Kansas City Missouri , a mid-size city in the middle of the United States with a rich history and a treasure trove of interesting trivia is somewhere that two dessert dwellers were rather reluctant to investigate. Our mission was motivated with curiosity as a move away from the beachy towns we tend to gravitate towards; a journey within a dramatically different tourist destination to alleviate our vacation stalemate. But could we also come to, “love everything about Kansas City, “as retired Kansas City Royals All star player, Billy Butler enthusiastically declared? With more barbeque venues than any other US city, home to Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the birthplace of Mickey Mouse, Hallmark cards, and Russell Stover candy, we were intrigued to dig in and feel the love that has inspired many American iconic brands and favorite pastimes.
We came to be surprised and delighted by this diverse city within our initial three day visit which among other things, boasts more fountains in the world outside of Rome Italy and more boulevards than Paris. Also known as the Paris of the Plains-due to KC’s shady past in skirting the Prohibition’s death grip on the alcohol industry; KC today has a burgeoning wine and spirits industry. Eye-opening as these interesting bullet points maybe, KC offers a plethora of dining and doings that are noteworthy and worth sharing. Upholding an impressive internal social structure, with an extensive higher education system, world class museums, and iconic sports teams, our eyes we opened to the incredible potential and vibrancy that is drawing a new generation of city dwellers. Here’s an overview of some of this supremely surprising offerings that this city has to offer travelers of all ages, that we indeed came to love as a first timer.
Water eye candy everywhere:
Kansas City Missouri’s beloved moniker is the “City of Fountains” and it all began with health and welfare in mind. The first fountain was built by the 1883 Human Society of Kansas City as prevention to cruelty to women, children by providing a viable source of fresh water.
Fast forward to 1973 where the City of Fountains Foundation formed by Hallmark Executive Harold Rice and Wife Peggy has continued the fountain legacy with generous donations for maintenance and conservation. These fabulously flowing points of interest romantically draw one into the grander scheme of a city that reverberates with a vibrant culinary, arts and cultural corridor.
Capturing the spirit of the many benevolent donors and artists, the fountains have upheld the community’s unique sense of place. Upon entering the Kansas City districts, the green ways or boulevards are dotted with sparkling fountains. 200 registered fountains and counting are beautifying the city with dazzling water and interesting sculptures. We were fascinated with the J. C. Nichols memorial fountain which is regarded as KC’s best loved fountain- representing four rivers with four equestrian figures engaged in lively action as water buoyantly unfurls across the watery quadrants.
Where to Stay:
The Power and Light district is hub of activity with easy access via ride-sharing or the free city trolley to other points of interest around the city. With a real trust in recent years to city revitalization, the new Downtown area is the perfect jumping off point to savor, sip and sightsee your way around the city.
The Hotel Phillips once known as the tallest building and housed a haberdashery owned by Harry S. Truman- pre-presidency is now a fully renovated Curio Collection by Hilton. The original Art Deco design work resonates throughout the building including an eleven foot sculpture of the Goddess of Dawn created in 1931. Registered as a member of the Historic Hotels of America and the Historic Hotels of the World, Hotel Phillips has also been named Missouri’s most beautiful Hotel by Architectural Digest.
Conveniently located on premise is Tavernonna , a true farm to table Italian Kitchen is the place where Executive Chef Bryant Wigger combines the freshest ingredients for dishes that blend tradition with elegance. Make sure to indulge in the many house made pastas including the house made ravioli or the spaghetti all’amatriciana with savory brisket meatballs delicately sweetened with black currant.
Where to Sip-Speakeasy Style:
Kansas City MO. has been deemed the Paris of the Plains, as reported by newsman Edward Morrow in 1938, “If you want to see some sin, forget about Paris and go to Kansas City.” Democratic Party Boss Tom Pendergast ruled the city with extreme leniency when it came post-Prohibition vices, keeping the booze flowing and the party going. Observing the “underground” reputation, a number of speakeasies lend a glimpse into KC’s hidden past, including one within the Phillips Hotel.
Ask for the password at the front desk and meander down the stairs to P.S. Speakeasy where the cocktails go down easy and the live music will have you channeling your inner flapper. Corvino Supper Club & Tasting room is the place to seriously sip speakeasy-style cocktails with a bit of history while relaxing within its upscale venue strongly appealing to a newer generation of cocktail consumer. The Drum Room sits quietly on the corner of the Presidential Hotel, and has been doing so for generations.
