Living in Kansas City

 

Touchdown KC

Airline passengers traveling from coast-to-coast casually glance down at the so-called “fly-over zone” leaving their contrails behind. But if you ever have the good fortune to touchdown at Kansas City International Airport, you’ll discover a big city with a small town feel. It is a city proud of its history yet eager to move into the future.

You’ll notice it first hand when you step off the plane and into the new $1.5 billion airport terminal which is slated for completion in March, 2023. The new single terminal is the largest infrastructure investment in the city’s history and will feature airfield views, live music, fountains, moving walkways and unique displays from artists around the globe.

In an article entitled America’s Top 5 Cities to Keep on Your Radar, the Huffington Post raved that “Kansas City is THE place to be” and one of the “coolest cities to visit right now.” Livability.com recently ranked suburban Overland Park, Kansas as one of the “Top 10 Best Cities for Kids” based on schools, playgrounds, libraries, recreational venues and low crime rate.

In 2021, ListChallenges.com included Kansas City as one of the 100 most stunning cities in the US and Niche.com named the suburb Overland Park, Kansas, as its 4th best city in America and awarded a grade A to Kansas City, Missouri.

Schools

SOR is located in the Blue Valley School District which continues to earn national recognition for educational excellence. US News and World Report placed four of the Blue Valley schools in the top 10 in the state and in 2019, Blue Valley graduates scored a composite ACT of 25.2, well above the national average. Niche.com recognized Blue Valley with Best Teachers, Best Places to Teach and Best School District awards in 2020.

Speaking of great schools, Kansas City is surrounded by three major universities – the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri and Kansas State University. The local University of Missouri – Kansas City campus offers in-state tuition rates for residents of both Missouri and Kansas.

Things To Do

In the Kansas City area, there’s no shortage of events, restaurants, sports, music, museums – you name it. Here are just a few of the attractions that make Kansas City a very special place:

Kansas City BBQ – Kansas City is often referred to as the barbeque capital of the world, and with over 100 barbeque restaurants to choose from, it’s not easy to pick number one. But Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s) must be considered at or among the top of the list. Joe’s KC Bar-B-Que was listed in Men’s Health magazine as “one of the 13 places to eat before you die” and USA Today raved that Joe’s ribs were “the tastiest ribs in America.”

Jazz District – Centered at the corner of 18th and Vine, more than $30 million in civic investment has helped revive this historic area of jazz clubs, restaurants and museums, including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Three decades after its initial opening, the museum has given voice and opened its doors to this forgotten chapter in American baseball history to more than 2 million visitors.

Kauffman Performing Arts Center – This stunning addition to the Kansas City skyline opened in September, 2011, and joins the Lincoln and Kennedy Centers as one of the few artistic venues featuring two distinct performance halls. In September, 2012, after just one year of existence, nearly a half million people had attended an event at the Center. The Kauffman Center provides a strategic cultural link between the Power & Light and burgeoning Crossroads Art districts

Crossroads Arts District – What was once a drab collection of century-old warehouses downtown has been transformed into a vibrant center of boutiques, local restaurants, studios and art galleries. American Airlines’ magazine once described the Crossroads as a “cultural mecca” and “one of the most concentrated art gallery districts in the nation.” The area boasts more art per capita than any other city in America. Today, more than 400 local artists and 100 independent studios call the Crossroads home and with streetcar service opening in 2016, it’s even more convenient to enjoy this area’s rebirth.  

Nelson-Atkins Museum – Famed for the giant shuttlecocks that grace the grounds, the Nelson-Atkins museum is internationally recognized as one of the finest museums in the world. Unlike some other classic museums that may seem sterile or stuffy, the Nelson-Atkins is a charming, Midwestern treasure featuring art and historical artifacts that people truly enjoy. During the months of upheaval caused by the pandemic, the gallery took the time to uncover treasures in their vast collection. The result will be several exhibitions in 2021 that will span thousands of years, ranging from an ancient brick made in Mesopotamia to contemporary art created in Kansas City.             

Power & Light District – Anchored by the 18,000-seat Sprint Center, the bustling Power & Light District features 50 bars, shops and entertainment venues encompassing a 9-block neighborhood. The area boasts a variety of local, regional and national restaurants including TV personality Guy Fieri’s Dive and Taco Joint. KC Live is a two-story game-watching area covered by a translucent canopy that features a 40-foot LED jumbo screen and can accommodate 8,000-plus fans. Construction in the area continues with new co-working spaces and luxury apartments that opened in 2018. By the way, if you’re into wielding lumberjack tools, you can that, too, at Blade and Timber Axe Throwing in the heart of the P&L District.

