1. Westport, Westport Road and Pennsylvania Ave.
Westport takes the cake for UMKC students’ favorite entertainment district, and rightfully so. The area is teeming with activity at any time of day or night, with an array of restaurants, bars and shops.
According to its website, Westport is the oldest neighborhood in Kansas City, dating back towith more than 150 years of history.
The district has 24 different bars, including college hangouts like Harpo’s of Westport, Ernie Bigg’s Piano Bar and Kelly’s Westport Inn. Arrive early at Harpo’s on Tuesday or your crew won’t have a table to enjoy trays of .25 cent draws. Get wild on Wednesdays at Ernie Bigg’s with $1 wells and drafts ($5 cover.) The patio at Harry’s Bar and Tables is a prime location for people watching during warmer months.
The diverse selection of cuisine packed into one neighborhood is bound to satisfy the most adventurous appetiteeaters. The magic bus pizza at The Foundry is the perfect vegetarian option, with a medley of wild mushrooms, brie, mozzarella crema, roasted garlic and basil pesto. Pizzas are $8 on Mondays. Port Fonda serves rustic Mexican cuisine, and the late night menu delivers. Try the tacos de carnitas, braised pork shoulder topped with adobo, grilled pineapple, cilantro, onion and lime.
If a night of drinking results in after hours hunger, line up outside Westport’s food trucks for gyros from Jerusalem Café or tacos from El Pueblito.
Whether you’re looking for a place to grab a drink, eat some grub or dance the night away, Westport is the place for it all.
2. The Country Club Plaza, 47th St. and Broadway (District is 15 blocks)
The Country Club Plaza was the country’s first shopping center, which was formed when J.C. Nichols bought the land in the early 1920s.
The Plaza is home to 150 shops and dozens of fine restaurants that cater to a more affluent demographic. However, students can still enjoy this beautiful replica of Seville, a city in Spain, by frequenting more affordable shops like Forever 21 and H&M.
Kona Grill’s weeknight happy hour (3- p.m. to 7 p.m., . and 10 p.m. – -close) is a must for college students craving a lavish dining experience without the hefty price tag. Enjoy half-price sushi rolls like the crab crunch or entrees like chicken satay in addition to discounted cocktails listed on the happy hour menu. Sake sangria is a must-try twist on the traditional Spanish drink.
If spending money is not the objective, simply stroll through the Plaza streets and admire the Spanish-style ceramic tiles, ornate fountains and hanging flower pots.
3. The Crossroads Art District, 18th and Main Street
The Crossroads is one of the most concentrated gallery districts in the nation. It is home to First Friday, a free event in which the Crossroads galleries and shops open their doors to showcase local and national artwork. Galleries often have complimentary food and wine to enjoy while perusing the artwork.
This district also has many restaurants, including Hamburger Mary’s, Town Topic, Extra Virgin and Grinders. The BADSEED Funky Friday Night Farmers Market, which is dedicated to local and sustainably grown food, is open even during the winter months. When tired of the usual hangouts, venture downtown to the Crossroads and see what this eclectic district has to offer.