Midwestern cities tend to sprawl, but in Kansas City a revitalized urban core has drawn dreamers back downtown. Supercharged by the introduction of Google’s high-speed gigabit service in late 2012, this former stockyard town in Missouri now regularly hosts startup pitch sessions, hackathons, and—inevitably—converted-warehouse parties. In fact, even the city’s most celebrated tradition (not counting amazing barbecue) has received an upgrade. On Thanksgiving, revelers will turn up for the Plaza Lighting Ceremony, when 15 blocks of the historic outdoor shopping district will twinkle with tens of thousands of festive lights. You bet they’re LEDs (mostly).
SEEMarvel at the more than 72,000 playthings—some rendered to one-twelfth their original size—at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Then pose beside the four 18-foot-tall shuttlecocks created by big-time artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Later, catch a concert inside the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The space-age and skyline-defining building has a 15,000-square-foot glass wing, anchored by 27 steel cables, that offers 180-degree city views.
DoExplore the Linda Hall Library, which contains a first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. On the first Friday of each month, wander through the city’s gallery-riddled Crossroads Arts District. (Start at the Liberty Memorial, a 217-foot spire that pushes steam past colored lights to create the visual effect of a giant torch still burning in memory of WWI veterans.) Stay up way too late at the Mutual Musicians Foundation, an all-night jazz club with jam sessions Friday and Saturday nights. This National Historic Landmark serves booze until dawn.
EAT Plow through the holy trinity of KC-style BBQ at Arthur Bryant’s, Gates, and Joe’s KC, which shares space with a gas station. Then learn what it takes to carve choice cuts with a whole-hog butchery class at the Local Pig. They serve plenty of Boulevard Brewing beer, so be careful with those knives! Or tour the brewery itself to taste Tank 7, a strong farmhouse ale originally made by accident in one of its brew tanks.
This feature originally appeared in Wired.