Well, folks, we are coming down to our final few days in Kansas City. I can’t believe we are going to be moving across the country! We are so excited for our new journey in the Pacific Northwest but will miss this awesome city so much. Kansas City is truly a hidden gem in the Midwest. It is temperate, welcoming, vibrant, and full of delicious food and fun things to do. It’s home to a famous barbecue scene and exciting breweries. The arts are celebrated here, from ballet to famous vocalists and renowned museums. The people here are Midwest-nice and quickly become friends and family.
When we moved here, I had never been to Kansas City before. I insisted we visit before moving from Milwaukee. It was mid-April when we first visited the city. It was so warm! Mid-April temperatures in Kansas City can skyrocket into the 80’s, which we welcomed, being from the upper Midwest. It was still in the 40’s in Milwaukee! While we stayed just south of the city, we took every moment to explore the downtown area, which would be our new home. Kansas City has worked incredibly hard to restore and rejuvenate the Power and Light District. No detail goes without notice in this area! The streets are clean and the streetcar is easy to navigate. We picked this central location to live because of the ease of getting to other neighborhoods in the city including Crossroads and the River Market area. From our central location we could get on the streetcar or walk to either place.
Over the last two years, Zach and I have become regulars at quite a few places! We have grown to love the culture, the food, and the people. With leaving this wonderful city, I have created a list of Kansas City favorites that we have come to love over the last couple years. If you plan to visit, or even move to, Kansas City, I hope this list will serve you well. Even you locals may get some new ideas! It has been a phenomenal experience getting to know this beautiful city. While we are so excited for this new experience, we will miss Kansas City!
Things to Do
National WWI Museum and Memorial
- Washington DC style museum. Really wonderful exhibits! Check out the view around the back of the museum! And, if you’re feeling adventurous, head to the top of the monument for a breathtaking vista.
- Delicious beers and food, what could be better!? Take an educational tour or sit in the brew hall and sip on not-yet-released Boulevard Beers. I recommend a beer flight and a cheese platter! Grab a table and a board game for a fun night out with friends.
- Not only an architectural beauty, the Kauffman Center hosts hundreds of acclaimed productions each year. We loved making a tradition of seeing the Nutcracker Ballet around Christmas time.
- Extensive shopping options and delicious eats surrounded by Spanish inspired architecture.
- Another world class museum located in Kansas City. This art museum has a little for everyone! From different genres of art to specialty exhibits and an outdoor art garden, this museum is great for the entire family. This past year we had the opportunity to see the traveling Napoleon exhibit which was spectacular! We loved to visit this museum on rainy days.
- Most Saturdays during the summer months, Zach and I would take a leisurely walk down to the City Market. While we enjoyed getting our steps in, this area of the city is also accessible by the streetcar. The City Market on Saturdays is full of local farmers and vendors selling produce and other delicious goods. We loved having the ability to buy local veggies, meats, and other items in an urban location! I recommend dropping by the Opera House for an iced coffee before exploring the market.
- Kansas City played a significant role in the pre-Civil War era. Being close to the line of separation between north and south, Kansas City offers extremely interesting local histories. The Wornall House has been restored and preserved to what it would have been during this time period. Take a walking tour with a guide to learn about war stories and way of life for Major John Wornall and his family.
- The Crossroads district comes alive on the first Friday evening of every month during the warm weather season. With food trucks, open art galleries, and happy hour specials at local restaurants, First Fridays is a hit among locals and visitors alike. The following morning, the West Bottoms antique area opens its doors to clients looking for fun and unique items. Grab a delicious drink and browse multiple antique stores.
- An outdoor theater in the Crossroads area. We saw John Butler Trio at this intimate venue and had a blast! Splurge on VIP tickets and you will have access to a VIP bar and indoor restrooms (makes all the difference on a warm summer night!).
- An enclosed city block surrounded by restaurants and bars. At the center is a stage which hosts well known country music artists every Thursday in the summer and other bands/musicians throughout the year. This past fall we had front row seats to one of our favorite bands, The Revivalists! We frequented Leinenkugel’s Bar for Packer and Badger games throughout the year. If you are a Wisconsin sports fan, you know how important it is to follow our home teams!
- Located in the Crossroads District, Messenger Coffee has a modern hipster vibe. They concoct specialty coffee and tea drinks in the open and airy coffee bar area. Behind glass windows, they display delicious pastries and breads, baked fresh every day by Ibis Bakery, located inside the shop. Everything is spectacular and you can’t go wrong. On a nice day, take your coffee and snack up to their rooftop patio. Even on a chilly day, they have an outdoor fireplace lit to keep you warm!
- Hidden in the Westside neighborhood, his quaint coffee shop is incredibly small, so don’t expect to always find a seat here. Not to worry though, their coffee is top notch! If coffee isn’t your thing, try one of their retro house soda drinks or snow cone. I recommend trying one of their specialty coffee drinks. They make an exquisite orange mocha (don’t hate it ’til you try it!)!
