OFF THE BEATEN PATH, FLYING UNDER THE RADAR, AND UNIQUE; THESE ARE MY FAVORITES!
Article by Mindy Hargesheimer
Photography by Mindy Hargesheimer
"Hidden Gem:" Something which is extremely outstanding and not many people may know about.
When it comes to 'hidden gems' in Kansas City, the list is seemingly endless; to me, that is! Unique things to do in Kansas City, off the beaten path things to see, flying under the social media radar, or otherwise - I have compiled *in random order* over 50 (and growing!) of my personal favorite "hidden gems" in KC that anyone should experience.
Some may be obvious to the reader, many may be unheard of, but all just simply had to be featured as a photo and indulgence opportunity for the locals and tourists alike. For a deeper dive into the experience of each, click the hyperlinked title to each that will take you to my @kansascitybucketlist post highlighting each of them in detail! And, as always, follow the local business's Instagram account for recent updates and events!
Generally speaking, these are small businesses, brands, foods, and experiences that I have found to be the 'surprise and delight' kind of content that people LOVE!
"The Liberty Memorial was designated a National Historic Landmark on Sept. 20, 2006, recognizing the monument as a nationally significant historic property. It is a distinction given to less than 40 historic properties in Missouri and slightly more than 2,500 in the United States."
"We are a pre-prohibition, premium spirits and cocktail bar. Our primary goal is hospitality, but we also make great cocktails! We do not take reservations, and are first come, first served, always." One of KC's most authentic speakeasies with an industrial vibe and killer drinks!
"With an abundant variety of scratch made baked goods, extensive specialty coffee and espresso bar, notably delicious 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."
"At Green Dirt Farm we make award-winning sheep’s and cow's milk cheeses. Our cafe in Weston is a cozy spot to enjoy our delicious cheeses, sandwiches and ice cream along with other small batch local food goodness. Most years, May through October, we host events in our barn located on our farm in the pastoral hills of the Missouri River bluffs, just north of Weston, Missouri, about 40 miles north of Kansas City. We’d love to share the peaceful beauty of our farm with you."
"Located in the heart of downtown Spring Hill’s Historic Main Street, The Bean Coffee Co. is the perfect spot to grab some coffee and meet with a friend. We offer Artisan-Level roasted coffee that is always served to your liking. Our fresh pastries and made to order sandwiches will satisfy any palate, as well as our delicious smoothies and ice cream that will calm that craving sweet tooth."
"THE PIANO ROOM, Kansas City’s one of a kind, traditional piano bar, is located in Waldo at 8410 Wornall Road. Opened in 1978, The Piano Room was originally called Inge’s. It is an intimate space frequented by customers who are always welcomed to the microphone."
"Bringing New York to Kansas City, One Bagel at a Time" means sharing the old world taste that is absent from every bagel in the KC Metro. The crusty outer shell and moist, yeasty center are the product of authentic, old-world methods; Artisan flour. A secret mix of yeast, malt, sugar, and salt with the all-important boil before baking."
"Located 45 miles south of Kansas City Missouri in Cass County, alpacas are our passion. We have a farm store with all kinds of neat items made of alpaca. We raise these adorable alpacas for sale, show, and for the gorgeous fleece that they produce."
"We are a Western, mountain-themed coffee shop and bar serving locally-curated coffee and tea, as well as a full-service bar with favorite liquors, draft beer, wine, and cocktails. Front Range is a one-stop neighborhood shop with curated gifts and goods for you and your home."
"Heritage Park consists of a wide range of features and amenities for all to enjoy. The 1,238-acre park includes a field in sunflower bloom in roughly a 2-3 week period around Labor Day in the fall. It's a little know secret for those that don't venture to the South Johnson County corridor. and the park's SE field off S Pflumm Rd and W 173rd St."
"This is no honky-tonk dive with sawdust on the floor. Harry's kind of country is classic--Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard on the jukebox, and a few regulars sipping whiskey at the end of the long mahogany bar. The walls may be festooned with mug shots of the Man in Black and Dale Watson, but the customers are eclectic: Young urbanites and the over-40 crowd make their home here."
"Celebrating 38 years as “The Sweetest Place in Kansas City!” We are a family and locally owned Kansas City small-business. Since we developed Kansas City Fudge® and opened for business in June of 1983, sweet-tooth’s from all over the globe have been treated to a special experience in “chocology."
