Kansas City’s world-class arts scene
Many visitors to Kansas City, Mo., especially foreigners such as myself, expect to find a city “stuck in a time warp,” said Elizabeth Fullerton in the Financial Times. The “gleaming skyscrapers dominating its skyline” soon put an end to that illusion. It turns out that this bustling, thoroughly modern city at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers has a distinct art deco and European feel, augmented by more than 200 fountains. Not to be missed downtown is Country Club Plaza, “home to the city’s prime restaurants and designer shops.” The world-class arts scene is dominated by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, “a grandiose 1930s limestone structure” with a vast American and European collection. It recently added a glittering new expansion, and the selection of Asian art is especially impressive. The collections of Buddhist sculpture and Ming furniture are “among the finest examples in the West.”
Contact: Visitkc.com

A Mexican hideaway on the Pacific
Chacala isn’t actually being threatened by swarms of giant snakes and toxic pollution, said Christopher Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times. Oft-repeated tales of such dangers are just part of a good-natured attempt by longtime visitors to prevent more people from discovering this laid-back paradise. This town on Mexico’s Pacific coastline, 60 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, is built around “a handsome half-mile crescent of jungle-adjacent sand.” Thanks to a trio of hippies who settled here in the late 1970s, Chacala is also “awash in social experiments.” Various expatriates have created a community library, underwritten a scholarship program, and paid for improvements to the elementary school. Visitors can volunteer on community projects, study Spanish, or go birding in a mangrove swamp. More conventional leisure activities range from snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, and yoga classes to horseback riding in the jungle or driving to the ancient volcano two hours away.
Contact: Chacalaescape.com