I love traveling and exploring new places… but when you’ve lived in a city for so long, you forget that the things that are commonplace to you, are a new adventure for someone else.
Kansas City is definitely on the smaller side of big cities, but has surprised me with some really incredible dining and fun things to do (I grew up in Chicago). It’s a little tough to recommend a one-size fits all itinerary, but if you were me, this is how I would spend the best weekend ever in Kansas City!!
Joe’s Kansas City: If you do much research about Kansas City, you will see one name pop up again and again: Joe’s Kansas City (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s). While opinions will vary, Joe’s KC is my absolutely favorite BBQ in the area. And yes, it is inside of a gas station. If you make one BBQ stop while you are in town, this is the place! However, the line can get long, so I always recommend going right when they open on a weekday: That means show up here at 11am. You will be in and out in no time!
My recommendation: Z-man with a side of rings (sliced smoked brisket, smoked provolone cheese, a couple of onion rings, a bit of barbecue sauce, all on top of a Kaiser roll). Drool.
Update (2/25): Paul made a point I completely forgot about! He recommends going to Joe’s KC on Saturday instead. They only do their burnt ends at lunch on Monday and Saturday and dinner on Wednesday. And they go fast! The restaurant is closed on Sundays too.
Next up: The WW1 Museum at Liberty Memorial. As the nation’s only public museum to WWI, the building and memorial are so beautifully done. As if the museum is not enough, take a ride to the top of the connected Liberty Memorial for THE best views of the city (see the photo at the top of the page from theworldwar.org/)
Simply cross the street for our next stop: Union Station. An excellent stop if you have kids (Science City), but still must-see for adults. Look for the bullet holes leftover from the Kansas City Massacre and then stop for a drink at the incredible bar within Pierpont’s.
The Power and Light District is where you want to spend your Friday night. Check the calendar at Sprint Center to see if any concerts are in town (think BIG names, this is a huge venue), but Power & Light is one of the neatest bar districts in the states. The open-air courtyard and surrounding bars and restaurants make up an 8 block area that is often home to live music and other events. Power and Light (or P&L) can get a pretty rowdy towards the end of the night (Missouri bars are open until 3am), but earlier in the evening it is a great place to enjoy dinner outside.
For dinner I recommend either grabbing some German inspired food at Flying Saucer (which has the lengthiest beer list in the area), sushi at Drunken Fish, or checking out the custom burgers at BRGR Kitchen + Bar.
Other venues in the area (Folly Theater and Midland Theater) are just a block away and are worth checking as well for great shows.
Start your Saturday at City Market! We often do! Right off of the Missouri River, City Market is the best Farmer’s Market in the city. It is also surrounded by tons of small, ethnic cafes where you can grab groceries for later or a light lunch: I highly recommend Habashi House (attached to Al Habashi Mart) for the best gyro and hummus in the city. Oh, and baklava. The best.
Next is my 2nd favorite stop in the city and it is right in City Market: The Steamboat Arabia Museum. The Steamboat Arabia sunk in 1856, but the excavation and display of the cargo and ship are incredible! A very unique and must-see museum. I bring all of our out-of-town guests here!
Now head North of the city (not too far) for Weston Bend State Park. This is midwestern beauty at it’s finest. Great hiking trails, overlooks and fresh air. Start at the lookout point which attaches to a 3ish mile paved trail. Lots of wild turkeys in the area too! Too cold? Choose Snow Creek instead! I don’t ski and I promise I never will, but I looove tubing. Snow Creek has some pretty stellar snow tubing (they can make their own snow too), and this is a fun way to spend a couple hours!
Now since you are conveniently already in Weston (see what I did there….), you might as well meander over to my favorite thing in the entire state of Missouri: O’Malley 1842 Irish Pub. During the day, they have a full restaurant (The American Bowman Keeping Room), which is all fine and nice, but you need to wait until evening for the caves to open up. Have you ever drank 55 feet underground in an old cave? Probably not. Which is why you need to go here and experience live Irish music, specialty Weston Brewing Company craft beers, and be in a cave.
I haven’t even mentioned breakfast yet! Start your morning today at Succotash. Red Velvet pancakes, Crab Claw Eggs Benedict. One of the best breakfasts in the city that isn’t a chain.
Next up, the world-renowned Nelson Atkins Art Museum. The giant Shuttlecocks displays on the South lawn are one of the most iconic Kansas City images! The museum itself is stunning with a variety of permanent and rotating collections. Oh, and it is free (Closed Mondays).
Not into art? If you are here during the spring or summer, I definitely can’t recommend Kauffman Stadium for a Royals game enough! You’ll unfortunately need a car to get there, but the stadium is a fun visit and tickets are usually very affordable (or at least were before their World Series run last year). I also HIGHLY recommend the KC Hotdog with brisket and blue cheese 😛
And you can’t leave Kansas City without visiting the Country Club Plaza for shopping. The beautiful fountains and architecture make the Plaza and awesome stop. The dining here is absolutely fantastic too. Skip the chains (Cheesecake Factory, Morton’s Grill, etc) and stop at Gram and Dun for their stellar menu (oysters, pig wings, bison meatballs) on their patio (they also have a killer brunch) . Or if you aren’t BBQ-d out by now I HIGHLY recommend Jack Stack BBQ. They offer Crown Prime Beef Ribs that are sold with a few dollar surcharge, but they are SO worth it. And that cheesy corn. Yup.
Afterwards, head down to Westport for a much calmer scene than what you saw at Power & Light on Friday. Westport is the oldest area of KC, but is filled with incredibly unique restaurants like Beer Kitchen (zOMG Brisket Mac and Cheese), Bridger’s Bottle Shop (think 600+ bottled craft beers and local meats and cheeses), and Ca Va (champagne bar). Parking can be a B, but you can’t blame the people for wanting to come here
One thing I’m often asked is about Boulevard Brewing Company. I love me some Boulevard, I really do, but I think KC has much more to offer for the beer scene. Boulevard does offer a short tour and some free small tastings, so it is worth a stop, but if you are in KC for the beer (which, hey, we should be friends!) then you can find Boulevard on tap at ANY bar in KC. For the local craft scene I vote you skip Boulevard and check out:
- Cinder Block Brewery (My FAVORITE)
- Big Rip Brewing (Love their Sweet Potato Beer)
- KC Bier Co
- Weston Brewing Company (mentioned above)
So there ya have it! One action-packed A+ weekend in KC.
What do you like to do when you travel? Clearly I’m into beer tasting! I also really like historical spots!
Have you been to KC? From here? What would you change about this weekend?