What to do in Kansas City?
May 25, 2005 7:39 AM   Subscribe

KCFilter: The lady and I have an excuse and a reason to go to Kansas City a couple of weekends from now. Can the local MeFites recommend good sights/eateries/destinations romantiques preferably near the downtown area?

Also, she will be working on that Friday, so I need something to bide my time during the day. Any suggestions for that would also be greatly appreciated. Things like museums or nice hikes are welcome.
posted by symphonik to Travel & Transportation around Kansas City, MO (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art always has some cool stuff there. And it's free. The Plaza area is always a hot spot for possible romantic things - such as eating at an expensive restaraunt or spending too much money on clothes.

If you like BBQ, go to Arthur Bryant's. The "original" location might be tough to find, but it's well worth it.

Westport's a good place for nightlife. Lot's of bars, if you're into that sort of thing. Kelly's is one of my favorites.
posted by nitsuj at 7:53 AM on May 25, 2005

Loose Park is a really good place to talk a walk. It's huge and located just southeast of the Plaza area. It has a great rose garden and really nice walkways.

Union Station is a pretty cool place to check out. It's a nicely restored old train station that is now home to a movie theater (it's not Imax, but something Imax-like), several restaurants, and a couple museums (one small free museum about the history of the station and its restoration, and one larger not-free science museum, which isn't anything great though).

One of my favorite restaurants in the area is Lulu's, a fun inexpensive Thai noodle shop. It's near Union Station.

Definitely have to go to Arthur Bryant's, its the BBQ ever. There's no point in going to KC if you don't stop there.
posted by shinji_ikari at 8:45 AM on May 25, 2005

Definitely stop by the Plaza. Their are more chain stores there now than when I was growing up, but the architecture is still pretty cool to see. Also the Nelson Gallery of Art has some great stuff - a famous Asian art collection, and a Henry Moore sculpture garden.

I've been away too long to know what the current cool restaurants and stuff are, but if you rent a car and don't mind a small drive I have this classic recommendation: Stephenson's Apple Farm Restaurant. Directions are on their site.

Stephenson's is THE place for classic American midwest/country food. You'll know it when you pull up in the parking lot and smell the smoke from their own smokehouse. I almost always get the hickory smoked ham steak with wine and honey sauce. They have their own apple orchards and make their own fresh cider which is to. die. for. - free samples available in the restaurant lobby while you wait. The restaurant itself is located in an old barn and farmhouse, with lots of rambling hallways and rooms decorated with antiques. Also be sure to try the apple fritters (SO good and yummy), fresh muffins with homemade apple butter, and the green rice casserole that comes with most meals. The place may not be glamorous, and a tad out of the way, but it is everything that is good about middle America.

Also, for a bit of a blast from the 50's, just off the plaza is the original Winstead's steakburgers. I think they've remodeled the building now, but it's basically the same place it was when my dad was a kid. Just good burgers, fries, shakes, that sort of thing.

Stephenson's and Winstead's are always the two places I want to go whenever I go back to visit there.

On preview:

one larger not-free science museum, which isn't anything great though - I believe Science City is currently closed and is being remodeled (and re-envisioned. According to my dad it never took off.) But yeah, Union Station is very cool to have a look at. There's a nice restaurant in the main building.

And for BBQ, I prefer Gates.
posted by dnash at 8:53 AM on May 25, 2005

Oh, and Plaza III is a great place for a romantic dinner and has easily the best steak in a city with quite a few quality steakhouses.

On preview:

And for BBQ, I prefer Gates.
posted by dnash at 8:53 AM PST on May 25

Blasphemer! ;)
posted by shinji_ikari at 9:17 AM on May 25, 2005

This is my favorite place to eat in KC. And speaking of museums, I love the Nelson-Atkins.