The Plaza – The famed Plaza of Kansas City was founded in 1922 and is considered by many to be the first shopping center in the US. Reflecting the architecture of its sister city, Seville, Spain, the Plaza area defines the term “upscale shopping” with hundreds of eateries, retailers and entertainment venues. Each year on Thanksgiving evening, more than 200,000 people invade the Plaza to watch 80 miles of multi-colored holiday lights illuminate this 15-block area. In 2020, the Plaza received the prestigious Travelers’ Choice Award from Trip Advisor. 

Westport – Your parents may have visited Westport, or even your great-great-great grandparents! Westport is the oldest community in Kansas City and was once the final stopping point for 19th-century pioneers to load their wagons before heading west on the Santa Fe, California or Oregon Trails. Today, it’s a place where historic charm and youthful exuberance come together in gastronomic harmony. If you’re tired of the big box, franchise restaurants, you need to check out Westport, where more than 40 local eateries offer specialty recipes. Many of the bars and restaurants were closed during the pandemic but nearly all have now reopened and following one-year hiatus, the 42nd Annual Westport Art Show will resume in September, 2021.  

The Legends – When you think of Kansas City, you immediately think of Hollywood, right? If not, you will once you visit The Legends – a unique shopping experience that pays homage to the many Kansans who found fame on the world stage. The Legends is filled with more than 100 famous-brand factory outlets and anchored by tenants such as Walmart, Cabela’s and Nebraska Furniture Mart. Recently added to the roster is the only PUMA outlet in the KC metro area. Sephora and Vera Bradley also opened stores at The Legends in 2021. If that’s not enough to entice you to visit, Kansas Speedway is nearby, as well as Sporting Park and Hollywood Casino.

Parks and Rec – It is the responsibility of Kansas City Parks and Rec to maintain and improve 8 museums, 158 miles of trails and bikeways, 221 parks, 29 lakes, 5 golf courses and 48 fountains. It’s worth noting that only one city worldwide has more fountains than the KC metro – Rome, Italy. KC Parks has established partnerships with hundreds of neighborhood, community, business and not-for-profit organizations. Among their partnerships is the National WWI Museum, Starlight Theater and the Kansas City Zoo. The 200-acre zoo is now home to more than 1,700 animals and will add a $75,000,000 aquarium in 2023.

The Johnson County Parks and Recreation District (SOR is located in Johnson County) has been enhancing the lives of its citizens for more than 60 years through its parks, quality programs, professionalism and response to developing trends. The district’s contributions to the personal lives of Johnson Countians have earned local appreciation and national acclaim. Each year the district records more than 7 million park visitors and over 2 million recreation participants in over 4,000 programs.  

 KC Sports Scene – Aside from the three major universities that surround the Kansas City area, there are plenty of professional sports to go around. The Kansas City Royals shocked the baseball world in 2014 when they fought their way to the final inning of Game 7 of the World Series with the tying run just 90 feet away. They finished the job in 2015, beating the NY Mets in five games to take possession of baseball’s world championship trophy. Each year the Royals host the Big Slick Celebrity Softball Classic to benefit Royals’ charities. In 2019, a star-studded list graced the modified diamond, including Kansas City celebrities Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner. Actor/singer Selena Gomez was also on hand, and of course, there was Patrick Mahomes, hitting a mammoth home run to no one’s surprise.

Speaking of Mahomes, here is a guy who has captured the hearts of Kansas City football fans since his debut in 2019, not just for his exploits on the field but for his philanthropy, humility and concern for the community. You’ll hear him on the radio and see him on billboards and television. You’ll even see his likeness on cereal boxes in grocery store aisles. His attitude reflects the spirit of Kansas Citians – the success of the team is more important than his individual statistics. In his brief, three-year tenure, he has taken the Chiefs to two consecutive Super Bowls.

If you’re into NASCAR, you’ll find an incredible venue located just 15 miles west of downtown Kansas City. Kansas Speedway opened in 2001 and the huge facility can accommodate up to 72,000 racing fans. Sporting Kansas City, playing before capacity crowds at their $180 million, state-of-the-art soccer stadium, continue to be a dominant force in the MLS. They appeared in the playoffs for eight consecutive years, from 2011 to 2019, a feat rarely accomplished in MLS history.

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