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Kansas City Highlights


Article by Mindy Hargesheimer

Photography by Mindy Hargesheimer

"Kansas City, I'm So In Love!"

There's a reason this is a famously visited and photographed mural about town, because if you live here, you know, and if you or someone you know is visiting for the very first time, get ready for a Midwest experience of a lifetime, because this midi city is FULL of incredible food, arts, culture, sunsets, and this list is only scratching the surface of my ongoing list of @kansascitybucketlist experiences!

If you are anything like me within your own city, you are constantly asked for the "Must See!" "Can't Miss!" in Kansas City by incoming travelers, or those that haven't visited since our urban renaissance began more than a decade ago. 

Have family or friends visiting KC and racking your brain on creating an itinerary?!

Then here you go: This is my personal list of can't miss experiences for those that have never traveled here, and will surely make your job as host/hostess MUCH easier and leave them understanding exactly WHY we all LOVE Kansas City as much as we do!


Crossroads Hotel: No-brainer. This boutique hotel is gorgeous and complete with a rooftop bar, rotating lobby art exhibit, authentic Italian restaurant pumping 90s hip hop, a wood fired pizza oven, and rooms to die for. Check in! (Crossroads)

21c Museum: Part art museum, part hotel, part restaurant, part speak easy-esque bar! The Savoy at 21c is a historic staple and has arguably some of the most amazing foods and cocktails served around town. Oh, and did I mention the iconic penguins and the wicked neon entrance? Selfie time! (Downtown)

The Truitt: The masculine counterpart to its sister property, The Aida, The Truitt is a modern boutique hotel set within the grandeur of a historic brick colonial mansion steps from the Kansas City Country Club Plaza and Nelson Atkins Museum. (Rockhill)

The Fontaine: And the award for the most photo-worthy entrance goes to...this walkable hotel amongst our iconic Spanish architecture-inspired district surrounded by shopping and dining and a picturesque creek; it doesn't get more Kansas City than this. (Plaza)

Hotel Kansas City: This stunner of a historic downtown high-rise is the perfect upscale location to stay. One of a handful of Hyatt 'Unbound Collection' properties around the world, this destination has stunning touches amongst the restaurant, basement bar, grand lobby & bar, and rooms. (Downtown)

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Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que: "Dive BBQ." Two words: The Z-Man. Slow-smoked beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese, topped with two crispy onion rings on a toasted Kaiser roll. What's a visit to KC without BBQ? (East KCK)

The Rockhill Grille: Two levels of urban corner views; upscale glam on the first floor and dark and moody lodge on the second with open-to-close garage doors to boot. DO NOT MISS the Tater Tots amongst this scenic locale! (Crossroads + Leawood)

Q39: "Modern BBQ." Visit either the original Midtown location or the 2nd expansion in Overland Park. It’s impossible to go wrong with nearly anything on Q39’s menu, but I also walk away in foodie heaven every time I order the Burnt Ends and Mac N Cheese. (Midtown + Overland Park)

Gram & Dun: Picture perfect setting inside and out with a West Coast vibe and a patio for the best of 'em. Can't Miss: Asian Pig Wings and The Smoking Dun. (Plaza)

Rye: From their famous fried chicken to tart and puckery lemon meringue pie, husband-and-wife/chefowners Colby and Megan Garrelts have spent a decade serving up chef-driven comfort foods based on traditional Midwestern recipes. (Plaza + Leawood)

Restaurants for the Foodies

The Antler Room: 2x James Beard nominee for Best Chef in the Midwest, Wine Enthusiast America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants, midcentury modern and intimate aesthetic, gorgeous shared plates! (Hospital Hill)

Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room: James Beard Semi-Finalist and a perfect culinary storm of Steak Tartare and the unexpected and wildly good Cheeseburger and Fry combo. It's arguably one of the richest, most beautiful interiors complete with its eye-capturing raven mural. Don't Miss: Seaweed Donuts and Milk and Cookie. (Crossroads)

Fox & Pearl: James Beard Semi-finalist in KC's historic Westside neighborhood presents a midwestern meets southern, rustic and delectable experience with its live hearth and warm tones. Dine and drink up, down, al fresco, and below in this multi-faceted and irresistible locale. (Westside)

