Welcome to My Neighborhood
The Kansas City metro area may boast a population of more than 2 million people and span across 15 counties, but the heart of Kansas City consists of neighborhoods that are as distinctive and unique as the people who call them home. We've compiled a guide to Kansas City, featuring fun things to do and cool places to visit to get a taste of our versatile Midwest culture.
Things to do downtown:
If it’s a day with the kids, exercise their brains at Union Station and their legs on the steep hike to Liberty Memorial. Experience intelligent but kid-friendly theater at the Coterie Theatre inside Crown Center.
Get your weekly allowance of fresh fruits and veggies at the daily produce market in the heart of the River Market. If it’s a weekend, buy from local farmers. Find things to make your garden grow at Planters Seed and Spice Co.
On the Westside: Try FÜD’s rich, delectable TuneRahh Melt Sandwich and walk out barely believing it’s vegan. Conscientious carnivores: try the grass fed beef burger next door at Blue Bird Bistro.
Pop into Birdies on West 18th Street for handmade lingerie and a vintage nightgown. Buying for him? Get suggestions from the highly fashionable (and highly cute) sales boys at Method.
Get your flirt on with the drunken party boys who inhabit the various drinking spots in the Power & Light District, but end the night like a lady — with pickled quail eggs and a stiff, artistic drink at Manifesto.
Get tickets for an event at the Sprint Center, America's fifth-busiest arena and Kansas City's home for concerts, family shows, sports and other special events.
Things to do in Midtown/Plaza:
Shop and eat your heart out on the Country Club Plaza. The premier shopping and dining destination of the entire metro area features more than five blocks of 150 stores and restaurants, including H&M, Kate Spade, Halls, Anthropologie, Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue, Tivol and The Capital Grille.
Play Frisbee in the shadow of the giant shuttlecock on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Inside, marvel at the world-class collection of classic to modern art. For more inspiration, hoof it to the nearby Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
Catch a show. Choices are endless at Unicorn Theatre, Metropolitan Ensemble Theater, KC Rep and more.
Shop all day. Vintage: Donna’s Dress Shop. Pin-up style: Rock Candy Boutique. Cute couture: Colfax. Urban hipster: Bunker. Accessories and unusual home décor: Bon Bon Atelier and MASH Handmade.
Take a culinary world tour on 39th Street’s Restaurant Row. Must-haves: mouth-watering Mediterranean at Jerusalem Café and bento boxes at Friends Sushi.
On Westport’s West end: Get your pooch groomed and shampooed at Doggie Style Bowtique and take him to the dog-friendly patio at Boozefish. Later: Bring your own bottle of wine to Cupini’s (no uncorking fee!) and blow your diet on delicious, authentic homemade pasta and sauces.
The heart of Westport is KC’s original party district. Have a Manhattan at Harry’s Bar and Tables or rock all night at Riot Room. Return for Sunday brunch at Beer Kitchen – perk up with a rosemary lemonade.
Things to do in south Kansas City:
Plan a coffee date at The Roasterie in Brookside. Before you leave, pick up Christopher Elbow chocolates and head over to the New Dime Store to pick up a reusable bag before you stroll around the Brookside Farmer’s Market for the best deals on local produce.
Plan a Brookside brunch at Avenues Bistro. Add a bloody mary, screwdriver or mimosa for only $5 or hit the $20 early bird dinner special before 5:30 p.m. and sample the exquisite wine collection.
De-stress with a run/walk on the Waldo Trolley Trails or with a yoga class at Yoga Patch. Reward yourself post-workout with a slice at Waldo Pizza or lunch at The Classic Cookie, where instead of bread, they serve a basket of muffins and cookies with lunch. Yum!
Head out for a day of fun and sun with your guy and pick up take-out sandwiches at Bella Napoli in Brookside, swing by 75th Street Brewery in Waldo for some fantastic, local beer to go, and head to Loose Park for a picnic. Or, go low key and enjoy a beer and dog at Charlie Hooper’s in Brookside. On Saturday’s most dogs are under $1.50 until 5 p.m. Get it loaded or get it plain!
