We recently visited Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District for their monthly "First Friday". This has become something of an annual event for Brandi and I, and once you experience it for yourself, you'll see that there are few better ways to usher in summer in the midwest.

Perhaps one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the midwest, the Crossroads is home to hundreds of artist studios, dozens of galleries and other exhibition spaces, and more restaurants & bars than you can shake a stick at. On the first Friday of every month, the whole neighborhood is transformed into a massive street party attended by thousands. The galleries stay open late, and independent artists open up their studios to share their work with the public. Most of the commercial galleries are open from Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment, and most tend to be open by 11 AM. Always on our "Don't Miss" list are: Blue Gallery, Sherry Leedy Contemporary, Weinberger Fine Art, and the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center.

While you are in Kansas City, make time for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Belger Arts Center, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. While these are smaller regional museums, their collections are impeccably curated and represent some of the best post-war American art.

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