What to Do and Where to Eat in the West Bottoms
The West Bottoms is one of the most genuinely unique districts in Kansas City. You won’t find much else like it anywhere else in the metro area. In fact, you won’t find a place quite like it anywhere in the country. If you’re still unacquainted, these West Bottoms KC events are the best way to get to know the area that was once the heart and soul of Kansas City.
Back in the day, when railyards ruled the economy and commerce was driven by livestock, Kansas City was set up to be a major player on the national stage. The city was Chicago-big. Really. And all of it centered on the West Bottoms, home to the largest railyard and cattle exchange west of New York City.
But, there was a problem. As you may have noticed if you’ve ever been to or driven by the West Bottoms, it is a lowland beneath a giant bluff, tucked in between the confluence of two large rivers. “Flood plain” is an understatement. Two massive floods ravaged the area, pushing the center of Kansas City toward where it is today as the waters crept over what was the downtown business area.
What makes the West Bottoms so unique is that those same buildings are still there. The area has revitalized without being redeveloped, like a 1920s industrial town in a time capsule was injected with trendy new businesses, restaurants and West Bottoms events throughout the year.
If you haven’t spent time here, put the West Bottoms at the top of your list, and mark these events on your calendar.
West Bottoms KC Events
- First Weekends: The West Bottoms sees your First Fridays and raises you a Saturday and Sunday. There’s no better way to spend a nice spring, summer or fall weekend than walking the historic West Bottom streets and partaking in the food, art, live music and retail that First Weekends offers up. The many antique stores that operate year-round have special displays; there are food trucks and art booths and concert stages. This monthly West Bottoms event is the best way to experience the area’s cultural boom in one weekend.
- Boulevardia: Unquestionably the premiere annual West Bottoms event, Boulevardia is a massive beer, food and music festival held each summer. However, it’s moved to Crown Center, which is just a 10-minute drive southeast of West Bottoms. Breweries from around the country set up tasting tents and beer gardens, food trucks flood the streets, shops welcome visitors and bands cap off each night on the main stage. This is one Kansas City event you don’t want to miss!
- Haunted Houses: Do you like feeling scared? If that’s your thing, the West Bottoms is your place during the Halloween season. A couple of the scariest haunted houses in Kansas City can be found in the old, abandoned buildings of the West Bottoms. For all we know, there are real ghosts in there.
- Tour de Bier: This KC West Bottoms event actually starts in the East Bottoms, the industrial area on the other side of downtown and the River Market, but the course spends most of its time in the West Bottoms. This bike tour benefits BikeWalkKC, an organization that strives to make Kansas City a better place to walk, bike and live.
Where to Eat During West Bottoms Kansas City Events
You’ll have plenty of chances for good food at these West Bottoms KC events, like the food trucks at First Weekends or the many vendors at Boulevardia right next door. You can, and should, try these out. There are also some restaurants in the West Bottoms you may be missing out on. You can read our complete guide to West Bottoms eateries if you have the time, but here’s a quick primer to get you started:
- Lucky Boys: There may not be a bar anywhere else in KC with a stronger claim to best dive bar in the city. Lucky Boys is as welcoming as a restaurant can be, with a horseshoe bar in the center of the room, plenty of seating, a free pool table and cheap drinks. On top of that, the food menu might be the best kept secret of the West Bottoms — it’s seriously good.
- The Lunch Box: Yes, it looks like a corner liquor store. Yes, it looks like it might be abandoned. But we promise, hiding inside this little shack in the West Bottoms are some of the best lunch sandwiches, burgers and fries you will find anywhere in the city. If you’re at a West Bottoms event and looking for a filling, easy, cheap bite to eat, this is your spot.
- The Campground: One of the newer arrivals to the West Bottoms, The Campground is a family-run operation serving upscale cuisine with world-class cocktails. This is a great date-night destination or a night-cap after one of these West Bottoms KC events. If you can snag a reservation, we’d recommend doing that.
Even though the West Bottoms is on the rise, it’s still flying just under the radar — vibrant but not overcrowded. Take advantage of this and get down to one (or more) of the KC West Bottoms events.