Everything You Need to Know About KC's First Fridays

First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District are a favorite Kansas City tradition, with art galleries opening their doors and welcoming visitors to browse and explore. On the first Friday of each month, venture by KC Streetcar, car, bike or by foot to experience the avant-garde neighborhood that the arts built.

Here’s everything you need to know about First Fridays:

Art on Every Corner

People walking down the street past food trucks at First Fridays

From its epicenter at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and Baltimore Avenue, the Crossroads extends south of Downtown Kansas City, framed by Crown Center and Union Station to its south. KC Streetcar riders can jump off at the Kauffman Center stop to wander down on their own or step out at the Crossroads stop in the heart of it all.

First Fridays officially begin at 5 p.m.—although the district often sees an influx of guests even earlier in the day—and many galleries stay open until at least 9 p.m.


Sculpting at Belger Arts Center

Stroll through nearly a dozen participating art venues in the neighborhood, including:

Plus, do a bit of window browsing for a preview of other galleries that are currently open with limited hours or by appointment only and make your plans to return. 

Find more details on participating venues and current exhibitions from the Crossroads Community Association.


Blue and white mural of woman resting with her arm on her head, people walking through an alley next to the mural

Once you're feeling sufficiently inspired, strike out in search of another art form and snag a photo in front of an iconic Kansas City mural. Several are located in the heart of the Crossroads and within easy walking distance during First Fridays.


Kansas City I'm So In Love Mural

Kansas City I'm So In Love: 2010 McGee St., Kansas City, MO 64108


Kansas City Skyline with KC Loves mural

#KCLoves: 1720 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64108


Art Alley in KC

Art Alley: 512 E. 18th St., Kansas City, MO 64108

Endless Shopping Options

Shoppers at First Friday

Many local stores also join in the monthly celebration, offering items for KC shoppers of every taste. Indulge in a few sweet bites at Christopher Elbow Chocolates, pick up the perfect T-shirt for displaying your Midwest pride at Raygun or find something fashionable at Dear Society.

West 18th Street is home to a particularly high concentration of retail options, from fine jewelry and accessories at Coki Bijoux to a selection of small galleries and homegrown vendors inside the Bauer.


Street art vendors at First Fridays

Plus, keep an eye out for street vendors and local artists around the neighborhood. There's typically a wide selection of pop-up retailers to browse along the alleyways between West 18th and 19th Streets.

Special Events

Skyline view of Kansas City with picnic tables and umbrellas in foreground

It’s not uncommon to stumble upon pop-up performances of all kinds as you traverse the neighborhood during First Fridays. See what's in store at the Crossroads Hotel, featuring a rotating art gallery on the first floor and rooftop concerts at Percheron, as well as cocktails on tap and some of the finest skyline views in the city.

Watch for monthly celebrations at Parlor, a multi-story dining and entertainment venue where you’ll find seven distinct restaurant menus and two bars, in addition to special events on First Fridays.

Classic Hangouts

Inside Town Topic

The two-story space at Up-Down offers an ideal view of all the neighborhood’s festivities. Stake out a spot to keep an eye on the action before you head inside for a few rounds of pinball or Pac-Man. As your night comes to a close, swing by Town Topic. It's an essential KC establishment and an around-the-clock destination for burgers, milkshakes and more.

Looking for a more upscale way to enjoy the evening? Head to Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, an award-winning restaurant boasting an extensive menu and live entertainment within an endlessly cool dining room.

Dining and Drinks

Table full of southern fare at Lula

Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a culinary experience that makes dinner your evening's main event, some of the district's newer additions fit the bill in memorable fashion.

Settle in for a serving of regional fare with robust flavor at Lula Southern Cookhouse, snag a sandwich and a seat at the counter inside Guy’s Broadway Bodega, grab a fresh-off-the-grill burger from the walk-up counter at SAUCED. or check on special First Friday hours at Seven Swans Creperie.


Some of the neighborhood's classic dining destinations include tapas at Extra Virgin, German small plates at Affäre and Mexican cuisine at Manny’s of Kansas City. Of course, they can become packed with long waits thanks to their popularity, so plan accordingly.


Other local favorites include Blvd Tavern for gastropub grub and Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop for Southeast Asian specialties. Treat yourself with First Friday deals and then hang out at Tannin Wine Bar + Kitchen for live tunes and an extensive wine list.


Bread at Messenger Coffee

Recaffeinate at Messenger Coffee Co. before grabbing a slice at Buffalo State Pizza Co. or Grinders Pizza. And don’t forget the food trucks. Many round up at the corner of 18th and McGee while others line the streets en masse.


Crossroads Mean Mule

If you’re thirsty, stop by Mean Mule for agave spirits, Lifted Spirits for gin, vodka and absinthe, or Tom's Town for delicious drinks and a splash of sordid Kansas City history.


Burger and RAD AF beer can at City Barrel

Or check out any of the fantastic craft breweries in the Crossroads:

  • Border Brewing Company: An East Crossroads staple with a vast selection of beer styles
  • Brewery Emperial: Home to one of the city's favorite patios, its Biscuit beer has become a classic
  • Casual Animal Brewing Co.: A sun-soaked, colorful space featuring drinks that support local nonprofits
  • City Barrel Brewery + Kitchen: A sprawling indoor-outdoor space for IPAs, fruit-forward pours and a full dining menu
  • Double Shift Brewing Company: Popular for its unparalleled, ever-changing selection of inventive flavors
  • Nimble Brewing: A charming nanobrewery designed for flexibility, brewing beers one barrel at a time
  • Red Sash Brewing: Focusing on an approachable selection of beers and perched on a prime corner of the Crossroads
  • Rochester Brewing and Roasting Company: Pouring a perfect unison of freshly brewed coffees and beers
  • Torn Label: Beers, burgers and sandwiches in an airy new East Crossroads space

Extensions of First Fridays

The First Fridays experience isn’t limited to just the Crossroads Arts District. Visitors and residents can experience the original sound and flavor of Kansas City in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District with live music, exhibits and more.

Parking Garages and More

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Street parking can be limited during First Fridays but there is also space available at the TWA Building (1740 Main), in the Arts District Garage adjacent to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (1601 Broadway) or in private lots charging around $5. Patrons of Lidia’s Kansas City, Grünauer or Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue may park behind the Freight House.

The free-to-ride KC Streetcar operates with extended hours on weekends and carries riders to the heart of the First Fridays celebration.