We talked to two KC-based content creators for the best way to have a KC staycay

Photography Provided.

Although I grew up in KC, I lived in California for almost a decade. I came back during the pandemic, when KC looked very different from the city I left behind. So when thinking about our travel issue, I selfishly wanted to get insight from people who know and love KC to see what their favorite spots are to create the perfect KC staycay.

We asked content creator Brenda Cortes, who has lived in KC for five years, and lifestyle blogger Hayden Ward, a lifelong Kansas Citian, for tips on how to be a tourist in your own city and for some of their favorite KC hidden gems.

“Since my move to Kansas City in 2019, I began compiling lists of places to explore in the metro area,” says Cortes, who spent most of her life in Marshall, Missouri. “When friends visited from out of town, I created itineraries that included both places I wanted to check out and those they would enjoy. I found myself constantly discovering new spots in the city. My top advice for exploring the city is to follow creators’ accounts, as we are always on the lookout for hidden gems and the latest hotspots. I also utilize tools such as joining local Facebook groups, searching for events and exploring various social media platforms.”

For Ward, creating KC-based content was a no brainer. “Growing up in Kansas City, I always knew we were special,” she says. “Our people are insanely creative, daring and uplifting and have always tried to put Kansas City on the map because it’s such a unique destination. Nothing is more heartwarming than seeing the reach of support from not just locals but people across the country.”

The perfect day in KC for those wanting to see the best of the city: “My perfect day in Kansas City involves starting with coffee at Café Ollama, shopping at the City Market in the summer, enjoying chicken and waffles with an espresso martini at Lula Southern Cookhouse, checking out new artwork at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, enjoying tapas on the patio of La Bodega, watching the sunset with a cocktail at the Crossroads’ Percheron Rooftop Bar and ending the night dancing salsa, merengue and cumbia at Society,” says Cortes.

“Coffee at Blip Roasters in the West Bottoms,” Ward begins. “My next stop would be the Nelson-Atkins. I could easily spend hours there walking the halls or lounging on the lawn. For lunch, I would have to dine at my happy place, Westside Local. Their mac and cheese is divine. My evening plans would involve my favorite River Market restaurant, Le Fou Frog. I would end with a nightcap at either Fern Bar in the Crossroads or Lucky Boys in the Stockyards District.”

Must-dos for locals and tourists alike: “Must-do activities in Kansas City, whether you’re new to the city or have been here for a while, include taking a historical tour of KCK or KCMO with Urban Hikes and enjoying the lively culture of Strawberry Hill’s Third Fridays in the summer, where you can see traditional dances, art and try various cultural food,” Cortes says. “Get amazing views of downtown Kansas City from the Observation Deck at City Hall. Explore the local brew scene with tours of Boulevard Brewery and the Roasterie Coffee Factory. Try authentic Mexican tacos at Tacos El Gallo or Tacos El Guero. To end the day, enjoy classic live jazz at the Green Lady Lounge or try some cocktails at the underground Swordfish Tom’s for a more intimate vibe.”

Hidden gems: “I strongly recommend spending an evening exploring Northtown,” Ward says. “Between the Screenland Armour Theater, The Rino, Sail Away Wine and the Iron District, there’s so much to experience. A hidden gem in my opinion would be the Stockyards District. There’s a vibrant food and cocktail scene down there. In the warmer months, Lemonade Park is a really fun venue with awesome performers. My Great Dane has allowed me to explore a few areas that are off the beaten path. If you’re a dog owner, I highly suggest visiting Shawnee Mission Park’s off-leash dog area. Not only is it picturesque, but it also has a fabulous dog beach that is sure to spark joy.”  

Follow Brenda on Instagram at
and Hayden at

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