Everything You Need to Know About First Weekends in the West Bottoms
Historic brick buildings tower overhead as shoppers hustle between vintage stores in search of their next great discovery. It’s another First Weekend in the West Bottoms, which means that many of the most popular vintage and antique dealers open their shops to reveal their thrifty picks to the masses.
While the Crossroads Arts District is well-known for its First Fridays events, the West Bottoms extends the monthly celebration through the end of the weekend, bringing food trucks, special happenings and more to the historic district. The region has a distinct flavor to it, a mixture of KC’s agricultural roots and a fresh, vibrant culture that mindfully pays homage to ages past. With the area boasting a staggering selection of shops to wander and a growing roster of entertainment options, you can spend your whole weekend there and still find more to do next time you visit.
Here’s everything you need to know about First Weekends in the West Bottoms:
Where to Go and What You’ll Find
The West Bottoms is situated immediately west of Downtown KC, at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. Travelers can take a towering bridge down into the region and feel immediately transported to a totally different city despite being less than a five-minute drive from the Power & Light District. Once home to the Kansas City Livestock Exchange and Kansas City Stockyards, large industrial buildings now remain as reminders of the past—and indicators of what’s to come, as many now house residents and retailers.
First Weekends begin around the same time as First Fridays (roughly 5 p.m.) and last through Sunday. Storefronts such as Good Ju Ju, Bella Patina, Serendipity, Bottoms Up, Stuffology and Nook and Cranny KC open their doors early on Friday to reveal undiscovered treasures, including vintage and antique goods.
Of course, the neighborhood's shopping options reach well beyond vintage finds. Wander to Fetch for an always-changing assortment of gifts and goods that offer excellent quality and biting wit. Then, check out some of Kansas City's favorite greeting cards, plus plenty of other printed goods, at Hammerpress.
In addition to an endless lineup of storefronts to explore, each month brings new ways to enjoy the neighborhood. Keep up with the Historic West Bottoms Entertainment District via social media for the latest information on themed celebrations, live performances, special street vendors, food trucks and more, with unique offerings available all 12 months of the year.
Quench Your Thirst and Quell Your Hunger
If you want to escape the neighborhood's nonstop shopping activity for a while, make The Campground your hideout for an evening of burgers and brilliant cocktails. Or give one of the city's buzziest new barbecue joints a try at Chef J BBQ—but be prepared to arrive early, because the acclaimed spot often sells out.
Late nights in the West Bottoms keep the festivities going thanks to Voltaire, a unique bistro offering craft cocktails and globally-inspired small plates. Retro-cool hangout spot Lucky Boys has you covered past midnight with a limited-but-delicious menu of comfort food favorites.
Caffeination comes easy in the neighborhood. Swing by local roaster Blip for a pick-me-up—and a sample of Kansas City's motorcycle culture. Step inside the 12th Street Post for a menu of Vietnamese coffee drinks from Cafe Cà Phê, in addition to crafty goods and gifts from dozens of local artists, or take a break for a beverage at the Java Garage between vintage finds at neighboring antique stores.
If you're looking for libations, don't miss out on an impossibly smooth Old Fashioned at West Bottoms Whiskey Co., served in a rustic space that draws on the area's industrial past. Just on the other side of the neighborhood, Stockyards Brewing Co. retains the historic spirit of the district within the brewery’s bar and taproom, where guests toast to a diverse offering of Bottoms-inspired beers.
Wine more to your liking? Try out Amigoni Urban Winery for tours, tastings and even wine blending classes. While you’re there, explore the historic space, as every building has a story to tell in the West Bottoms. Enjoy even more pours, as well as a regular live music schedule, at Fountain City Winery. To get a taste of Prohibition-era nightlife, drop anchor at The Ship, a local favorite with speakeasy style.
Parking and More
Street parking can be limited during the weekends in the West Bottoms, but plenty of space is available within a short walk of many of the hotspots, usually for less than $10.
Hidden gems, with their authentic atmospheres and unexpected experiences, appeal to our inner sense of adventure. Tenured visitors, tried-and-true locals and first-timers will undoubtedly all agree that the off-the-beaten-path destinations in KC showcase a unique, intimate side of the City of Founta...