I second the Plaza for shopping and hanging out, and also Westport.
Finally, here's an events calendar and dining guide. Have a good time!
posted by melissa may at 9:47 AM on May 25, 2005

I just got off the phone from an interview for a job in KC...I'm so bookmarking this thread.
posted by alumshubby at 12:31 PM on May 25, 2005

I was just about to post a "I'm moving to KC, what do you all recommend?" and now I don't have to. But I've been there a few times already, so I sort of wasn't going to anyway.

I second the Nelson-Atkins, although when I went in March, at least one wing was closed for renovations. I haven't tried Arthur Bryant's, but I wasn't much of a fan of Gates. We had ribs and burnt ends at this random place in a strip mall (of course) north of the city and it was the best barbecue I have ever had; every time we've driven by since, there's been a line out the door. I can't remember what it was called, though. No website, I've been looking and looking.

The Plaza is nice, but reminds me of every other high-end downtown area - Faneuil Hall in Boston, the main shopping district in Chicago - all the same stores and chain restaurants. Oh, but there's a Segway store - first one I had been to. They may even let you take a test-drive, if you can get the ubernerds who work there off them.

If you're a history buff, Kansas City has the official national World War I memorial and museum, dedicated in 1921. Very interesting, if you're into that sort of thing, and you may run into a cool old Korean War vet who volunteers there; if you show any interest at all, he'll talk your ear off and offer to mail you examples of leaflets dropped in Iraq and Afghanistan for psywar ops. At the very least, the view from the top of the Liberty Memorial is fantastic.

That's all I have; if anyone does have any suggestions for when I move to the area, I'll check back.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:39 PM on May 25, 2005

Ah, me old hometown...

If you're a baseball fan, a jazz fan, or both (like me), check out the 18th and Vine museum complex; one side is devoted to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the other to the American Jazz Museum. Both are excellent -- and underutilized.

Check out the River Market area (formerly known as the River Quay until its Mafia backers got busted).

While you're in that neighborhood, take a look at the recently restored Arabia steamboat, now a museum. The paddle-wheeler was snagged by underwater debris in 1856, sank, and then was covered by mud and silt, which kept everything on board the boat (cargo, furnishings, passengers' personal belongings, etc.) intact until the Arabia was disinterred starting in 1988.

Also, this is probably heresy to the purists out there, but consider a meal at Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ - there's a location right near Union Station, and that is some tasty 'cue (speaking as one who grew up on the stuff).

That's enough out of me.
posted by GrammarMoses at 1:38 PM on May 25, 2005

Response by poster: Wow. Thanks, everyone. This should be a pretty sweet weekend (on the palate, especially. ;))
posted by symphonik at 3:04 PM on May 25, 2005

There's a great old hotel and restaurant downtown called the Savoy. I stayed there on a business trip a couple years ago. The hotel and restaurant date from the turn of the century, and while the hotel was in the middle of refurbishment (let's just say it had character), the grill room downstairs was a fantastic dining experience. Good continental fare, superb service, and one of the most extraordinary atmospheres I've had in a restaurant in many cities. A true experience.

[written by qwip's wife]
posted by qwip at 4:42 PM on May 25, 2005

Don't forget to look back.
posted by Eideteker at 6:24 PM on May 25, 2005

There's also the Society for Contemporary Photography.
posted by lisa g at 6:47 PM on May 25, 2005

Head up to Independence and visit the Harry S. Truman house or the presidential library. Independence is actually a cute little town, but if you venture to far away, you might think the war is still going on, which is kinda sad.

Oh, and another vote for Gates!
posted by emoeby at 5:21 AM on May 26, 2005

Thanks for posting this, symphonik. Coincidentally, I was going to KC the very day you posted this and I just returned on Monday. I had a fun weekend and I know that you will as well.

I have one item to add. When I was there we went to a roadhouse-type place called BBs Lawnside BBQ. Don't be put off by the fact that it looks a little rough and it's on the outskirts of town. You will have a good time! The food is good, the music is local/regional stuff, the cover is cheap and every type of person hangs out there. It's definitely worth a visit.
posted by quadog at 2:27 PM on June 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

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