Hidden KC

It’s no secret that Kansas City is on the verge. From its emerging food scene and varied cultural attractions to its vibrant nightlife and world-class sports teams, there’s more to KC than what meets the eye. But whether you are a native or have just moved here, chances are there are stones you have left unturned and hidden gems yet to be discovered. From jumping jazz clubs and tasty taco joints to eccentric museums and road-trip-worthy excursions, we have compiled the ultimate bucket list of off-the-beaten-path destinations and hidden KC gems worth discovering.
Brad Austin
Green Lady Lounge


Green Lady Lounge

1809 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 215-2954 | greenladylounge.com

Live jazz seven nights a week and no cover charge is the draw at this Kansas City classic. With its bordello atmosphere of red-velvet walls lined with oil paintings, glowing lanterns and candlelight, this is a sultry spot for dates, girls’ night out, or a late-night nightcap to the bebop of a live saxophone. Don’t expect much of a menu beyond cheese and crackers, but there are plenty of classic cocktails to be had at this old-school haunt that could easily be imagined in New Orleans. So settle in to one of the curvy red leather booths with a green lady (i.e. absinthe cocktail) or other libation in hand and enjoy a true KC gem. The music, much of it by local jazz musicians, is top-notch, and there is a second chandelier-lit music venue in the basement to explore in addition to the main-floor attractions. Seating is open, so best to arrive early for prime placement near the band. 

National Airline History Museum Kansas City

courtesy of the National Airline HIstory Museum


National Airline History Museum

201 N.W. Lou Holland Drive, Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 421-3401| airlinehistory.org

Stop into the Airline History Museum, located in Hangar 9 of the Downtown Airport, for a docent-led tour of KC’s importance in the history of commercial aviation and a glimpse into air travel of yesteryear. The museum is maintained and staffed by volunteers, many of whom are ex-TWA employees (which was based out of Kansas City in its glory days). On view are the TWA Moonliner II, a dummy rocket that once sat atop TWA headquarters at 18th and Baltimore; a 1930s single-wing craft; a 1941 Douglas DC-3; and the museum’s crown jewel, a 1958 Lockheed L-1049G Super G Constellation.

Open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Admission: Free to $8.

Art Alley Kansas City

photo by tara Shupe


Art Alley on 17th Street

 1701 Locust, Kansas City, Mo.
(702) 806-1733 | facebook.com/ArtAlleyKc

If you ever wanted to visit an art gallery at 2 a.m., this is your chance. Art Alley is quickly becoming Kansas City’s hippest rotating outdoor art venue, hosting some of KC’s best street artists and graffiti writers and showcasing a constantly changing collection of public art. No matter what part of the city you hail from, it’s worth the drive to 17th and Locust to view this spectacular display of authentic street art.


The Money Museum

1 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 333-1010 ext. 8812683 | kansascityfed.org/moneymuseum

The Money Museum, housed at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, is a unique experience offering a free, up-close look of the nation's financial system in action. Brush up on your banking and economic knowledge and how money is made with the interactive, family-friendly exhibits. Test your strength by lifitng a solid gold bar; create custom currency with your face replacing Washington’s, and peek inside a four-story cash vault.

Admission is free, but an ID is required.


National Archives on West Pershing

400 W. Pershing Road,
 Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 268-8000 | archives.gov/kansas-city

One of only 13 outposts of the National Archives, the KC facility — which serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — hosts events, tours and an informational film. Search old federal records, dig up your family history, or unearth old records of inmates from the Leavenworth Penitentiary (who, hopefully, are not your ancestors).

Thomas Hart Benton Home Kansas City

Courtesy of MO State Parks


Artist Thomas Benton’s Home & Studio State Historic Site

3616 Belleview Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 931-5722 | mostateparks.com

A trip to the home and studio of renowned painter, sculptor and lecturer Thomas Hart Benton offers a glimpse into how the talented, Missouri-born artist lived and worked. The renowned muralist of regional scenes of Americana converted half of the carriage house into his art studio. Today, it remains just as he left it when he died there on January 19, 1975 — including coffee cans full of paintbrushes, numerous paints splayed out and a stretched canvas waiting to be transformed into another of his masterpieces.

