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Travelzoo Experience: 2 Worlds in Kansas City

One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.

I was one of the multitudes who dismissed Kansas City as a leisure destination. Of course, I thought, that LA, NYC, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, etc. are more “exciting.” But a Newsflash email hit my inbox -- it touted airfare to KC from Las Vegas for $160 roundtrip, including taxes. I wouldn’t have taken this trip without a nudge in the right direction with a great deal.

Is Kansas City the old railroad town with century-old advertisements that’s dismissed by the east and west coasters as “flyover country”? Or is it the re-vitalized city with modern high-rises and cutting-edge architecture such as the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (with traits of the Sydney Opera House and the Teatro alla Scala)?

KC’s arts scene rivals any I’ve seen on either coast. Shocking and eye-opening contemporary art pieces are displayed in galleries throughout the downtown Crossroads Arts District. Scores of fountains, statues, sculptures and murals await discovery -- just turn any corner and stop for a minute. Is that splash of orange an Alexander Calder or well-tended garden? The stark-white and sleek-lined Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art sits just blocks from the renowned and stately Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

One can see local musicians in such diverse spaces as the metalhead-bastion Riot Room and the old-time underground jazz club The Majestic.

Many other “identity conflicts” fight for the dominant picture one takes from a Kansas City visit: acres of green in its trees and grass and parks vs. cement and bridges and railroad tracks; history lessons at the nearby Harry Truman home and library vs. job-preparation lessons at more than 10 colleges and universities; old-school BBQ in a roadside shack vs. a “foodie” scene with restaurants such as JJs -- which Wine Spectator said has "one of the best wine lists in the world." This city even serves two masters, as it straddles two states.

Sure, there are gritty parts, but doesn’t that add flavor to the dichotomy -- as opposed to a stark black-and-white contrast?

It all somehow comfortably co-exists without either “old” or “new” overpowering the other. The answer to most posed questions above, of course, is “both.” KC keeps a figurative foot steadfastly entrenched in its rich history while striding toward a contemporary future. Hopefully, neither side winds up “winning.”

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We at Travelzoo would love to know what unexpected destinations that weren’t on your “bucket list” you have visited just because the deal was too good to pass up. Hit us up @Travelzoo or on Facebook.

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Tips by
Ben

Deal Expert, Las Vegas
Friday, June 1, 2012
See more Tips from
Ben Jennings