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One day in Kansas City, Missouri

Messenger Coffee Co. exterior

I’ll be frank—when I added one day in Kansas City to our moving road trip itinerary, it was mainly to visit my old boss. I never expected that it would become one of my very favorite spots on the entire two-week trip and one that I can’t wait to return to!

Kansas City, Missouri
November, 2018


We drove clear across the state of Missouri from St. Louis to Kansas City, which is a flat, uneventful drive on I-70 that takes about 3:45. We did find some unexpected snow on the route, though, so that at least provided some visual interest!


If you’ve been following my other posts about this trip, you may be able to guess that we stayed in Kansas City’s option from Hilton’s Curio Collection: the Hotel Phillips. It’s a tough call, but this might have been my favorite of the Curios we stayed at throughout this trip (a group that also included the St. Louis Union Station Hotel and Campbell House).

Part of the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel dates back to 1931, and its features show it—in a good way. Original Art Deco design elements, including metalwork, wood paneling, light fixtures and more, make this place a stunner, and I’m not the only one who thinks so: Architectural Digest named the Hotel Phillips the most beautiful hotel in Missouri.

True to its time, the hotel also has a speakeasy downstairs that’s accessible through the lobby. I won’t tell you exactly where the door is (don’t want to spoil ALL the fun), but if you ask a member of the hotel’s staff, they can help you find it!

Hotel Phillips bed
Hotel Phillips desk
Hotel Phillips lobby from above
Hotel Phillips lobby green couch


Kansas City is a barbecue town, and I am not exactly a barbecue eater. But Jake is, and so our first stop was Arthur Bryant’s, a hole in the wall that was historically considered the best barbecue in the city (and possibly the world). The line was out the door, but according to Jake, who had been there twice before, it isn’t what it used to be; locals also told me there are other places that are just as good or better. Again, I have no opinion on this subject! Just the messenger!

What I can vouch for is Parlor, an ultra-hip food hall and venue in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. It features seven restaurants from local chefs clustered around two bars, with a selection of seating options that range from garden patio to den.

For dinner, we had so much fun with my old boss dining at Novel that I forgot to take any pictures. But the atmosphere was cozy and the food and wine were top-notch. 

Parlor Kansas City mural
Parlor Kansas City interior
Parlor Kansas City pizza


Messenger Coffee Co. was another favorite on this trip, and we stopped there two days in a row. Both Jake and I tried the “BSL,” a take on Starbucks’ basic icon that ditched pumpkin spice for butternut squash. Messenger got even more creative than that, offering a “Green Dirt Latte” featuring caramel made from rosemary and farm’s fresh cheese, but I wasn’t adventurous enough to try it. Maybe next time!

For cocktails, I hit up the speakeasy mentioned above and had the “Holiday Highball” off the list of specials. It was Pimm’s No. 1, spiced cranberry shrub, pomegranate and sparkling rosé, and I might just have to try recreating it at home. 

Messenger Coffee Co. interior
Messenger Coffee Co. bags of coffee


Unfortunately, the snow followed us into Kansas City, which made exploring kind of difficult. We did get to do a walk around the Crossroads District, which is full of colorful street art and beautiful old architecture. I have a feeling I could have spent a lot more time in this area than I actually got to. 

I did also get a chance to dart around the corner from the hotel to Made in KC, a shop selling local foodstuffs, gifts and apparel. It was so much fun to talk with the employees there about the creative side of Kansas City and the entrepreneurial culture there. I left really excited about coming back soon to explore the rest of what this vibrant city has to offer. I also left with tea, a sticker, multiple chocolate items and a bag of locally made granola (and I don’t even like granola). 

Minnie Mouse street art
Painted wall in Kansas City
Kansas City Royals street art
Made in KC table
Made in Kansas City coffee cup


I’ve been to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art once before, but I would love to visit again. Another museum I’m sure Jake and I both would have liked is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and I have no doubt that we will get there on our next trip. 

For cocktails, another speakeasy—Manifesto—was also on my list, as was Swordfish Tom’s. And as I mentioned, I could have spent much more time in the Crossroads District (including at Mission Taco Joint).

Kansas City red-brick architecture


We spent 40,000 Hilton Honors points on our room at the Hotel Phillips, which definitely felt like a fair price in points given the quality of the hotel. And the good news about the speakeasy (which, by the way, goes by the name P.S.) is that since it’s in the hotel, you can bill drinks to your room and get a bonus by paying with a Hilton-branded credit card. I used my treasured Aspire card for 14 points per dollar. 

For more on earning and using points and miles to travel for free, visit the 52 Cities free resource library or register to join me on my next live masterclass. And for more on my cross-country road trip, check out this post, which has links to posts from every stop!

Hope you enjoyed this rundown for one day in Kansas City! Have you been there? Any gems I missed? Let me know in the comments! >>

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January 3, 2019



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