- Spokes is our neighborhood coffee shop, and get this, bike shop! This merged store offers your standard coffee drinks, an extensive menu of sandwiches and salads, bikes, bike accessories, and bike repairs. If you’re a fan of the Tour de France, watch it here with a tasty brew in hand. We have enjoyed frequenting Spokes in the mornings for breakfast sandwiches and wraps on Saturdays.
- This local Kansas City chain is well known all over the city. We even had Roasterie Coffee in the hospital coffee shop! There are different types of roasts and flavors even including a chocolate infused roast based on a local Kansas City chocolate shop, Christopher Elbow. Our favorite ice cream shop, Betty Rae’s (see below) has a Roasterie infused coffee ice cream. You could say that the Roasterie coffee is the coffee of KC! Check out the roasting headquarters of Roasterie coffee and attend a tour detailing the process of making a delicious cup of coffee.
- Ca va bein aujourd’hui? France comes to Kansas City in this charming French inspired cafe. Sit on the patio or in the restaurant to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and perfected French pastries. The breakfast/brunch menu is delectable, lunch is very well prepared, and dinner is exquisite. You can’t go wrong coming to Aixois any time of day.
- Being Packer fans without sports networks (trying to save money, ya hear?) we were desperate to find bar and/or restaurant in KC Chief’s territory that would play the Packer game. Luckily, we happened to find a Leine Lodge in downtown Kansas City! Leine Lodges, in any city, will play all Wisconsin sports. From Badger football games and basketball games to Sunday Packers games, we could watch our favorite teams from our new city. There seemed to be some confusion among local KC residents when they played the Badgers over K-State and/or University of Kansas, which was a little comical. But hey, you’re coming to a Wisconsin bar! They’re going to play Wisconsin sports.
- With a name like Julep, you can imagine this bar must have quite the collection of whiskeys. And you wouldn’t be wrong! Stacked along the back of the bar are multiple shelves stocked with, you guessed it, whiskey! Bartenders reach the top levels with a sliding ladder, like you might see in a library. But this library is a liquor library! Bartenders whip up craft cocktails in front of you. Of course, there are other cocktails outside of the whiskey range if it isn’t your thing.
- A fun, small, and tasteful urban microbrewery. I recommend getting a beer flight to sample multiple flavors!
- This fun restaurant and beer garden has an expansive outdoor area. Han out with your friends, your dogs, and your kids while you sip on a superb craft brew. The food isn’t to be forgotten. The inside out grilled cheese is the perfect companion to a flavorful IPA.
- While you wait for your table to enjoy some yummy BBQ, enjoy the outdoor patio with lawn games!
- Small plates and authentic Spanish wine. What could be better?
- Come here early evening or later in the night for an eclectic collection of crafted cocktails. Not sure what you want to drink? Describe flavors and a preferred liquor to the bartender for a personalized cocktail experience.
- Delicious and authentic Italian. Conceptualized by the famous Italian chef, Lida Bastianich, Lidia’s Restaurant is like walking into your Italian grandmother’s home. Whether you’re looking for classic spaghetti and meatballs or more traditional fare, Lidia’s is a great place to bring the whole family. I recommend trying the Pasta Trio, an unlimited daily selection of three house made pastas brought directly to your table.
- Wood fired pizza located in the River Market area. This laid back pizza joint is a fun and casual location for a quick and delicious bite to eat.
- This is our favorite BBQ spot in Kansas City! And while we can’t truly brag about the BBQ here since we aren’t natives, this location packs a punch. Q39 is award winning, and it is clear to see in the flavors of the meat, the sauce, and the sides. If we have friends or family come in from out of town who want true KC BBQ, this is where we take them! Get the sampler platter and you won’t be disappointed. With a full selection of tender, mouthwatering BBQ, you’ll leave Q39 extremely satisfied. Definitely make reservations! The wait time is consistently over an hour, even on week nights!
- We love this true farm-to-table restaurant. Sourced by local farmers, you can expect the food to be extremely delicious. This establishment also boasts the “tip-to-tail” mentality, using as much of the animal as possible to reduce waste. Enjoy the outdoor patio on a warm summer evening. Perfect for date night!
- This local restaurant is so close to our place and we love enjoying dinner here. Like the Farmhouse, The Westside Local supports local businesses and farmers. Everything is so fresh and the flavors are impeccable. Zach loves to get the Jalepeno & Jam Burger. I always seem to gravitate towards the rotating selection of tacos.
- Delicious and authentic pho and other Vietnamese specialties!
- This poke themed restaurant is not only extremely fresh, it’s extremely delicious! The concept is “build your own bowl”. Starting with the base ingredients (type of rice and protein), you move onto toppings, sauce, and marinades. We love coming to this newer KC restaurant for a fast and healthy lunch or dinner. My favorite bowl: Forbidden rice, 1/2 tuna, 1/2 salmon, avocado, mango, cilantro, Freestyle shoyu marinade, wasabi toasted coconut, seaweed salad, crispy shallot, and sriracha mayo (see photo above!).
- Our favorite brunch in Kansas City! The menu consists of the perfect assortment of savory and sweet options. My favorites are the rotating flavors of French Toasts and Eggs Benedict!
