Home to more than 200 fountains, iconic barbecue joints and trendy neighborhoods, Kansas City, Missouri, has quietly re-emerged as one of the brightest gems of the American Midwest.
That’s nothing new to natives of Kansas City, of course. The Fountain City boasts a deep history that has impacted American culture over the past century. Kansas City’s famous Prohibition-era jazz clubs changed the landscape of American music for decades to follow, and many premier jazz venues still operate in the city.
Foodies also recognize Kansas City for its steakhouses and barbecue joints, which have become famous for their style nationwide. Pioneered by the iconic Black pitmaster Henry Perry, Kansas City barbecue has been served since the early 20th Century. Many contemporary Kansas City restaurants use the city’s historical dish as a basis for inventive fusion cuisine.
Today, Kansas City is a blossoming center of arts and culture with a deep well of restaurants, museums and parks to entice guests. The city’s craft beer scene is no different. Kansas City has something to offer beer tourists of all types, with some breweries dedicated to the craft of perfecting traditional European lagers and pilsners, while other breweries serve up top notch modern styles like hazy IPAs.
Breweries are now open across all corners of Kansas City and its surrounding suburbs. To help sort through Kansas City’s breweries and nearby attractions, we’ve written a primer on everything you have to hit while visiting. Here is a breakdown of all the best breweries, bites and sights in Kansas City.
Best Breweries in Kansas City
There are more than 30 breweries to check out in and around Kansas City, with even more announced to open soon.
Where to Snag a Sour
Since opening in early 2019, no brewery in Kansas City has cranked out more balanced and bright sour beers than City Barrel Brewing Company. Armed with large, locally crafted aging barrels known as “foeders”, City Barrel Brewing Company consistently brews up tart wild and sour ales throughout the year.
Try one of City Barrel Brewing Co.’s fruited sour ales or foeder-aged saisons to start. City Barrel Brewing Co., found in the downtown area, also prides itself on IPAs bursting with hop flavor and aroma.
Where to Score a Stout
While Double Shift Brewing Company keeps a rotating tap list of different beer styles flowing, guests should check out the brewery’s robust stouts. Double Shift Brewing Company—located just a short walk from City Barrel Brewing Company—often has imperial stouts available flavored with cacao, vanilla, hazelnut and more.
Where to Grab an IPA
BKS Artisan Ales, found just south of Kansas City in Brookside, is an essential stop for every craft beer geek that loves IPAs. This brewery consistently cranks out highly-rated IPAs from across the spectrum, including New Zealand-style IPAs, New England IPAs, West Coast IPA and double IPAs. Even if you’re looking for something light, such as a pilsner, the brewery may have a dry hopped version of the style on tap.
An Afternoon in Kansas City
Check out this collection of local hot spots in close proximity so you can eat, drink and see Kansas City in one afternoon.
Serving as Kansas City’s main hub for the fine arts, the Crossroads Arts District houses everything to make for a full day out. It is recommended to plan to visit the area on the first Friday of the month, if possible, as the Crossroads Arts District comes alive with gallery openings and special events those days.
There are multiple breweries in the Crossroads Arts District, but few offer a better place to hang out for a few pints than Torn Label Brewing Co. The brewery keeps a wide variety of beer styles on tap to satisfy most guests that visit its spacious taproom. Torn Label Brewing Co. has large indoor and outdoor patio space, and a full kitchen for hungry guests.
If you don’t grab food at Torn Label Brewing Co., don’t worry! The Crossroads Arts District has dozens of incredible restaurants to visit for brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails. The massive food hall Parlor features restaurants and bars across three floors, and restaurants like the modern German bistro Affäre and the art-focused eatery Society offer upscale dining options. For a casual breakfast or lunch, head to local favorite Mildred’s. The Mom and Pop establishment has made classic diner fare from scratch for decades and continues to offer dishes at very affordable prices.
The Crossroads Arts District is also walking distance from other key stops in Kansas City. One mile east, visitors to Kansas City should head to the city’s historic 18th & Vine neighborhood, the birthplace of Kansas City jazz. Today, guests can visit the American Jazz Museum or the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum during their time in 18th & Vine.
Basketball fans will find the College Basketball Experience—the college basketball Hall of Fame—within walking distance of the Crossroads Arts District. More than just a sports hall of fame, fans can play basketball and interact with exhibits, including a free throw game that simulates the environment of a hostile arena and a sports desk where fans can show off their broadcasting chops.
Swing by these sites to document your trip to Kansas City.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Shuttlecocks
Found on the green lawns of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are four massive statues of shuttlecocks. The sculptures were created by married duo Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen and were installed in 1994.
National Museum of Toys & Miniatures
Home to the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and antique toys, the National Museum of Toys & Miniatures showcases some impressive curios. Check out the museum’s expertly-crafted dollhouses and small-scale paintings.
TWA Corporate Headquarters Building
Located inside the Crossroads Arts District, the former home of Trans World Airlines in Kansas City is now a building on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The building features an iconic 22-foot replica of a TWA Moonliner II rocket.
Worth the Drive
Looking to get out of the city? These nearby attractions are Worth the Drive.
Just across the Kansas-Missouri border from Kansas City, the city of Overland Park has its own unique set of attractions for visitors. Overland Park isn’t a mere bedroom community suburb to Kansas City and boasts a population near 200,000, meaning there are plenty of things to check out.
On the way to Overland Park, all beer tourists need to visit Kansas City Bier Co. The brewery, founded in 2014, specializes in German and other European beers that follow the Reinheitsgebot—German brewing purity laws established in the 16th Century. Kansas City Bier Co. imports its malt and house cultures from Europe to mimic old-world recipes as closely as possible. If you want to find real deal Bavarian lagers and ales, there is no better place to visit than Kansas City Bier Co.
And what goes better with beer than a big plate of barbecue? Kansas City has a century of barbecue tradition, and that extends to Overland Park. There are plenty of eateries to find a plate of Kansas City-style barbecue, such as Gates Bar-B-Q, which has been serving since the 1940s. Other Overland Park-area barbecue joints include Brobecks Barbeque, Hayward’s Pit Bar B Que and Thai barbecue fusion spot Buck Tui.
Before heading back into Kansas City, visitors should wrap up their day with a trip to Overland Park’s Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. Since opening in late 2007, the museum has garnered international acclaim for its architecture and collection of mixed medium exhibitions.
Interact with the map below to navigate to every stop mentioned in this article, and have fun exploring Kansas City!