Jump Into Downtown
Here’s a pop quiz that won’t take but a second of your precious summer.
What was named “one of the best in the United States” by Forbes magazine in 2011? What part of Kansas City has gone through a revitalization, transformation, renovation and overall spiffing up? What area of the city houses the country’s second busiest arena and a performing arts center that is already an iconic jewel? Where can you shop for world-class antiques and art, enjoy dinner by James Beard award-winning chefs, catch a show at a funky concert venue or take the kids to see a play at a nationally acclaimed children’s theatre?
If you answered downtown Kansas City, go to the head of the class.
Downtown Kansas City encompasses vibrant micro-neighborhoods, including the Crossroads Arts District, Power & Light District, River Market, Crown Center and the West Side—just to name a few. From girls’ weekends to family day trips, the opportunities are rich and varied for sightseeing, shopping, eating, playing and being entertained. This summer, break out of the suburbs and drive into the edgy, bustling downtown scene to visit the restaurants, boutiques, galleries, museums and sights that capture KC’s modern culture while paying homage to its fascinating past. Excite your summer with concerts, festivals and unique events all just a short (and easy) 30-minute drive from Johnson County. Whether it’s arts or foods, shopping or music that you want, downtown KC is your ticket to the action.
Get ready ... set ... jump into downtown!
The setting sun signals the night is heating up, and downtown the anticipation is building for a vibrant evening of drinks, dance and music. Who knows where the night will take you and the new friends you’ll meet along the way? With venues ranging from dance clubs to sophisticated bars to outdoor lounges and concerts, there’s no better place to be than Sexy Downtown.
Where the Heat Gets HOT
Summer is about to get a lot hotter. Cool off in The Jones, where the water isn’t the only refresher you’ll get. Join the daytime party by lounging poolside with a cold drink and catch up on summer reading or with friends in the cabana. Sound picture-perfect? Time to get your summer downtown fun started the right way.
Sexy Downtown Resources
Indie on Main
Hotel Phillips/12 Baltimore
Zafar Salon, Spa
Elements – Power and Light District
Living Room – Power and Light District
Crossroads KC @ Grinders
The Midland by AMC
Feel the Beat
The corner of 13th and Main is the perfect place for a pre- and post-concert rendezvous with friends. Indie on Main, attached to The Midland, offers a vibey ambience, lounge-style seating, a full bar (happy hour prices prevail, except when there’s a performance next door) and karaoke and live music. Open at 5 p.m. on show nights and from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on non-show nights, sexy definitely starts here.
Turn downtown into your ultimate destination for a Girls’ Weekend. Check into art deco boutique accommodations at Hotel Phillips and enjoy a glass of bubbly at 12 Baltimore before you head off for relaxation and pampering, starting at Zafar Salon and Spa. Refreshed, take your entourage to Elements for a drink and soak in the stunning Kansas City rooftop view. End your night at Living Room, an outdoor bar centered in the middle of the KC Live! block, and walk the short distance to your heavenly bed at the Phillips. Hang the “Do not disturb” sign on your door, and plan to sleep in.
Dance the Night Away
One of the nation’s premiere electronic dance festivals is coming to Kansas City—the Global Dance Festival is slated for The Midland July 20 and 21. A unique lineup and two stages promise fun like you’ve never had before. Tickets are available for one or two nights. After you’ve danced your feet off, pop into Mosaic Lounge for a glass—or two—of Champagne.
To the Crossroads
No summer is complete without a concert at one of KC’s best outdoor music venues, Crossroads KC at Grinders. The July lineup includes Fitz and the Tantrums (July 5), Death Cab for Cutie (July 8), O.A.R. (July 14), Old Crow Medicine Show (July 21) and The Avett Brothers (July 27). Get a slice of some of the city’s best pizza and a cold Flying Monkey at Grinders or Grinders West, neighboring restaurants adjacent to the venue.
Whether you’re in the mood for a casual night of world-class martinis (enjoy them for half-price every Monday) or a fun date night, Drunken Fish is your downtown destination. Known for its trendy environment and combination of music, sushi and drinks that exceed expectations, “sexy” is without a doubt the best word to describe this new urban hot spot.
