I recently did something I have been wanting to do for a long time… I took my very first solo trip! While I have traveled alone to meet people for years or had days by myself occasionally, I have never taken a completely solo trip where I never had a fellow traveler. I have always convinced my husband or a friend to come along. However, since I pretty much work all remote I thought I might as well take advantage of that. So I planned a work trip by myself to a state I have never been to, and that happened to be Missouri. Kansas City in fact.
I’ll be completely honest with what drew me to Kansas City. My new year’s resolution for 2022 is to finish going to all 50 states. Missouri and Kansas were both on that list that needed to be checked off, so when I realized Kansas City was located on the line I immediately bought my ticket. But even though I chose it purely to check off my list, I actually fell in love with the city and cannot wait to go back!
The best advice I have for traveling is always talking to locals. You can read all you want online, but if you want to go to cool places start with asking your uber drivers, waitresses, bartenders, Airbnb hosts, and people you meet along the way. I waited to form my itinerary until I did this and I’m glad I did! I jotted down all the recommendations I got from locals and ended up with a note on my phone with more things than I could ever do on my trip. Another reason I’ll have to come back!
So, with help from locals, friends, and my own experience, here are all the recommendations of what you should see, do, and eat in Kansas City!
Where to stay:
While looking on Airbnb for a place to stay, I found the cutest loft that would be perfect for one person. I saw that it was located in the Crossroads District, did some research, and learned that it was a great part of town. The Crossroads District of Kansas City is located ___ of the city close to some major attractions. I spent a lot of time walking around the neighborhood of my Airbnb and realized it’s the perfect place to stay when coming to Kansas City. It is walking distance from so many great restaurants, bars, rooftops, and even the T-Mobile center. When I decide to go back to KCMO, I’ll 100% stay in this area again.
Where to eat:
While Kansas City may be known for their barbeque, the city has some amazing food in just about every category. Since I stayed in the Crossroads District, I ate most of my meals around that area. However, I did venture out a little to try different food. Here are some of my favorites:
We will start with barbeque since you may think of this when looking for KC restaurants! Q39 was recommended to me by a friend and it did not disappoint. The waitress told me they are known for their “burnt ends”, which are flavorful pieces of meat cut from the “point” half of a smoked brisket. I got the Smoked Beef Brisket Dip and it was delicious.
One of the coolest places I visited while in Kansas City. Parler is a modern food hall with two floors of neat restaurants and bars. This is the perfect place to go with a group of friends to eat and hang out. Among the many food choices are restaurants that specialize in Detroit-style pizza, hot chicken, mac and cheese, Korean barbeque, and a few more. I got a drink and a pizza and had a great time.
My first meal after touching down in Kansas City was Manny’s in the Crossroads District. It is famous for its authentic Mexican food. Being the huge fan of Mexican food myself, I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch here.
Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop
While searching the internet for KC’s best restaurants around me, I kept stumbling upon Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop. I was staying super close to it but was tired and decided to order it in one night and relax. I ordered the Drunken noodles and loved it! If you love Thai food, it’s a must.
I wanted to save this recommendation for just the coffee section, but the breakfast tacos were too good not to include here. The coolest coffee shop, Messenger, has three unique floors where you can hang out/work and is full of beautiful natural light. Apparently they are known for their pastries, but I cannot recommend the breakfast tacos enough. The portion is huge though, so I’d advise splitting them for sure.
Another recommendation I got several times from locals while in Kansas City is Farmhouse, specifically for breakfast. It is located in the River Market area of KC and looks delicious. Sadly, I did not have time to try it for myself but it is definitely on my list for when I go back.
Since I went to Kansas City during the week planning on working, naturally I had to try out many different coffee shops. My favorite part of traveling is going to local coffee shops/breweries and I was so excited to check out what KCMO had to offer. I found so many coffee shops in my neighborhood and a few that were unique enough for me to venture off too. My most favorite actually happened to be on the Kansas side of Kansas City, believe it or not.
I spent many of hours in Hiltides over three days because I could not stop going back. Not only was it (literally) right across from my Airbnb, but the atmosphere was amazing. The coffee shop is Hawaiian themed with beachy luau music on repeat and a relaxed surfer vibe. They also have a local tshirt/sweatshirt company in the back that is so cute. If you go, get the Hawaiian Macchiato (a salted caramel flavored macchiato). It is to die for!
I have already mentioned this above when it comes to food, but Messenger is a great coffee shop to go hang out and kill some time. It is huge with plenty of room between all three floors. From people in suits on Zoom calls to Bible studies, it was happening at Messenger. The food and coffee were both amazing too.
Unfortunately, I ran out of time to visit, but Monarch was on my list of coffee shops to check out in the Kansas City area. Even just looking online, I was impressed with the beautiful modern atmosphere. If you are looking for the most “instagrammable” coffee spot, I’d go with Monarch.
I saved the best for last on purpose. Oh Café Equinox, how I miss you daily!
I came across a list of coffee shops to visit in Kansas City via Pinterest and Café Equinox caught my eye. The greenhouse + coffee shop combination intrigued me so I put it in my notes for later, and I’m so glad I did. After talking with many locals, it seems like a hidden gem because no one knew about it. It is on the Kansas side, so a little off the beaten path, but without a doubt worth the adventure over. The staff is incredible and the greenhouse has Bible verses and references to God everywhere, which I loved. I went on a snowy day and the greenhouse was warm enough that I sat with no jacket for hours while working.
You know one of those days you’ll never forget? This was one of those for me – working on a personal project, surrounded by beautiful plants and new faces, watching kids feed the fish in the fountain, in a greenhouse in the middle of a snowstorm. It was special. So special that I did not even mind having to walk a mile to a gas station when they closed because I couldn’t find an uber.
Well, there you have it for my Kansas City recommendations. If you have any questions or places you would recommend yourself, please feel free to leave a comment!