Kansas City will host the 2012 MLB All-Star Game on July 10, the first time they’ve had the Midsummer Classic since 1973 when then-Royals Stadium opened.
While the game is on Tuesday, that whole weekend is packed with events and attractions for out-of-towners. If you’re coming to Kansas City for the first time or if you’re going to be staying in the city for the full All-Star festivities, there’s plenty to see along with baseball-related events.
Baseball, of course, is the main reason Kansas City will be hopping, so let’s start there with what you should look for.
Your first stop in that case should be the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Located in the historic 18th & Vine district, the NLBM contains artifacts, clippings, information and exhibits that chronicle the history of the Negro Leagues. The exhibits share a timeline of world events that coincide with baseball, providing a narrative of our nation’s progress toward integration in society and in the national pastime. The design of the museum is symbolic, with the appropriately named Field of Legends which features full size statues of Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard and the famous Satchel Paige and can only be reached after you’ve taken the full journey. (You can check on events at the NLBM during the All-Star Break here.)
While you’re there, the American Jazz Museum is in the same building, sharing the great American art form and features Charlie Parker, Count Basie and others. President Clinton’s saxophone is on display too.
If you’re still in the mood for some sports history but want to grab a bite to eat, Chappell’s Sports Bar and Museum has everything you want. Football helmets, autographed baseballs and other memorabilia are all over the place there, while other items, like the gloves from the film Rocky, are on display as well.
If you’re still in an historic mood, another must-see is the Liberty Memorial and the World War I museum. It’s the official national WWI museum and an impressive structure in its own right, but if you walk to the top, you also get a view of the Kansas City skyline, including Crown Center and Union Station nearby.
After all of that, you’re probably getting hungry, and you should try to get into one of the famed barbecue joints Alan talked about previously. Arthur Bryant’s, Gates and Oklahoma Joe’s battle for Kansas City barbecue supremacy, while Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue also puts up its own solid case. You really can’t go wrong.
Many of these restaurants and others can be found in the various districts of Kansas City. The Plaza features shopping and dining options as well as a plethora of fountains (and you’ll see a LOT of fountains – only Paris has more). Westport has all sorts of bars to stop by, including Kelly’s Westport Inn, the oldest in the city, Harry’s Bar and Tables for fine cocktails and McCoy’s which doubles as a restaurant and brewery (get the Ginger Shandy and thank me later). More nightlife can be found in the Power and Light District, as well. You could also stop by the Crossroads Art District which has a good selection of watering holes as well as various galleries (and First Fridays showcases artwork each month in the area and happens to correspond to All-Star weekend).
Of course if you’re just looking to make up your own meals, the City Market features a large farmer’s market surrounded by shops and restaurants. Just walking by, smells of spices and fresh produce beckon while carts selling homemade fudge and other treats wait for you to give in.
Other great attractions include the Kansas City Zoo, Lego Land at Crown Center, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Federal Reserve (always an interesting tour), Worlds of Fun, and up north various casinos if you’re feeling lucky.
And if you happen to need a break from baseball and want to see other athletic competition, Sporting KC hosts Houston on July 7th at Livestrong Park.
Last and definitely not least is the Boulevard Brewery. Boulevard brews all sorts of styles but their signature is Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat and you’ll find it at any bar in the city. If you’re the type to partake in an adult beverage, give it a try. There are also various cab companies in Kansas City as well and the Kansas City Strip, a trolley that takes you from one bar district to another (don’t drink and drive!).
That’s just a sample of things to do in Kansas City if you’re visiting for the All-Star break. By no means is that the full list of places to go, to eat, to explore. To do that, you’d have to spend more than just the All-Star break in town. You can check out VisitKC.com for more information.