A Tale of Two States: Kansas City Locals Tell All
Spanning the Kansas-Missouri border, the Kansas City metro boasts an extremely loyal fan-base for jazz, barbecue, sports and more. Whether it be the opening game for the KC Royals or a stroll through the city’s endless fountains, KC locals take pride in their city. How do residents differentiate state lines though? It looks and feels like one city, but exists in two states. Some locals live in one state while working in the other. If you’re relocating to KC, should you find a home in Kansas or Missouri? Does it matter?
To get a feel for life in Kansas City, we asked locals to share their insights.
1. What is Kansas City’s best kept secret?
The City Market. I’ve met people who’ve lived in Kansas City their entire lives and have never visited the City Market. On the weekends the Farmers Market is open and you’ll find fresh herbs and spices as well as fresh fruits and veggies for cheap. Plus, beautiful flowers and meat vendors. There are street performers, a variety of cultured restaurants and foods to try. — Ericka Chatman of ErickaSaves
The parks for sure! There are so many beautiful parks that often get overlooked. Loose Park is an excellent place to throw a party or get married in the rose gardens. — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites
The West Bottoms! I absolutely love going just west of 12th Street Bridge on First Friday weekends to hunt for treasures. Antiques, repurposed furniture, home decor … you name it! — Meg Evans of Life of Meg
2. Best place to get the KC barbecue experience?
This is highly contested issue here in KC, because everyone has their favorite place! Right now though, at least for me, it’s a two-way tie, between Q39 and Joe’s Kansas City (but only the Gas Station location counts). — Sarah Hicks of B8sics
There are many places you can (and should!) experience authentic KC barbecue. Arthur Bryant’s, founded in the early 1920s, is legendary in Kansas City. Their location at 18th and Brooklyn, near the 18th and Vine Jazz District, is one of the places President Obama dined when he last visited Kansas City. Expect to wait in line, and know that your experience will be more pleasant if you know what you want to order when you get to the front of the line. Gates Bar-B-Q has also been a part of KC barbecue history for decades. They are famous for their shouted greeting, “Hi! May I help you?” which you’ll hear as soon as you enter one of their many locations. Joe’s Kansas City, formerly known as Oklahoma Joe’s, was on Anthony Bourdain’s list of “5 places to eat before you die.” The original is in a gas station, and the line is almost always around the building. — Leanne Breiby of downtown KCMO
3. Which is the better stadium for catching a game, Arrowhead or Kauffman stadium?
Why choose — they sit directly next to one another! As one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, Arrowhead is where to be on Sundays during football season. But nothing beats afternoon games at the K for a great family-friendly experience. We love cheering on our American League Champion KC Royals; there’s no bad seat in the house. — Natasha Burgert of KC Kids Doc
Both offer super fun (and loud!) atmospheres, but there’s nothing quite like a ball game at the K. — Ashley White of Le Stylo Rouge
4. Where can you find the best live jazz music?
Green Lady Lounge is my favorite! It’s a relatively new bar with an impressively authentic jazz age vibe. — Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate
The best place to find live jazz music is the 18th and Vine District. If you really love music and stay up late, you can jam all night until the morning at the Mutual Musicians Foundation. — Ericka Chatman of ErickaSaves
5. Where does your allegiance fall, KU Jayhawks or Missouri Tigers?
I’m a Jayhawk through and through. Rock chalk! I grew up on the Missouri side, however, so I have plenty of Tiger friends. — Ashley White of Le Stylo Rouge
I am a Missouri girl, without a doubt. “Go Tigers!” — Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop
6. What essentials must you bring for a true tailgating experience?
Sunscreen, your red or blue shirt (depending on which stadium you choose) and bottomless Bloody Marys for those daytime games. — Kim Wallace of KimberlyLoc.com
Tailgating is an art form in KC. The best tailgates start early in the morning with a full breakfast buffet, settle into pre-game with lawn games in the lot and finish with plenty of KC strips on the grill and ice-cold beer. Be sure to bring plenty of extra chairs for the friends that show up, and park next to one of the many trucks with a big flat screen TV. — Natasha Burgert of KC Kids Doc
