Kansas City

For other places with the same name, see Kansas City (disambiguation).
View of Kansas City from the top of Liberty Memorial. Union Station is in the foreground, with the rest of KC's skyline in the background.

Kansas City is a large, major Midwestern metropolitan area that spreads across the border of Missouri and Kansas and has a population of around 2 million. The central city of the metro area is Kansas City, Missouri, the largest city in Missouri, with a population of around 450,000. Across the state border is Kansas City, Kansas, often called "KCK" by locals, which has a population of 150,000. There are also a number of suburbs on both sides of the border.


Kansas City is a city that tends to hide itself from tourists. Reputed to have more boulevards than Paris and more fountains than any other city in the world except for Rome, it can be a beautiful city, too. It is also unique, in that it is split down the middle by the state line of Kansas and Missouri.

The suburbs are largely south of the central city, though the area north of the Missouri River (known locally as the Northland) is beginning to experience growth similar to the south. Numbering of east/west streets begins at the Missouri River with the east/west division occurring at Main Street. Westport is around 40th St., the Plaza at 47th St., Brookside at 55th, and Waldo beginning around Gregory (71st St.).


Due to the lack of any large body of water nearby, KC experiences a continental climate with large swings and extremes of temperature. Winters vary from mild to very cold, with significant snow at times, and temperatures occasionally dipping to single digits and below 0°F (-18°C). Snow accumulation occurs 3-5 times per year, on average, sometimes exceeding a foot (31 cm). KC enjoys very pleasant spring and autumn weather, but suffers hot, humid summers. It is not uncommon for the temperature to stay above 90°F (32°C) for weeks at a time, during July and August. Because of the heat, almost all buildings in KC are equipped with air conditioning. While KC has relatively high humidity, the most common weather is clear with almost completely blue skies. The majority of the rain falls in Apr-Jun, but even in these wettest months, rain is light, compared to other cities in the region.


Downtown Kansas City is generally defined as the areas including the River Market, the central business district (the "Loop"), the Crossroads Arts District, Crown Center and Union Station.

After years of neglect and decay in the 1980s and 1990s, downtown is making a comeback. Many once-abandoned buildings in downtown have been (or are being) rebuilt into high-dollar condominiums and loft apartments. The demand for residences downtown is quite high. In October of 2007, the Sprint Center sports arena was completed, bringing a modern sports and entertainment venue to the downtown core. The Power and Light District was constructed and opened in 2008. The "P&L" District comprises 5 highrise residential and office towers, with many clubs, bars, restaurants, and shops on the lower floors. A new performing arts center south of the convention center area opened in 2011.

The Downtown Council operates security and cleaning/maintenance crews, who keep downtown's streets clean and serve as a security presence. Downtown is one of the safest areas of the city, both day and night.

Traveling north to south, the River Market is the first neighborhood one encounters, south of the banks of the Missouri River. A burgeoning urban neighborhood, it houses many shops, restaurants, bars, and a very active farmers' market that convenes every Saturday, even in winter.

The expressways form a loop around the central business district (CBD). Crossing the north segment of the loop takes you from the River Market to the CBD. This is where Kansas City's famed skyline reaches its greatest heights, further accentuated by its position on top of a sizable hill. The CBD has the principal concentration of white-collar employment in the metro area. The world headquarters for H&R Block are located here, within the P and L District.

From here, crossing the south segment of the loop will bring a visitor into the Crossroads Arts District, which is a regional center for art, culture, and nightlife.

When crossing Pershing, Union Station and Crown Center are seen. Crown Center houses shops, restaurants and offices, including the world headquarters of Hallmark. The nearby Liberty Memorial is the world's first World War I memorial and has spectacular views from the top. Just south of Crown Center is Union Hill, another revitalized area offering some of the best skyline views in the city.

South of Downtown

A visitor enters Midtown when they cross 31st Street. A largely residential area, it is the largest single named neighborhood in the city, and actually includes a number of smaller neighborhoods, like Hyde Park, Squire Park, Sheraton Estates, Ivanhoe, Coleman Highlands, Roanoke, Volker, Westport, Southmoreland, Valentine, North Plaza, and many others.

