Shopping in Kansas CityThe original model for the “outdoor shopping village” concept, Country Club Plaza (47th Street and J.C. Nichols Parkway) is the jewel in the crown of Kansas City shopping experiences. Built by J.C. Nichols, a wealthy developer with vision, the plaza opened in 1923 and was the nation’s first suburban shopping complex designed expressly for consumers who owned an automobile. Doubting townspeople dubbed the plaza “Nichols' Folly” because it was built in a swampy area used for pig farming, but the plaza was a success from the start.
In addition to chain restaurants, local bistros and the Cinemark Palace at the Plaza Theater, the plaza's collection of some 150 retailers includes designer names like Coach and Tiffany & Co., trend-setters like Anthropologie and J.Crew, and traditional clothiers like Burberry and Talbots.
Spanish and Moorish influences are evident in the 12 towers looming over the terra-cotta rooftops; the most notable is a 130-foot-tall reproduction of Spain’s Giralda Tower. More than 40 fountains and statues imported from Europe fill the plaza; intricate mosaic murals made of Spanish tile adorn storefronts; and terra-cotta planters, window boxes and street medians overflow with colorful plants. You can take a horse-drawn carriage ride throughout the year; gondola rides are available on adjacent Brush Creek from April through November.
Special events are held year-round. During a free concert series from May through September, reggae, rock, R&B and bluegrass music fills the air Thursday through Sunday evenings. The KCP&L Plaza Lighting Ceremony celebrates the holiday season. Held every Thanksgiving night since 1925, the event draws thousands who wait for the moment when a switch is thrown and 80 miles of sparkling lights outline shops and restaurants in a kaleidoscope of colors—definitely one of most wonderful things to see at this time of year.
In contrast to Country Club Plaza's European ambience, Crown Center (2450 Grand Blvd., in the heart of downtown adjacent to Hallmark Cards headquarters) is contemporary in design. About 30 shops on three levels sell jewelry, toys, gifts, clothing and housewares; local restaurants run the gamut from fast food to fine dining.
The fashion-forward youngster will love the child-size versions of Kate Spade, Lacoste and Ugg in the Kid Oh! department at Halls Kansas City. There are Crayola products galore at the Crayola Store, while the LEGO Discovery Center features every imaginable LEGO creation as well as an interactive play area and a LEGO model of Kansas City.
The turn-of-the-20th-century redbrick buildings in the Westport district house shops, cafés, pubs and entertainment venues that attract a young, hip crowd. Enter Pryde's Kitchen & Necessities (115 Westport Rd.) and within minutes you’ll be handed a mug of coffee or tea to sip while you shop. This divine emporium overflows with charm as well as everything you need for your kitchen, from Fiestaware, gourmet foods, knife blocks and teapots to bakeware, potato peelers and nutmeg graters. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday scrumptious, made-from-scratch fruit or cream pies can be purchased at the store’s bakery, Ashleigh’s Bake Shop. Vulcan's Forge (3936 Broadway) sells distinctive jewelry created by on-site designers and jewelers.
For a true Main Street-style shopping experience, explore the Brookside shopping district (on 63rd Street between Wornall and Main streets). Cafés and shops beneath blue and red-striped awnings include Brookside Barkery & Bath (118 W. 63rd St.), purveyor of pet-pampering products; The New Dime Store (314 W. 63rd St.), an old-fashioned five-and-dime complete with creaky wood floors; Stuff (316 W. 63rd St.), an artsy bazaar offering affordable art in the forms of jewelry, home goods and other stuff; World's Window (332 W. 63rd St.), packed with eco-friendly and fair-trade art, crafts, clothing, accessories and home décor from around the world; and ShopGirls (6245 Brookside Plaza), a funky fashion boutique.
Scenesters flock to the Crossroads Art District, centered around 20th Street and Baltimore Avenue downtown. Here you'll find Retro Inferno (1500 Grand Blvd.), a wonderland of fabulous mid-century furnishings and collectibles housed in a groovy 1960s-era building; Made in Kansas City (509 E. 18th St.), with all sorts of locally made products representing hometown pride; and Christopher Elbow Chocolates (1819 McGee St.), offering a tempting array of unusual and artistic treats.
On the prowl for antiques? The 45th & State Line Antique, Art & Design Center is a quaint enclave of more than 20 shops clustered along the 1700 and 1800 blocks of 45th Street, just steps away from the Kansas/Missouri state line. The merchants here deal in American, Asian and European fine art, furnishings and architectural salvage.
Thirteen miles north of downtown, Zona Rosa (8640 N. Dixson Ave.) is a little out of the way but worth the trip if you like the old-fashioned feel of Main Street shopping combined with nationally known mall stores. Fountains and park benches enhance the relaxing experience. Retailers include American Eagle Outfitters, Chico’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gap and Sephora, plus more than a dozen local restaurants.
Other regional shopping malls include Independence Center , I-70 and SR 291 in Independence; Legends Outlets Kansas City , 1843 Village West Pkwy. in Kansas City, Kan.; Oak Park Mall , 11149 W. 95th St. in Overland Park, Kan.; Town Center Plaza & Crossing , 5000 W. 119th St. in Leawood, Kan.; and Ward Parkway Center , 8600 Ward Pkwy.
Kansas City, KS
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
The sales tax rate in the city of Kansas City is 7.99 percent. The city's lodging tax is 11.98 percent and there is a rental car tax of $4 per day.
Research Medical Center, (816) 276-4000; St. Joseph Medical Center, (816) 942-4400; Saint Luke's Hospital, (816) 932-2000; Saint Luke's North Hospital, (816) 891-6000; Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill, (816) 404-1000.
1321 Baltimore Ave. Kansas City, MO 64105. Phone:(816)221-5242 or (800)767-7700
Kansas City International Airport
Hertz, at the airport, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (816) 243-5765 or (800) 654-3080.
The Amtrak station, (816) 421-3622 or (800) 872-7245, is at W. Pershing Road and Main Street.
Greyhound Lines Inc., (800) 231-2222, is at 1101 Troost Ave. Jefferson Lines also serves Kansas City.
Yellow Cab, (816) 471-5000, is the city's major taxi service. Cabs are deregulated, so fares vary widely. Rates are posted on each cab, and you are not required to take the first cab in a line. Up to five people can share a ride for a single fare.
Ride KC, the metro bus system, serves all of Greater Kansas City except Johnson County. The exact-change fare minimum is $1.50 ($3 for an all-day pass) and varies by distance. For more details and for route information regarding construction, phone (816) 221-0660.