- This. Is. The. Best. Place. In. Kansas. City. Seriously, if you want flavorful, creamy, rich ice cream, this local shop is just for you. There are two locations- the original in the Waldo neighborhood and the new shop in River Market. Betty Rae’s goes above and beyond typical ice cream flavors. Think lavender honey, cereal milk, goat cheese apricot, birthday cake, and many more. Zach and I love to take a walk down to River Market and get a couple fun flavors of ice cream for a fun date night option. Without fail, Zach always includes cereal milk in his flavor choices! If you decide to indulge in this wonderful ice cream (please do), you absolutely need to get a waffle cone. Now, I don’t care if you “aren’t a cone person”. You are now! These cones are made fresh in store. And they aren’t your average waffle cones. They are packed with flavors of vanilla and almond and remind of me freshly baked sugar cookies. Seriously out of this world! Lines stretch down the block, especially during the summer. Don’t let it sway you from enjoying a scoop (or two!) of this yummy goodness.
- This store is brand new and I just love it so much. The store has an easy layout to navigate, a huge seafood and meat counter selection, a wide range of cheeses and charcuterie, fresh bakery, and a juice/smoothie bar. You can create healthy lunch and dinner meals at the hot bar or pick up an organic rotisserie chicken. The location is convenient but the parking lot is always busy. Go during unpopular times to avoid parking lot pile ups.
- Inspiring coaches? Check. Convenient class times? Check. Motivational? Check. Effective? Double check. I started going to Freight House Fitness regularly this previous fall (Fall 2018). I had attended occasional classes at this gym the year prior, but decided to forgo a membership since we were trying to eliminate costs for our upcoming wedding. This past year, one of my friends encouraged me to come back to take class with her. She assured me that Sean VanHorn, the owner, would be able to negotiate a fair membership agreement that didn’t entail unlimited costs. Normally, the membership is $100, which was a little steep for my liking. He was able to cater to my financial needs and we agreed on 8 classes/mo for $80. Normally, classes are $15 so this was a great deal for me. I made the 5:15 AM class in the West Bottoms apart of my weekly routine and I grew to love it! Starting the day with a challenging workout surrounded by like-minded people was invigorating. I love that members of this gym are “normal”. There are no stereotypical obnoxious meatheads. It’s a community. And no matter your age, your size, or your fitness ability, you are welcomed to be apart of it just the same. Freight House offers group challenges throughout the year with personalized coaching check ins, meal plans, and accountability. While I never did a challenge, many people loved them. They also offer personal training if you’re looking for more individualized focus. Freight House recently opened a second location on Troost. There are now two locations to serve this fitness community. If you’re serious about getting fit, but don’t want to feel overwhelmed in a conventional gym, check this place out. You won’t regret it! Right now, you can get two weeks free. There’s nothing to lose!
- If you’re like me, you’re picky about who styles your hair. I spent nearly a couple months researching salons in Kansas City that specialize in coloring blondes, particularly with the popularized style of balayage. I found my stylist, Christian, on Instagram. She is an accomplished stylist at the Glam Room in River Market. After my first visit with her, I knew I had found my KC hairstylist. She is incredibly sweet and not to mention, talented! She knew exactly how to style my hair, both in color and cut, to compliment my features. The salon is decorated stylishly and feels upscale. It is centrally located and easy to find. Parking is readily available. Besides hair services, the salon offers nail services, makeup and skincare recommendations and application, and all experiences found in a full-service spa. I love the Glam Room and will miss it so much! If you are looking to feel your absolute best, check this place out! Christian’s instagram: @christian_boss11
- Sandy is my brow and lash queen! She is located within Salon Gratto in North Kansas City. I see her to thread and tint my eyebrows, lift and tint my eyelashes, and dermaplane my face. She is SO wonderful and I leave her chair feeling beautiful each time. Her prices are extremely fair for the upscale services provided. Apart from these services that I enjoy, she also does microblading and lash extensions. I definitely will miss my monthly brow appointments with her! She is very conservative in her brow shaping, ensuring she stays true to your brow’s natural shape. She doesn’t over thread either, leaving you with 90’s-esque pencil thin brows, a common problem with other threaders. Sandy’s instagram: @sandydavstudios
- Super stylish downtown nail salon. Gel and dip manicures/pedicures are wonderful! Ask for Vy for high quality service.
- Right after moving to KC, I decided I wanted to do something about my stubborn underarm hair. After lots of research, I made an appointment at Milan Laser Hair Removal in Northern Kansas City. I went in initially for a consultation and the staff were great. They explained in detail the pros and cons of each package option and any promotions that were happening. I was lucky enough to sign up during their 50% off unlimited package promotion. Signing up for the unlimited package ensured that no matter how long it would take to get rid of my underarm hair, they would do it! I didn’t want to be confined to 5 or 6 treatments only to be left with continual hair regrowth. I would definitely wait for a promotion like this if you plan to invest in laser hair removal because it is NOT cheap. But it is SO worth it. If you have to shave regularly and get constant razor burn, this treatment option may be for you! I had great results at this laser hair removal clinic and highly recommend it.
And there you have it! We have loved our time in this beautiful city and we will miss it terribly. We have come to appreciate this fantastic community and only hope the west coast will give us equally positive experiences!
Until next time,