Where To Go
River Market and Power and Light District
Idyllic surroundings and plentiful lofts comprise the historic River Market neighborhood, formerly known as the River Quay. Its centerpiece is the City Market, a weekly spectacle of local food and crafts. In the Power and Light District, past meets future in the heart of downtown’s developmental renaissance, with the Sprint Center as one of its crown jewels. Numerous restaurants, bars, retail shops, hotels, and easy access to public transportation make this area an ideal starting point from which to explore the city.
Crossroads and 18th and Vine
Lauded as one of the nation’s most concentrated gallery districts, the Crossroads Arts District boasts an eclectic atmosphere and low-key culture with a colorful array of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Home to the wildly popular First Fridays gallery crawl, the Crossroads is synonymous with local art and culture. The museums and music clubs of 18th and Vine preserve the city’s rich jazz history, and it was within this vibrantly musical area that Kansas City’s nickname Paris of the Plains originated.
Westport, Midtown, and The Plaza
Historic Westport, once the city’s cornerstone, has evolved into a must-see bar and restaurant district, home to Kelly’s Westport Inn, the oldest building in Kansas City. Mostly residential, Midtown is a foodie’s haven along 39th Street, a restaurant corridor that dishes up dumplings, pizza, and everything in between. Considered by many to be Kansas City’s number-one crown jewel, shopping mecca Country Club Plaza is an enduring testament to local icon J. C. Nichols.
Brookside and Waldo
Built in 1920 as the city’s first suburban shopping area, Brookside sparked the city’s outward growth and remains a popular destination comprised of locally owned boutiques, restaurants, and watering holes. With a similar aesthetic, Waldo houses bars, restaurants, and a sprinkling of specialty shops all surrounded by tree-lined streets and stately Cape Cod– and Prairie–style homes. Although both areas are best reached by car, on-foot navigation is the optimal way to explore Brookside and Waldo.
Loosely defined as any part of Kansas City north of the river, the Northland boasts shopping, dining, entertainment, and ample recreational opportunities, namely the city’s two amusement parks, Oceans of Fun and Worlds of Fun, and a wealth of carefully tended parks and green spaces. Northland unites historic towns, such as Parkville, with newly constructed mixed- use districts like Zona Rosa and Briarcliff. Other Northland attractions include the vast majority of the city’s casinos, all within minutes of downtown Kansas City.
Greater Kansas City
As a result of suburban growth that began in the 1950s, Kansas City now includes 18 counties in two states, which boast everything from the Kansas City Zoo to Arrowhead and Kauffman sports stadiums and elaborate mixed-use shopping districts. Pockets of locally owned boutiques, restaurants, and bars intermingle with national chains, often housed in the ubiquitous strip mall. And while you’ll find ample new construction, the city’s outlying area also hosts historic stops such as Independence, home of former president Harry S. Truman, as well as Overland Park and Leawood.
Excursions from Kansas City
A prototypical college town with a significant place in Kansas history, Lawrence beckons with the University of Kansas campus and Massachusetts (“Mass”) Street, downtown’s main strip of shops, restaurants, coffeehouses, and bars. Escape to historic Rocheport atop the Missouri River bluffs for quaint surroundings, bed-and-breakfasts, and Missouri’s beloved Les Bourgeois winery. With the charming, slightly bohemian Old Market District, world-renowned Henry Doorly Zoo, and architecturally significant Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge, Omaha is a worthwhile drive.
© Katy Ryan from Moon Kansas City, 1st Edition