The Best of Kansas City
As you depart Kansas City International Airport, enjoy your first glimpse of public art (and water features) as you cruise by Keith Sonnier’s commissioned Water and Light project. Head downtown, the best location to stay and play if you’re in town for a short time. Try The Savoy Hotel for a sumptuous combination of luxury and history or the Hilton President Kansas City for a superbly renovated retreat.
Once you’ve checked in, head out to the picturesque River Market for lunch. Once a local Mafia stronghold, River Market is now home to a huge farmers market as well as pint-sized restaurants. Or, just a short drive away, the predominantly Italian neighborhood of Columbus Park hosts one of the city’s best-kept secrets: Happy Gillis, a breakfast and sandwich shop that specializes in creative combinations and made-from-scratch soups.
Shopaholics and museum aficionados alike will find much to explore in downtown Kansas City. Browse the latest fashions nestled in a quirky row of shops along 18th and Wyandotte Streets. A few blocks over, boutiques like Tomboy and Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates await, both favorite stops within the city’s gallery-laden Crossroads Arts District.
Museums are just as plentiful downtown as shops. Adjacent to the Sprint Center, the College Basketball Experience offers a completely interactive, high-energy atmosphere. Once you’ve finished, head south on Grand Boulevard and east on 18th Street until you hit 18th and Vine, the city’s jazz mecca. Purchase a discounted combo ticket to tour both the American Jazz Museum and Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Drive west on 18th Street and turn south on Main Street to take in a couple more significant sights before dinner. Union Station is a grandiose photo opportunity. Across the street, The Liberty Memorial towers over the city, a stunning architectural tribute to those who served during World War I. If time permits, duck below Liberty Memorial to visit the National World War I Museum.
Stick around downtown for dinner: Go upscale at The American, enjoy authentic soul food at Peachtree Restaurant, or stick to a budget at Chefburger. You’ll also be near several barbecue institutions, so grab extra napkins at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque or Gates Bar-B-Q and dish your own opinion on the city’s favorite food.
Get a glimpse of Kansas City nightlife in the Power and Light District, which hosts everything from rock haven Angel’s Rock Bar to uber-hip nightclub Mosaic Lounge. For a relaxed cocktail, order a drink at walk-up bar Fuego and grab a seat in the main open-air gathering area beneath the main block’s towering glass roof. Enjoy an unforgettable nightcap at Skies, a restaurant and lounge perched atop the Hyatt Regency Crown Center.
Start the day with breakfast at Mama’s 39th, which features one of the best breakfast menus in Midtown.
Head south to Country Club Plaza and soak up some culture at the nearby Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. If you prefer more modern works of art, try the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, located a few blocks from the Nelson.
>Make your way back to the Plaza and lunch at the Classic Cup Sidewalk Cafe for unmatched alfresco dining—and some of the best people-watching in the city. Make sure to pause for a picture at the nearby J. C. Nichols Memorial Fountain.
It’s a bit of a walk, but if you head south on Wornall Road and up the rather daunting hill past The InterContinental Kansas City you’ll hit Loose Park, one of the city’s most beautiful recreational spots. Spend time relaxing amid the lush foliage and winding trail system that traverses the sizable park.
Stick to the Plaza or nearby Westport for dinner. For the ultimate splurge—and the best steak in town—head to Plaza III Steakhouse. Or try Westport’s Bluestem, a local favorite with the best dessert menu in the city. For the best burger in Cowtown, try Westport Flea Market, a Kansas City institution.
Dine in Westport and you won’t need to go far for after-dinner drinks. Westport has an eclectic mix of bars, but if you have to stop at only one, make it Kelly’s Westport Inn, Kansas City’s oldest building.
© Katy Ryan from Moon Kansas City, 1st Edition