Technically, we were here two nights and one day, if you’re wondering how we managed to cram in so much alcohol consumption. Overall, we found Kansas City to be interesting aesthetically, but we were turned off by all the closed storefronts and the lack of people out and about.
We stayed at Stadium RV Park, just outside KC on a lonely strip of highway in Independence, MO. It was run-down but fine… quiet and close enough for easy Ubers into KC, but clearly no money has been invested in the park in a long time.
J is here to talk KC beer:
<J>We did a bunch of internet research on the Kansas City breweries ahead of our arrival only to later realize that we were arriving on a Monday and most of the breweries would be closed. In our two nights there we wound up only visiting one brewery, the sprawling corporate complex that is Boulevard Brewing just on the edge of downtown KC. We sat on the 2nd floor balcony of the massive Boulevard beer hall (next to the massive Boulevard brewery and across from the massive Boulevard storage space) and sipped on a flight of decent, but unmemorable beers.
Our plan had been to start our trip with a visit to BKS Artisanal Ales as they at least look to be the real deal, but alas, they are only open Saturday and Sunday. For our second night in KC, we were eying, had it not been a Tuesday, Strange Days, Border Brewing, and Torn Label.</J>
To close out our time in the big city, we had a fancy cocktail in the dark basement speakeasy Manifesto. We had to hunt for the door in true speakeasy style, and our drinks were creative and really delicious.
When in Kansas City, you eat barbecue! J researched this topic as well, and had several finalists. We asked a few locals for tips and ended up at Arthur Bryant for lunch. J got burnt ends and brisket and was happy as a pig in slop. I got fries and made myself feel ill, but I did enjoy tasting the bbq sauces, and I don’t usually like bbq sauce. We were also told to try Gates (and separately told not to go to Gates); we didn’t get there, but notably there’s a Gates across the street from the campground in Independence.
A slightly less indulgent meal was dinner at The Belfry, a laid-back lounge in the Power and Light District with good veggie and meat options on the menu to satisfy both of us, and many local beers on tap. The Power and Light District seemed like it might have good nightlife scene.
Since we had so little time in Kansas City, we decided to cover as much ground as possible on foot, and skip museums. So we took a few long walks:
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to Country Club Plaza
The sculpture garden at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art was really fun; I especially enjoyed the giant shuttlecocks. We walked all around the garden and then headed several blocks over to Country Club Plaza.
The Plaza is a shopping area, which doesn’t necessarily interest us, but the tiled Spanish architecture is pretty and along with all the chain stores there’s a nice Made in KC store selling local goods. Since we had Bugsy, we popped into that store one at a time, and while J was inside and B and I sat on a bench out front, five shots were fired across the street! I dropped to the ground next to B, J yelled at us to get into the store, and we hid out in there for a few minutes while the cops swarmed. Nobody was injured, and they caught the bad guys, but holy crap!!! Not a great intro to KC.
Anyway… it’s a nice walk back to the museum from the Plaza along the creek, when you’re not jacked up on adrenaline from witnessing a drive-by shooting.
We walked around a few streets in the River Market, but there honestly wasn’t much to see: it seemed like stores were closed (maybe because it was early afternoon on a weekday) and no people were about. We did enjoy walking over the Town of Kansas Bridge to an overlook above the Missouri River. It’s a shame KC doesn’t make better use of its waterfront; currently it’s desolate and undeveloped.
West Bottoms to Boulevard Brewing
We started this trek on Hickory Street, in West Bottoms, one of the oldest parts of the city, filled with cool old warehouses. The area is known for antique and thrift stores, but apparently they are all only open on the weekends. It was totally dead the afternoon we visited. The warehouses were neat to see, but the walk up the hill into the city proper was long, so be sure to check hours before you visit. This time of year, the district is popular for haunted houses, which must be fabulously creepy in those old buildings! No thank you, not for me, no way.
Our next stop was the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a curvy metal beast reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House. We loved it.
Next up was Union Station, the massive and beautifully renovated train station. Be sure to go inside the Grand Hall to admire the elaborate ceiling and chandeliers.
We finished the main part of our tour with a sweeping view of Kansas City from the WWI Memorial, with about a mile of walking remaining to reach Boulevard Brewing.
Onward to Omaha!