Let your kids get their learn on Brookside style. Take them to the locally owned Reading Reptile Bookstore (rumor has it they give out cupcakes, too) and let their imagination run wild with a stop at Brookside Toy and Science.
Grab your friends and a camera and go on a fountain tour photo shoot. Start at the Delbert J. Haff Circle (Meyer Boulevard & Swope Parkway) then see the Garden of the Stars (4600 Starlight Road). Next up, stop by the Meyer Circle Sea Horse (Meyer Boulevard & Ward Parkway) and then the Mirror Pool Fountain (62nd Street & Ward Parkway). End the day with a sushi dinner at Domo in Brookside followed by rooftop cocktails at The Well in Waldo.
Have a DIY shopping day. Stop by McGonigle’s Market in Waldo and pick up some old-school butcher style meat or a barbecue sauce or rub (they have more than 500 kinds!). Then head to the Habitat ReStore or Waldo Antiques to find that perfect item for your home project. Don’t forget to drop off you glass recycling at Ripple Glass in Waldo.
Pamper your pet with a trip to the Brookside Barkery and Bath. Make your way to Chai Shai and sit on the pet-friendly patio and try their best-in-town samosas. All menu items are under $10.
Take the kids to the Kansas City Zoo for some polar-sized fun to see Nikita the polar bear. Afterwards, stop by the Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park. Top it off with a trip to Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard in Brookside where you can get a scoop for around $2.
Indulge yourself with a meal at Swagger Fine Spirits and Food. Featured on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, this place is anything but typical bar food. Enjoy a pint from their extensive beer menu or try the Dead Texan, Waldo Trucker or the Suribachi Burger, if you dare.
Things to do in Johnson County:
Take a stroll through Park Place in Leawood. You can spend the afternoon shopping at one of Park Place’s many shops, such as EJ’s Boutique and J. Hathaway Shoe Boutique. Or find some interior design inspiration at KC Surroundings. Finish the day with dinner and drinks at one of several eateries, including Carmen’s Cafe, Trezo Vino Wine Bistro and RA Sushi.
For barbecue lovers, a trip to Johnson County requires a stop at Oklahoma Joe’s in Olathe. Try a local favorite, like the Z-Man. With brisket and smoked provolone topped with two onion rings on a kaiser bun, this sandwich will surely be a hit with your taste buds.
If you like the outdoors, spend a day at Shawnee Mission Park. The park is the largest in Johnson County with a 120-acre lake, beach, natural trails and an off-leash dog park. Stay for the evening during the summer to catch an outdoor musical at the Theatre in the Park.
Oak Park Mall in Overland Park serves as a shopping destination throughout the metro area. With stores such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Victoria Secret and White House Black Market, you are sure to snag something you like. On a tighter budget? Head across the street to Nordstrom Rack or Stein Mart for department store finds at discount prices.
Have some children with energy that needs to be released? Make a visit to PowerPlay in Shawnee, and you will find an afternoon’s worth of fun at your fingertips.
The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art might be one of Johnson County’s best kept secrets. The museum, located on the Johnson County Community College campus in Overland Park, is one of the region’s largest contemporary art museums.
For a taste of the country, take the family to Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park. The petting zoo has more than 200 animals and offers pony rides.
Head to Historic Downtown Overland Park to get your fix of fresh produce and veggies at the Overland Park Farmers Market. The open air market offers locally grown food, flowers and specialty items.
The Johnson County Museum in Shawnee offers a taste of Johnson County History. The museum includes more than 500,000 photographs and 15,000 three-dimensional artifacts.
Travel back to the 1800s at Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe. This historic site is the last remaining Santa Fe Trail stop open to the public.
Things to do in Wyandotte County:
Some of the greatest deals around can be found at the Legends Outlets. With options such as Ann Taylor Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, quality purchases are within reach.