Novel: Chef Ryan Brazeal hails from the NYC culinary scene, bringing his expertise back to his hometown roots, creating a design aesthetic that wows; snap a pic of the gorgeous 50-ft tiled animal mosaic while noshing on an expertly curated savory + sweet feast. (East Crossroads)

Farina: Led by one of Kansas City's first James Beard Award-winning chefs, Michael Smith, Farina neighbors local favorite and Smith concept, Extra Virgin, while stunning with a street-view oyster bar and Modern Italian that will blow your taste buds off. No need for a plane to experience authentic Italian food + wine right here and now. (Crossroads)

The Savoy: The accolades aplenty, and the friendliness you'd hope and expect in the Midwest, this team recreated this legendary prohibition haunt and turned it into American Cuisine you won't want to miss. Save an extra seat for The Savoy's friendly, and stoic penguin, and don't miss the Savoy Smash Burger. (Downtown)

Ça Va: Bringing "Champagne to the people," this Westport Parisian paradise takes you away as you drown in delicious bubbles you won't find just anywhere around the country. Can't Miss: Duck Fat Kettle Korn and Prosecco on Tap. (Westport)

Stock Hill: Named one of the 31 BEST Steakhouses 3 years in a row, Stock Hill's mouthwatering, hand-selected, wet-aged cuts of steak with exquisite starters and desserts are not to be missed, and the appetizers, desserts, and Social Hour are to die for! (South Plaza)

The Town Company: The Town Company, led by James Beard-nominated Executive Chef Johnny Leach (Town, Del Posto, Momofuku), intertwines rustic roots and refined beginnings that embody the Kansas City experience as we know it today. (Downtown)

The Restaurant at 1900: The Restaurant at 1900 features modern American cuisine from award-winning Chef Linda Duerr. The menu is seasonally-based, and frequently updated according to the best ingredients available. Inventive lunch and dinner specials are offered. (Mission Woods)

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Cocktails & Beer

Boulevard Brewing Co. : Founded in Kansas City and one of the most incredible breweries you will find around the country, order a Beer Flight, book a Shuffleboard Court, do a Brewery Tour, and soak in the 3-levels of indoor and outdoor Kansas City scenery. (Southwest Blvd)

J. Rieger & Co.: TWO Words: ADULT SLIDE. That's right, one of the only 2nd floor slides within a distillery known in the US, and it sits amongst 60,000 feet of STUNNING triple decker space. From the outstanding The Hey! Hey! Club in the basement, to The Monogram Lounge serving an exclusive KC Bier Co Heim Beer, and Electric Park Garden Bar, take a distillery tour, snack, brunch, shop, and dance for all they care; we can thank J. Rieger for elevating Kansas City to an entirely new metropolitan level. (Electric Park)

Percheron Rooftop Bar: Inside the Crossroads Hotel, make your way to the 7th floor after making a much needed reservation. Soak up views north, south, east and west of KC's skyline, including the iconic Western Auto light in the sky and Liberty Memorial standing tall. (Crossroads)

Tom's Town Distilling Co.: Named for the Prohibition Era Gangsta himself, Tom Pendergast, Tom's Town is the perfect experience of craft-fully distilled spirits with a temptation to party like the rebels the Kansas City libations scene is founded on. Book a tour, chill in the lounge, chat with the bartenders at the rich oak bar and enjoy one of our finest. (Crossroads)

Drastic Measures: Drastic Measures is a 45 seat cocktail lounge in downtown Shawnee. They operate on a red light/green light system for entering. If it's green, knock. (Shawnee)

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Messenger Cafe: Two floors + a bonus rooftop filled with natural light amongst a crisp white interior and smells of baked bread that will whisk you away. Messenger Coffee is one of this city's most beloved local makers, with breakfast, lunch and baked bites liked their flaky Croissants, Breakfast Toasts, and frothy seasonal drinks. Don't Miss: Cheese Slippers! (Crossroads + Plaza)

Mildred's: With an abundant variety of scratch made baked goods, extensive specialty coffee and espresso bar, sandwiches, salads and soups, Mildred’s has all your bases covered. The “Standard Breakfast Sandwich” is known to many as being the ultimate breakfast sandwich in the city. Come try one today at either of our two Kansas City locations. (Crossroads + Downtown)

