroads Arts District, or bask in the glow of Kansas City’s beloved champagne bar, Ça Va, in Westport.
Or, venture to nearby Shawnee for a duo of dynamic newcomers that prepare top-tier drinks for every preference. Wild Child relies on the input of true experts to deliver a second-to-none cocktail bar experience in an alcohol-optional setting. It’s a sibling of the full-alcohol Drastic Measures—a 2023 James Beard Foundation Awards finalist—and located right next door.
Fresh Ways to Get Your Coffee Fix
For many years, Kansas City’s strong collection of roasters and cafés has been a point of pride. Now, global influences on the area’s coffee scene are more evident—and enjoyable—than ever. Try an always-changing menu of Vietnamese coffee drinks in one of the city’s most vibrant settings at Cafe Cà Phê or sample yerba mate sourced from several Latin American countries at Café Corazón. Linger with the rich flavors of a café de olla at Café Ollama or pick up a Korean-inspired pastry to pair with your morning brew at Chingu Coffee.
Blockbuster Live Performances
Between raucous crowds and beloved venues, KC is an ideal concert destination. See chart-topping stars like Olivia Rodrigo and Zach Bryan at T-Mobile Center, expect a stellar lineup of summer shows at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, and catch a steady roster of shows at the KC Live! Block and more favorite locations all across the city. Keep an eye on schedules at Knuckleheads, the Midland Theatre, the Truman, Starlight, the Uptown, Azura Amphitheater and more. And don’t miss Boulevardia, a two-day festival that brings dozens of live performers across multiple stages to Grand Blvd. at Crown Center.
KC Culture Makes the Ideal Keepsake
From paintings and prints to small-batch candles, Kansas City’s local creatives fill shelves across the region with craft goods you’ll want to take home as a reminder of your time in the City of Fountains. While the excellent retail options are too numerous to list, there are several ways to browse a variety of local makers under one roof.
Find a fantastic selection at any of Made in KC’s many locations throughout the metro area. (At the Midtown shop, you’ll also be able to check out a brilliant collection of Black-owned goods at the Black Pantry.) Make a trip to the aptly-named Shop Local KC in Crown Center, Brookside, and Leawood, or visit the retro-cool West Bottoms neighborhood to peruse dozens of vendors at the 12th Street Post—plus, antique shops of all kinds are just steps away, especially during First Friday Weekends.
A Sporting Event for Every Season
Chances to root for the home team never stop, whether you’re in the stands watching the Kansas City Chiefs, the Royals, Sporting KC, the Monarchs or the Current. But the athletic action doesn’t stop there: In March, T-Mobile Center welcomes the Big 12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, followed by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. For visitors looking to flex their own athletic prowess, the Kansas City Marathon and other race events offer the chance to see more of Kansas City on foot.
Endless Ways to Enjoy KC’s Famous Barbecue
The region’s most well-recognized culinary staple remains a favorite activity for locals and visitors alike. Relative newcomers that have made headlines, including Chef J BBQ and Harp Barbecue, join mainstays like Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Q, Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue and many more to make the timeless Kansas City tradition more intriguing than ever. Get the all-encompassing guide and track your journey at VisitKC.com/BBQ.
Plus, KC boasts entirely unrivaled celebrations of the cuisine that reach well beyond the walls of any restaurant. The American Royal World Series of Barbecue—the world’s largest barbecue competition—continues to serve as a worthy tribute to the art of smoked meats and those who have perfected its craft, while Q BBQ Fest fills GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium with local and visiting pitmasters handing out savory samples to all in attendance, creating a totally unique barbecue tasting event.
A Diverse and Dazzling Dining Landscape
The legend of KC barbecue lives on for good reason, but don’t be fooled—the burnt ends are just the beginning. Kansas City’s restaurant landscape continues to dazzle, from hole-in-the-wall sandwich shops and eccentric breakfast options to storied and well-suited steakhouses. Make time for a stop at the Westside’s Yoli Tortilleria, a treasured local favorite for Sonoran-style tortillas that recently earned a place in the national spotlight as Kansas City’s latest James Beard Award winner.
Cool and Creative Places to Stay
In Kansas City, your hotel can provide entertainment, artistic inspiration and outstanding culinary selections all on its own. Hotel Kansas City is home to one of the city’s most celebrated restaurants and a lively nightlife hotspot, while the Crossroads Hotel boasts a rotating art gallery and a perennially popular rooftop venue. The Loews Kansas City Hotel invites guests to linger at a stunning lobby bar that offers soaring skyline views, the Hotel Phillips invites adventure with a well-appointed speakeasy and the 21c Museum Hotel hosts an array of artwork that impresses from the moment you enter the building. A new addition on the Country Club Plaza, the Cascade Hotel will feature four distinct dining options inside Strang Chef Collective.
All Flavors of Artistic Flair
Very simply, the region’s displays of performing and visual art are second to none. See the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City at the soaring Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and keep an eye on a full roster of theatrical performances from many more area groups. See paintings, murals, sculptures and many more visual creations in galleries and street illustrations all throughout the city, with First Fridays putting even more works on display.
Museums Full of Marvels
Kansas City’s immersive museums cater to arts enthusiasts, history buffs and anyone who hopes to soak in some of the city’s most iconic sights. At The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, it’s easy to spend hours meandering among priceless artifacts and carefully curated collections. The National WWI Museum and Memorial offers brand new looks at historical treasures inside a recently expanded exhibit space, while Independence’s Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum provides an in-depth look at the life of the 33rd president. For an unparalleled glimpse at local history and culture over the decades, step inside the Kansas City Museum, which makes new (and striking) use of an ornate mansion.