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Holiday lights adorn buildings in the Country Club Plaza shopping center as the setting sun lights up the sky Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Real Salt Lake in Kansas City — a fan travel guide and map
Championship » Barbecue and jazz are highlights on both sides of the Missouri River.
First Published Dec 04 2013 12:50 pm • Last Updated Dec 04 2013 11:18 pm

Know your states

There is Kansas City, Mo., — sometimes called "KCMO" — and Kansas City, Kan. — "KCK." They are two cities separated by the Missouri River on their north ends. The match is being played in Sporting Park in KCK, but most of the population, the area’s attractions, and what most people think of when they hear the name "Kansas City," are in KCMO. Prices for everything are about what you’d pay in Salt Lake City.

Kansas City travel map

View Real Salt Lake -- Kansas City travel guide in a larger map

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Getting around

The airport is on the Missouri side, 23 miles northwest of KCMO. A bus system, called The Metro, services both cities and its website offers apps you can download to find the next bus. There’s also a bike share program. A street car system is under construction but not yet in service. The easiest way to go distances is by car. Traffic and parking is about what you’d expect in Salt Lake City.

Must sees

Plaza Lights: Not even Temple Square can compete with the holiday illumination that occupies 15 square blocks of Country Club Plaza in KCMO. The lights shine 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily through Jan. 12.

Negro League Baseball Museum: You won’t see the collection of memorabilia that occupies the Baseball Hall of Fame, but this KCMO museum offers a history of baseball and American segregation. I dare you to leave the museum without being a fan of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell.

American Jazz Museum: Located in the same complex as the Negro League Baseball Museum, this museum is heavy on KCK native Charlie Parker and offers a history of the great American art form.

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Arabia Steamboat Museum • The ship sank near the cities in 1856 and was excavated in 1988. The artifacts recovered and placed in this KCMO museum provides a snapshot of the pre-Civil War America.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts: Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to see a show, go look at the building, which opened in 2011 in KCMO. The architecture has drawn the attention of the PBS Newshour, among others.

• Fountains: Both cities are known for their many fountains, from big sprinklers in the middle of ponds to European style monoliths dribbling water. Go to www.kcfountains.com for a list.

Shopping and night life

Power & Light District: It has an array of stores, restaurants and bars spread over an area of about 24 square blocks of KCMO. It’s also a good place to find jazz, something everyone should hear while in either city.

• Westport: It’s not as trendy as the Power & Light District, but Westport still offers a variety of shops and eateries.

Country Club Plaza: It’s home to the aforementioned plaza lights, and has it’s own shopping, eateries and bars. Locals just call it "The Plaza."

Where to eat

Barbecue is the delicacy in both cities. Kansas City-style barbecue is optimized by slow cooking the meat over wood and smothering it in a tomato- and molasses-based sauce. You can start fist fights over which is barbecue joints are the area’s best, but here’s a few places where you can’t go wrong. In KCMO, visit Arthur Bryant’s or Gate’s Bar-B-Q. In KCK, try Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue.

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