Linda Hall Library Kansas City

Courtesy of Linda Hall Library


Linda Hall Library

5109 Cherry St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 363-4600 | lindahall.org

The Linda Hall Library is the world’s foremost independent research library devoted to science, engineering and technology. Open to the public, the library’s distinguished Rare Books Collection includes the first editions of many landmarks of science and technology, some dating back to the 15th century, including Galileo’s The Starry Messenger, Copernicus’ On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres and Isaac Newton’s Principia.

Steamboat Arabia Museum Kansas City

courtesy of arabia steamboat museum


Steamboat Arabia

400 Grand Boulevard, Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 471-1856 | 1856.com

Move over, Titanic! The Arabia Steamboat Museum is home to artifacts salvaged from the Arabia, a steamboat that sank on the Missouri River in 1856. Visitors to the museum, which is located in the River Market district, will enjoy a 20-minute guided tour explaining the boat's sinking and recovery 45 feet beneath a cornfield in 1987; a short film Treasures of the Steamboat Arabia; and various artifacts on display, including 200 tons of cargo intended for frontier towns — period guns, dishes, clothes and tools. Finally, visitors can walk a 171-foot-long full-scale reproduction of the Arabia's main deck.

Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Tours begin every half hour. Tickets: $5.50 to $14.50.


Missouri Town 1855

8010 E. Park Road, Lee’s Summit, Mo.

(816) 503-4860 | jacksongov.org

See what a progressive farming community, spread across some 30 acres, looked like in the mid-1800s.  Though it was never a real village, Missouri Town 1855 is a reconstructed replica composed of more than 25 buildings dating from 1820 to 1860 that depicts what life may have been like in mid-19th-century Missouri.  This living history museum depicts the 19th-century lifestyle via interpreters in period attire, historic interiors, authentic field and garden crops, and rare livestock breeds. Catch contra-dancing or sheep shearing depending on your visit.

Open Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from March 1-Nov. 15 and weekends only through the winter months.


Kansas City Museum

photo by David Remley


The Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall 

3218 Gladstone Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 613-0720 |  kcmo.gov/kansascitymuseum

Located in KC’s historic northeast area, this 3-acre museum site sits atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River Valley. The museum is housed in the circa 1910 Corinthian Hall, built as a Beaux-Arts residence for lumber baron R.A. Long, and various outbuildings. The collection contains more than 100,000 objects, including a historical archive of film, photographs, manuscripts and ephemera about Kansas City; the Dyer Native American collection of cultural and historical objects; a large clothing and textiles collection; a transportation collection including rail cars and carriages; decorative arts and original furnishings from Corinthian Hall; and more. 

Admission is free.


Cliff Drive Kansas City

photo by Paul Versluis


Cliff Drive

Gladstone Boulevard and Northeast Elmwood Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

This 4-mile winding drive travels dramatically along the edge of a cliff that looks north toward the flood plains of the Missouri River. Built between 1895 and 1915, it’s the only urban scenic byway in the state of Missouri. There are fountains, a waterfall, limestone bluffs, wildflowers and wildlife, and little coves where you can pull off the road to enjoy the special view. And every weekend the gates to Cliff Drive are closes to motorized vehicles, so walkers, runners, rollerbladers, cyclists and climbers can freely explore.



Fervere Kansas City


1702 Summit St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 842-7272 | fervere.com

If you’re looking for the perfect, crusty, chewy, yeasty bread, head over to the cult bakery Fervere in Westside as soon as the doors open or call the day before to reserve a loaf, because they will sell out. Fervere handcrafts loaves of pain au levain, pain de campagne, olive rosemary, ciabatta, sprouted whole wheat, cheese slipper and more — using all-organic flours and other organic ingredients whenever possible.

