Advice re: my short trip to KC? (Kansas City, Union: hotels, house)
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I've checked out the sticky at the top of the page, and still don't totally have a super-clear idea of where I should stay/hang out when I head to Kansas City for the first time.
Basically, I'll be there for work, so $$ is not really a pressing issue. Where should I stay, if my focus is on hitting up some awesome restaurants and bar-hopping later on, while still seeing some cool KC neighborhoods?
It looks like there are many hotel options downtown in that 70/35 loop, and it looks like Power & Light District is right there. That being said, I don't really know what to expect out of P&L--for some reason, I'm picturing something similar to the Landing in STL...which is not at all my thing.
I'll be working close to the WWI Museum, so I've also considered the Westin nearby. However, from the description in the sticky, it sounds like more family-fun sort of area, and not really a place you'd have fun with a bunch of 20-something co-workers.
Lastly, it looks like there's a bunch of hotels near Country Club Plaza/Westport? The name "Country Club Plaza" throws me; doesn't really make it sound like a place I'd enjoy, but there appears to be plenty of bars & restaurants nearby.
I've basically narrowed it down to these areas, as it looks like most stuff is going on downtown or on the south side of the city. Any thoughts and recommendations are appreciated.
The places you mentioned - Downtown, Crown Center, and the Plaza all would be fine options - it just depends on what flavor you want.
Will you have a car, or be relying on public transit? Either way, it doesn't make a huge difference, as most of the places you're looking at should be close to the Main St. Max BRT line and getting around shouldn't be a problem.
As for central Downtown - there are a good deal of other entertainment options besides the Power and Light District - if that's not your scene (and it's not for everybody). Most of the P&L bars seem to skew a bit toward the dance club and suburban frat boy crowd, and I sense that may not be your scene. However, there are good things about P&L besides the bars on the Live block, like the one-of-a-kind AMC Mainstreet Theatre and the Midland Theatre.
As for the Westin Crown Center, it would be very close to where you are working, so that's a bonus. Crown Center itself may not have a lot that you'd be interested in, but you'd be close to the Crossroads. The Crossroads Arts District lies between central Downtown and Crown Center and has a huge collection of art galleries as well as some very nice restaurants and bars (however no hotels).
The Plaza is an upscale shopping district which also has restaurants, hotels, bars etc. It has some beautiful architecture and fountains and is definitely worth checking out, even if you don't stay there. It's a very unique area.
You might want to check out the Westport area in Midtown - between the Plaza and the Crossroads. It's got a good collection of independent bars, restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, boutiques, etc. The hotels that I can think of in Westport are on the west side and a bit far from the Main St. Max line - so keep that in mind if you plan on relying on the bus. Westport.
Just stay at Westin near the museum. You can take the MAX Orange line bus to many things to do in the City. Check out the Plaza if it's your first time in KC just to see what it is.. while it has some chainy stores/restaurants, it's a pretty unique area. Otherwise your speed will probably be Westport, w39th, Xroads and Martini Corner. Crossroads (Xroads) is within walking distance of Westin or you can take MAX to Xroads stop. There is a scattering of bars/restaurants in that area that you might like.
For something different, check out Manifesto, an alley bar behind Reiger restaurant at 19th/Main. Is >$10 a drink but go for one drink just see what it is... don't look into it, just go not knowing anything about it. Also check out Grinders and/or any of the places I've listed in Xroads in the diagram below.
In Westport check out Harry's, Kelly's and maybe Brew Kitchen. If you like dive bars, check out Dave's Stagecoach Inn, Newsroom and Blarney Stone, all in Westport area. For James Beard category lounge eats, check out Bluestem W of Westport. There are also some curious places in W Bottoms if you manage to venture down there. Can take you further down the rabbit hole than that if interested.
Since you are coming from STL (I am as well), you might be interested in some real street tacos in KCK - tortillas are made onsite... can't find this in STL. Places like El Camino Real, Ninfa's, San Antonio Tortilleria.
Here's stuff to do along the MAX line, and there is a stop at both the Museum and next to Westin at Crown Center stop.
