Tucked between the notorious Midwestern winters and humid summers, fall may just be the ideal time to visit Kansas City. Agreeable weather aside, the season brings some of the city’s best festivals, like the Plaza Art Fair (September 24–26) and Louisburg Cider Mill Ciderfest (September 25–26, October 2–3). Most notable, however, is the American Royal World Series of Barbecue (September 16–19). The largest barbecue competition in the world returns for its 41st anniversary this year, with concerts, rodeos, and, of course, enough pork ribs and beef brisket to keep you warm through winter. Even when it’s not festival time, though, the city’s best barbecue joints—such as Q39, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Gates BBQ, and Arthur Bryant’s—never disappoint.
When you need a break between meat sweats, KCMO’s other claim to fame can help: live music. Cozy up on a cool night at Green Lady Lounge or the Blue Room, two of the city’s best jazz clubs; or dress up for an evening performance at the Kauffman Center. Standout concerts this season include Martina McBride, Paula Cole, and Ben Folds joined by the Kansas City Symphony.
Other notable fall concerts around town are Alanis Morissette at the T-Mobile Center (September 19), Eryka Badu at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland (October 12), Andrea Bocelli at the T-Mobile Center (October 16), and the Monkees at Uptown Theater (November 10).
Where to stay
Kansas City has seen an uptick in boutique accommodations in the past few years. One of the most recent additions to the hotel scene is Crossroads Hotel, which opened in late 2018 in a former Pabst Blue Ribbon distribution plant. The exposed brick walls and locally sourced decor echo the similarly industrial and artsy Crossroads district, which is within walking distance from the hotel and prime for exploration.
Stay at Crossroads Hotel: from $165/night, expedia.com
The Fontaine is closer to the Plaza area—the city’s premiere shopping district. Its crystal chandeliers and Renaissance paintings announce luxury as soon as you enter the lobby, while the spacious guest rooms are ideal for stretching your legs after a busy day of retail therapy.
Stay at the Fontaine: from $135/night, expedia.com
One of the largest breweries in the Midwest, Boulevard Brewing Company is known for giving back to the community. The company donates beer to charity events, and partners with tons of local businesses and nonprofits. (It also hosts Boulevardia, an urban street festival that celebrates sustainability and supports Kansas City–based charities, although that takes place in June). Great beer with a side of philanthropy? Sign us up.