Cafe Tempo Johnson County Community College Overland Park

photo by Susan McSpadden


Café Tempo

12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan.
(913) 469-8500 ext. 4990 | jccc.edu

Run by Johnson County Community College’s award-winning dining services and executive sous chef Marcel Des Marteau, Café Tempo is the perfect ladies-who-lunch spot, nestled in a light-filled atrium between the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and the Regnier Center. The menu of sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as a rotating array of pastas, quiches and wraps, represent art on a plate!  Grab a pastry and caramel macchiato for breakfast; or steak salad with Sherry vinaigrette or Italian chicken panini with sweet tomato jam on ciabatta for lunch.


RC’s Fried Chicken in Martin City 

330 E. 135th St., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 942-4999  | rcschicken.com

Stroud’s might be better known, but there’s another contender in town that’s been frying up birds since 1973. Located across the street from Jess & Jim’s steakhouse in old Martin City, RC’s is as good as it gets when it comes to old-fashioned Southern fried chicken. If you have a hankering for something crispy, peppery, juicy and delicious, RC’s will fix you up for next to nothing with a full menu of home cooking.

Eden Alley Kansas City

Eden Alley

707 W. 47th St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 561-5415 | edenalley.com

This vegetarian café, which includes vegan and gluten- soy- and nut-free options, and is located behind Unity Temple on the Plaza, is so unassuming that it’s easy to miss it. But your taste buds will thank you for stopping in for a lunch or dinner of salads, sandwiches, pastas, soups and desserts made with fresh and local organic ingredients.  Daily seasonal dishes might include a tomato bisque; an avocado sandwich with mozzarella, tomato and lemon-basil aioli on toasted Farm to Market garlic bread; cranberry walnut salad; or a falafel platter.


El Camino Real 

903 N. 7th St. Trafficway, Kansas City, Kan.

(913) 342-4333

Hailed by many as the home of the city’s best street tacos, El Camino Real is a small, authentic taco shop located in old Kansas City, Kansas. Patrons are greeted upon entering with chips, salsa and small cups of pico de gallo, cilantro and diced white onions to be added to the mouthwatering tacos you will undoubtedly order upon smelling them. Chips and corn tortillas are made fresh in-house, and the tacos al pastor (pork with pineapple) rival even the best tacos found in Los Angeles, Texas and Mexico.

Little Freshie Kansas City

Photo by Brooke Vandever


Little Freshie

811 W. 17th St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 656-5444 | littlefreshie.com

Many words can describe this snow-cone-trailer-turned-soda shop: charming, inviting, natural, artisanal, delicious. Head over to Westside for a famous snow cone or a handcrafted soda in flavors like blackberry lavender, banana cardamom, pineapple and serrano pepper, strawberry rhubarb and spicy ginger fizz. Little Freshie also has an espresso bar that serves cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, tea and chai, as well as sandwiches and sweet treats.


Papu’s Café

604 W. 75th St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 822-8759

Situated in a Shell gas station on 75th Street between Wornall Rod and Ward Parkway in Waldo, Papu’s Café serves up fast, fresh and flavorful Greek and Middle Eastern takeout. Think gyros, falafel, shawarma and tabbouleh salads at easy-on-the-wallet prices. Not exactly a fancy establishment, Papu’s Café could easily be overlooked, but that, my friends, would be a huge mistake. The shawarma and the gyro platter both live up to the hype and come paired with tabbouleh salad, hummus and pita.


Kim Long Asian Market & Restaurant

511 Cherry St., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 221-8892 | kimlongkc.com

This virtual superstore of Asian food items is akin to a trip across the Pacific. Kim Long’s Asian Market offers more than 1 million different products, including authentic seafood, spices, produce, frozen Asian foods and rice. Kim Long’s also offers online ordering for groceries, and the spartan, little in-house restaurant serves fresh and fast Vietnamese and Chinese food. Think com thit nuong (barbecue pork with rice), banh mi, and shrimp fried rice, as well as an array of appetizers and an extensive tea menu.

