Once-vacant warehouses now hum with renewed vigor. You can sense an energy in the air, inviting visitors to take part in all the district has to offer. Tour a gallery before dining at a farm-to-table restaurant in this avant-garde neighborhood that the arts built.
Things to Do
Art is everywhere you look. The party in the streets? That’s First Fridays, one of the nation’s largest free art crawls, featuring more than 70 shops and galleries that stay open late in the 20-block area. Those soaring arches in the sky? Meet the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the pièce de résistance and the city’s sleek new address for theater, music and dance. Live music is well represented too, thanks to top-notch local venues like Green Lady Lounge, Crossroads at Grinders and recordBar.
There’s more to the district than just art, though. Relive your childhood at Up-Down or Tapcade at Crossroads, arcade bars serving up nostalgia and craft brews thanks to tons of classic arcade games and extensive beer menus. Or book a tour at Tom’s Town Distilling Company, a distillery inspired by Prohibition-era spirit(s) and style. Follow that up by taking your friends on a district crawl to Border Brewing Company, Torn Label Brewing Company, Brewery Emperial and Double Shift Brewing, all within a 10-minute walk of one another.
Where to shop
Artisanal finds accentuate the area shopping scene. Find a card for a loved one at Hammerpress, a letterpress print shop and design studio that specializes in everything handcrafted. Explore Webster House, a 19th-century schoolhouse turned antique emporium, or get lost in Architectural Salvage, a set designer's paradise filled to the brim with antiques and oddities. Track down screen-printed tees at Normal Human, a local retailer with quirky-cool style.
Connoisseurs enjoy Cellar Rat for its 800 wines and premium spirits as well as free weekly tastings and hands-on classes. Visitors develop photos and shop for used books in the same space at Night Blooms Darkroom & Bookstore. Locally sourced goods can be found at The Sundry Market & Kitchen, a grocer that offers produce, meats and more, all while dishing out scratch made meals.
What to eat
Restaurant choices in the Crossroads make up an eclectic gallery all their own. History is served at delightfully reimagined venues like The Rieger and Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue. Not a carnivore? Café Gratitude is a must for veggie lovers thanks to its 100-percent organic vegan fare. Sample what’s cooking from celebrity chefs Lidia Bastianich (of Lidia’s Kansas City) and Michael Smith (of Michael Smith Restaurant and Extra Virgin).
Take your taste buds on a world tour at Nara (casual Neo-Japanese sushi), Affäre (modern German plates) or Grünauer (Austrian-German cooking). Or hit up Town Topic, a classic American diner that’s been open 24/7 since 1937. Thirsty? Libations of the vine are paramount at Tannin Wine Bar + Kitchen while The Jacobson constructs crowd-pleasing craft cocktails (and delicious food to boot). Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters has the pick-me-up you need to keep your day (or night) going with drinks made using freshly roasted beans.
Souvenir Stop: A favorite of Food & Wine, complex artisanal chocolates by nationally recognized Chocolatier Christopher Elbow range in flavors, such as tequila lime and wildflower honey. • $10 & up