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Explore Kansas City

Nearly smack in the middle of the US, Kansas City is famed for barbecue, jazz and the world's largest badminton shuttlecocks. Didn't expect that, did you? KC surprises in many ways – with its art and culture, its fountains and wide-open boulevards, and its intriguing museums and convivial neighborhoods.

The National WWI Museum has so much to see the admission ticket is valid for two days. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art sprawls with world-class treasures, including those mighty shuttlecocks, by sculptor Claes Oldenburg. The American Jazz Museum trumpets the genre's history by day, while hep-cat clubs bop by night in the surrounding Historic Jazz District.

Other neighborhoods prime for a stroll are the Crossroads, an enclave of studios and galleries, and 39th Street West, a strip of hemp shops, boutiques and ethnic eateries. Country Club Plaza melds a posh shopping district with ornate public art and architecture à la Seville, Spain. Wherever you are, seek out KC's slow-roasted, sweet-sauced barbecue. Plenty of restaurants around town heap plates with finger-licking meats.