Just south of Midtown is the Country Club Plaza, known locally as "the Plaza", an outdoor shopping center, modeled after Seville, Spain. Farther south is the Waldo/Brookside area marked by more bars and a wonderful pre-war neighborhood. Further south, the city gives way to suburban development, which continues for about 10-15 mi (16-24 km), before giving way to rural farmland and pastures.

Get in

By plane

Kansas City International Airport (IATA: MCI) serves the Kansas City area and is in the Northland. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority offers hourly service to and from the airport on the #129 bus, called the I-29 Express, M-F 5AM-7PM. $1.25. KCI Shuttle offers a shuttle service between the airport and downtown hotels.

Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (IATA: MKC) serves smaller planes.

By train

Amtrak serves KC via the cavernous   Kansas City Union Station, located at 30 West Pershing Road. KC serves as a major stop on the daily Southwest Chief line which provides service between Chicago and Los Angeles. Barring delays, eastbound trains arrive at 7:24AM and westbound trains arrive at 10:11PM. Kansas City is also the western terminus of Amtrak's Missouri River Runner which provides twice-daily service to and from St. Louis with connecting service to Chicago.

By car

Interstate 435 forms a ring around the city. Notably I-70 goes east to St. Louis and west to Denver. I-35 is a major corridor running northeast and southwest. US Highway 71 runs north and south and forms a midtown expressway, running from the I-435/I-470 interchange, in a northwesterly course toward downtown, where it joins I-29. North of the River, US 71 follows the same route as I-29. For more information about navigation in the metro area see the Kansas City Metropolitan Area Wikipedia Article .

By bus

Get around

The national map companies produce book style maps that can be purchased at many grocery and book stores. Local real estate agents and delivery drivers use a book map produced by a local company in the crossroads district but it is hard to find. The one inside the Feist directory is good and can often be obtained locally for free but the directory itself may be too bulky to carry.

Street numbers

Addresses on east-west streets are numbered from Main Street in Kansas City, MO, and on north-south streets from St. John Ave. (or the Missouri River, in the River Market area). The direction 'South' in street and address numbers is generally implied if 'N' is not specified, except for numbered 'avenues' in North Kansas City. In most of Wyandotte County, Kansas the north-south streets are numbered and the address numbers are measured from Riverview Ave.

Navigation landmarks

Places and notes

Bus service

The Metro bus is feasible within the urban core, where most of the tourist destinations are located. The MAX (Metro Area eXpress) and #57 buses connect downtown, Crown Center, Westport, the Plaza, Brookside, and Waldo. There are other lines that can drop you fairly close to your door in KCMO as well as limited stops in outlying suburbs such as Kansas City, KS, Independence, Blue Springs, Lee's Summit, the Northland, etc. There service to the casinos.

Standard fare is $1.50/trip with transfers available from the bus driver that expire two hours after issue. Some lengthy and express routes may cost more. You may purchase a One Day Pass on the bus. The Day Pass is good for local service only. It is issued at the farebox and expires at midnight. Upon boarding, request a Day Pass before depositing the $3 exact change into the farebox. Most major routes use buses that are equipped with bike racks.

The JO

If you are needing bus service in Johnson Co., KS (Overland Park, Mission, Fairway (Kansas), Leawood (Kansas), Olathe, Lenexa, Westwood, Merriam, Shawnee) you can access "The JO" bus service. It also has lines that run from downtown KCMO to Johnson County and vice versa. The stops are limited and far apart.

Service on "The JO" is limited mostly to morning rush hour, mid-day, and evening rush hour. Fares are $1.25 for trips that begin and end in Johnson Co., $1.75 for trips that go start or end in Downtown KCMO. Transfers are available. Most buses are equipped with bike racks.

By Bike



18th and Vine Historic District

Combination adult ticket for both museums $8, (save $4).

Union Station area

Near the Plaza




Royals game at Kauffman Stadium

Major league sports

Other sports and gaming





Kansas City has a large Jazz scene, a lot of restaurants have nightly jazz players.

Performing arts

Kansas City hosts the national touring companies for some of Broadway's premier shows. Some of the highlights include Wicked, Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia!





