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Discover the many faces of Kansas City: From jazz to BBQ joints, from its Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to grand institutions of art, enjoy it all in the “Paris of the Plains.”
Rating (5)
Program No. 21810RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,249
Missouri

Signature City Kansas City

Discover the many faces of Kansas City: From jazz to BBQ joints, from its Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to grand institutions of art, enjoy it all in the “Paris of the Plains.”
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,249
Program No. 21810 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2021
Starting at
1,249
May 22 - May 27, 2022
Starting at
1,329
Jun 26 - Jul 1, 2022
Starting at
1,329
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,329
Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
1,329
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2021
Starting at
1,619
May 22 - May 27, 2022
Starting at
1,719
Jun 26 - Jul 1, 2022
Starting at
1,719
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,719
Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
1,719

At a Glance

Combine all the fountains in Rome with more boulevards than Paris, throw in more than 100 BBQ joints and top it off with some stompin’ jazz and you’ve got Kansas City. Spend a week in the “Paris of the Plains” discovering its attention-grabbing neighborhoods, rich African American history, world-class museums and lively jazz clubs. Venture across the city with local experts who share their love and knowledge of this Midwest gem. Along the way, tap your toes to live jazz and stimulate your mind and your taste buds as you learn the secrets of the best BBQ in the country.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to 1.5 miles daily.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Learn about the historical anchors of Kansas City’s black culture on expert-led visits to the American Jazz Museum and Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
  • Hear trade secrets from BBQ experts and sample area styles at two different BBQ joints.
  • Explore the Kansas City home and studio of the late artist Thomas Hart Benton to see how he and his family lived, visit Independence and learn about the pioneers.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Bill Worley
Dr. Worley is a professor of history at Metropolitan Community College—Blue River in Independence, Missouri, and a historical reenactor in the Kansas City region. He received his B.A. from Kansas State University as well as his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. A noted expert on Kansas City history, he has portrayed historical figures including Bob Hope, Harry Truman, Walt Disney and Richard Nixon on the Chautauqua circuit. His written works include "J.C. Nichols and the Shaping of Kansas City."

