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flickr/Chris Murphy

Kansas City in 3 DaysThree days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these things to do to make the most of your time in Kansas City.

By Patricia Miller

Day 1: MorningStart your exploration of Kansas City with a hearty meal. If it's Sunday, it must be time for brunch, and your options are plentiful in Kansas City. Depending on what's closest, here are some eateries that prepare some of the best in the city: Blue Bird Bistro , Bristol Seafood + Steak + Social and Lidia's Kansas City .

Breakfast also can be had at Chaz on the Plaza , the Raphael Hotel's swanky in-house restaurant.

Day 1: AfternoonKill two birds with one stone at The Museums at 18th & Vine , home to the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum , a true score if you love both sports and music. The American Jazz Museum pays tribute to the originators of jazz with memorabilia, listening stations, film clips and neon lights that once glowed outside nightclubs. Check out The Blue Room, a part of the museum that is transformed into a live jazz club when night falls. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum presents the history of the leagues from the 1800s through 1960.

Shopaholics will find it difficult to tear themselves away from Country Club Plaza, Kansas City's penultimate shopping venue. Spanish and Moorish buildings with terra-cotta roofs, colorful tile murals, fountains, statues and lush greenery everywhere you look distinguish this shopping mecca from many others. Grab lunch at one of the hip local restaurants such as Parkway Social Kitchen .

See how many fountains you can count during your trip; according to the latest total, KC had about 200. One of the most beautiful is the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain near Country Club Plaza; adorned with horses, dolphins and cherubs, it's 80 feet in diameter. Find more fountains in Country Club Plaza, including fountains of Bacchus and Neptune, and the humorous Boy and Frog fountain.

Day 1: EveningKansas City is famous for a few things, not the least of which is barbecue. When dinnertime rolls around, chow down at such tried-and-true local restaurants as Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue - Freight House and Smokehouse Bar-B-Que .

Jazz: It's another of Kansas City's claims to fame. Have a hot time in the old town in the 18th & Vine Jazz District. Live musicians play The Blue Room, KC Blues & Jazz Juke House, and The Gem, a renovated theater with a colorful marquee which hosts a jazz concert series. There's good rockin' after midnight at the Mutual Musicians Foundation, where the jamming starts at midnight and keeps going until dawn.

Day 2: MorningSports aficionados will want to check out a Kansas City Royals baseball game April through October at Kaufmann Stadium and visit the Royals Hall of Fame , also at Kaufmann Stadium, any time of the year. Step out of the sidelines at The College Basketball Experience near the T-Mobile Center, where you can work on your lay-ups and 3-pointers while you walk or run in the shoes of your favorite college hoop-shooter.

Day 2: AfternoonDon't miss The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art , housed in two equally impressive buildings: the 1933 Beaux Art Nelson-Atkins Building and the modern 2007 Bloch Building. The expansive lawn is marked by gigantic shuttlecocks, statuary and large pools. Highlights include the indoor Noguchi Sculpture Court; Bauhaus, Cubist, Expressionist and Surrealist works; a comprehensive collection of bronzes by English sculptor Henry Moore; ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art; and Claude Monet's “Water Lilies.”

The smaller Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art on 20th and 21st-century art by well-known artists like Georgia O'Keeffe, Andy Warhol and William Wegman, as well as lesser-known but equally intriguing names like Lesley Dill, Fairfield Porter and Frank Stella. After you've had your fill of oils and abstracts, have lunch at the museum's in-house restaurant, Café Sebastienne . The menu is small but varied, with items like spinach salad and fish tacos.

flickr/Chris Murphy
Take a ride to the top of the 217-foot-tall Liberty Memorial Tower at the National World War I Museum and Memorial for breathtaking views of downtown Kansas City. The impressive limestone tower is flanked on each side by a sphinx and a museum building. Inside the museum you'll find soldier's uniforms from past wars, photographs, letters, weapons, battle plans and other artifacts describing the war in great detail.

Day 2: EveningHead to downtown's Power & Light District and have dinner at a fashionable café like Bristol Seafood + Steak + Social , where the seafood is never frozen, or Drunken Fish , for sushi aficionados.