Vested Coffee: A nod to its location in the historic Garment District, and purveyor of neighboring Arkansas-based Onyx Coffee Lab, Vested has one of the most inviting and urban ambiances you'll fall for. Exposed brick, tall ceilings, rich blue velvet couches, and the recognizable stencils that grace your mocha, #DoItForTheGram and sip your brew al fresco in Vested's European-feeling passageway. (Downtown + Hospital Hill)

Thou Mayest: Thou Mayest is a local cult fav with 3 locations across the metro. The River Market hosts its independent location in arguably one of KC's most progressive neighborhoods. (River Market)

The Roasterie Factory: A locally owned and operated company since 1993, this hometown favorite is marked by their air-roasted coffee beans and vintage plane in the sky. (Southwest Boulevard)

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Christopher Elbow Chocolates: From Elbow's orange-hued Crossroads shop complemented by the vibrant shades of the rainbow that make up his chocolate artisan works of art, you'll find yourself asking if the handcrafted chocolates are too beautiful to eat. (Crossroads)

I am Frozen Dessert Cafe: Two Words: Honey Toast! This authentic Thai-flavored cafe is the brainchild of a sweet family with one of the best Thai restaurants directly around the corner. From Honey Toasts decked with a blend of sweet treats to the Shaved Cream that melts in your mouth, head on over for this whimsical experience. (Overland Park)

Ice Cream BAE: Located at Park Place's beautiful corner cafe that is adjacent to the simmering summer's green turf and the chilly winter's ice skating rink, Ice Cream BAE's amazing global-inspired Swirls, Signatures, and Soft Serve creations are so beyond good and cute, you've got to make it a repeat visit. (Leawood + Plaza)

Andy's Frozen Custard: Andy’s has a wide variety of treats, from simple vanilla or chocolate cones, to seasonal favorites like our Pumpkin Pie Concretes and Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes. (Multiple Locations)

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Arts + Culture

Liberty Memorial at Nat'l World War I Museum: Epic history and gorgeous museum aside, the best view of Kansas City is a quick ride and walk up to the top of Liberty Memorial – Can't Miss. History buffs will fall in love with this profound and all encompassing setting, and one of the only designated museums to National WW1 (Midtown

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Kansas City is defined by its enormous shuttlecocks that grace the grounds of this gorgeous art museum. With rotating exhibits, a modern and classical wing, and an expansive lawn perfect for picnics and perusing the surroundings, this free museum (aside from special exhibits) is beyond picture worthy. (Rockhill)

Starlight Theatre: Starlight Theatre is Kansas City’s home for the best Broadway musicals, concerts and unique theatrical shows. (Swope Park)

Mural Tour: With an annual SpraySeeMo Mural Festival that enhances Kansas City's vibrant arts and culture scene, download a map or navigate any of our Crossroads and beyond alleyways to find some of the most impressive and meaningful murals that make our city more rich thanks to a wealth of highly talented local artists and annual visitors. (Crossroads and beyond)

Union StationNeed I say more? Its grand allure, its deep history, its experiences for kids and family to dedicate an entire day here, grab a Parisi coffee and walk the plaza, or grab a Pierpont's cocktail and appreciate this landmark that stands strong and tall in the heart of our city. (Crown Center)

City Market: Take a trip around the globe in this eclectic space that will introduce you to everything from spices to Brazilian fare, Ethiopian plates to Vietnamese. Visit the weekend Farmer's Market for $10 blooms and speciality vendor gifts and finds. (River Market)

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Country Club Plaza: There is no more beautiful district than this Spanish-inspired plaza filled with restaurants, boutiques, hotels, coffee shops, and more. A trip to Kansas City is not complete without soaking in the colors and textures and a walk down Brush Creek. (Country Club Plaza)

Made in KC Marketplace: With well over 200 local makers selling their unique and fun creations, the spirit of Kansas City is alive and contagious as you walk the kiosks of t-shirts, jewelry, bbq sauces, spirits, stickers, leather goods, and more. Want to feel like a true Kansas Citian? Snag your own Charlie Hustle t-shirt with the KC Heart. (Plaza)