For a look into spirits from a spiritual perspective drop into Lifted Spirits, where former youth Pastor Michael Stuckey is utilizing his intuitive nature and scientific knowledge to now transform neutral spirits into some of the best gin, vodka and absinthe in the area. The Distillery and cocktail room is located in revamped 1800’s brick building in the up and coming arts district. Boulevard Brewery is a beer making behemoth that is taking entertainment and bold beer flavors to a crowd pleasing passion.
Where to Dine:
Lidia’s How did renowned restaurateur Lidia Bastianich have the vision to transform a decaying freight house into a 30 restaurant Kansas City icon that continues as an idyllic model for superb Italian cuisine and community engagement?
With foresight, dedication and determination in defying restaurant odds, moving forward with passion and pride, Lidia’s is still wowing crowds, with veteran Executive Chef Cody-Hogan at the helm and pastry Chef Danica Pollard’s picture perfect pastries and delectable desserts.
It is little wonder that meal magic takes place every night within the walls of this transformed space where Chihuly-esque glass light fixtures, cascaded subtle rainbow light within the “farmhouse’s” warm earthen patinas showcasing Hogan’s house-made pastas, aromatic cheeses, and seared meats.
Over at Pierpont’s at Union Station another railroad magnet has lent his name to an iconic steakhouse, John Pierpoint Morgan. The space retains much of its 1914 architectural ambience with 8,000 square feet of dining excellence.
The extensive wine cellar, superior service, abundant beef, poultry, pasta and sea-food offerings compliment the mid-century glamour and skillful hospitality. Pierpont’s is one of the best places to take out- of-town guests, or anyone who seeks an intimate connection to the history of Kansas City.
View this post on Instagram
Join Elaine and Scott Harris with our 19 year veteran captain Emanuel as we learn about the long interesting history of the iconic Pierpont at Union Station in Kansas City. @pierponts @unionstationkc #pierponts #classicfinedining @VisitKC #VisitKC #cuisineistconfidential #cuisineist #travelchannel
Gram and Dunn located in posh Country Club Plaza has become THE place to be in Kansas City. Its hip atmosphere accented by a large outdoor patio with its own bar adjoining the main bar inside. No matter which bar you choose try their signature G&D Old-Fashioned Union to get your G&D experience started.
Your choice of Horse Bourbon or Rye, with vanilla-syrup and orange & cherry bitters is a brilliant choice of libation. Social Hour is well worth a visit and the French Onion Dumplings with gruyère, farm to market brioche and a rich onion broth is a must try.
Barbeque, Barbeque everywhere, on every corner and the debates and deliberations are coming to a hushed whisper as Q38 Rob McGee’s has taken the BBQ world by the tail, rib and burnt ends. His award-winning skills are heating up the smoking embers of Barbeque greatness amongst discriminating KC MO. Diners.
View this post on Instagram
Join Elaine and Scott Harris in Kansas City at Chef Rob Magee’s Q39 for some Championship BBQ. Server Hayle explains the Championship BBQ platter in great detail! Real Kansas City Championship BBQ!! #BBQ @Q39KC #q39kc #championshipbbq #RobMagee #kansascitybbq @VisitKC #VisitKC #KansasCity #cuisineistconfidential #cuisineist #travelchannel #vinolasvegas
Not to miss
National WWI Museum and Memorial should be on everyone’s to do list when visiting Kansas City. WW1 changed the world and sometimes overlooked. Stop in and explore and understand WW1 by interpretive exhibitions and climb up to the top of the memorial tower for brilliant views of the city.
The Museum and Memorial are well known to house most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Philanthropist and founder of the Kansas City Star, William Rockhill Nelson, and benevolent former schoolteacher and donor Mary McAfee Atkins shared a vision of providing a forum of public art and conversation, free of charge to anyone interested in the engagement of arts, culture and education. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has been a place of social interaction and engagement since the 1930’s.
With over 35, 000 works of art to observe, interactive art classes and events, this is the public space that holds the pulse community creativity, holding forth a true artistic forum for all those interested in social dialogue.
The Kansas City Zoo provides an excellent opportunity to visit one of the best zoos in the country. In 2008 it was named one of the top 60 zoos in the United Sates and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for “African Animals and Exhibits.” and ranked in the top 10 in the nation for “Australian Animals and Exhibits” and for “Pachyderms: Elephants, Rhinos, Hippos” as well.
In addition, famed ape expert Jane Goodall complimented that Kansas City has “one of the finest chimpanzees exhibits in North America.” In fact, “America’s Best Zoos 2008” ranked the Kansas City Zoo as the No. 1 zoo in the nation to see both chimpanzees and kangaroos. Stop in and enjoy the Sea Lion Show, Keeper Chats and more.