You could take in a film at one of several theaters, but if you'd rather paint the town red, livelier choices abound. Hit the stylish Mosaic Ultra Lounge or retro-beachy Shark Bar for drinks and dancing; party on at Angels Rock Bar to classic rock tunes by bands and DJs; or sing along to dueling piano players at Howl at the Moon. Or try your luck knocking down some pins and playing shuffleboard at No Other Pub by Sporting KC.

Day 3: MorningSweep into Swope Park , where outdoor enthusiasts can hit the links, hike or ride a bike on nature trails, play disc golf, make a splash in the Olympic-sized swimming pool, or use the park's lagoon for boating, fishing and ice skating, depending on the season. Also in the park is the Kansas City Zoo , where you can see animals from Africa, Asia and Australia; experience a somewhat bumpy camel ride; wander through an indoor rain forest inhabited by a variety of birds and monkeys; and ride the merry-go-round.

Day 3: AfternoonGet a warm-and-fuzzy feeling at the Hallmark Visitors Center , where displays of greeting cards and holiday ornaments from the early 1900s to the present are bound to bring back sweet memories. Among the fun things to do is learning how cards are made and making your own bow to take home.

Union Station is noted for its history, its Beaux-Arts architecture and its gargantuan size. Originally a railroad station that eventually fell into disrepair, it was renovated and reopened in the late 1990s. Check out the marble floors, huge glass chandeliers and restored plaster ceilings with intricate designs. The building also contains shops and local restaurants as well as Science City , a family-oriented attraction that offers such activities as digging for fossils, concocting weird foods in the Test Kitchen and riding a bicycle 30 feet above the floor.

Day 3: EveningThe Starlight Theatre is also in Swope Park, so if you've spent the day at the park or the Kansas City Zoo, make advance arrangements to get tickets for a show; the schedule includes touring musicals as well as pop and rock performers.

If seeing a show isn't included in your plans head for Brookside Park, a neighborhood about 4 miles west of Swope Park, and do some window shopping at the Brookside Park Shopping District (centered along 63rd Street between Main Street and Wornall Road). There are also plenty of options for places to eat here. A good choice if you're in the mood for Italian is Carmen's Café (do you hear lasagna calling your name?). If you prefer the butter and rich cream sauces embraced in Northern Italian cuisine, head to Osteria Il Centro . Their house-made pasta and sauces are popular. Pair your dinner with a selection from their extensive wine list.

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Kansas City, KS

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Travel Information

City Population

459,787

Elevation

1,005 ft.

Sales Tax

The sales tax rate in the city of Kansas City is 7.99 percent. The city's lodging tax is 11.98 percent and there is a rental car tax of $4 per day.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(816) 234-5111

Temperature

(816) 540-6021

Hospitals

Research Medical Center, (816) 276-4000; St. Joseph Medical Center, (816) 942-4400; Saint Luke's Hospital, (816) 932-2000; Saint Luke's North Hospital, (816) 891-6000; Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill, (816) 404-1000.

Visitor Information

1321 Baltimore Ave. Kansas City, MO 64105. Phone:(816)221-5242 or (800)767-7700

Air Travel

Kansas City International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz, at the airport, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (816) 243-5765 or (800) 654-3080.

Rail Service

The Amtrak station, (816) 421-3622 or (800) 872-7245, is at W. Pershing Road and Main Street.

Buses

Greyhound Lines Inc., (800) 231-2222, is at 1101 Troost Ave. Jefferson Lines also serves Kansas City.

Taxis

Yellow Cab, (816) 471-5000, is the city's major taxi service. Cabs are deregulated, so fares vary widely. Rates are posted on each cab, and you are not required to take the first cab in a line. Up to five people can share a ride for a single fare.

Public Transportation

Ride KC, the metro bus system, serves all of Greater Kansas City except Johnson County. The exact-change fare minimum is $1.50 ($3 for an all-day pass) and varies by distance. For more details and for route information regarding construction, phone (816) 221-0660.

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