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A Heartland Gem: Kansas City

A Heartland Gem: Kansas City

No Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore. Say hello to charm-filled Kansas City, Missouri.

 

The mid-west hospitality in the air in Kansas City, Missouri makes the population of approximately 500,000 seem much smaller. Physically, though, this city could fit San Francisco, Boston, and Miami all together within its borders twice -- and still have room to squeeze in some cocktails! -- so there's no shortage of fun things to do.

Known nationwide for its jazz scene and barbeque, you can have your fill of culture and then some along the city's long streets, and with an average summer temperature of 78 degrees, it'll be comfortable walking wherever.

But it isn't just the cultural offerings that make Kansas City gay-friendly; the city's mid-west hospitality is also uniquely liberal. In 1993, discrimination based on sexual orientation was prohibited by the city, followed by a similar protection policy on transgendered people in 2008. In addition, rather than selling some prime real estate downtown, city officials fought to preserve land as "green space" and told developers to work around it.

Like many gay-friendly cities nowadays, especially in the mid- and southwest, there is no specific "gayborhood" here, but more of a blending of all different groups.

Downtown you'll find The Country Club Plaza (spanning 14 blocks!) for shopping set to a stylish backdrop of Spanish architecture, the Sprint Center for sporting events, and art galleries. Three other districts that you can flash your rainbow pass in freely are Westport and Crown Center, where pride ceremonies are held, and the Power and Light District, with its eight blocks of bars, cool buildings, and friendly faces.

Where to rest your head?
The Q Hotel and Spa (560 Westport Rd; 816-931-0001)
Going with the trend of going green, this hotel was the first to establish the system in KC. Using Energy Star products, water conservation, hybrid shuttles, and even fair trade coffee to make their mark less of a dent on the environment.

Ken's Place (18 West 38th Street; 816-753-0533)
A gay-owned bed and breakfast located in the Midtown section, just one street away from the foodie heaven that is 39th Street. You get your own room, each one uniquely decorated, and some with hidden surprises like a leather swing.

Hyatt Regency Crown Center (2345 McGee Street; 800-633-7313)
To feel the love all year round, ask for the "Rainbow Rate" and book your room for only $95 a night. Take in the sunset at the rooftop pool, or their revolving restaurant Skies.

Where to get your grub on?
Caf? Trio (4558 Main St.; 816-756-3227)
Serving up the "Soup of the Moment" for $4, their atmosphere might seem serious, but the dress and the prices can be casual. Scoop up a spinach salad with hot bacon and apple cider dressing for only $7 or two anti-crab cakes (made from salmon) for $9. This gay-owned space holds happy hour from 4:30 to 7pm.

Caf? Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum
(4420 Warwick Blvd.; 816-561-7740)
Kill two birds with one stone if you don't mind the bill. For an upscale, always fresh experience grab the dish of the day at this exclusive eatery.

Sharp's 63rd Street Grill (128 W. 63rd Street; 816-333-4355)
Grabbing a $6 pizza for lunch is a good deal, but most of the locals come here for the breakfast. Pancakes and Johnny cakes are served until 2pm daily, and they come with a side of studs at the counter.

 

What to do?
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (4420 Warwick Blvd; 816-753-5784)
With free admission and parking, pieces from Georgia O'Keeffe and David Hockney what's not to like about this place?

Kansas City Galleries
On the "First Friday" of every month, Kansas City's galleries stay open late to accommodate night owls. The trolley service to shuttle you from sculptures to canvases is free!

Starlight Theater
Starlight Theater is an outdoor arena with seating for you and 8,000 friends. It hosts concerts and Broadway shows when the weather is willing.

Shopping
Country Club Plaza (4745 Central; 816-753-0100)
Fourteen blocks of stores, from Tiffany & Co. to the Gap.

Bars and Nightlife
Missie B's/ Bootleggers (upstairs) (805 W 39th; 816-561-0625)
Tuesday's and Thursday's are karaoke night, and drink specials like two for one shots pop up all the time. Go to the top level for top notch entertaining drag shows.

Side Kicks (3707 Main St; 816-931-1430)
A country western gay bar. It's hard not to love these.

Mint Ultra Lounge (334 E 31st St; 816-561-2640)
Thursday nights are for the gays, and they claim to be the place to dance.

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