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Nelson Atkins Museum

My Favorite Thing About Kansas City

It’s hard to believe ACBSP Conference 2018 is just two months away. The world headquarters staff has been anticipating this conference for a couple of years, excited to welcome you to the city we all love. And there’s a lot to love about Kansas City!

Most cities have a nickname that describes that one “something” that makes a city unique. Paris is known as “The City of Lights,” New York City is known as “The Big Apple,” Las Vegas is known as “Sin City,” and Chicago is often called “The Windy City.”

Kansas City has not one, but multiple nicknames:

  • “Cowtown” — honoring the Kansas City Stockyards, which supplied meat to the nation in its heyday (
  • “BBQ Capital of the World” — with more than 100 restaurant choices in the KC metro (A-Z list from
  • “City of Fountains” — Kansas City is said to have more fountains than any city in the world, except Rome, with more than 200 fountains in the KC metro. (
  • “Jazz Capital of the World” — Count Basie, who joined Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra in 1929, is credited with originating a unique style of jazz that pulled heavily from the blues music tradition as well as ragtime. In its heyday, Kansas City had more than 100 night clubs, dance halls and vaudeville houses. (
  • “KCMO” — to distinguish the Missouri side of Kansas City from its other half – Kansas City, Kansas or “KCK” (, and
  • “Paris of the Plains” — probably one of the oldest nicknames, which started after World War I, when Kansas City became one of the great centers for jazz and corrupt officials permitted clubs to provide all the elements of indulgence which characterized 19th century Paris. (

With art and music festivals throughout the year, a treasure trove of museums, professional baseball, football and soccer teams, diverse restaurant choices, and eclectic shopping options — there truly is something for everyone in Kansas City. With so much to choose from, it’s sometimes hard to pick a favorite, but with more than 800 ACBSP members and prospective members coming to our city this June, I asked the ACBSP team to do just that. Here’s what they had to say:


What’s Your Favorite Thing About Kansas City?

18th & Vine in KC “My favorite things about Kansas City are Jazz and Baseball. Kansas City STARTED the jazz movement at 18thand Vine. Some well known jazz artists who were part of the famed Harlem Renaissance, like Count Bassie, played on those streets entertaining people who were victims of Jim Crow but still succeeded in living each day. We also had the Kansas City Monarchs, a baseball team with the talents of Satchel Paige, the best pitcher in baseball history, and Buck O’Neill, who was revered for years by this city and has a seat named after him in Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City is also the birthplace of Walt Disney. This town is so rich in not just Black History but also American History. We have our struggles, but this is a wonderful city…GO CHIEFS!!!” — Danielle Henderson, Conference and Meeting Services Coordinator


West Bottoms KC

First Weekends in the West Bottoms of KC

First Weekends in the West Bottoms

Bella Patina, one of the vintage shops in KC’s West Bottoms

“My favorite thing about Kansas City is First Friday Weekend in the West Bottoms. The use of old buildings which sat empty for years, now utilized for antique and vintage stores run by individuals and small businesses is awesome. Every month there is something new and unique. I consider the West Bottoms to be a true treasure for Kansas City.” — Diana Hallerud, Associate Director of Accreditation



WWI Museum

photo credit: Visit KC

“It was 14 years ago that I relocated from the Greater Philadelphia area to Kansas and Kansas City. I have to admit that it was quite a culture shock moving from the harried East Coast back to the Midwest. What struck me right away, was that there is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to this fantastic city and the metro area. Being married in a multicultural family with my wife being Mexican, it didn’t take us long to find El Pollo Rey on Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. That’s right, Kansas City is so fabulous that it couldn’t be confined to one state. What’s great about KCK as we affectionately refer to the Kansas side, is that it’s only a 10-minute Uber ride from downtown. On the Missouri side. Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen & Bar on Southwest Boulevard is just a quick trip from the downtown as well. For attractions, the National World War I Museum and Memorial is a poignant tribute and history lesson of a conflict that reshaped the world. Just take the street car (free) to Union Station and you’ll see it from there.” — Jeffrey Alderman, President and CEO


