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by Denise DeJulio, CASE, KCSAE Ex-Officio Board Member

I jumped at the chance to write about Kansas City as a destination in this months KCSAE newsletter! It seems everyone wants to know what is new in Kansas City these days - just the other night at my monthly Bunco group I was asked by my girlfriends what's new in KC that they should know about? I thought to myself, “When was the last time someone wanted to gossip about Kansas City at Bunco?!"

As locals, we have our own perspective on Kansas City, and what makes it such a unique destination, however, I'm sure we've all been approached from colleagues and friends outside of Kansas City that wonder what is so special about Kansas City.   Well, they may want to pick up a travel publication - it seems 2024 is the year to visit Kansas City!

We have been shining on the world stage – Kansas City has been selected by Lonely Planet as one of the top global destinations on its prestigious Best in Travel list for 2024!    KC is one of only two US cities recognized (Philadelphia was the other US city and no - it had nothing to do with popular sport celeb brothers)  Other destinations on the list - Nairobi, Paris, Montreal, and Prague – we are in very good company.

Kansas City was just named as one of the 50 Best Places to Travel in the World in 2024 by Travel + Leisure magazine.  As described by T+L - More than 20 of their staffers weighed in to create this hand-picked list of places that curious travelers should consider in 2024. “These are the destinations that have captured our imaginations, the spots where T+L editors want to spend their own time in the year ahead”.

This past year has been a whirlwind of activity – the Super Bowl parade, NFL Draft, new airport terminal, the new Sobela Ocean Aquarium – just to name a few things … but what lies ahead for 2024?  We are not standing still, here is a recap of what to look forward to in 2024 ……

The National Women’s Soccer Leagues Kansas City Current will debut an all new and entirely unique stadium on the banks of the Missouri River.  The 11,500 seat venue will be the first stadium purpose built for a women’s professional sports team.  Anchored by the stadium, Kansas City’s Berkley Riverfront is becoming an essential destination.  The 118 room Origin Hotel opens in 2024 in the district.

Slated to open in March, 2024 – the Rabbit Hole brings a brand new and totally immersive literary experience to North Kansas City – taking the tales of favorite children’s books and transforming them into interactive museum experiences.  A one of a kind children’s institution that stretches across multiple floors and invites guests to fully immerse themselves in a world of wonder.

Disney100: The Exhibition coming to Union Station in May.  Walt Disney began his animation career right in the heart of Kansas City.  Laugh-O-Gram Studio was his first professional business on East 31st Street.  This is where Mickey Mouse was born so what a perfect location for this exhibit!

If you have been downtown lately … you have probably noticed a new addition to the skyline – the ferris wheel at Pennway Point.  Just a few blocks from Union Station it will feature restaurants, bars and a variety of entertainment activities – all connected by a central hall.  I am looking forward to Neon Alley – a display of vintage neon signs collected from across the city.

Opening in the spring …. Rock Island Bridge.  This historic Railroad Bridge is coming alive with music, dining, coffee shops, bars, event space – all 40 feet over the Kansas river.  Americas first entertainment district on a bridge. The bridge will span the size of three football fields!  It offers a new connection between Kansas and Missouri, and is located steps away from Hy-Vee Arena and other West Bottom destinations.

So be sure to invite those friends and colleagues to Kansas City so they can see what the buzz is about …. And as you make your 2024 travel plans don’t forget to take some time out to visit all the new places out your back door!

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