The Kansas City metropolitan area is located in both Missouri and Kansas. Often, the Kansas side, smaller in size and population, is overshadowed by the Missouri side's flashy entertainment districts and historic neighborhoods. But, after a recent press trip to the area, I’m excited to share all that Kansas City, Kansas (KCK), offers for every kind of traveler.
Here are 15 things to do on the underrated side of Kansas City.
1. Relish Local Wines
The Kansas side of the Kansas City metro area offers two great options for wine tasting. One is a downtown tasting room in Leavenworth, Kansas, and the other is a full-vineyard property in KCK. For the urban winery feel, check out Z&M Twisted Vines in Leavenworth. All of its wines are chemical-free and produced using sustainable methods. Plus, the company offers inventive blends like a country lemonade white, red sangria, and even a pumpkin-pie inspired wine.
The second option on the Kansas side of the Missouri River is Rowe Ridge Vineyard & Winery. This spot is notable for being the first vineyard in Wyandotte County, Kansas. Besides its super-fun wine slushies, Rowe Ridge offers a tasting flight for $8 and bottles of wine for about $15. Some of its most popular wines are the Norton, the Rowe Family white, and the Chardonel.
2. Enjoy Retail Therapy
Travelers hoping to get their shopping fix will be delighted with KCK’s choices. Perhaps the best one-stop shop in the area is the large outlet complex in the Village West development, Legends Outlets. With more than 100 stores and restaurants, Legends checks all boxes, from designer leather goods at Coach to tasty treats at The Dapper Doughnut to preppy clothing items at Brooks Brothers.
3. Check Out The Speedway
Another great attraction in KCK is the Kansas Speedway. Opened in 2001, the speedway hosts more than 200 events each year. It’s best known for its NASCAR races, but it’s also home to a casino, restaurant, and hotel. The Kansas Speedway is located very near Legends Outlets, so it could be part of a larger excursion to the Village West area.
4. Catch A Soccer Match
KCK boasts a successful major-league soccer team called Sporting Kansas City. More and more, the area is becoming known for its legion of dedicated soccer fans. Sporting Kansas City plays in the soccer-specific stadium of Children’s Mercy Park, located near the previously mentioned Kansas Speedway.
5. Marvel At Marbles
The Moon Marble Company has been delighting folks of all ages since its 1997 inception. This cool store in Bonner Springs, Kansas, offers a variety of modern and vintage toys plus handmade marbles. For the chance to see a real marble glassworking demonstration, visit between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you’re lucky, owner and marble artisan Bruce Breslow will be there.
6. Try Some Traditional Neapolitan Pizza
Located in KCK, 1889 Pizza Napoletana offers pizza with Naples’s signature crispy crust. The owners trained in Italy and have a special custom oven to craft their delicious pies. Stop in for a yummy pizza built your way, plus a large appetizer selection and a great wine list. For the most fun experience, consider booking a pizza-making class for your group by calling ahead or scheduling online.
7. Spice Up Your Life
Another KCK gem is Spicin Foods. For more than 20 years, this locally grown company has been crafting hot sauces, glazes, and rubs for customers all over the world. Stop by the gift shop for a chance to sample some of the spiciest hot sauce available on Earth. But don’t worry -- there are plenty of milder options sure to please any palate.
8. Take A Zip-Line Tour
For those seeking a dash of adventure on their trip to KCK, Zip KC delivers. There are nine zip lines and a number of tours to suit any group. Tours last anywhere from 1 hour and 30 minutes to 3 hours. They include a Sunset Date Night Tour, Hike & Zip Tour, Tower Tour, Ultimate Adventure Tour, Night Flight Tour, and more.
9. See A Show Outdoors
Bonner Springs is also home to a large outdoor venue called the Providence Medical Center Amphitheater. The space accommodates nearly 20,000 people and has been providing memorable entertainment to Kansas Citians for more than 30 years. Past acts have featured greats from all genres, from country to rock to pop and everything in between. Consider a KCK trip when your favorite musical group is playing at the amphitheater.
10. Taste A Variety Of Olive Oils
Downtown Leavenworth is home to First Taste Olive Oils & Vinegars. Located in a former pharmacy, this spot is helmed by sensory-certified olive oil expert Missie Darnley. Darnley walks guests through the process of tasting and selecting extra-virgin olive oils during the store’s guided tasting experience.
11. Get Your Caffeine Fix
Third Space is a charming and cozy coffee shop nestled in downtown Bonner Springs. The name comes from the fact that we tend to live in three spaces: at home, at work, and everywhere else. Owners Bill and Amy Gibbs hope to make that third space warm and welcoming for everyone. Check out this spot for your breakfast needs -- the small menu is very satisfying. The biscuits with gravy and steel-cut oatmeal are both hits. Plus, Third Space employs talented baristas who know a thing or two about latte art. The coffee shop also offers a large selection of tea as well as simple black coffee.
12. Experience Aerial Silks
KCK’s historic Strawberry Hill neighborhood is full of hidden treasures. In this area, a renovated former church is now home to an inventive new business called Voler—Thieves of Flight. At Voler, visitors can experience an aerial silks class, circus circuit fitness, or acroyoga. First-timers can try the beginner-level class. It's a different way to get some exercise during your visit to KCK.
13. Visit The Agriculture Hall Of Fame
Be sure to make time for a visit to Bonner Springs’s agriculture-focused museum and educational facility, the National Agriculture Center and Hall of Fame. It’s home to a large barn that can be rented for events, a mini train track and engine, and an impressive rural art collection. The Hall of Fame houses about 30,000 farm-related items and includes building replicas of a small farm town.
14. Get Crafty
In downtown Leavenworth is a DIY wood-sign workshop called Board & Brush. You can pick your project ahead of time on the company’s website for maximum ease. Workshops are offered most weekends -- some are offered on Wednesdays, usually with a wine theme -- and on some Sundays, the store hosts a Boards and Bagels morning activity. Board & Brush gives travelers the chance to create their own unique KCK souvenir.
15. Satisfy Your Craving For Barbecue
Kansas City is, of course, famous for its delicious barbecue. Thankfully, KCK offers two great spots to satisfy your barbecue craving. In Strawberry Hill, Slap's BBQ sells out daily at its no-frills counter. Nearby is another option, the family-owned Jones Bar-B-Q. Be aware that Jones is only open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (or until the barbecue sells out).
Headed to Kansas City? Check out these 10 reasons to visit the area besides the barbecue.