Heirloom Bakery & Hearth Kansas City

photo by Anna Petrow


Heirloom Bakery & Hearth

401 E. 63rd St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 492-7259 | heirloomkc.com

Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Kate and Scott Meinke, Heirloom Bakery & Hearth is not so much hidden as new. Since opening in the fall of 2014 in East Brookside, the shop has churned out fresh- baked goods daily, using local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. From breads, biscuits, scones and cookies, to gluten-free items and even homemade pop-tarts, the Meinkes are no newbies when it comes to baking. In fact, prior to opening their storefront, the pair sold (and continue to sell) their goods at Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters, Second Best Coffee and the Brookside Farmers’ Market.

For the latest baking schedule, visit heirloomkc.com. Open daily. Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Sunday hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.


El Pollo Rey

901 Kansas Ave., Kansas City, Kan.
(913) 371-4243

You can’t go wrong with a simple menu featuring nothing but finger-licking-good chicken that is grilled over a wood fire. For less than $10, you get a half chicken, pico sauce, pinto beans, rice, red onions and tortilla shells for making your own tacos.



Von Maur’s Clearance Shoe Room

6701 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan.
(913) 681-1031 | vonmaur.com

Calling all style-philes! Run, don’t walk, to Von Maur, the high-end department store at Corbin Park. Von Maur has a nook tucked into its shoe department called…wait for it…the clearance room, stocked with designer labels at steep discounts. Three for the price of one? Yes, please!

Milagro Midwestern Spa and Collective Overland Park Kansas

photo courtesy of epagaFOTO


Downtown Overland Park

Near 80th and Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, Kansas

(913) 642-2222 | downtownop.org

The quaint streets of downtown OP boast an eclectic mix of locally owned businesses, including Upper Crust Pie Bakery for nostalgic slices of pie; Milagro Midwestern Spa & Collective for no-frills massages and can’t-miss Maker Counter, The Tasteful Olive for artisanal olive oils and pastas; Clock Tower Bakery (book their English afternoon tea); Brew Lab (a fun space for home brewers to create signature suds); Vinyl Renaissance & Audio (KC’s oldest and largest music dealer); and The Rio, a historic movie theater offering artistic flicks. Once bustling with horse-drawn traffic and daily stops of the famous Steam Electric Interurban Railroad Line, this suburb’s 25-block radius now boasts nearly 300 mom-and-pop-owned venues. It also plays host to the colorful Overland Park Farmers' Market, located between 79th and 80th streets, two blocks west of Metcalf, which attracts thousands of shoppers and hosts nearly 70 vendors from April through November.


Mission Road Antique Mall

4101 W. 83rd St., Prairie Village, Kan.

(913) 341-7577| missionroadantiquemall.com

For the last two decades, the Mission Road Antique Mall has offered an ever-changing collections of antique silver, crystal, jewelry, vintage books, antique furniture and more, within 50,000 square feet of individual showrooms creatively merchandised by more than 300 of the area's finest dealers.  The mall is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Velo+ Bike Shop Lenexa Kansas

Velo + Bike Shop & Maps Coffee Roasters

13440 Santa Fe Trail Drive, Lenexa, Kan.
(913) 888-0533 | velopluskc.com

Located in historic Old Town Lenexa, Velo + and Maps Coffee Roasters is a unique hybrid retail bicycle shop and coffee roaster in one. Boasting the catch phrase, “Bikes, coffee and sometimes beer,” Velo + is a full-service retail shop selling bicycle brands such as Kona, Haro, Linus, Road Holland and more. They also build custom handcrafted steel bicycle frames under the Vrbicycles marquee. Bag a bike while sipping single-origin, bike-themed blends of Maps Coffee such as Sprint Espresso or Dirt Blend.