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Bill Worley
Bill Worley View biography
Dr. Worley is a professor of history at Metropolitan Community College—Blue River in Independence, Missouri, and a historical reenactor in the Kansas City region. He received his B.A. from Kansas State University as well as his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. A noted expert on Kansas City history, he has portrayed historical figures including Bob Hope, Harry Truman, Walt Disney and Richard Nixon on the Chautauqua circuit. His written works include "J.C. Nichols and the Shaping of Kansas City."
Profile Image of Diane Mutti Burke, Ph.D
Diane Mutti Burke, Ph.D View biography
Diane Mutti Burke is a professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Missouri—Kansas City. She also serves as the director of the UMKC Center for Midwestern Studies. A Civil War expert, Diane earned her B.A. in history from Dartmouth College in 1990 and her M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Emory University in 1994 and 2004, respectively. Her 2010 book, "On Slavery's Border: Missouri's Small Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865," won a Missouri Conference on History Book Award.
Profile Image of Marlin Cooper
Marlin Cooper View biography
Marlin Cooper grew up on a family farm and graduated from Moscow High School in 1957. He attended Ottawa University and Pittsburg State College. After his first teaching assignment in Plains, Kansas, he moved to Kansas City to teach Junior High Band. Most of his teaching career was at KCK Community College where he conducted band and orchestra for 27 years. He concluded his teaching experience with seven years leading elementary band for Shawnee Mission School District. Marlin plays saxophone several times a week.
Profile Image of Tish Dwiggins
Tish Dwiggins View biography
Tish Dwiggins, a Missouri native, is an avid traveler who has visited 43 U.S. states and two countries (so far). When friends started asking her to join them on vacation to “show them around,” she discovered a new career path and became certified as a group director/guide in 2018. Tish enjoys helping people not just visit new places but experience them like a local. When not on the road, she works for the University of Missouri in Columbia and enjoys being surrounded by scholars.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Trials of Harry S. Truman: The Extraordinary Presidency of an Ordinary Man, 1945-1953
by Jeffrey Frank
The nearly eight years of Harry Truman’s presidency—among the most turbulent in American history—were marked by victory in the wars against Germany and Japan; the first use of an atomic weapon; the beginning of the Cold War; creation of the NATO alliance; the founding of the United Nations; the Marshall Plan to rebuild the wreckage of postwar Europe; the Red Scare; and the fateful decision to commit troops to fight in Korea. Historians have tended to portray Truman as stolid and decisive, with a homespun manner, but the man who emerges in The Trials of Harry S. Truman is complex and surprising. He believed that the point of public service was to improve the lives of one’s fellow citizens, and was disturbed by the brutal treatment of African Americans. Yet while he supported stronger civil rights laws, he never quite relinquished the deep-rooted outlook of someone with Confederate ancestry reared in rural Missouri. He was often carried along by the rush of events and guided by men who succeeded in refining his black-and-white view of the postwar world. And while he prided himself on his Midwestern rationality, he could act out of emotion, as when, in the aftermath of World War II, moved by the plight of refugees, he pushed to recognize the new state of Israel. The Truman who emerges in these pages is a man with generous impulses, loyal to friends and family, and blessed with keen political instincts, but insecure, quick to anger, and prone to hasty decisions. Archival discoveries, and research that led from Missouri to Washington, Berlin and Korea, have contributed to an indelible, and deeply human, portrait of an ordinary man suddenly forced to shoulder extraordinary responsibilities, who never lost a schoolboy’s romantic love for his country, and its Constitution.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: A History
by Kristie C. Wolferman
When Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opened to the public in 1933, it was viewed as a miracle, an oasis of culture in a Midwestern town whose image was still largely one of cowboys and steaks. In an engaging style, Kristie Wolferman tells the history of the Nelson-Atkins from its founding to the present day, a fascinating combination of people, events, and circumstances that culminated in an art museum that now holds its own among the finest in the world. Wolferman begins by relaying how the trustees of the estates of the reclusive widow Mary Atkins and the family of Kansas City Star newspaper editor William Rockhill Nelson joined forces to establish a museum from scratch, then goes on to consider all of the highly talented people who directed and staffed the Nelson-Atkins along the way, their efforts resulting in many bold innovations, among them new collections, grounds, and educational programs and offerings. With 100 color and black and white photographs, this book will be treasured by all who love and admire this remarkable institution, one that attracts half a million visitors—from across the city, state, nation, and world—each year.
The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook: 25th Anniversary Edition
by Ardie A. Davis
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Kansas City Barbeque Society is proud to serve up The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook, 25th Anniversary Edition by Ardie Davis, Paul Kirk, and Carolyn Wells. Featuring more than 200 all-new, mouthwatering recipes (many from award-winning KCBS members and teams), this 25th anniversary edition also includes tips for competitive barbequing, juicy stories that shed light on life inside the barbeque society, and tons of beautiful full-color photographs. The previous Kansas City Barbeque Society cookbook has gone through seven printings since it was originally self-published by the KCBS in 1996. This 25th anniversary edition is a must-have for the libraries of professional and amateur barbequers--as well as an appetizing read for people who may not tend to the grill but do love to eat 'que.
Treasure in a Cornfield: The Discovery & Excavation of the Steamboat Arabia
by Greg Hawley
From back of dust jacket cover: "Steaming up the Missouri River en route to the frontier, the Arabia carried 130 passengers and 220 tons of precious cargo. On September 5, 1856, a submerged walnut tree pierced her hull, sinking the Arabia one-half mile below Parkville, Missouri. In time the river changed course, leaving the Arabia and her priceless freight deep beneath a Kansas farm field...The Arabia and her treasure seemed lost forever. Then, in 1988, four men and their families dedicated themselves to achieve what others could not; to recover the treasure from the Great White Arabia. Treasure hunter Greg Hawley chronicles his amazing story of perseverance and discovery. Lavishly illustrated and carefully documented, this book is a page turning adventure that immerses the reader into the thrilling discovery of buried treasure."
Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues & the Story of African-American Baseball
by Lawrence D. Hogan
"Probably the most comprehensive history of black baseball available in one book?a must-read for any student of the game." -Cincinnati Enquirer "Hogan sets the teams and leagues in the cultural and economic context of the black experience and the communities in which they played, broadening the book's appeal to anyone interested in this fascinating chapter in American history." -The Christian Science Monitor "An outstanding tribute." -Linda Paige Shelby, daughter of Satchel Paige "An incredible story." -Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball Celebrating African America's contribution to our great national pastime, this comprehensive, lively history combines vivid narrative, visual impact, and newly discovered statistics to recreate the excitement and passion of the Negro Leagues. Packed with stories, biographical essays, scores of archival photographs, and other evocative artifacts, the book is an important contribution to sports history and a fitting tribute to legendary baseball stars such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Martin Dihigo, Cool Papa Bell, and many more, who were shadowed by racial prejudice, but now shine forth in all their sparkling brilliance.
Paris of the Plains: Kansas City from Doughboys to Expressways
by John Simonson
From the end of the Great War to the final years of the 1950s, Kansas Citians lived in a manner worthy of a place called Paris of the Plains. The title did more than nod to the perfumed ladies who shopped at Harzfeld's Parisian or the one-thousand-foot television antenna nicknamed the "Eye-full Tower." It spoke to the character of a town that worked for Boss Tom and danced for Count Basie but transcended both the Pendergast era and the Jazz Age. Author John Simonson introduces readers to a town of vaudeville shows and screened-in porches, where fleets of cream-and-black streetcars passed beneath a canopy of elms. This is a history that smells equally of lilacs and stockyards and bursts with the clamor of gunshots, radio baseball and the distant whistle of a night train.
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Kansas City, MO
D
Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with choices of entrée plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will have breakfast each day in the hotel, lunches and dinners in the hotel and restaurants around the city. We will pre-select some meals. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Country Club Plaza, History, Union Station, Thomas Benton
Kansas City, MO
B,L,D
Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza

