Kansas City, Missouri

Ever since Lewis and Clark traveled through the future site of Kansas City on their 1803 expedition, the city has been central to American culture. It was a natural jumping off point for settlers on the Oregon Trail and a key battleground for the Civil War. Kansas City might best be known for its barbecue and contributions to jazz and the blues.

See the old, the new, and the odd at the admissions-free Nelson-Atkins Museum of Arts. Stroll the museum's grounds and look for the giant badminton birdie - a unique piece in its sculpture garden. Go local in the Crossroads Arts District on a First Friday Art Walk with almost 100 participating galleries. Sway to the music of an evening show at the American Jazz Museum's Blue Room.

Sip a Kansas City Sling in the dim lights of Manifesto, a local speakeasy - in true modern speakeasy fashion, you'll have to text a request to enter. Crowd into Danny Edward's for a plate full of smoky burnt ends or a juicy rib tips sandwich.

Next Stop: Kansas City

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