Bird's Botanicals Kansas City

Photo by Tara Shupe


Bird’s Botanicals

8201 E. 23rd St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 252-4478 | birdsbotanicals.com

Find yourself enveloped within a forest of flowers, a welcome balm on a  cold or rainy day. Located within the Interstate Underground Warehouse, Bird’s Botanicals grows and sells countless orchids (their specialty) and other exotic flowers. Check out the state-of-the-art, climate-controlled cave featuring more than 100 species and more than 200 varieties of orchids. Take a tour or take a class — no matter your interest level, you will be intrigued by what you discover at Bird’s Botanicals.


The (NEW) Dime Store in Brookside, Mo.

314 W. 63rd St., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 523-3140

Contributing to the existing charm of the Brookside neighborhood is The (NEW) Dime Store, a renovated and updated version of the original Brookside Dime Store, which opened in 1940. Fifi Wiedeman took over the enterprise and opened the (NEW) alternative to the big-box retailers in 2002.  From cleaning supplies to seasonal goods and school supplies to toys and games, this store is the modern-day version of the corner stores of yesteryear, bringing a healthy dose of nostalgia to all who enter.


Goodrich Alley in the Crossroads


KC’s famed Crossroads Arts District took on some new tenants last year when a few boutiques opened in Goodrich Alley, located in the 18th Street alley between Baltimore and Wyandotte streets. The pedestrian-friendly, cobblestone-like corridor creates the atmosphere of an old European city, making visitors feel as if they have stumbled upon a hidden bazaar. Boutiques such as Shop Future, which sells vintage Levi 501 jeans; and Coki Bijoux Fine Jewelry have made their home in Goodrich Alley already, with more to follow suit, including a back patio for Snow & Co. frozen cocktails emporium in spring/summer 2016. The alley is particularly hopping during First Fridays.


KC Speakeasies

The W Lee's Summit Missouri

photo by anna petrow


The W

6 1/2  S.W. Third St., Lee’s Summit, Mo.

(816) 287-000 | thew.bar

One of KC hottest cocktail scenes is ensconced in a hidden speakeasy in historic downtown Lee’s Summit. The 38-seat bar, hidden behind a quaint wood door and up a flight of stairs, offers a serious cocktails-only menu of seasonal libations. Mixologist Mike Strohm is scrupulous about local sourcing and using fresh-made ingredients, house-made syrups and tonics, and even artisanal ice for each sip. The seasonal, always rotating menu may serve up a blackberry-sage-honey bramble or The W.’s already-classic Smoked Vanilla bourbon drink that acquires depth from dramatic plumes of apple wood smoke beneath a glass dome. The W. is open Thursdays from 6 p.m. to midnight and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Reservations are recommended. Text your reservation to (816) 287-0000.


The Ship

1217 Union Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 471-7447 | theshipkc.com

From judges and politicians to prostitutes and hoodlums, Kansas Citians from all walks of life have come “aboard” The Ship to unwind and relax for more than 60 years. Today, after almost 10 years of restoration, The Ship has been salvaged, restored and now sits at its new location in the West Bottoms with a vaguely nautical décor — still secret but a little less seedy.

Open to the public for drinks and live music Tuesday And Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Thursdays 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. For a schedule of upcoming shows, visit theshipkc.com.


The Pendergast Club at The Majestic

931 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 221-1888 | majestickc.com

For years, The Majestic has played host to some of KC’s finest jazz musicians, and the legacy continues today with nightly live music. But true insiders have access to the Pendergast Club — The Majestic’s exclusive members-only club located on the third floor of the restaurant. For a $50 monthly liquor purchase commitment, you can enjoy a cigar and a whiskey in the office of former city boss Tom Pendergast himself. An exclusive wine list and a menu of interesting cocktails crafted by nationally renowned bartender Sean Moriarty, combined with a delectable array of desserts, make The Majestic the perfect place to enjoy a night of vintage drinks and riffs.