"Opened in 1996, this nondenominational chapel features doors that stretch 13 feet high. The chapel, designed by E. Fay Jones, has 2,550 square feet of glass, allowing the building to blend with the surrounding prairie. It is 47 feet high, 102 feet long and seats up to 120 people. The building is named for Marjorie Powell Allen, who often rested under a tree nearby. The outdoor lighting, fountain and flagstone courtyard, plus seats, sconces, candle holders and lecterns all were designed by the architects."
"Get ready for a twisted experience! Locally owned and family operated, KC Pretzel Boy’s offers the best soft pretzels in Kansas City. Our pretzels are made from scratch, hand-twisted, and baked fresh all throughout the day. Is your mouth watering yet? In addition to our signature soft pretzel ‘softie’ we also offer pretzel dogs, bite-sized pretzel nuggets, homemade dips, cinnamon sugar dessert pretzels, party trays, and custom shaped pretzels."
“Good As Gold,” purchased at a cost of $34,000, stands eight feet high and is a continuous loop of books resting on steel feet. Holes drilled into the books were strung like beads onto a steel bar. Lipski stated that the project took “two to three months” from inception to completion. Most of the books looped into the sculpture came from the Book Barn in Bridgehampton, New York and were selected by Lipski based on size, color, and subject matter. As a special addition, a few books at the base of the sculpture are withdrawn items from The Kansas City Public Library's collection."
"Take a break from the galleries and enjoy Café Sebastienne's contemporary American cuisine while surrounded by the Museum's Permanent Collection, in either the intimate Café setting or enclosed Courtyard."
"Silo is nestled inside the newly constructed Canyon Farms Golf Club. Guests of Silo are treated to breathtaking views of the Canyon Farms Golf Club, one of Kansas City's most prestigious private golf clubs. Nosh on the infamous 32 Layer Chocolate Cake made up of Chocolate Mousse on Chocolate Cake | Chocolate Ganache | Amarena Cherry Chocolate Sauce | Vanilla Whipped Cream | Chocolate & Burnt Sugar Lace."
"Started in early 2017, Splitlog Coffee was founded by two brothers, Adam and Caleb Wittmer, wanting to expand Kansas City exceptional coffee scene to Kansas side of state line. Deciding to take the venture on themselves, they brought on longtime coffee professional Simeon Bricker to help craft a coffee experience for both the coffee enthusiast and the daily drinker. After a short build out the shop opened it's doors in April of 2017 and has quickly become a staple of the Strawberry Hill neighborhood."
"Located in the gently rolling hills of northwest Missouri, Of the Earth Farm + Distilleryis proud to offer seasonal produce, hand crafted spirits & locally raised meats. Since 2011, owners Jim Pierce & Sarah Burnett Pierce, have worked side by side to grow their passion into a successful business."
"Once the tallest building in Kansas City, our 1930 hotel retains its Art Deco sensibilities, from our speakeasy concealed in the basement to our lobby's Goddess of Dawn sculpture. We're blocks from the Power & Light District's theaters, nightlife, and Kansas City Convention Center."
"Cause Coffee exists to make a positive difference in developing nations through education, clean water wells, food and disaster relief crisis, orphan care, anti human slavery and more. The way we do this is simple. We are a very unique craft coffee shop because we are non-profit. When you walk through our doors it would appear like a normal for-profit craft shop but in reality everything we make (after expenses) we give back to global needs."
"The General Store & Co. opened in the heart of downtown Overland Park in 2011. We're a modern mercantile curating a wide selection of design-led everyday goods, thoughtful gifts and curiosities all sourced locally, regionally and globally. And we like to have fun."
"We at the Fine Arts theatres have enjoyed being a part of your community for nearly 40 years. We are excited to be able to remain connected to you through our new virtual screenings as well as the latest and finest in art/independent film that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Partial proceeds from ticket sales for these virtual screenings will go toward operating expenses for the Glenwood and Rio."
"The Campground is an intimate aperitivo cocktail bar and restaurant- located in the historic Stockyards District of Kansas City- offering craft cocktails, natural wines, funky beers, and Midwest harvest-inspired fare. You’re cordially invited to join us for food, beverage, and merriment. Here at The Campground you’re always in good company."
"Serving cocktails and spirits five nights a week, our tasting room has a vibe reminiscent of family dinners, game nights, and celebrations. It’s a place to share stories, sip spirits, and make memories...Uniquely steeped in the tradition and history of 19th century Parisian culture, our Absinthe is a lavish and delicate delight. Made with wormwood, anise, and fennel seed, Absinthe Verte is the first-ever distilled in Kansas City."
"A good book has the remarkable ability to connect friends over midnight discussions, or to a garrulous passenger on the streetcar who loves the same writer. Simple paper pages can inspire a visit to a city or reconnect someone to a time and place of their past. Books can spark an idea or incite an argument and provide a tranquil escape from the chaotic. Beer, wine, spirits, and food share this quality. Rather than leave one of 'em out we decided to combine their collective powers under a single roof.
