Kansas City Guide

Occasionally I get emails from people who are coming to Kansas City and want suggestions for places to stay, eat, and shop, and things to do, so I thought I would put together a Creating This Life guide to KC with all of my favorites on it.

A little KC background…

The Kansas City metro straddles the Kansas-Missouri state line. In fact, there’s a road running down the middle of town called…State Line Rd.

There are actually two Kansas Cities: Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO. When you think of Kansas City, you are probably thinking of Kansas City, MO. That’s where a lot of our main attractions are (including the Chiefs and the Royals) and a lot of the recommendations on this list are in KCMO too.

I was born and (mostly) raised in Kansas City, KS. So was Tom. After we got married we moved to Johnson County, a large suburban area on the Kansas side. We’ve lived in Overland Park in Johnson County for the last 21 years, so JoCo is well represented on this list too.

KC has lots of wonderful things to offer, but the places on this list are my favorites. They’re where I would go if I had a day (or two or ten) free to spend in KC.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions or need more specific recommendations. I’m always happy to talk KC!

The Raphael Hotel

Where to Stay in Kansas City

As a local, I don’t get the opportunity to stay in many hotels here, but here are a few we have stayed in and loved and another I would love to try.

Hilton President (Downtown) Beautiful, historic hotel.

Hotel Phillips (Downtown) Another historic (there’s a connection to Harry Truman) hotel. Restored/remodeled in the last few years.

The Raphael Hotel (Country Club Plaza) Charming boutique hotel and the Chaz restaurant gets high marks too. Book a room with a Plaza view.

Crossroads Hotel (Downtown/Crossroads area) I haven’t stayed at this one but I’d like to! We’ve had drinks in the lobby bar and the rooftop bar is supposed to be cool too.

Where to Eat in Kansas City

McClain’s (Multiple locations – Waldo is the original) Long-time KC bakery that also serves breakfast and lunch. My recommendation would be the chicken salad sandwich with cup cookies for dessert.

Andre’s (Country Club Plaza and Leawood) Swiss chocolatiers who also serve lunch in their tea rooms. I always, always get the cheese pie (a/k/a the best quiche ever).

The Classic Cup Cafe (Country Club Plaza) Great breakfast and lunch place (I’m still sad it’s no longer open for dinner – it was our go-to at Christmas). The sidewalk patio is great in good weather and the inside is small, making it a cozy spot in the winter. The whole front of the restaurant is windows so you can watch the shoppers on the Plaza go by which I love.

Westport Cafe (Westport) Modern French food in a cozy bistro setting.

Minsky’s Pizza (Multiple locations) There is no Kansas City-style pizza that I’m aware of but this is our favorite hometown pizza place.

The Rockhill Grille (Downtown/Crossroads and Leawood) Classic American food and a great atmosphere, especially in the Crossroads. Get the tater tots!

Bristol Seafood Grill (Downtown/Power & Light and Leawood) Known for their seafood (and biscuits!). I recommend the creme brulee too.

Earl’s Premier (East Brookside) Cozy, neighborhood place with a menu inspired by New England seafood.

Cafe Trio (Country Club Plaza) Great food and cocktails on the eastern edge of the Plaza.

Ragazza (Midtown) A cozy, neighborhood Italian place with a menu based on family recipes. My last time there, I got the Carbonara, and I’m still thinking about it!

Tailleur

Tailleur on Main (Midtown) If a French cafe menu in a setting with a Ralph Lauren vibe sounds interesting, then Tailleur is for you. The same owners also have Cheval cocktail bar and Enchante bakery across the street.

Trezo Mare (North of Downtown/Briarcliff) Italian-ish restaurant right next door to Nell Hills so a great destination for lunch and shopping. They have a large patio and we always eat outside if the weather is cooperating.

Bella Napoli (Brookside) Quaint Italian restaurant, deli, and market in the charming Brookside shopping district.

Axois Bistro (Crestwood) We’ve been to this little French bistro a couple of times and it was delicious, but I put it on the list because it’s my daughter Lindsey and her husband Morgan’s favorite spot for anniversaries and birthdays and other special occasions.

Stock Hill (South Plaza) A modern steakhouse. Stock Hill has a big, beautiful bar that is fun to eat at if you’re dining alone or as a couple.

Rye (Country Club Plaza and Leawood) An upscale urban farmhouse serving Midwestern comfort foods, Rye is a KC favorite. We especially love their brunch and even held Lindsey’s bridesmaids’ luncheon at the Plaza location.

Ricco’s (Overland Park) Our favorite neighborhood joint. My go-tos: the pear-adise martini, calamari, baked penne, and tiramisu.

Bristol creme brulee

Where to get BBQ in Kansas City

It’s what we’re known for so it’s getting its own category. There are so many great BBQ places in KC that it’s almost ridiculous to single any out, but I’m going to anyway. Here are a few of our faves.