LUNA by ULAH: Born out of the ULAH family of lifestyle concepts, LUNA is an approachable, on-trend store featuring a mix of local, national, and international brands. You won’t have to travel far… LUNA is located two doors down from ULAH in Woodside Village. (Westwood)

West BottomsOpen on First Friday Weekends, the vintage lovers at heart will fall head over heels for this industrial corridor on the Westside. Shop your heart out for 3 days straight, once a month, and feast on food trucks, in-store vendors, and neighboring restaurants. Don't Miss: Bella Patina. (Stockyards District)

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Music & Nightlife

The Mercury Room: The Mercury Room is a one-of-a-kind cocktail bar & lounge, specifically curated to create an experience. (Crossroads)

The Ship: Hands down one of KC's best, most iconic dive bars in the heart of the West Bottoms, The Ship looks like a literal ship interior with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. It's the dive bar you need in your life. (West Bottoms)

Uptown Theater: Historic venue in Kansas City for concerts, weddings, and private events. (Midtown)

Green Lady Lounge: The name says green, but the interior screams rich red. Two levels of live jazz with a 60s era aesthetic. This unassuming on the outside venue will set your heart on fire as you soak in the sights and sounds on the inside. (Crossroads)

The Phoenix: Rich in storied history (allegedly once a brothel), The Phoenix is a long-standing, intimate live music experience that will take you to another era. (Downtown)

The Monarch Bar: By far one of the most elevated and refined cocktail lounges in the city with our city's "monarch" logo at the helm, The Monarch Bar is "locally crafted and internationally inspired;" experience any one of Monarch's beautiful cocktail creations within the bar, the private Parlour Lounge, or al fresco on the Terrace. (Plaza)

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Sports Bars

KC Live! Block: The most lively block you'll found outside one of our sports stadiums themselves, the KC Live! Block is an all encompassing arena that resides outside and is surrounded by a plethora of bars and restaurants to hop to. This is our entertainment district at its core for those looking for a true night out on the town. (Power & Light District)

Kelly's Westport Inn: The original Irish Pub in the heart of Midtown, nothing feels more idyllic than Kelly's for taking in game after game with beer after beer. And you don't have to go far to grab some food or play a game of pool. (Westport)

The Peanut: As dive-y as it gets, check out one of The Peanut's locations for PBR, Wings, and all the sports you crave. (Downtown and South Plaza)

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Kansas City Zoo: What kid or family doesn't enjoy elephants, penguins, and monkeys, OH MY! (Swope Park)

Museum at Prairiefire: With the most photographic backdrop for photos for a lifetime, Museum at Prairefire is fun for the family with its T-Rex on the interior and its magnificent colors on the outside. (Overland Park)

Union Station: With venues like Science City, Planetarium, Movie Theater, and an ever-rotating seasonal exhibit, Union Station is the perfect playground for kids to run, learn, and play their hearts out. (Crown Center)

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Strang Hall: Overland Park's newest chef collective food hall has an expansive green turf adjacent to the open-air Strang Bar. Bring the dog and kids, and dine al fresco under the sun or stars and let the creatures run wild. (Downtown Overland Park)

Bar K Dog Bar: Kansas City's first and best dog park meets restaurant and bar, Bar K sits on the industrial tracks just south of Berkley Riverfront Park and brings cute, creative, and kitschy options for dogs to roam and adults to eat and drink. (River Market)

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens: Serene and full of seasonal foliage, our city's Arboretum is a quiet escape out south where one can get lost for hours under the crisp Kansas air and the blooms surrounding them. (Overland Park)

Chicken N Pickle: This outdoor pickle-ball court and yard games destination is ideal for adults and/or families with dogs in tow. Known for their rotisserie chicken dishes and bar, this is the laid back and casual spot you and your pooch will be yearning for. (North Kansas City + Overland Park)

Iron District: Jump on the shipping container bandwagon with our newest district on the Northside. Fill your bell with bites from food vendors and take in the live music (and mural!) when schedules allow. (North Kansas City)

In closing, Kansas City is a beautiful city inside and out, from the people, the food, arts, architecture, and more. Don't forget to visit the iconic Kauffman Center for a photo opp of one of our most iconic landmarks on your way out. Enjoy your visit!

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