Kansas City | Travel Photography

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The first week of September, I got to do something I hadn’t done in over six years: attend a wedding as a guest! I headed to Kansas City, Missouri, (and a little bit of Kansas too) to play Jesse’s +1 at our college friend Kellyann’s wedding. I had never been to Kansas City, so of course, we took the opportunity to go exploring and eat, eat, eat! Here are some of the highlights below:

It happened to be the right week to check out the popular “First Fridays” art gallery crawl in the Crossroads Arts District. First we went during the day and checked out Hammerpress…

And we dined at Extra Virgin, which I had seen in Southwest’s Spirit Magazine. Sadly, we had a much less than stellar experience here. Half the dishes seemed like they had gone terribly awry, and we neglected to order the ceviche tacos which were apparently the thing to get. Our mushrooms were doused in way too much lime sauce; our shrimp were overcooked and rubbery; and the pork belly, far from being succulent, turned out more like jerky. So sad, especially for a restaurant that plasters chef Michael Smith’s James Beard Award from 1999 all over its walls. On the plus side, the mussels were great… Pictured below are the stuffed chicken thighs (which were ok) and the pork belly sandwich (which was sorely disappointing).

That evening we headed to a free chamber music concert put on by members of the Kansas City Symphony. The highlight of the concert was the Kauffman Center itself. What an incredible performing arts center!

Such gorgeous architecture and a beautiful use of clean white surfaces and natural light.

Then we headed back down to the Crossroads Arts District to check out First Fridays. The streets were packed with people!

A horse, made entirely of computer keyboard keys.

I just love cities at dusk.

On Saturday, the wedding wasn’t until 6:30pm, so we started the day off by visiting the Roasterie for a free tour of their coffee warehouse.

Jesse eagerly volunteered for the coffee cupping part of the tour, which involved the guy making a bizarre loud sipping noise that was impossible to emulate.

The Roasterie differentiates itself by air roasting its beans (which is also why they have an airplane logo… air roast, air plane… it’s a tenuous connection). It looks like a pretty small production, all fitting into this one warehouse.

We of course had to do Kansas City barbecue for lunch, and we made the obligatory trip to Oklahoma Joe’s. It’s uniquely located inside a gas station. Unfortunately, it was 98 degrees outside and the line showed no signs of dying down, so we waited it out in the sun.

The burnt ends are what make this place stand out, and they’re only available on certain days of the week. Everything was good, but the burnt ends (pictured on the left) were by far the best!

Finally, around six we headed over to the wedding which was at Californos, just across the street from our hotel. We dropped off our card and signed a leaf of the tree… things I never get to do as a photographer!

Miho, another Duke alum and mutual friend, served as the officiant, and she did an awesome job!

I definitely did not want to be the “Uncle Bob” photographer getting in the actual photographer’s way, so I only snapped a couple images at the very end of the ceremony– from my seat. But I love this one! I always love the moment when the couple comes back down the aisle, married!

It was so funny that Jesse was really debating over whether to buy some coffee at the end of our Roasterie tour but didn’t… and then it turned out that their wedding favors were actually bags of coffee from the Roasterie! So cute.

Kellyann was such a gorgeous bride, and those curly locks are so perfect!


A very sweet first dance.

And an adorable cake cutting too.

Snapped a selfie of jesse and me in the mirror!

On our final day in Kansas City, we explored Art Westport, which is a small art festival in the area where we stayed.

All the artists are locals, and it was great, despite the still-scorching temperatures outside.

For lunch, we hit up another bbq spot, Jack Stack, in the Plaza area. Their crown prime rib was the best– everything else was mediocre, slightly dry. And then we headed to the Nelson-Atkins art museum, which has some lovely traditional architecture as well as these funky giant shuttlecock sculptures scattered around the outside.

Most importantly, it’s air conditioned inside, and it’s free!

And then we were back off to the airport, headed to our separate coasts. Farewell to this cute city! Who knows when I’ll ever come back…

Things to do in Kansas City, Missouri (with a little bit of Kansas too):


Oklahoma Joe’s for the KC style barbecue. Don’t miss the burnt ends, which are their specialty!
Jack Stack for the crown prime rib and the bread pudding (so I am told– we were too stuffed for dessert.)


The Roasterie for coffee and a free tour.
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which is just so beautiful, regardless of what performance you’re seeing.
First Fridays, a monthly gallery crawl in the Crossroads Arts District.
Art Westport, which only happens one weekend a year but is a super cute little art fair.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art— free admission.
The Plaza, for nice shopping or window shopping!


We stayed at the Q Hotel in Westport, which was unremarkable, but everything was very close by within 10 minute drives (then again everything seems pretty close in general).


Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area but often eating her way around the world. Follow her adventures on Facebook.