KC Is the Place To Be

Two fancy East Coast publications think that Kansas City is the place to be right now. In January, The Wall Street Journal named KC one of the “10 Best Places to Visit in 2024.The New York Times, meanwhile, named KC one of the “52 Places to Go in 2024.” (Times readers apparently have a lot of free time for travel.) 

Home of the Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium.

Why, exactly, do these two snooty publications recommend our town? Sports, obviously, are a huge part of the draw. There’s no better game-day atmosphere on the planet than Arrowhead—or, for that matter, Allen Fieldhouse. The Royals, old venue and all, should be much improved this year. The KC Current’s new home, CPKC Stadium, will be a showpiece. Kansas Speedway has two NASCAR weekends set for 2024. 

Plus, obviously, the world’s most exciting and most important sporting event is on its way here. We mean, of course, PickleCon, the national pickleball convention set for late summer. Oh, yeah, and the World Cup is coming in ’26. 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The Times and Wall Street Journal also note some of the city’s non-sports attractions. The new Rabbit hOle Museum will present a century’s worth of American children’s literature using immersive and interactive exhibits. Our wonderful Nelson-Atkins promises a host of world-class shows. Pennway Point’s new massive ferris wheel will soon rise above restaurants, a beer garden and a gleaming display of historic neon. The Rock Island Bridge project, with its restaurants, coffee shops and bars all spanning the Kaw, promises insanely Instagramable views along with kayaking, paddleboarding and zip lines. 

All these things, though, are just reflections of a vibe. 

There was a hit movie in the ’80s called Baby Boom. Sort of a proto-version of every Hallmark Christmas movie ever, the film featured harried businesswoman Diane Keaton moving to a small New England town and discovering its pleasures—along with the pleasures of Sam Shepard. An ongoing theme is Keaton’s character’s shocked, slightly snobby discovery of unexpected excellence—the food, the conversation, the music. Everything was kind of sneaky good. 

That’s KC. Social scientists call it “quality of life,” but the actual experience boils down to something far less dry and clinical. It’s a kind of happy background glow, the quiet hum of satisfaction that comes from knowing that the food you are eating, the art you are seeing or the team you are cheering for can compete with any other place on Earth. 

You know the cliche, “It’s a great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there?” Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes, though, a place can be both.  

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