Cover: The Plaza, Kansas City
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
Growing up in a small town in Kansas, Kansas City was an escape to a city filled with museums, restaurants and professional sports teams.
It still is and more. The former cowtown has grown into a charming city with great districts, a vibrant nightlife and a dining scene where even though barbecue and steaks are still prevalent, a full-range of cuisine is available.
Kansas City: Where to stay
That depends on where you want to play.
The Country Club Plaza is a beautiful shopping village with European influences, primarily those of Seville, Spain.
Developed by J.C. Nichols in 1907, The Plaza beckons you to put the world on hold and come stroll amongst the fountain and statues, do a bit of shopping, and have a bite to eat in one of the numerous restaurants. At Christmas, The Plaza turns into a winter wonderland with a light display that has become legendary and is known worldwide.
Where to stay? We stay at the Hotel Intercontinental – with our visits dating back decades to when the hotel was the Fairmont and before that, the Alameda Plaza.
Located across from The Plaza, the hotel has beautiful views, is well-maintained, and the staff is excellent. It is also dog-friendly.
Bonus tip for the hotel: Select the concierge level. As far as value, it’s one of the best concierge packages you’ll find, and Melanie, Craig and the rest of the hospitality team do a phenomenal job of taking care of your needs and wants.
Downtown has many hotel options from major brands to historic places to rest your head. The Hotel Phillips and the Ambassador (now owned by Marriott) are beautiful boutique hotels in historic buildings with stunning architecture. Both are centrally located downtown, are pet-friendly, and are within an easy walking distance of the Sprint Center and the Power & Light District. We’ve stayed at both and enjoyed both the accommodations and the friendly staffs.
Just south of downtown lies the Westin Crown Center – which was actually where we spent our honeymoon in 1979. The Westin is attached to Crown Center, which offers shops, restaurants, and attractions, and is located across from Union Station, which adds additional shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities. Nice hotel, good location, and dog-friendly.
Kansas City: What to do
The Nelson-Atkins is a must.
Built on the grounds of the former home of William Rockhill Nelson, who founded the Kansas City Star newspaper, the Nelson-Atkins began from a combination of the estates of Nelson and Mary McAfee Atkins and opened in 1933.
The museum’s collections include works from European masters including Degas, Money, Pissarro, Rembrandt and Van Gogh and a large Asian art collection.
Admission is free and lunch at the Nelson in the courtyard of the Rozzelle Court is splendid.
Take in a sporting event.
Whether it’s a Royals game in the summer, a Chiefs game in the winter, or a Sporting Kansas City soccer game, Kansas City loves its sports teams and taking in a game will have you cheering like a local.
Like men’s college basketball? The Kansas University Jayhawks are just a 45-minute drive down the road to Lawrence or, if you are visiting in March, Kansas City has been the site of the Big 12 tournament 11 times since the league’s inception, and will be again in 2016.
All that jazz
Kansas City is home to some of the best jazz and blues clubs in the world.
If you are looking for good food and fine sounds, check out The Majestic Restaurant in downtown. Located in the Fitzpatrick’s Saloon Building, The Majestic is authentic and makes for a most entertaining evening.
Jazz fans will also love the American Jazz Museum located in the heart of Kansas City’s 18th and Vine jazz district. Experience the sights and sounds of jazz at the only museum in the world solely focused on the preservation, exhibition and advancement of jazz.
Power & Light District
Located downtown next to the Sprint Center, the Power & Light District is an eight block area of new restaurants, entertainment, nightlife and shopping.
Originally named Kansas City Live!, the district’s name was changed to Power & Light after the art deco Kansas City Power and Light building. Kansas City Live! is now a one block area devoted to live music and entertainment venues.
Kansas City: Getting around
Kansas City is very spread out, so a car is an asset if heading to the burbs.
In town, cabs are easy to find downtown, at the Plaza, in Westport or at Crown Center.
Cab rides between downtown and The Plaza are about $15 before tip.
Kansas City: Where to eat
Seasons 52 at The Plaza
Always a fan of Seasons 52, the Kansas City Plaza location is the perfect place for a lunch by the fountain or an evening dinner. Fresh food, lots of choices, nice staff.
Houston’s at The Plaza
We rarely miss an opportunity to visit a Houston’s / Hillstone restaurant with the Plaza location always being a favorite. Start with spinach artichoke dip and, if you like veggie burgers, theirs are the best anywhere.
J. Gilbert’s in Overland Park
I read in the Overland Park visitor’s guide that the mayor’s go-to-restaurant for out-of-town guests was J.Gilbert’s, so we gave it a try. J. Gilbert’s exceeded our expectations with a great atmosphere, super food and, on Sunday nights, wine under $100 is 50% off. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening here.
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