Kansas City is a large, major Midwestern metropolitan area that spreads across the border of Missouri and Kansas and has a population of around 2 million. The central city of the metro area is Kansas City, Missouri, the largest city in Missouri, with a population of around 450,000. Across the state border is Kansas City, Kansas, often called "KCK" by locals, which has a population of 150,000. There are also a number of suburbs on both sides of the border.
Kansas City lies on the border of the humid subtropical and humid continental climate zones. Summers are hot and relatively humid with highs around or above 30 °C from June to early September and lows slightly above 20 °C. Winters from December to February sees highs of around 5 °C while nights dip well below zero for a few months. Average annual precipitation is around 900 mm with 80% of that falling from April to October. Winters are relatively dry with occasional snow.
Kansas City International Airport (MCI) is located about 15 miles (24 kilometres) from the central business district of Kansas City. It's one of the best mid-sized airports in the USA. Although it mainly functions as a large domestic airport, there are a few international connections to Canada and Mexico.
To/from the airport
Two trains, operated by Amtrak, travel to and from Kansas City:
Interstate 435 forms a ring around the city. Notably I-70 goes east to St. Louis and west to Denver. I-35 is a major corridor running northeast and southwest. US Highway 71 runs north and south and forms a midtown expressway, running from the I-435/I-470 interchange, in a northwesterly course toward downtown, where it joins I-29. North of the River, US 71 follows the same route as I-29. For more information about navigation in the metro area see the Kansas City Metropolitan Area Wikipedia Article .
Greyhound operates buses to and from Kansas City.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
The Metro bus is feasible within the urban core, where most of the tourist destinations are located. The MAX (Metro Area eXpress) and #57 buses connect downtown, Crown Center, Westport, the Plaza, Brookside, and Waldo. There are other lines that can drop you fairly close to your door in KCMO as well as limited stops in outlying suburbs such as Kansas City, KS, Independence, Blue Springs, Lee's Summit, the Northland, etc. There service to the casinos.
Standard fare is $1.50/trip with transfers available from the bus driver that expire two hours after issue. Some lengthy and express routes may cost more. You may purchase a One Day Pass on the bus. The Day Pass is good for local service only. It is issued at the farebox and expires at midnight. Upon boarding, request a Day Pass before depositing the $3 exact change into the farebox. Most major routes use buses that are equipped with bike racks.
A new north-south streetcar service links Union Station with the popular River Market district. Currently free to ride, the streetcar is a convenient although quite slow way to cross the city centre. Streetcars run every 10-15 minutes from early morning to evening, with extended services om weekends. Route maps and more information avalible at KC Streetcar website.
"Who has the best barbecue in Kansas City?" is a question that causes much debate in Kansas City. Although the debate is usually in good humor, be ready for a passionate explanation which may take some time (or a light-hearted argument if asked in front of more than one person). Although the different restaurants each have their own unique flavors, they will usually have a sauce which is thicker and sweeter than offered in most other parts of the U.S.
Kansas City is also home to a barbecue dish that is rarely found outside the area, called "Burnt Ends." These are the overcooked ends and edges of a brisket, which although dry and chewy, are amazingly smoky and full of flavor (much more flavorful than any other cut). If you are feeling open-minded about your KC barbecue experience, they are definitely worth a try.
There is a popular brewery in KC by the name of Boulevard whose beers are available on tap at many different bars and restaurants throughout town.
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
Ask kbrownlee a question about Kansas City (Missouri)
I have lived in the Kansas City area my entire life, both inside the city and in its suburbs. While most people are familiar with the KC's famous BBQ rivalries and excellent museums, I can also offer insights in to when and where to visit, places off the beaten path worth the traveler's time, and day trips that will enhance even the Kansas Citian's appreciation of this cultural gem.
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