Nelson Atkins Museum

photo credit: Visit KC

DH2 and Nelson

Danielle and her cat Nelson

“My absolute favorite place in Kansas City is The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I love it so much I named my cat after it – Nelson! The amount of incredible works of art and variety of exhibitions they have is amazing. I feel like it’s so underrated. It’s somewhere I go to relax, to learn, or to have a quiet moment alone to reflect. I’ve been to many art museums, and I still feel that it’s one of the best in the country. Last, but not least, it’s free to get in!” — Danielle Harter, Member Services Coordinator 


Country Club Plaza

photo credit: Visit KC

“My favorite thing about Kansas City has to be the Country Club Plaza. I love the romantic Spanish architecture and the beautiful fountains and sculptures. The ambiance and high-end stores and restaurants make me feel like we have our own Rodeo Drive here in Kansas City. The illumination of the Plaza lights every Thanksgiving is dazzling and such a wonderful start to the holiday season.” — Carmen Hayes, Director, Member Services




Giles at the Plaza Art Fair

Giles (right) and his brother Chad at the Plaza Art Fair

Plaza Art Fair “I think my favorite thing in Kansas City is the Plaza Art Fair. It’s essentially a free, open-air, public art gallery/market; how cool is that? But it’s not just about the art. That’s certainly the biggest draw, since you get to see all types of art — paintings, metalwork, woodwork, fabrics, etc. — from all around the country and world. However, once the late September sun sets and it starts cooling down, that’s when the real party starts. There are local musical acts and pop-up performance artists. Sometimes you’ll see fire dancers. Local restaurants set up stalls with a variety of fare and drink. Plus you’ll find Kansas Citians from all walks of life out there.”  — Giles Rafol, IT Systems Administrator


KC Streetcar

photo credit: Visit KC

“Two of my favorite things about Kansas City are the new street car and First Fridays in the Crossroads Art District. I got to ride the streetcar on opening day. It was exciting and scary as the drivers were still learning! The group I was with made frequent stops, visiting various restaurants/vendors where we enjoyed great food and boulevard beers. Another favorite happens the first weekend of every month in the West Bottoms, an area where several old buildings have been renovated and turned into vintage shops. I don’t enjoy shopping so much; it’s the environment and the excitement of the people I enjoy. The Irish Fest, the BBQ contest, KC has a lot to offer!” — Mary Riley, Director of Administration


Kauffman Center

photo credit: Visit KC

Inside the Kauffman Center

Melinda with her son Ethan, after his choir performance at Kauffman Center

“I moved to the Kansas City area nearly 19 years from Birmingham, Alabama, knowing only the famous Fats Domino song, Kansas City, and that the city is known for great BBQ. I could have listed any and all of the things my team members have mentioned, but one of my favorites is the crown jewel that changed the Kansas City skyline and upped the ante on arts and entertainment in our community — the gorgeous Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This incredible building, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, opened in 2011 as part of an ongoing redevelopment of downtown KC. It is home to the Kansas City Ballet, the Lyric Opera, and the Kansas City Symphony. They offer a diverse range of concerts and programming that people of all ages and interests can enjoy. They also work with music departments of local school districts, colleges and universities, allowing student choirs to perform in the majestic 1,600-seat Helzberg Hall. In fact, the first concert I attended at the newly opened Kauffman Center back in 2011 was to hear my son’s high school concert choir perform.” — Melinda Dorning, Director, Marketing & Communications


ACBSP staff and members

Weekend adventure: ACBSP staff and members exploring KC’s West Bottoms

We’ve introduced some ACBSP members to the parts of Kansas City we love over the years as they’ve come to town for board and commission meetings. Kim Wong, Central New Mexico Community College, and Debbie Gaspard, Southeast Community College, got to experience the Plaza Art Fair, which happened to follow a board meeting one year. Debbie returned to KC to shop First Weekend in the West Bottoms with several ACBSP team members and Lakshmy Sivaratnam from Kansas City Kansas Community College.


Although I still prefer good southern BBQ, I have come to love everything about Kansas City! I hope while you’re here for ACBSP Conference 2018 this June, you’ll get to experience some of these hot spots and come to love Kansas City as much as we do.

We’ll see you soon.