Tag Archives: reasons I love kansas city

Reasons I love Kansas City, #4: Cocktails

Bomb pop martini, Harry's Country Club

I love a good cocktail. Especially one that’s slightly sweet and/or fruity and made with vodka. My Kansas City cocktail experience began the night of my 21st birthday. The night before our flight to Las Vegas, my stepmom and I stopped at Kelly’s Westport Inn so I could legally order an amaretto sour and Jell-O shot. From there, I’d like to think my cocktail tastes have grown more sophisticated, but I will never be able to resist the lure of Kelly’s Jell-O shots, especially when they’re topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Jolly Rancher, Harry's Country Club

Some of my best Kansas City memories involve cocktails–post-work happy hours over La Bodega’s sangria, Firefly’s raspberry limeade with which to toast birthdays, a bottle of Prosecco at Czar Bar purchased to commemorate my book proposal’s acceptance. Cocktails generally lead to some sort of revelry, and my experiences have been no exception.

Ace Pear Cider, McCoy's

The best part of Kansas City’s cocktail scene is its diversity. Want a reasonably priced glass of beer? Try a dive bar like Buzzard Beach. Prefer a cocktail that’s part liquid libation, part work of culinary genius? Head to the mixologists at Firefly or Manifesto (although during Manifesto’s sabbatical, follow Ryan and Beau to various Kansas City locations as part of the traveling cocktail club). Craving an icy, salty margarita? Check out Baja 600 and be sure to grab a seat on the patio. No matter your preference, Kansas City has a cocktail for you. Raise a glass, sip, enjoy, and don’t be afraid to order seconds. Cheers!


Reasons I love Kansas City, #3: Art

Hilliard Gallery, 2009.

I’ve always had a peripheral interest in art, but it wasn’t until I moved to Kansas City that I truly began to explore and appreciate a local arts community. The natural starting point for any arts amateur is First Fridays, a monthly gallery crawl in downtown’s Crossroads Arts District complete with street performances, artist receptions and some of the best people-watching in town. Kansas City’s museums are also some of my favorite ways in which to spend a leisurely Saturday, whether within the hushed, palatial hallways of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art or exploring the lively, thought-provoking works found at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

Bowl by Robert Handley. Displayed at Hilliard Gallery.

Once I began writing about Kansas City, the arts community took on an even greater importance. Reporting on artist profiles, gallery openings, collecting art and local fashion gave me a chance to meet some of Kansas City’s talented artists and artisans, and I know there are a multitude of others who work tirelessly on their craft, collectively uniting to help increase the prominence and recognition of Kansas City’s arts.

Rob Schamberger's "In The Mood" exhibit, Rm 222. Photo by Dana Hill.

More recently, I’ve made more of a personal investment in the local arts thanks to my fiance, Rob Schamberger, who’s had two gallery shows and currently features a collection of vintage album recreations at Midtown’s The Rhythm Lounge. Living with a creator has given me a heightened appreciation of how much time and talent artists funnel into each piece, and it’s made me even more aware of how much art can be found in Kansas City. Galleries, museums, festivals, art walks–the opportunities to become a participant in local arts are nearly endless, and if you haven’t already taken advantage of these events, I urge you to do so as soon as possible!

Bon Bon Atelier

The best part about Kansas City art? It’s everywhere. You don’t necessarily have to go into a gallery or museum to see handcrafted work from a local artisan. Several local boutiques, including Bon Bon Atelier, offer goods created by local artists. Murals are common sights, especially in the downtown and Midtown areas. Public art is becoming a vital component of urban renewal, resulting in outdoor sculptures, ornate bridges and other fixtures that are as functional as they are eye-catching. Empty downtown storefronts are being transformed into accessible gallery spaces visible from the streets. Kansas City’s art is as diverse and varied as its artists, an ever-evolving masterpiece that has left an indelible mark on the entire metropolitan area.