7. Is Country Club Plaza or Legends Outlets the best place to shop?
Legends is best for family outings as it’s more kid-friendly, and prices are more affordable. Plaza is better for date nights or a girls’ day out on the town. Their shops are much more upscale. — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites
Country Club Plaza: you can sightsee while shopping! We have tons of pretty fountains and photo opps! — Enza Ketcham of Enza’s Bargains
8. Where are the top areas to see KC’s renowned art and architecture?
The Nelson Atkins is a world-class museum that is free to the public! It’s my favorite place to take visitors when they come to Kansas City. From there, I would drive by the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, home of the Kansas City symphony. It’s a beautiful, modern building designed by architect Moshe Safdie. — Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate
The sculpture garden at the Nelson-Atkins is wonderful, as is the breathtaking art inside. There are always fantastic exhibits stopping through. Don’t forget to check out the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. But, the best spot is the local art on display in the galleries at the Crossroads Arts District every first Friday of the month. There’s also a variety of cool street art throughout that district and downtown. As you’re perusing the Crossroads District, look for the KC Star Walk (with stars devoted to Walt Disney and Jean Harlow, who have ties to the city) and admire the stunning curves of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. — Kim Wallace of KimberlyLoc.com
9. Where are KC’s best attractions for kids and families?
LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Sea Life and the Kansas City Zoo are very popular. Both Worlds of Fun and Schlitterbahn Waterpark are fun for amusement parks. We love going out to Starlight Theater to catch a show, to the dog park inside of Shawnee Mission Park, or drive out to one of the local farms/orchards to pick seasonal fruit (blueberries in the summer!). — Meg Evans of Life of Meg
10. Any tips for prospective homebuyers?
Don’t force anything. If it doesn’t work out, it’s because you will find something that is a better fit for you. I love the older homes and condos that have been updated in the Kansas City area. You still get that updated feel with the authentic touches like wood floors. — Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop
Stay on the Missouri side for the best bang for your buck. Small communities are the way to go! Best schooling, resources and activities for the kids (and restaurants). — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites
11. Where can you get the most real estate value for your money, Kansas or Missouri?
I think Missouri has incredible deals and unique neighborhoods. But we are sticking to the Kansas side in order to live in a great school district, which you pay a premium for in Johnson County. — Meg Evans of Life of Meg
Missouri. Everything’s higher in Kansas. Gas, tobacco, property tax. … — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites
12. Where is the best suburb to raise a family?
Overland Park, Kansas, is beautiful and easily accessible to KC. There are trails and parks as well as every retail spot you can imagine. The schools are great and the food scene is thriving. — Kim Wallace of KimberlyLoc.com
I am a huge fan of the Kansas City North area! — Enza Ketcham of Enza’s Bargains
13. What is the most popular neighborhood for 20-somethings?
Plaza is my favorite. Also, Westport, Crossroads, River Market and Power and Light area are all fun places. — Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop
Lofts downtown or around Westport. Close to all the action, and on the trail for buses, bikes and walking to and from the local universities. — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites
14. Do you have any tips for finding an affordable rental?
Negotiate! Landlords will often work with you if you know how and when to ask. — Ashley White of Le Stylo Rouge
Don’t be afraid to ask friends, neighbors or strangers where they’ve found affordable rentals. Referrals or drive-bys are always the way I found my most affordable spots. Kansas Citians are nice and most of the time will be happy to offer recommendations. — Leanne Breiby of downtown KCMO
15. Why do you love living in Kansas City?
Besides being affordable and family-friendly, I value the traditions and the history that keep people investing in KC. The city is an active and dynamic place with emerging arts and technology, but holds a comfortable Midwestern feel. It’s truly a hidden gem, and I am proud to call KC home. — Natasha Burgert of KC Kids Doc
Kansas City has the big city feel with the small town vibe. The people are nice, the food is great and the community is supportive. — Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop
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