New York - a city so nice they named it twice. As taglines go... booorrring. Kansas City - a city so nice they located it twice... much sexier. One in Kansas and one in Missouri - plus Kansas also has a Manhattan - they've got the geography nuance bases covered better than the Royals. In reality, KC it's just a surprisingly hip city that overlaps a state border, and depending on which side, nicknamed KCK or KCMO. Located at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri river, the KCMO side has about 2,000,000 people, and the KCK slice has about 150,000. As such, KCMO has the bigger plate of BBQ at this buffet, but let's not compare - it's one city divided by a border - an imaginary line - how different can they be? Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-Ft. Worth, West Berlin- East... ehh, forget that one.
Most of the popular neighborhoods are on the MO side as noted below. That's just the way things go when the MO side is 14 times more populous. It's not a sign of disrespect to Toto or The Jayhawks.
Downtown (CBD): Downtown KCMO is like a series of cities within a city: The Library District (home to the very Washingtonian KCMO Central Library and the stellar and historic Mainstreet [formerly Empire] theatre), The Garment District (second in size and nostalgia only to NYC) now home to chic and sought after loft housing AND the birthplace of KC BBQ, and Crown Center (headquarters of Hallmark and an accompanying mixed use zone of all things happy in residential, restaurant, and retail). Right next door to Crown Center you’ll find - all things unhappy - a 6,000 employee IRS megacenter. All these downtown KC zones are upscale and busy with city dwellers' favorite options. They’re all within a couple mile radius so they’re considered together. 1 BR from $725 - $1,125 (artist style loft).
Power & Light: This is a subdivision within Downtown KCMO absolutely worth mentioning. While it has a little theoretical overlap with other named KCMO neighborhoods, Power & Light is rather special even unto itself. Using 9 square blocks, the Power and Light District is named for the art deco building therein. That is where the cozy history stops. Now the district is a raging entertainment zone with The Sprint Center, bars, restaurants, and live music venues - a standing outdoor concert plaza being one of those. This place is wild. You need to show I.D. to get onto the streets - not to check age but to collect "demographic information" (this goes for the one block concert area at least, called Kansas City Live!) and there's a dress code (all of P & L). Sounds a little too strict and buttoned up? Try this – there are no open container or specific public intoxication laws. Yup, that's no fictional embellishment, it's as true as "it ain't barbecue without sauce." This is otherwise known as crazy heaven for the no work-boot wearing, drivers license toting, music and food loving individual for whom money may be an object, but Jaeger Bomb consumption is not. Priced more or less like Downtown as it, more or less, is downtown.
The Plaza: Officially Country Club Plaza, The Plaza is south of downtown and is an upscale, low-rise, residential area and shopping district right near KCK (props for KCK, it's not all about KCMO). From a shopper's point of view, The Plaza has a number of firsts, like the claim that it's the country's original shopping center. Of course there are others who lay claim to the title. Not sure why... it's kind of like saying you own the world's largest microchip - it's not that awesome. Either way, The Plaza area is quite a spectacle. Notably influenced by the architecture and layout of Seville, Spain, with all sorts of themed fountains, structures, statues, and mosaics. Country Club Plaza is host to one of the country's most sweeping and beloved holiday lighting displays. 1 BR $700 - $1,000. 2 BR $850 - $1,150.
Westport: Yet another, but smaller, KC entertainment district (who knew Kansas Citians partied like this after the fervor of the Royals' 1985 World Series died down?), with quite a recognized music scene. Westport is North of The Plaza and South of downtown, Westport provides an interesting historical point of view as an outfitting starting point of the Santa Fe trail and the site of a seminal Civil War battle - The Battle of Westport. University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC) with its 15,000 students is nearby, thus making Westport a bit collegial. 1 BR from $550 and cresting at around $1,000 for loft in modern building. Add $200 - $350 for 2nd BR.
Piper: A fully KCK neighborhood! A quieter, more family oriented suburb (although Piper does have the Kansas Speedway) has the trappings of a suburb in the city - trees, walking, cycling, hiking, and more interaction with nature. When you wish more interaction with things man-made, there's always the enormous 110-store Legends at Village West Mall. 1BR $550 - $750. 2 BR $700 - $950.
Kansas City has an impressive yet curiously lesser known pedigree. Jazz behemoth Charlie Parker hailed from KCK. KCMO is tied with Boston for the most medical schools, and second only to Rome, Italy in number of fountains (210). Thirteen Fortune 1000 companies are in the greater KC area. Known as the BBQ capital of the world, one will also find the National World War I Memorial, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, internationally recognized art museums, and the nation's cleanest tap water. If that's not enough, get this... Walt Disney studied in Kansas City and founded his first studio there. A little mouse dwelled upon its grounds. Walt liked this mouse and gave him food tidbits and attention. This animal, as legend has it, was the inspiration for... Augustus the Rodent - an inglorious set of scrawls lost to time and unpopularity. We’re kidding, it's Mickey!
Kansas City is not known for having a great public transportation system. There was talk, but it was scrapped for a few more BBQ joints (not really, but nobody in KC would complain). Parking and traffic is not especially challenging, and KC gets only a so-so walking score, so keep your car - how else are you going to correctly tailgate at Chiefs games?
KC is mildly pet-friendly, but from a Parisian hotel. Lots of "no pet" policies relatively speaking, but they’re not pervasive. As is the usual message, check first, never try to hide your buddy - you'll both be out on your KCsters and the furry ones can handle the cold a lot better than you.
Walter Cronkite lived in Kansas City (well, only until he was ten, but he was one smart cookie), and he would have told you all of the above then signed off with "And that's the way it is."