Manifesto at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange

1924 Main St., under The Rieger Historic Hotel, Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 536-1325 | theriegerkc.com/manifesto

Buzzed by Esquire as one of the best bars in America, Manifesto may not be very secret anymore, but it does brings an air of exclusivity to the downtown KC cocktail crowd. It is housed in the basement of the historic Rieger Hotel and boasts a sophisticated cocktail program. For example, despite its name, the Charlie Brown is a complex winter sip of Calvados, pumpkin-spiced shrub, lemon, maple, Angostura bitters and a mascarpone whip. With a back alley entrance and only 48 seats to spare, Manifesto is one of the most sought-after speakeasies in the city. Reservations are recommended. Call ahead, and they’ll buzz you in the back door.



Comedy City

3600 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 842-2744 | comedycity.cc

Comedy City is KC’s original improv comedy show and former performance home to our very own Jason Sudeikis. Comedy City’s quick and witty improv actors make it up as they go in this interactive, audience-driven comedy spectacular. The teams, in Whose Line Is It Anyway? style, compete against each other while you supply the suggestions, cheer for your favorite team and even help out on stage.


Powell Observatory, Louisburg, Kan.

26500 Melrose St., Louisburg, Kan.

(913) 438-3825 |askc.org

They say you have to leave the city lights to see the stars, so why not give it a try? Located just north of Lewis-Young Park, Powell Observatory is an astronomical observatory featuring several large telescopes available for public viewing. Its main telescope, a Ruisinger Newtonian reflector is one of the largest in a five-state area. Powell Observatory runs regular public programs every weekend from May through October, and the telescope is open regularly for public viewing of the night sky.


Jam Session at the Mutual Musicians Foundation

1823 Highland Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 471-5212 | mutualmusiciansfoundation.org

Touted as the best jazz jam session in the country, the Mutual Musicians Foundation in the historic 18th & Vine District is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. Established in 1917, the Foundation has been a haven for making sweet music for decades. Beginning at midnight every Friday, musicians gather there to jam into the wee hours of the morning. Though it may look like nothing more than a community center gathering space, the Foundation offers the city’s most authentic tie to KC’s jazz roots — in fact, you may even feel like you have stepped back into the Count Basie era upon entering the self-service, casual venue. The club offers food and a full bar, and everything is on a donation basis. Just don’t be surprised when the “cat” sitting next to you jumps up to grab the mike and scat a bit. That’s just jazz, baby.


Funky Town

8300 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 737-3865 | funkytownkc.com

This retro bar packs in a diverse crowd, most of whom are there to enjoy drinks with friends while reminiscing over hits from the 1970s and 1980s. You’ll find plenty of tables for people-watching and plenty of space for dancing the night away — especially during the song “Car Wash,” when a giant car wash brush comes down and foamy bubbles spray out on the dance floor.


KC Roller Warriors Roller Derby

301 W. 13th St, Kansas City, Mo.

(913) 735-5279 | kcrollerwarriors.com

For something entirely different, take in some hard-hitting, action-packed all-female roller derby fun with the Kansas City Roller Warriors. The roller derby league is split into four home teams that play within the league and two travel teams that represent the Roller Warriors in competition with other leagues. For under $20, you can watch these vivacious, strong women battle it out at the Municipal Auditorium in one of the most entertaining and unique spectator sporting events the city has to offer.

For tickets visit kcrollerwarriors.com.

The Blue Line Kansas City

Photo by Tara Shupe


The Blue Line

529 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 472-7825 | thebluelinekc.com

Blue isn’t just for Royals baseball. As the only hockey-themed sports bar in the city (the interior is made to replicate an ice rink), The Blue Line is the perfect spot for taking in a game on ice. Located in the River Market, the joint offers fantastic daily food and drink specials. The place gets a solid crowd, especially during St. Louis Blues and Chicago Black Hawks games, and shots are 50 cents every time a goal is scored.