Reasons I love Kansas City, #2: The Kansas City Chiefs

OK, admit it. Did you groan a little when you read the post title? Roll your eyes, maybe? Well, I hear you. But stay with me and find out why I just can’t quit the second reason I love Kansas City.

I was born a Kansas City Chiefs fan. Seriously. I think my dad would have disowned me if I chose to follow any other NFL team. As long as I can remember, Sundays (and select Monday nights) with my dad were spent in front of the TV as we cheered, cursed, screamed at or utterly melted down because of the Chiefs.

I can’t remember my first in-person Chiefs game, but I do recall an occasional wintry Sunday spent at Arrowhead Stadium, shivering under a Chiefs blanket and desperately sipping hot cocoa as my dad sat engrossed in the game, seemingly impervious to the seasonal elements. As I got older and later moved to Kansas City, I made it a personal goal to attend at least one game each season with the far-off dream that one day I would be a season ticket holder.

But the Chiefs haven’t made it easy. I’ve suffered more heartbreak and disappointment with this team than I could have imagined, yet I’ve also experienced some unforgettable highs. There’s nothing quite like walking into Arrowhead Stadium on game day, the constant roar of the crowd thundering around you as your eyes adjust to a sea of red. There’s a reason they say Arrowhead Stadium is one of the most difficult environments in which to play, and each time I’m there, I feel privileged to be a part of the palpable dedication shown by Chiefs fans.

I can’t lie. Last season left me with a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth. But as the weeks pass, the bitterness fades and my optimism blossoms, growing stronger in the days leading up to NFL preseason. “This could be it,” I think. “This could be the season where we go all the way.” And even if it’s not, I know I have a healthy supply of Sundays during which I can meet my football-loving friends (special shout-out to A-Yarn) and we can cheer and curse and groan and high-five with each other. Because in the larger sense, that’s what I love about the Chiefs. Good or bad, win or lose, we’re all in it together. And there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Reasons I love Kansas City, #1: The Plaza

After all the fanfare, I’m a day late. Sigh. My computer had a near meltdown yesterday, but everything seems to be in working order today (knock on wood!) So, without further ado, I present you with the first reason I love Kansas City:

The Country Club Plaza began as a vision of famous Kansas City developer J.C. Nichols, who wanted to create a retail district away from the downtown area. And more than eight decades later, the Plaza remains not only a premier example of new urbanism, but also a favorite spot for Kansas City residents and visitors alike.

My Plaza experience began seven years ago. As college students, my friends and I would frequently roadtrip to Kansas City, spending most of our time on the Plaza as we browsed the stores (including the couture department at Halls, which seemed almost ethereal in its luxury). At the time, KC Masterpiece was one of my favorite Plaza eateries (thank goodness my tastebuds have matured!) and I also spent an ungodly three hours to get into The Cheesecake Factory.

In August 2004, the Plaza took on new significance for me. After moving to Kansas City to begin an unpaid internship, I also happily found myself with an unexpected roommate. My best friend, Jamie, opened the door of her Plaza apartment to me, and for the next three years, we had a blast in our airy, spacious digs that were ideally perched on the corner of Roanoke and Ward Parkway. We quickly carved out several Plaza-centric traditions, including our annual Plaza lighting ceremony parties, snow day celebrations and frequent trips to Latteland for coffee and The. Best. Cookies. In. The World. (or wedding cake cookies, as they’re more commonly known).

My departure from the Plaza to the Northland (and later downtown) was bittersweet, but I still frequent the coffeeshops and boutiques on a regular basis. One of my favorite Kansas City scenes unfolds as you walk along Ward Parkway; on one side, the Plaza beckons, and on the other, the towering Intercontinental and Raphael hotels, along with several apartment buildings, stand as gracious sentinels that steadfastly observe Brush Creek and the larger Plaza district.

It’s on the Plaza that I found my first true home in Kansas City and began a career that would eventually lead me to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a tribute to the city I love so much. Take the time to explore one of the city’s crown jewels, and you just may find a similar sense of belonging among the Spanish-style architecture that seems at once incredibly exotic and quintessentially Kansas City.