Explore Kansas City’s Best—and Most Soothing—Arts and Culture
Admire street art, art collections, and a sculpture park, and then explore the city’s creative culinary scene, for an inspiring trip filled with cultural experiences that are scientifically proven to relax you.
Beyond its iconic barbecue, Kansas City entices visitors with its palpable creative pulse. And when you immerse yourself in this hotbed of imagination, you can reap the positive effects of art on well-being, including enhancing mood and reducing anxiety, backed by science.
Imagine stress melting away as you enjoy the fresh air on strolls past larger-than-life street art, admiring sculptures and beautifully manicured gardens, or exploring galleries and museums showcasing the city’s ever-evolving artistic spirit. In the evening, enjoy the full spectrum of originality that defines this community as you savor a healthful meal or inventive dishes at a James Beard Award–nominated restaurant. If you’re seeking a truly inspiring trip, this all-American city offers the perfect fusion of art, creativity, adventure, and wellness.
Kansas City’s murals and museums
A multifaceted world of art awaits in Kansas City, giving you the chance to engage in artistic and cultural activities like visiting galleries and museums, found to improve physical health and lower depression rates. Thanks to the city’s artistic riches, it’s easy to experience beauty and invest in your overall health.
With that in mind, your first stop should be The Crossroads Arts District. Once home to vacant warehouses, the neighborhood is now a testament to the fusion of art, music, and culture here. Along with visits to galleries, studios, and performance spaces buzzing with creative energy, you can attend First Fridays, one of the nation’s largest free art crawls spanning more than 20 blocks, where over 70 shops and galleries stay open late, transforming the district into a lively block party.
It’s also a busy hub for live performances. Head to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, a multi-venue center designed by Moshe Safdie, for a music, opera, theater, or dance performance. You’ll also find more live music at nearby local venues such as Green Lady Lounge, Black Dolphin Lounge, GrindersKC, and recordBar.
As you wander the streets of Kansas City, where buildings serve as canvases for local and international artists alike, you’ll find yourself amid a living gallery of murals. These larger-than-life artworks narrate tales of the city’s history, culture, and aspirations. From abstract splashes of color to intricate portraits, this street art tells stories of the past and future.
Kansas City is also home to world-class art museums. The sleek exterior of The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Gunnar Birkerts, is a fitting setting for the forward-thinking art collection. The museum is a leading force in modern and contemporary art dedicated to enriching lives through exhibitions, education, and a commitment to showcasing established and emerging artists. You’ll always encounter something fresh and inspiring here, like interactive exhibits and avant-garde sculptures.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, an architectural marvel, also houses a vast collection spanning centuries and cultures, including everything from classical masterpieces to contemporary installations. Explore the extensive collection of 34,500 pieces spanning upwards of 5,000 years of human history. From ancient Chinese ceramics to whimsical sculptures, each visit promises something new to see.
Embracing nature’s beauty
An outdoor extension of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park surrounds the museum itself. This open-air gallery integrates art with the outdoors (another proven plus for your health). Stroll through its manicured lawns and marvel at the many captivating sculptures from different eras and styles. The sculptures are thoughtfully placed within the landscape, creating a dynamic interplay between nature and artistic expression.
Then, walk just 10 minutes south and discover the tranquil Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden. This meticulously landscaped garden is a testament to the city’s commitment to beauty and nature. Here, art and nature converge to create a peaceful retreat for contemplation—stroll the pathways and admire the harmonious blend of seasonal blooms, sculptures, and water features. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or simply appreciate outdoor beauty, this park provides a refreshing haven for inspiration and peace of mind.
Savoring the city’s culinary canvas
In addition to its own celebrated traditional style of barbecue, Kansas City’s restaurants thrive on pushing boundaries and redefining traditional Midwestern fare, welcoming innovation with open arms. The culinary scene is a sensory delight, from farm-to-table venues celebrating local ingredients to trailblazing eateries with global influences.
Kansas City has you covered when it comes to healthier dining options that promote wellness and creativity too. The vitality-packed menu at Ruby Jean’s offers fresh, nutritious choices like refreshing fruit smoothies and nourishing bowls. Gigi’s Vegan + Wellness Café, with its flavorful vegan creations, colorful salads, and rich desserts, is heaven-on-earth for plant-based eaters. The Laya Center takes a holistic approach, offering dishes that promote balance, vitality, and mindful eating.
Kansas City also offers plenty of options for omnivores, including James Beard Award semifinalists like Town Company, offering seasonal Midwestern dishes, and Waldo Thai with its creative Thai cuisine designed for sharing. At Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, chef Michael Corvino crafts 10-course tasting menus featuring modern American dishes infused with global ingredients and techniques, including their renowned seaweed donuts.
Wherever you go, Kansas City is the ideal destination for a getaway that nourishes your senses and soul. Every facet of this city resonates with creativity, from the culinary delights that grace your plate to the vibrant artwork that adorns the streets. So, pack your curiosity and set out to experience the artistic heartbeat of Kansas City. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it.