Thus, Afterword Tavern & Shelves was born. While it may be libations and books we’re selling on paper, at a philosophical level we are peddling discovery and the city in which we live. We invite you to walk through our door, and when you depart we hope that you do so having discovered something stirringly novel."
"UNION is the backbone of our family, our team, and our process. It’s the collective energy that flows from both Kansas and Missouri that creatively powers our hometown of Kansas City. It’s in the process of our spirits, combining the best locally sourced ingredients with our commitment to the craft and culminating in award-winning, nationally acclaimed, small batch spirits."
"When the Redemptorist priests settled between the frontier towns of Westport and Kansas City in 1878, they never dreamt of establishing a parish. They were missionaries. They built a mission house, high on a hill, overlooking verdant meadows. From there, they traveled to the newly settled towns of the Midwest, preaching missions. Soon neighboring Catholics befriended the priests and brothers and began worshiping with them in their chapel. As the congregation grew, the Redemptorists were invited to establish a new parish on the mission house grounds. In 1888, the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was founded, but to this day, the church is still widely referred to as “Redemptorist.”
"Boutique shop filled with wine, beer and spirits to appeal to any range of connoisseur. Famous for our $100 Mixed Case of Wine! At Cellar Rat Wine Merchants, we believe there should be a story behind every label. Every product is tasted & selected by our knowledgeable staff, and nothing is sold unless we like it ourselves. We have a thoughtfully curated collection of more than 1,200 wines, 300 spirits, 200 beers, and much more. No matter your budget, we are able to accommodate with prices ranging from $5 to $500, including our famous $100 case!"
Not to be confused by the name, this red-hued jazz lounge is a two-level escape into the musical past. With intricate aesthetics of chandeliers, tiled ceilings, booths, and a bar for the best of them, GLL is a must-hit live music destination with live jazz every night! (Crossroads)
Made in KC Cafe | River Market Trolley
"After extensive renovation of the 80 year old streetcar, Made In KC [opened], so come enjoy the deck or inside the cool vintage streetcar. [Now] offering bites, drinks and branded gear like you enjoy in all the MiKC outlets!"
"SD Strong Distilling, located in Parkville, Missouri, is the worlds only known distillery in a cave, 65 feet underground. Distilling spirits in the cave, where temperatures and conditions never vary, provides unique, high-quality flavor experiences. The company distills SD Strong Vodka, Pillar 136 Gin, SD Strong Straight Rye Whiskey, Barrel Rested Pillar 136 Gin and just released Big Boom Bourbon."
"The Central Library parking garage is located directly west of the Central Library building on the northwest corner of 10th & Baltimore. The Community Bookshelf is a striking feature of the south wall of the Central Library's parking garage. It is open 7 days a week."
“The original Hey Hay Club was located in downtown Kansas City at 4th and Cherry. It only lasted for a few years, 1931 - 1938, but in that time it played host to jazz musicians the likes of Count Basie, Lester Young, and countless others. 'The Hey! Hey! Club' is our tribute to Kansas City's rebellious past, weaving another vital element of iconic KC history into the J. Rieger & Co. story."
It should be noted this is NOT on public property, but a little known secret of a small collection of zoo-type animals owned by a residence. Bypassers, when lucky, can catch a glimpse of these adorable camels! Message me for location!
"Reservations are required for this intimate and one-of-a-kind experience. Our highly curated spirits collection complements the exquisite cocktail menu which rotates seasonally and draws inspiration from the works of various artists."
"Our sophisticated barn-yard 'Chicken Footstools' are created through traditional art processes. They remind us of where we come from and invite others to do the same. We are proud each piece is one-of-a-kind, grown, and fashioned in the Midwest."
"The museum building is unmatched in its uniqueness: soft, undulating horizontal-stacked stone volumes build in color from ashen to nearly white at the parapet, stretching wide, evoking the expansiveness of the rolling prairie—only to be pierced and punctuated by a jagged vertical dichroic glass peak, glittering with shifting colors that dance like flames. Like a fire, the building can be viewed from 360-degrees with no discernable “back side.”
Mindy Hargesheimer - “Every Day Is On My Bucket List;” a mantra I live by, and the basis for my passion for ALL things ‘EXPERIENTIAL!’
As an avid explorer, I take every opportunity to experience my surroundings, and when I can't travel the globe, I love to travel my way around Kansas City and beyond, crossing each and every destination off of my bucket list, and documenting...