Another year means another round of praise for Kansas City. Crowned by National Geographic as one of the Best Trips in 2019, there’s no end to KC’s modern renaissance, from notable anniversaries to flourishing distilleries and everything in between.
As the team at Nat Geo so succinctly put it, now’s the time to “revel in the revival.” Here are nine reasons to explore KC in 2019.
Raise a toast to the new golden age of Kansas City spirits. More than 80 years post-Prohibition, craft distilling is booming once again—this time fully legal, thankfully—with a few familiar faces that have returned to their former glory, plus plenty of newcomers, too.
Those of legal age can imbibe in everything from bourbon and gin to absinthe and mead, all made right in the region. Celebrate the past, present and future of J. Rieger & Co. and the Electric Park neighborhood with the distiller’s expansive new production facility and Hospitality Center that’s set to open spring 2019. Meanwhile, other popular distillers like Tom’s Town continue to expand distribution and liquor offerings and new bars like The Campground add stylish flair to an already-thriving cocktail culture.
Fab Five Find Home in KC
The Fab Five from Netflix’s Queer Eye quickly became fans of Kansas City, where the third season of the reality show was filmed throughout 2018—and where the stars were embraced by the city’s trademark Midwestern friendliness. Be on the lookout for the season debut sometime in 2019.
Appropriately, Kansas City’s LGBTQ scene has quietly become one of the strongest in the Midwest. All throughout the city, visitors will find gay-owned bars, restaurants, galleries and more, such as Café Trio, Bistro 303 and Missie B’s.
Flourishing Hotel Renaissance
Kansas City's hotel resurgence continues to prosper with the addition of several properties, such as two Hotel Indigos—one steps away from the Kansas City Convention Center and the other in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District—the sophisticated 21c Museum Hotel and the Crossroads Hotel, which received high praise from Conde Nast Traveler.
Construction continues for the 800-room Loews Kansas City Hotel, which is on track to debut in 2020, while a major, $20 million renovation at The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center rounds out countless stellar options.
Big Year for Barbecue
Long-known as a haven for barbecue, Kansas City ‘cue is easier to access and more engaging than ever thanks to the debut of the KC BBQ Experience app.
Check in to regional restaurants, earn badges for your efforts, embark on themed trails and more using the free app. Plus, with all 100-plus restaurants included in the app, visitors can find classic joints and new favorites in one easy-to-use platform—which means less time spent searching and more devoted to enjoying the city’s signature cuisine.
Black History Month Hub
Observe and honor Black History Month during February by visiting the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, an area rich in historic significance.
There, travelers can enjoy a multitude of events and celebrations during Black History Month, as well as tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and American Jazz Museum, both of which pay tribute to black American heroes of yesteryear—and pioneers of the future, as noted so poignantly in The New York Times’s writeup of the United States Civil Rights Trail.
Notable Art Anniversaries and Exhibitions
The new year marks a quarter-century of operation for the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Commemorate 25 years of progressive and contemplative works with new exhibitions and events, as well as the museum’s incredible permanent collection.
Just a stone’s throw away, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art showcases Napoleon: Power and Splendor, an amazing exhibition featuring the majesty of the general and emperor’s imperial court—a blockbuster exploration that runs through March 10.
Burgeoning Culinary Destination
Diverse in style, influence and cuisine, Kansas City’s dining scene thrives on innovation, yet maintains a reverence for classics that keep diners coming back day after day.
New in 2019 is the highly anticipated Farina, a fresh concept from James Beard-winning Chef Michael Smith, as well as an original food hall from well-known Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio. Then there’s buzzy restaurants like The Antler Room and Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room that regularly wow critics and diners alike while returning favorites Golden Ox, The Savoy at 21c and Plaza III showcase modern takes on the city’s old-school roots.
Passion and pride define Kansas City’s fans, who collectively show up early, get loud during and stay late to root on their hometown teams. Most notably to start off 2019 is the Kansas City Chiefs’ return to the NFL Playoffs.
Returning in March for an unprecedented 17th year, the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship highlights a huge month of college basketball for the city, which will also host the NCAA Men’s Midwest Regional. In the middle of the summer, the country’s top gymnasts face off during the U.S. Gymnastics Championships at Sprint Center. Not to mention that KC was selected as a finalist to host matches during the 2026 North American World Cup—yet another example of the city’s fervent soccer fandom.
Make Micro Trip Memories
Make time for micro trips in 2019. According to Elle, more than half of the travelers in the world will leave their mark on this new trend, which focuses on trips with shorter timeframes and more curated itineraries. Kansas City has you covered.
Spend your weekend getaway taking in KC’s dynamic museum offerings at top-notch attractions like the National WWI Museum and Memorial—not to mention galleries, graffiti and everything in between. Kids love to get wild at the Kansas City Zoo and reach new heights at Worlds of Fun while an array of boutiques and local retailers mean shoppers have plenty of keepsakes to help remember their stay.