Fresh air, nature walks, fishing and more are available at Wyandotte County Lake. The Works Progress Administration created the 300-acre lake in the 1930s.
Beat the summer heat at Schlitterbahn Waterpark. The water park offers a variety of slides, a rolling river and tiki bar for adults.
Catch a Sporting Kansas City game at Livestrong Sporting Park. Kansas City’s premier professional soccer team continues to make waves on the national soccer scene.
Feeling lucky? Take a trip to Hollywood Casino. The casino offers a variety of games, restaurants and entertainment.
Learn more about the county's history at the Wyandotte County Historical Museum. The museum features artifacts, photographs, books and journals.
Sandstone Amphitheater hosts outdoor concerts and festivals. Check out a summer concert tour or travel back in time during the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, held Sept. 1 through mid-October.
You don’t have to go to Napa Valley to have a winery experience. The Wine Barn offers a variety of wines made from Kansas grown grapes and fruit. More information is available at winedottebarn.com.
The Strawberry Hill Museum and Cultural Center offers events and exhibits year-round.
Nascar fans from throughout the region flock to the Kansas Speedway for races. The speedway offers several ticket packages, with season tickets starting at $159.
Things to do in east Kansas City:
Get your retro groove on at Funky Town in Raytown. This cheese-tastic dance club plays infectious music from the bygone days of disco, plus funk, '80s and the kind of songs that make small children dance at weddings. When they play “Car Wash,” they crank up the bubble machine.
Acquaint yourself with Honduran cuisine at Sabor Centro Americano in Kansas City, Mo. The pupusas are crispy, the horchata is ice cold, and you can watch Nicholas Cage movies overdubbed in Spanish while you stuff your face. Order up a crazy array of their fabulous street tacos and wind up with lunch for $5 to $10. Bonus: you can practice your rusty, high school Spanish on the servers.
Forget that you’re landlocked at the Coco Key Resort in Kansas City, Mo. This indoor water park is connected to the Holiday Inn, but this is no rinky-dink hotel pool — the place boasts 1,000 feet of water slides, stacked four stories tall. When fingers turn into prunes, you can always hit the resort’s arcade. A weekend pass is $18.
Shop like the leader of the free world in President Harry Truman’s former ’hood, Independence Square. The Uptown Boutique slings designer labels that can be steep but seasonal sales are always stellar. While you hit the dressing room, send your man to Wild About Harry for modern menswear.
Independence, Mo., is the home of Leila’s Hair Museum, where you’ll find eccentric cosmetologist Leila Cohoon’s collection of wreaths and jewelry made of, yes, human hair. Locks are on display from celebs like Queen Victoria, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, and — allegedly — the Virgin Mary.
Regulars say that the Jukehouse on 18th and Vine is always jumping with karaoke nights, live music and party people. This spot breathes the life back into the old jazz district, and while it may still be a far cry from the street’s glory days, you can almost imagine how it may have felt to be there in the hoppin’ 1930s.
If you have more energy than you know what to do with (or children that could be described as “wild”), wear yourselves out at Paradise Park in Lee’s Summit. There, you’ll find batting cages, go-karts, a rock-climbing wall, miniature golf, bumper cars and other ways to knock off calories without even noticing the burn.
You don’t have to be a black belt to enjoy Oddessy Martial Arts Supply at the corner of Blue Ridge Cut-Off and 40 Highway. They have a badass array of implements that inflict pain, from throwing stars and switchblades to canisters of mace that look like lipstick tubes and brass knuckles (the latter are illegal to carry as a weapon, so Oddessy carries belt buckles shaped like brass knuckles). There’s also a library of books on every imaginable fighting style and classics like Sun Tzu’s Art of War. You’ll leave feeling tougher.
East Kansas City’s favorite picnic spot is at Longview Lake. The 930-acre lake is ideal for boating, jet-skiing, water-skiing, fishing, and sunning oneself on a pontoon boat or the beach. At the marina, you can rent boats and buy fishing gear.