It’s a Man’s World
There are only two requirements for this night on the town: a group of guys in search of a little fun. Start at the Pizza Bar and munch on New York-style hand-tossed pizzas washed down with KC’s Boulevard beers on tap. When you’re ready for takeoff, check out McFadden’s Sports Saloon, the Irish sports bar where you can catch the game on TV or create your own with darts and arcades. Next try The Flying Saucer and indulge in your beer fantasies—it won’t be difficult with more than 225 unique beers from all over the world. This corner pub alone could be headquarters for the night, but don’t let the party stop you there! Join the nightlife at Angels Rock Bar, part lounge and part club, and let your designated driver whisk you safely back to Johnson County for sweet dreams.
Just because you’re not on vacation this very minute doesn’t mean you can’t let loose and have fun. Downtown is brimming with places to go and things to see whether you’re solo, a couple or a family of four! And if the in-laws are in town, include them in exploring the culture and art as you enjoy some Entertainment Downtown.
The Rails of History
One of the top stops for entertainment for the whole family is the grand and historic Union Station. With great food, engaging activities, fascinating exhibits and breathtaking architecture, this regal downtown Kansas City treasure has much to tell and is a must-see on your summer itinerary.
As part of the “Art of the Machine Series,” the Kansas City Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club presents an All Japanese Motorcycle Show at the City Market July 8. Featuring Japanese bikes ranging from antique to classic and late model, this is also open to anyone who wants to show their bike for no fees or registration.
Art in the City
There’s no better complement to the start of a weekend than enjoying an art show. Attend First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District to browse the eclectic enclave of trendy galleries and studios filled with works by local and national artists. Along with live music, great food and kicky boutique shopping, First Fridays is a Kansas City tradition that’s synonymous with summer.
Don’t Stop the Music
Happy summer Kansas City, time to enjoy the weather with free bands. Live! Free Summer Concert Series at the Power and Light District is comprised of Friday Night Live! presented by Coors Lite, Mix 93.3 and The Pitch, and the Miller Lite Hot Country Nights Concert Series presented by Q104 and Ink. Bands and musicians include Buckcherry (July 13), Hunter Hayes (July 21) and Thompson Square (July 12).
Rollin’ with the Homies
Put the Kansas City Roller Warriors at Municipal Auditorium on your summer calendar. If you haven’t cheered on this all-female, flat-track roller derby team, now is the time. Open to all ages, come watch this competitive sport take the rink by storm.
Gain some perspective and culture by visiting New Compositions: The Dance Portraiture of Orval Hixon, a display of the local legend’s photographic portraits at Central Library in downtown Kansas City. This rotation is a series of exhibits to appear permanently at Central Library and highlights the best of Hixon’s pictures of dance.
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has taken its rightful place front and center on KC’s downtown landscape. The gleaming Kauffman Center’s calendar of plays, concerts and artists has not only captivated audiences, the building’s architecture is traffic-stopping, too. Plan to attend the inaugural performance in Kauffman’s 2012-2013 American Legends Series, which showcases artists who have mastered their genres. The incomparable Tony Award-winning Bernadette Peters takes the stage on Aug. 18 in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre for a dazzling and unforgettable night (tickets go on sale July 5). Enjoy a pre-theatre treat at The American Restaurant in Crown Center where James Beard award-winning chef Debbie Gold follows the rhythm of the seasons in her artful cuisine. Oh, what a night!
Appreciate the beauty, history and compelling performances at the Folly Theater. Located on Central in downtown Kansas City, this theater is the picture of class and sophistication, hosting compelling artists and performances that wow and entertain. With events such as the Folly Jazz Series and Folly Kids’ Series running through the end of 2012 and into 2013, the theater fills up quickly with the sounds of audiences ready for a good show—and the Folly delivers. Every year some of the best jazz tours and children’s shows visit the venue, including classic rock acts for Cyprus Avenue Live! (tickets for the first performance of the year go on sale July 2, for Sam Barker on August 25).
Do you hear that? It’s your tummy rumbling for some delicious Kansas City food. No matter how long you’ve lived here, everything continues to get updated in KC, including award-winning cuisine that spans the globe. Don’t know what you’re in the mood for? No worries, we’ve got you covered with five off-the-beaten-path gems and one eternally popular tapas restaurant. Get your motor running—it’s time for some Good Eats.
Heaven On A Plate
Downtown hosts some of Kansas City’s finest dining establishments, and the top-ranked Bristol Seafood Grill in the Power & Light District is one that consistently pleases the palate. Famous for their seafood, this beautiful restaurant is undoubtedly at the top of any KC foodie’s bible. Bring the whole family (or take a night out on the town) and savor the Bristol’s breathtaking dining room or breezy patio.
