I am a military brat so, naturally, I’ve lived in my fair share of places throughout the years. It wasn’t until after college that I found myself really searching for a place to call “home”. I’ve been in Kansas City for seven years now, and so much of my (adult) life has happened since I’ve been here that I truly feel like it’s a place I can call my own. I absolutely love life in Kansas City. Our town has so much to offer and it’s great mid-way stopping point for almost anywhere you want to travel across the country (at least that’s what I tell my friends when I’m trying to encourage them to visit).
I haven’t always felt this way about my city. The first year that I lived here, I was confident that KC was just a stepping stone to another place (Alaska? Ireland? Maine? Colorado?). Looking back, I suppose that was the military child in me who was used to being stationed somewhere different every few years. Part of the issue, though, was that I never made the effort to really explore what Kansas City has to offer. In the six years since, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at trying new things throughout the metro area and it’s really given me a deep respect for this town. My friends over at RelayRides recently asked me to share what I think some of the best “hidden gems” are here in Kansas City. In case you’re unfamiliar, RelayRides is a peer-to-peer car sharing network that connects travelers who are in need of rental cars with owners who are looking to put their otherwise idle vehicles to good use.
I spent a few minutes browsing through the listings here in Kansas City and compared them to what you might find booking through a big box car rental company. If you find yourself in need of a vehicle here in KC, be sure to check them out before your visit and, while you’re here, check out some of my favorite spots:
The Historic City Market
Located in downtown Kansas City, The City Market has a lot to offer residents and guests alike. From their great casual dining options and the weekend market that features local farmers and unique vendors to the family friendly entertainment available in the area, The City Market is truly special.
A few years ago, through my membership with The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at how the year round farmer’s market works and absolutely fell in love. With a focus on sustainability, supporting the local economy, and encouraging Kansas City to be healthier, the farmer’s market is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning. While you’re there, grab a cup of coffee from City Market Coffeehouse or a pastry from Bloom Baking Co for breakfast and stop by Al Habashi Market for some Middle Eastern treats before you head home with your fresh, locally grown produce.
Kansas City boasts a fairly broad nightlife scene which is sure to please just about anyone. Younger millennials who enjoy dancing, loud music, and overpriced drinks served in plastic cups will undoubtedly enjoy everything that Kansas City’s Power & Light District has to offer (“Yay! Shark Bar!!!”). The rest of us, the ones who enjoy a more down-to-Earth atmosphere, will find Westport to be a much more suitable option for an evening out.
From Blanc Burgers + Bottles (When you go, order the truffle fries, trust me) to Beer Kitchen there is an abundance of dining options in the area each of which provides incredible food and a wide selection of craft beers on tap. If you’re feeling particularly energetic in the morning, Beer Kitchen serves brunch on the weekends beginning at 9:00am. Included on their menu are items such as drunken donuts, green eggs and ham, and red velvet waffles. The drunken donuts alone are worth getting up early for (because we all know anything before 11:00 on the weekends is early).
Historic Small Town Downtowns (Liberty & Independence)
Travelers staying in Kansas City might not realize how much history the area has and, although places like the Negro League Baseball Museum and the Jazz Museum are wonderful, the small downtown areas of Independence, MO and Liberty, MO are often overlooked by tourists. Both places, which are relatively equidistant from the heart of Kansas City, are rich in history and have nice downtown areas to explore. As United States History nerd, I particularly enjoy the connection between President Harry Truman and his hometown of Independence. With the Truman Library and the Truman Home nearby, there is a lot of opportunity to learn while you’re visiting.
While exploring downtown Independence, MO a few months ago, we had the opportunity to eat lunch at a little place called Up Dog on the Square. Of particular note during our lunch was their Peanut Butter Bacon Dog, which we felt adventurous enough to split between our group. I won’t deny…it was actually really good.
These are just a few of my favorite lesser known places here in Kansas City but our town has so much more to offer. Even though I’ve been here for seven years, I feel like I discover new places and fall in love with KC again and again all the time. The heart of the Midwest is my home and I hope that you all love it as much as I do.