Stuey McBrew’s sounds like a bar on Family Guy, but once you get past the goofy name you’ll find that all your new friends hang out there. Given all of their daily drink specials, you might wish your new friends wore name tags. The place gets loud on weekends, and there’s live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Things to do in the Northland:
Channel your inner child at Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, an amusement park and water park located just northeast of downtown Kansas City off Interstate 435. Or better yet, purchase a season pass so you can enjoy the thrilling attractions and entertainment all season long.
Gather the girlfriends for an afternoon of shopping at Zona Rosa, the Northland’s premiere shopping destination. Or, make it a date night by catching a show at the Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theatre with your significant other.
Kansas City is famous for its barbecue, so start grubbing on some finger-lickin’ good ribs, brisket and more at Smokehouse BBQ in Gladstone. Be sure to try the award-winning hickory pit beans.
Take a stroll in picturesque downtown Parkville, a riverfront community full of eclectic shops and locally owned restaurants. Annual events include River Jam, Christmas on the River, and the Microbrew Festival.
Try your luck at blackjack or poker at any of the Northland’s four casinos: Argosy, Ameristar, Isle of Capri and Harrah's. When you’ve had your fill of gambling, head over to Harrah's VooDoo Lounge, an upscale nightclub, for live music and national DJs.
The Gladstone Summertime Bluesfest attracts crowds of more than 15,000 annually. This free event is famous for its rockin’ bands as much as for the “Saucy Buns,” delicious barbecue brisket sandwiches sold at the festival.
The annual Riverside Riverfest in September promises a free weekend full of fun with friends and family. Activities include arts and crafts, live music, inflatables, food vendors, a beer garden, and fireworks.
Enjoy a lazy weekend breakfast or brunch at the famous First Watch at 409 Armour Road, North Kansas City. Specialties include savory Crepeggs or the spicy Chickichanga breakfast burrito.
Bring the kids for a play date or go for a solo jog in Anita Gorman Park, and don’t forget to stop at the Northland Fountain at the corner of North Oak Trafficway and Vivian Road. Called the “Spirit of Cooperation,” it is one of only three Kansas City fountains that runs year-round.
Fun Kansas City Facts:
Kansas City is the second-largest metro area in Missouri and the largest in Kansas.
The five largest cities in the metro area are: Kansas City, Mo.; Overland Park, Kan.; Olathe, Kan.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Independence, Mo.
The metro area in home to 10 of the Fortune 1000 companies.
The average house price in Kansas City is about $230,00 and the Cost of Living Index is 95.5.
Kansas City is home to more than 200 fountains, second only to Rome, Italy.
The Kansas City Barbecue Society reports that KC has more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation.
KC ignored Prohibition during the 1920s, leading to an abundance of jazz clubs, brothels and gambling halls.
KC is home to the largest maker of boxed chocolates in the world. Based here since 1932, Russell Stover Candies still hand dips more than 25 million pieces of chocolate each year.
Walt Disney opened his first animation studio in Kansas City, Laugh-O-Gram Studios. He fed a small mouse in the building, which he later said was his inspiration for Mickey Mouse.
The Country Club Plaza opened in 1922 as the nation’s first shopping district designed for the automobile.
Founded in Kansas City in 1989, Boulevard Brewing Co. has grown to become the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest.
Famous Kansas Citians include: Harry S. Truman, Amelia Earhart, Charlie Parker, Walt Disney, Jesse James, Buck O'Neil, Thomas Hart Benton, Count Bassie, Satchel Paige, Joyce C. Hall, Ed Asner, Don Cheadle, Robert Altman, Walter Cronkite, Melissa Etheridge, Maurice Green, Jean Harlow, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Ginger Rogers and Kate Spade.
Contributors: Kelli Bamforth, Arley Hoskin, Jessica Marshall, Christy Moore, Nadia Pflaum, Crystal K. Wiebe
Photography by Angela Bond, Edmée Rodriguez-Hasler, Brooke Vandever