Fringe Festival Kansas City

Fringe Festival

(816) 359-9195 |  kcfringe.org

KC is full of festivals, but like its name suggests, the KC Fringe Festival falls a bit under the radar. An 11-day cultural arts festival in July, it’s jam-packed with edgy live theater, dance, burlesque, performance art, visual art, spoken word, puppetry, storytelling, film and fashion. The festival celebrates non-traditional local, regional and national artists, presenting events at venues throughout the city.

This year the Fringe Festival will take place July 21-31. For tickets and info, visit kcfringe.org.


Paul Mesner Puppets

1006 E. Linwood Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

(816) 756-3500 | paulmesnerpuppets.org

A globally known professional puppet theater company based in Kansas City, Paul Mesner Puppets hosts a season of unique puppet plays that draws more than 20,000 people each year. The plays come from the creative mind of founder and artistic director Paul Mesner, who has more than 20 years experience as a puppeteer and has performed throughout the U.S. Take in a one-of-a-kind show and stay to make paper puppets in a display room featuring Mesner’s puppet collection. In addition to performing at a rehabilitated 7,000 –square-foot hardware store in KC's Hyde Park neighborhood, just south of Crown Center, the company tours nationally, performing to an additional 38,000 children and adults at performing arts centers, schools and libraries. Their holiday show, The Nativity, is an annual ritual for locals.  

Ticket prices range from $6 to $12. For a schedule of shows and tickets, visit paulmesnerpuppets.org.

The Living Room Theatre Kansas City

The Living Room Theatre

1818 McGee St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 533-5857 | thelivingroomkc.com

Sure, KC has a number of options for live theater, but none as cool and artistically free as this unconventional art space founded by Shawnna Journagan and Rusty Sneary in the Crossroads Arts District. With the tagline “Provocative theater, comfy chairs” and some of the most creative talents on the scene, The Living Room is dedicated to creating theater for people who don’t think they enjoy theater. Recent productions included everything from zombie-esque-cool Pontypool to Equus.


Park It

Black Hoof Park Lenexa Kansas

Black Hoof Park in Lenexa

9053 Monticello Road, Lenexa, Kan.

Though little known, this  210-acre expanse boasts a 35-acre, deep-water lake for boating and fishing (sorry, no swimming), an architecturally innovative dam and spillway, trails, picnic shelter, playground and boat launch. In addition, visitors can experience nature and observe a wide variety of wildlife — deer, coyotes, red foxes, birds, butterflies, rattlesnakes, frogs and lizards — in their natural habitats.


Thomas S. Stoll Memorial Park Dog Park

12500 W. 119th St., Overland Park, Kan.

Tails will be wagging in this 79-acre park located in Overland Park. Thomas S. Stoll Memorial Park is not only home to various baseball and soccer fields, and a walking trail, but also a 7-acre off-leash dog park area. Located near the center of the park, the flat, open space is completely fenced in, making it safe for canines and owners alike. Bring your four-legged friend and let them run free while you take in the picturesque landscape in the heart of southern Johnson County. 


Epicurean Roadtrips

Wines by Jennifer

405 Main St., Parkville, Mo.

(816) 505-9463 | winesbyjennifer.com

Wines by Jennifer serves wine, beer and spirits in a circa 1903 house in quaint downtown Parkville. A favorite of locals and tourists alike, the boutique wine shop is home to a diverse selection of wines carefully chosen from the finest boutique wineries around the world. Guests can sample wines in the tasting room all day Tuesday through Saturday, as well as enjoy wine flights or wine by the glass and the bottle. Specialty food items such as local Missouri cheese, fresh breads, organic olive oils, fresh fruit and meats are also available for purchase to complement the vino.

For more info, or to book a wine tasting event, visit winesbyjennifer.com.