Activity note: Walking approximately 1 mile over uneven terrain with some stairs. Standing during presentations. Transportation via motorcoach approximately 14 miles throughout the day.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet that includes choices such as eggs, pancakes or French toast, fruit, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll set out on a walking field trip with a local historian to explore and learn about the history, public art, and Spanish-inspired architecture of the Country Club Plaza area, a 15-block retail, dining, and entertainment district. We’ll also learn about J. C. Nichols, the visionary developer who in 1922 transformed a swampy section of Brush Creek Valley into America’s first suburban shopping district. Upon return to the hotel we’ll be joined by a local educator who will give us an overview presentation on Kansas City and Missouri, providing the foundation for our program activities. We then board the motorcoach for historic Union Station.

Lunch: Lunch today will be at a restaurant of your choosing in Union Station. A stipend for lunch will be provided to each participant.

Afternoon: After lunch we enjoy an expert led walking exploration of Union Station. Part of the reason Kansas City became known as Paris of the Plains was its free and easy nightlife in the early 20th century. But it was also thanks to significant cultural institutions and majestic architecture such as Union Station, opened in 1914. The architect, Jarvis Hunt, was a prominent member of the “City Beautiful” movement focused on urban beautification. The station is a wonderful example of the Beaux-Arts style and was the second-largest train station in the country when it opened. At its peak in World War II, Union Station served more than a million passengers but deteriorated over the decades as train travel declined. A restoration movement began in the 1980s and reached fruition with the 1999 re-opening of a rejuvenated, multi-purpose community facility. Today it is not only a monument to travel, but also a home for culture, education, and entertainment. We again board the coach for a journey to the home and studio of Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), one of America’s most popular artists for several decades before World War II. At the age of 18, he enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago, then went to Paris where he met and admired the great Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He returned to America and served at the Norfolk Naval Base during World War I, where he was influenced by the Navy’s requirement for artistic realism. His family’s roots in Missouri gave him an intense appreciation of life and culture in the Midwest. Benton’s great murals made him a champion of the artistic movement known as Regionalism. He was also an outspoken opponent of fascism, foreign and domestic. He is remembered foremost for his images of ordinary people and daily life. We’ll have an insider’s look at his home and studio, untouched since his death, and learn about his life, work, and influence on other American artists. Following the visit we return to the hotel via coach.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with choices of entrée plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At your leisure.

