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Ultimate Guide to KC’s Coolest Districts – KC Parent

By: Margaret Bristow

April 27, 2016

Did you know that Forbes has listed downtown Kansas City as one of the best in the nation? Or that theHuffington Post voted KC among the top 10 cities for creatives and among the top 20 for most cultured? We truly do live in a unique and vibrant metropolis! Here is the ultimate guide to just a few of the eclectic adventures that await you in some of Kansas City’s coolest districts:


First Fridays:  Every first Friday of the month, the Crossroads district is transformed into a hip arts and entertainment scene. Art galleries showcase the work of Kansas City’s newest and most talented artists. Local bands entertain on the street corners, in restaurants, and often complement gallery exhibits. Restaurants and a variety of food trucks are on hand to fuel the throngs with samplings of the city’s most diverse culinary flavors.

Start your introduction to various art mediums at the Bauer, a historic building that houses local artists’ workspaces and galleries. One artist’s studio not to miss is that of Kate E. Burke—she is currently working on printed and dyed textiles and creating textile-based fashion accessories like scarves, clutches and tote bags. She also will be debuting kimono-style robes that incorporate her hand-crafted and designed textiles. Gigi Moon and Perilin are two unique local jewelry designers you also will also find on First Fridays at the Bauer, to list just a few other artists.

Culinary Delights & Entertainment: The Crossroads is home to many popular and trendy restaurants, lounges and entertainment venues. Grinders is always a hot spot for food, drink and the music scene. Order a slice of pizza, choose a pint from the extensive list of beers on tap and head out to the back patio to eat while enjoying a live concert. The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange always garners rave reviews for a special dinner out on the town, and be sure to enjoy a first-class cocktail after dinner downstairs at Manifesto, one of Kansas City’s best-kept secrets. For dessert, check out Snow & Co. for a sweet frozen libation. Conclude your evening in the Crossroads by relaxing in the Green Lady Lounge, which is quickly becoming a premier experience in the Kansas City jazz scene.


Day into Night Spots: Serving Kansas City residents for more than 150 years, Westport transforms itself daily. From an early-morning breakfast or coffee run, to brunch, to a romantic dinner, to a late night out, Westport offers something for everyone. Begin your day with a scrumptious gourmet, hand-crafted doughnut (like a maple bacon long john!) at the new Doughnut Lounge. For a midday meal, the eats don’t get any better than those at the Westport Cafe and Bar, which features a special brunch menu that includes a complimentary Bellini, mimosa, Bloody Mary, coffee or soft drink! And for dinner, McCoy’s Public House is a Westport staple. The Roadhouse Burger and house-made root beer always hit the spot. To take your day into night, step through the walkway into the Foundry, which often features a local DJ spinning cool vibes well into the evening.


A Foodie’s Paradise: The River Market community has so much to offer Kansas City—so much to experience! Since 1857, the City Market farmers market has been supplying urban residents with the best of local produce. A perennial favorite to new and regular customers alike, the farmers market is just the tip of the iceberg. Adventurous and diverse eateries are throughout the River Market area. Taste of Brazil Market brings the flavor of South American cuisine (sample the pao de queijo for starters) to Kansas City, while Carollo’s Italian Market & Deli offers up truly authentic Italian food and goods (which make the BEST ingredients for a picnic in one of the city’s iconic parks). Nearby, Harry’s Country Club is another establishment not to miss—from great food to traditional brews and local bands, Harry’s has it all.

Historic Treasures: For the antique enthusiast, River Market Antiques is 30,000 square feet of quality vintage. This antique mall is a favorite among locals and visitors—from the occasional collector to the serious.

Another place where history comes to life in the River Market is at the Arabia Steamboat Museum. Since the paddleboat sank in the Missouri River in 1856 with all her cargo aboard, a moment in time has been preserved for generations to discover. Visit the museum to see what life was like in the mid-19th century through the stories the surviving objects tell.


Third Fridays: Just as the Crossroads has First Fridays, the West 39th Street neighborhood takes every third Friday of the month to celebrate its local flavor. Activities include art showcases, happy hours, food specials, live music and boutique sales.

Boutiques: Some of West 39th Street’s main attractions are its unique boutique shops. A couple of favorites are Retro Vixen (new, vintage-inspired women’s clothing and accessories for every age and every size) and Donna’s Dress Shop (expertly collected vintage and new women’s clothing and accoutrements).

Restaurants and Night Life: This district is also known for its one-of-a-kind restaurants. There are so many to choose from, you will have to keep returning to try them all. A few to start with are Fric & Frac, a favorite local hangout. Come for the beers, stay for the food—especially on Taco Saturdays! THOMAS Restaurant is the perfect place for date night, a celebratory dinner or cocktails. On Thursday through Saturday evenings, pianist Vincent Cook adds the perfect amount of ambiance to the superb menu. Other popular dining selections on 39th include Jazz, d’Bronx, Aladdin Café, Q39, Room 39, KC Smoke Burgers and Anna’s Oven—and the list goes on!

Other notable Kansas City destination districts to explore: West Bottoms, Power & Light, East Bottoms, Downtown Kansas City and the Country Club Plaza. And beginning May 6, several of these districts will be linked when the RideKC Streetcar officially begins operations.

Kansas City truly is an extraordinary metropolis in which to live and explore!