On the Plaza, Kansas City
If you have looked at many of my pages, you may have noticed that I do not write very many shopping tips. The primary reason for that is that I am not much of a shopper. When I need something, I try to decide what I want, find out where I can get it, go get it, and then return to more interesting pursuits. Kansas City, Missouri is, however, a place where I gladly make an exception to that practice. I usually do not buy very much there, (They do tend to be a bit on the expensive side.) but it is one of the most elegant shopping districts which I have ever found and is amazingly paired with staff and clientele who do not seem as if they are compelled to convince everyone of their superiority.
Developed in the 1920s by the Hall (as in Hallmark Cards) family, this posh commercial district boasts finely detailed, sumptuous Spanish architecture. It is rich with public art and sculptures. Along with your shopping adventures be sure to allow time to check out the Spanish Bullfight Mural on Central Street and the Fountain of Neptune at 47th Street and Wornall Road.
What to buy: Fine things, especially in the Hallmark Shop.
What to pay: A bit more than you might have to pay elsewhere although most prices are not as expensive as you might expect. Ehen I lived in Omaha and dated young lady who lived in Warrensburg, MO, the Country Club Plaza became my preferred Swarovski crystal shopping location.
If one place could illustrate the heartbeat of Kansas City, it would be the Plaza. Known as the first outdoor mall in the world, the outdoor district is peppered with 180 shops, 38 restaurants, numerous hotels and several entertainment venues. The Plaza abounds with activity almost around the clock. Spanish Colonial architecture and fine art, combined with the many fountains for which Kansas City is known, create an atmosphere unparalleled anywhere else in the city. During the holidays, the district glows with the twinkle of millions of Christmas lights
The Country Club Plaza has the kind of shops that the aspirational middle class yearns for, and places them all in an environment that is made up of equal parts kitsch and good taste. Parking is free, and most of the lots are interesting to look at. Just don't expect form to follow function here!
The Plaza is located on about 45th street. It is a cluster of high end shops, with such names as Saks-5th Avenue and Neiman Marcus, as well as several specialty shops. Hallmark cards has their own department store there as well, named Halls. Most of the Plaza is a pedestrian area, with parking garages for the car. There are several different high end restaurants as well, such as The Melting Pot and The Cheesecake Factory (one of my favorites!) You will also see many different fountains, for which Kansas City is also known for being the "City of Fountains". During Christmas, then entire place is lit up with lights, making quite a spectacular site. Many hotels, such as Marriott and Embassy Suites, are also located nearby. So, if you have the money, this would be the place to shop!
What to pay: With the many specialty shops, anchored with Saks and Neiman Marcus, the price is on the high end
If you visit Kansas City you owe it to yourself to spend an afternoon or better yet and evening at the Country Club Plaza. I walk through the Plaza every day on my way to work I every day I notice some new detail I hadn't seen before. It could be a small statue in a hidden nook, or a tile mosaic along the second floor of a building, but every visit is rewarded with one of these jewels of detail that abound.
What to buy: If you decide to wander in to the Barnes & Noble bookstore, look for me!