DAY
3
Jazz Museum, Negro League Baseball, KC BBQ, WW I Museum
Kansas City, MO
B,L
Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza

Activity note: Transportation via motorcoach approximately 25 miles throughout the day. Standing during field trips, some walking over uneven terrain with stairs.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we board the motorcoach for a visit to the historic 18th and Vine District, a cradle of jazz, and two of the city’s most praised museums side by side in one facility: the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The American Jazz Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to preserving and promoting jazz music while also celebrating jazz greats such as Charlie Parker — born and raised in Kansas City — and providing performance opportunities for up and coming performers. In addition to music, the 18th and Vine District was the thriving home of other aspects of black life and culture. The Negro National League was founded here in 1920. Jackie Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs before going to the big leagues. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum preserves the legacy of that era, its players, and the rich history of African-American baseball. Following our Museum visit we board the coach for a local restaurant.

Lunch: At a local BBQ restaurant, we’ll meet the Pit Master, get a behind the scenes look at the world of Kansas City BBQ, and enjoy a tasty lunch featuring restaurant specialties.

Afternoon: This afternoon's field trip includes an expert-led exploration at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The memorial that opened in 1926 is a 217-foot tall tower framed by stone sphinxes representing Memory and the Future. At its dedication, President Calvin Coolidge said, “It has not been raised to commemorate war and victory, but rather the results of war and victory which are embodied in peace and liberty…” The museum opened in 2007. Visitors enter over a field of 9,000 simulated poppies, each representing 1,000 dead soldiers. Exhibits trace the development of European conflicts that resulted in the war and the role of the U.S. in helping bring the war to an end. We return to the hotel via motorcoach.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
National Frontier Trails Museum, Wagon, Arabia Steamboat
Kansas City, MO
B,L,D
Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza

Activity note: Transportation via motorcoach approximately 30 miles throughout the day. Walking up to one mile over uneven terrain. Riding aboard a covered wagon pulled by mules. Walking and standing at field trip sites.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we board the coach for Independence, MO and the National Frontier Trails Museum. Here we will enjoy a self-guided visit of the museum dedicated to the history of the pioneers who risked their lives in search of a new life in the West. Following the visit we'll hop on board a mule pulled covered wagon as we take in Independence highlights with a narrator.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Independence, we’ll have a pre-selected lunch with soft drinks and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Boarding the coach we make our way to the Arabia Steamboat Museum. In 1856 the Steamboat Arabia loaded with over 200 tons of cargo sunk 6 miles off the coast of Kansas City. The museum features a captivating look into the recovery and salvation of priceless artifacts. Following our visit we return to the hotel via motorcoach.

Dinner: We make a short walk to a popular Kansas City restaurant with preselected choices of entrée plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Nelson Atkins Museum, Jazz Musician, Historical re-enactment
Kansas City, MO
B,L,D
Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza

Activity note: Walking up to one mile over uneven ground, and standing at field trip sites.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll take a walking field trip with our Group Leader to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art that resulted from the legacies of two public spirited citizens who believed in the necessity of cultural resources for the city and the power of art to stimulate the human spirit. The original building, a neo-Classical masterpiece, was called a “temple of art” when it opened in 1933. Much of the permanent collection was purchased for bargain prices during the Great Depression. Highlights include European paintings, Asian art and antique Chinese furniture, American painting, Native American art, and an outdoor sculpture park. The modern addition opened in 2007. While the design was controversial, the finished structures were highly praised. The New York Times architecture critic wrote: “For the art world, the addition, known as the Bloch Building, should reaffirm that art and architecture can happily coexist. The rest of us can draw comfort from the fact that public works of our own day and age can equal or surpass the grand achievements of past generations.”

Lunch: A pre-selected box lunch will be served today to include choice of sandwich.

Afternoon: Walking back to the hotel we will be joined by a musician who is part of the Kansas City Jazz scene who will tell us about what’s happening on the local jazz front and perform for us. After our musical presentation we are then joined by a local historian for a presentation/reenactment of a famous historical figure from Kansas City's past. Participants always love the respect for the past, compassion, and attention to detail shown in this presentation of a memorable character.

Dinner: Tonight we make a short walk to a local BBQ restaurant for a delicious farewell dinner to include entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverages. Share favorite experiences with your new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure following our final session in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Kansas City, MO
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 PM

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Program wrap up with your Group Leader. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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