For fresh crepes, savory or sweet, visit Chez Elle Creperie and Coffeehouse in the converted Summit Theater building at 17th and Summit in the West Side neighborhood. Its posh atmosphere will make you feel like you’re dining in a French café in Paris. Every ingredient folded into the crepes is delectable, from crisp fruits to savory meats and cheeses.
Good Eats Resources
El Patron Cocina and Bar
Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant
You can’t say “no” to a handcrafted margarita when happy hour is 2-6 p.m. Monday through Friday at El Patron on Southwest Blvd. Go south of the border with their authentic Mexican fare and delicious mojitos. Tempting lunch specials start at $6.99—make it a must-try this summer. Olé!
With great food and a unique dining experience, Nica’s 320 is one place every cultured urbanite—and suburbanite—has to try. The cool environment heats up with live music and dishes such as gourmet pizzas and mouthwatering crepes are irresistible. Want to throw a special event for your friends to get the downtown experience? Go no further than Nica’s hot “The Red Room” to host your next soiree.
All in the Family
Enjoy fresh, home-baked pastries at MeMa’s Bakery. Try the traditional English Walnut Povitica or authentic German Apple Strudel. Loraine Waldeck, the bakery’s founder, named the shop to honor her mother whose grandchildren call her MeMa. Savor the warm, family ambience and indulge in a Famous Giant Cinnamon Roll.
For a fun twist on dining with the kids, visit Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant at Crown Center where food is delivered on a small train. Another unique restaurant is the world’s only Crayola Café, found on the second level of Crown Center. With a colorful environment and kid-friendly food (adult-tested and approved, too!), Crayola aims to please.
The bold, graphic mural and interior aesthetics draw you into Michael Smith’s Extra Virgin in the Crossroads and the Spanish-influenced food seals the deal. With a creative menu designed by renowned James Beard award-winning chef Michael Smith, diners can order wine by the bottle and handcrafted wood-fired pizzas along with eclectic menu dishes like snail and prosciutto raviolis. Extra Virgin is a must-try for a pre-theatre dinner date or when meeting a group of friends. Find a perch on the European-style sidewalk patio for the ultimate in downtown people watching.
Pamper yourself with a me-spree in the City of Fountains’ unique boutiques. From small gifts for friends to a smashing new summer wardrobe, downtown Kansas City has a wide range of shops and styles to satisfy the on-trend fashionista. Venture downtown for a sophisticated vibe and discover new faves while adding glamour and individuality to your ensemble and home. Happy Shopping Downtown.
Fabulous Furniture & Accessories
For everything from Asian antiques to modern furniture and unusual and exotic home décor, visit Black Bamboo in the Crossroads Arts District. Transform an ordinary room into a stylish and unique masterpiece with a chic chair or contemporary table. Black Bamboo features elegant products from North American artisans as well as creations from craftsmen in China and Southeast Asia. It’s a great time seeing what owner Tim Butt has up his creative sleeve.
Visit Hall’s Crown Center to find upscale merchandise for the entire family. From sleek apparel and cosmetics to dazzling jewelry and sensational shoes, Hall’s has long been KC’s one-stop shop to pick up a gift or indulge in a shopping expedition. Hall’s is situated in its parent company Hallmark Cards’ Crown Center Complex—another shopper’s delight that’s brimming with spectacular finds.
Whether you’re shopping for beautiful swimwear or delicate lingerie, stop by Birdies Panties. The atmosphere is as exquisite as the high-end merchandise. Birdies stocks a wide range of styles and materials from lace to silk.
Bob Jones Shoes
Hall’s Crown Center
The Garment District Boutiques
Studio Dan Meiners
Need a new pair of athletic shoes? Hunting for the perfect heels for the new dress you just bought? For everything from stylish footwear to unusual handbags, visit KC’s iconic Bob Jones Shoes. Bob Jones offers exclusive brands and distinct styles for both men and women to keep a shoe collection lively and current … and one-of-a-kind.
Visit Webster House, a former schoolhouse located in the Crossroads Arts District and in the shadow of the magnificent Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, for antiques, interior accessories, gifts and other unusual items. When you’ve shopped until almost dropping, head to the Webster House Restaurant for delectable small plates, exquisite entrees and refreshing cocktails. Each room of this spectacularly restored building showcases its own unique charm.