"Who has the best barbecue in Kansas City?" is a question that causes much debate in Kansas City. Although the debate is usually in good humor, be ready for a passionate explanation which may take some time (or a light-hearted argument if asked in front of more than one person). Although the different restaurants each have their own unique flavors, they will usually have a sauce which is thicker and sweeter than offered in most other parts of the U.S.

Kansas City is also home to a barbecue dish that is rarely found outside the area, called "Burnt Ends." These are the overcooked ends and edges of a brisket, which although dry and chewy, are amazingly smoky and full of flavor (much more flavorful than any other cut). If you are feeling open-minded about your KC barbecue experience, they are definitely worth a try.






There is a popular brewery in KC by the name of Boulevard whose beers are available on tap at many different bars and restaurants throughout town.

Live Music Venues: Uptown Theatre (Midtown, on Broadway and Valentine) hosts lots of up and coming acts and many timeless performers play here because it is so famous. Beaumont Club is a soulless Westport C&W club that hosts live music but has acoustics' issues and a mechanical bull. The Grand Emporium used to be one of the best blues clubs but after being bought by the owners of the Beaumont they changed it considerably, including the name to Tao.

Atmosphere: When the weather is nice, the deck is the place to be. Gorgeous. Skyline, fans if needed, open air and nice conversation acoustics of course.

Food: I've had a handful of items and they were all very good, except maybe the wings, but that's been a year+, so maybe they're better now. Half price appetizers most of the time. Unbeatable.

Drinks. $2 Domestics. One night, before Freaker's Ball down the street at Midland, Domestic beers were $1. ONE DOLLAR!

The Negatives: The deck is up what amounts to about 5 flights of stairs, and the steps were a little slick. Not a big deal normally, except the bathrooms are on the first floor. Still, not a showstopper.

Karaoke. It's a super pleasant experience until the LOUD music/karaoke begins. That's when a lot of people bail out.

A really solid bar and grill and unique experience. $.



Country Club Plaza



Northeast Industrial District

River Market



Rudy's Tenampa Taqueria (Authentic Mexican)

West Bottoms





Stay safe

Like most major cities, the tourist and business areas (downtown and the Plaza) are generally safe day and night, but it is always best to be aware of your surroundings. It's also best to be especially cautious during the evenings and night around the P and L District, where there has been an increase in crimes. Most violent crime happens during the late nighttime hours. Neighborhoods east and southeast of the downtown/midtown/Plaza areas are experiencing an increase in violent crime. These areas offer little for visitors and are best avoided. (One exception is the Kansas City Zoo, which is located in Swope Park. The surrounding area is not the safest, but the zoo itself is fine.)

KC is in Tornado Alley, so make sure you check the local weather forecasts and make sure you understand what to do during a tornado. Tornado sirens are in place to warn of incoming twisters. The system is tested every month on the first Wednesday at around noon. If you hear the sirens any other time, they're serious!




Go next

Kansas City is one of those places where hidden in darker corners, you will find the gems, the places to visit and go. Rarely do things jump out at you and say: come visit this attraction, food, shopping, or historical establishment. Pick up a Pitch Weekly for nightlife information. If you want to relax and enjoy a walk, check out Loose Park just south of the Country Club Plaza. During the spring and fall, it's one of the most beautiful places to stroll. When you are done there are plenty of other beautiful and majestic cities in this region like Omaha, Chicago, Saint Louis, Independence, Lee's Summit, and Des Moines.

Routes through Kansas City (by train)

END  W  E  Independence Jefferson City
Albuquerque Lawrence  W  E  Fort Madison Chicago

Routes through Kansas City (by car)

Council Bluffs St. Joseph  N  S  END
Des Moines Kearney  N  S  Kansas City, KS Wichita
END  N  S  Nevada Joplin
Topeka Kansas City, KS  W  E  Independence Columbia
Hutchinson Overland Park  W  E  Lee's Summit Jefferson City
McPherson Overland Park  W  E  END
Des Moines Cameron  N  S  Kansas City, KS Miami
Atlantic St. Joseph  N  S  Nevada Joplin
Fort Dodge St. Joseph  N  S  Kansas City, KS Tulsa

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 22, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.