Joe’s KC Several locations, but the original is in an old gas station on 47th St. in Kansas City, KS. The Z-Man sandwich is many people’s favorite (including mine).

Jack Stack Several locations on both sides of the state line. My go-to here is the Martin City Mayor sandwich (burnt ends topped with coleslaw on a hoagie). They make the best sides too.

Q39 Two locations: one on 39th St. near Westport and one “out south” in Overland Park. Q39 is “fancier” (they describe it as chef-driven) bbq.

Where to Shop in Kansas City

Nell Hills (North of Downtown/Briarwood) The mothership! Two stories of inspiration. Allow lots of time to soak it all in.

Pryde’s Kitchen and Necessities (Westport) The place to go in KC for all things cooking and entertaining. Abundant displays in a historic brick building. Again, allow lots of time here.

J’Adore Home and Garden (Brookside) Home decor, garden accessories, gifts. I always find a little something when I stop in here. They have a shop dog too!

Rainy Day Books (Fairway) Independent bookstore in Fairway, KS near the Country Club Plaza. They are known for their author events so it might be worth checking their calendar.

JSH Home Essentials (Westwood Hills) The cutest shop! One-of-a-kind linens, pillows, gift wrap, and kitchen and baking supplies in a classic, New England Style.

Country Club Plaza KC’s iconic and historic outdoor shopping district. Best known for the Plaza Lights at Christmastime (Thanksgiving night through mid-January).

For antiques, the Glenwood Antique Mall and the Metcalf Antique Mall are two large malls just a stone’s throw from each other in Overland Park. And on the first weekend of each month, the West Bottoms antique stores are open as well.

Town Center Plaza & Town Center Crossing and Hawthorne Plaza (Leawood) All of your national brand favorites (Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Arhaus, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Talbot’s, and much more) at the same intersection in the Johnson County burbs.

Nell Hills

What to do in Kansas City (and Nearby)

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art KC’s largest art museum just east of the Country Club Plaza. Don’t miss the shuttlecock sculptures on the lawn.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum The world’s only museum dedicated to the history of African-American baseball. Located in KC’s historic 18th & Vine Jazz District which is a couple of miles east of downtown.

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum About 10 miles east of downtown Kansas City in Independence, MO. You can also tour the Truman home.

Union Station Beautiful, historic station between the Crossroads and Crown Center areas of downtown. It houses two restaurants, Science City for the kids and rotating traveling exhibits as well so check their schedule.

The National WW1 Museum and Memorial The nation’s official World War 1 museum is in KC and it’s well worth a visit. The view of KC from the memorial on top is one the of best.

City Market Some permanent vendors and restaurants but weekends are when this place hops with a large farmer’s market and more. Just north of downtown in the River Market area.

Allen Fieldhouse A must-stop for college basketball fans, Allen Fieldhouse is on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence about 40 miles west of Kansas City. There are guided tours that will take you to the court, but you can get into the building and see Naismith’s original rules of basketball without a tour I believe. Massachusetts Street (the downtown shopping district) in Lawrence is worth a visit while you’re there. We love Free State Brewery on Mass to grab a bite.

Where to House Gawk in Kansas City

If you’re reading this blog, I imagine that you, like me, like taking drives down charming streets lined with pretty houses. Here are my favorite places in KC to do that.

Ward Parkway Ward Parkway, from the Country Club Plaza on the north to Brookside on the south, is a gorgeous drive full of stately homes. Going up and down east-west streets off of Ward Parkway will provide lots of eye candy too.

Brookside The Brookside shopping district sits at 63rd and Brookside Blvd., and the residential streets in all directions from that point are full of charming homes.

Mission Hills This Kansas-side, mostly residential city has lots of large, stately homes on huge lots as well as more “modest” (I use that term loosely) homes on Leave It To Beaver kind of streets. It’s all so pretty.

Fairway Another city on the Kansas side with street after street of smaller, charming homes. If you like Cape Cods, this is the place to head.

Two great annual home tours are Renovation Sensation (held in September) and Kappa Kappa Gamma Holiday Homes Tour (held in early December).

Thanks for letting me share my hometown favorites. I’ll be adding to this list from time to time so please check back!

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks! Love Aixois…named after the town in Provence, Aix-en-Provence. A person from Aix is called an Aixois…and the owner of this wonderful restaurant is an Aixois! Enjoy your blog…

    1. I had no idea, Gail. Thanks for the background!

  2. Hi, my husband and I are planning a 16 week trip in our RV with-in the next year. I am looking for printed city/state area attraction’s to see. We’d like to see the regular things but some not so common things as well. Everything I’m seeing on your site is digital. I’d prefer paper books/brochures. Can you please direct me to a webpage (if you have one) where I could find this kind of info? Thanks so much for your help.

    1. Christy, all I have is this page on my website. My best advice would be to print it off.

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