Explore downtown’s Garment District Boutiques—a collection of locally owned stores for men and women, including Two Chic Boulevard, Threads and Denim Couture. Heading back to Johnson County your wallet might be a bit lighter, but your new threads will raise your closet’s fashion quotient a few noticeable notches.
Studio Dan Meiners
Stop into this hip, fashion-forward urban flower-meets-gift-meets-interiors shop and lose yourself. Owner and chief designer Dan Meiners has an impeccable eye for contemporary bouquets, arrangements and handpicked stylish home accessories—pick up a bunch of flowers or choose the perfect tabletop accessory for your next dinner party. Select a pair of earrings for that new dress, marvel at the terrariums and collect ceramic work from local artists. Adjacent to one of the city’s most sought-after event venues, the Shop at Studio Dan Meiners is a browser’s paradise and a well-curated treasure trove for the most discerning shopper.
Exciting things to do downtown aren’t limited to adults only! Grab the kids and plan a day to create lasting family memories. The opportunities to play while experiencing the thrill of the city are endless. Downtown offers easy access to museums, theatres, aquariums, arts and crafts and more. Engage your kids and have a great time, too, Mom and Dad. Pack up the SUV for a field trip downtown and bunches of summer Family Fun.
Kansas City is known for its beautiful fountains, a prominent part of our city’s culture. The magnificent Fountains at Crown Center enhance one of downtown’s busiest shopping and dining areas. The Crown Center Square Fountain is one of the largest and most admired fountains at Crown Center, spraying up to 60 feet in the air. The water attraction is also synched with music for mesmerizing dancing water shows throughout the week.
Let the kids unleash their inner creativity at Hallmark Kaleidoscope where they can use leftover supplies from Hallmark’s manufacturing processes to make original masterpieces. Head to Crown Center to view the amazing underwater ocean tunnel at the newly added Sea Life Aquarium. Then check out the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and design a model out of Lego bricks in the Build & Test zone. You’ll have as much fun (or more) than the kids at these KC-original attractions.
Family Fun Resources
SEA LiFE Aquarium
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Buttonwood Art Space
Hallmark Visitors Center
World War I Museum
The award-winning and nationally acclaimed Coterie Theatre presents “Once Upon a Mattress,” from June 19-Aug. 5. This musical comedy is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea.” Be sure to check out this production with music by Mary Rodgers. The Coterie is among the top theatres for families and young audiences in the United States and is located in Crown Center.
Remember the Jonas Brothers madness from five years ago? It’s back again; this time Nickelodeon boy band Big Time Rush will make an appearance in Kansas City on July 27 at Sprint Center. The national tour is the band’s first since its wildly popular made-for-TV movie “Big Time Movie,” in which the boys try their hand at covering the Beatles’ hits such as “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
Visit the Animation & Imagination Art Show at the Buttonwood Art Space (Crown Center) that runs through July 27th. This special art exhibit features one-of-a-kind images inspired by Walt Disney and works of the artists will be on sale with proceeds benefiting the Thank You Walt Disney Laugh-O-Grams Studio Restoration Project.
Gold Crown Delights
Enjoy a taste of Hallmark! Visit the Hallmark Visitors Center, where free admission gets you a virtual visit with Maxine or Hoops & YoYo in the “Connected & Celebrate” kiosk and a demonstration from Hallmarkers on hot foil stamping and die cutting. Bring home a handmade star-shaped bow as a souvenir!
Journey Into Yesteryear
First stop downtown: Cosentino’s Market, where the kids can choose their favorite foods for a picnic lunch. Then visit the National World War I Museum, located at Liberty Memorial near Union Station. See exciting new exhibitions and collections while simultaneously gaining an educational history lesson from the museum’s wealth of information. See a replica of a German plane and learn in Horizon Theatre why America entered the war or view Exhibit Hall, which is used for rotating special exhibits. Walk across a glass bridge suspended above a field of 9,000 red poppies for a solemn reminder of the brave soldiers who lost their lives in the name of freedom. Each of the 9,000 flowers represents 1,000 combat fatalities during World War I. After exploring the museum, throw a blanket down on the greens in front of the museum to enjoy an al fresco meal while connecting with your family.
photos: 8183 Studio & Jason Dailey