Café des Amis

112 1/2 Main St., Parkville, Mo.
(816) 587-6767 | cafedesamiskc.com

This French bistro is one of the most romantic spots to dine in KC, overlooking charming downtown Parkville from its second-floor locale. Choose from a mix of traditional and progressive French dishes, including sauteed escargot in puff pastry, paté with French black truffles, warm goat cheese salad, steamed mussels, fillet of beef with cognac black peppercorn sauce or duck confit with port balsamic. Save room for a variety of pastries and desserts, and more than 60 wines and after-dinner drinks.


Van Till Family Farm Winery

13986 Highway C, Rayville, Mo.
(816) 776-2720 | vantillfarms.com

Van Till is home to a vineyard, wood-fired oven and gourmet pizza menu all set in the picturesque countryside. Located just outside the city, Van Till Winery cultivates seven different French and American hybrid grapes for its proprietary Missouri wines. The Van Till Farm and Winery has become the place to be on Friday and Saturdays for weekly wood-fired pizzas on the cozy heated patio, paired with custom-blended wines. Try the bacon gorgonzola pizza with the chambourcin Farm Shed Red wine or the Rosemary Pear pizza with Van Till’s sweet white. It’s worth the drive!


Justus Drugstore

106 W. Main St., Smithville, Mo.

(816) 532-2300 | drugstorerestaurant.com

Don’t let the name fool you, the concept behind Justus Drugstore in Smithville is simple — fresh food made from local ingredients (in a former drugstore locale). Chef Jonathan Justus, a 2011 James Beard Best Chef: Midwest semifinalist, offers a to-die-for short ribs dish. The seasonal entree consists of sweet-vermouth-braised ribs; sweet potato puree with chamomile-infused bourbon and smoked honey, pickled cherries, pickled Brussels sprout leaves and broccoli rabe. Be sure to order one of the restaurant’s famous craft cocktails employing house-infused liquors. A tip: don't come here expecting fast, one-hour dining. It takes time to enjoy this place, and the menu is set up as such. Meals are multicourse and well worth the time (and the drive).

Vivilore Kansas City

photo by Brooke Vandever



10815 E. Winner Road Independence, Mo.
(816) 836-2222 | vivilore.com

Located in Independence’s historic Englewood district, in a charming brick house, Vivilore is a destination attraction. The hybrid antique store, art gallery and elegant eatery is where chef Hope Dillon serves up imaginative yet comforting lunch and dinner dishes such as grilled duck salad, roasted beet soup and a lobster roll. Dillon’s spin on the Reuben sandwich — house-cured pastrami topped with creamy fontina cheese and a heap of marinated red cabbage and apple slaw — is touted as the best Reuben in the city. Opt for the courtyard garden in clement weather, and be sure to save time for browsing the interesting mix of art and antiques afterwards.

Clinton's Soda Fountain Kansas City

photo courtesy of Clinton's soda fountain


Clinton’s Soda Fountain

100 W. Maple Ave., Independence, Mo.

(816) 833-2046 | clintonssodafountain.com

Step back in time to this authentic soda fountain that serves up phosphates (flavored sodas), ice cream, pastries coffee and more! Located on the Independence downtown square, Clinton’s Soda Fountain is housed in the very same building where former President Harry S. Truman worked his first job at Crown Drug Store and soda fountain. Sit at the 100-year-old marble bar and order Truman’s favorite (a butterscotch sundae with chocolate ice cream) or Clinton’s famous Black Cow or Nutty Turtle.

O’Malley’s Pub and Weston Brewing Co.

500 Welt St., Weston, Mo.

(816) 640-5235 | westonirish.com

A cavernous (literally) and authentic Irish pub located in Weston, O’Malley’s serves beer brewed on-site at the Weston Brewing Co. and features live music Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Located in the 1840s cellar of the Weston Brewing Co., this joint has an ambiance all its own — and the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are legendary.

Tours of the brewery are offered on Saturdays. Call for details. 

Categories: Art, Arts & Entertainment, Best of KC, Best of KC 2019, Business, Food, Museums, Music, Theatre