Wow, great map! I was not expecting something so detailed. I'm probably going to be driving since Southwest is the only airline with a direct flight. In terms of what I like, I'm kind of a rust-belt lover--I prefer things that are a bit gritty yet on the upswing rather than shiny & new. Give me great food in an unpretentious environment, and I'll probably love it. Sounds like Crossroads and Wesport might fit that bill? The Westin sounds best in terms of convenience to both areas.
PS: Thanks for putting Grunauer on the map, I probably would've missed it otherwise. I'm a fanatic for German & Austrian food, and never understood why it's not so popular in the US.
Yeah, you'll probably like Xroads, Westport... and w39th has a variety of ethnic eats and a few dive bars. Take Main to 39th and go W past SW Trafficway to State Line. Martini Corner in Union Hill is just up the hill from Westin, E on 31st from Main - is mostly 20 something professionals who live in the area. In Xroads, you might like Grinders, Czar Bar, Brick. For breakfast, checkout Succotash or You Say Tomato - best on weekends, which are E of Crown Center along Holmes Rd. Check Yelp for these places.
I can't add much to this that others haven't already said, but there is a Holiday Inn Express and a boutique hotel called Q right in Westport, and from everything you've said I think that's the area of town you'll like best. It's an easy walk to 39th st west as well, which has some solid restaurants and a general sense of walkability that, as a whole, KC is somewhat lacking.
I ended up staying downtown. Couldn't resist the Marriott points. Thoughts on my drive in: Holy cow, there are a lot of "2" exits--felt like it might as well have been Exit 2A-2Z!
The first night, I just kind of wandered around downtown. The new opera house looks awesome! I was not expecting the flashing lights all over the Marriott, either. The downtown area definitely feels geared towards conventions. Granted, it was a weekday, so I get that it's probably a bit different on the weekends. A few of us decided to go bowling at Lucky Strike. Reminded us a little of Flamingo Bowl in downtown STL.
The next night, we checked out crossroads & Crown Center. We met up with some people staying in the Westin. The waterfall in the lobby area is a bit confusing to me. The whole thing feels a bit tropical with all the palm trees, like they're pretending to be in Florida or something. We did figure out that there was rooftop access though, so we headed up there and took some photos of downtown. After realizing there's not really much at all in Crown Center, we walked up to Crossroads and walked around for a bit. A bunch of people wanted JackStack, some wanted to go eat something super healthy, so I ended up on my own at Grunauer, which ended up being pretty fun, as the bartender/bar patrons were very friendly. I enjoyed some delicious food, beer, and schnapps, and then met up with everyone at Manifesto, which was seriously awesome. I'm not even huge on cocktails, and they were still awesome. Although we didn't go in, Union Station looked pretty humongous.
The last night, I decided to do a little bit of shopping and check out the Plaza. It was pretty much what I expected; If anything, I'd say the parking situation was more tasteful than I was expecting. I got a great deal on some cookware at Sur La Table and throw pillows at Restoration Hardware, so shopping was quite a success! I grabbed a great burger + truffle fries at Blanc Burgers. Although the crowd was not nearly as friendly as what I experienced at Grunauer the previous night, the burger was delish. I left the area questioning why one of the more upscale suburbs of St Louis decided to build the largest strip mall I've ever seen instead of something more like the plaza. Nothing about strip malls screams upscale to me, while the plaza did so with ease. After shopping/eating, I parked my car on some sidestreet Westport, and walked up Summit to what I thought was maybe W 39th, but I might not have gone far west enough. Regardless, the Westport vibe was cool, it was pretty crowded with lots of activity. I also thought there were a ton of very nice homes in the area I walked through with lots of beautiful stonework. Seemed like a good place to live, with downtown being so close, along with all the entertainment options nearby.
I'll be back soon, non-work related...fiance really wants to visit KC as well.
Sounds like you got a pretty good taste of KC. When coming back with fiance, best time to come is on First Friday of the month for the monthly street party in Xroads. Other places to check out next time are W39th (closer to state line), Martini Corner, City Market (especially Saturdays) and maybe W Bottoms.
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