kansas city crossroads street murals of a kc chiefs player
Crossroads Kansas City

The Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, known simply as Crossroads, is where you can find the city’s vibrant culture and arts scene.

As Kansas City locals, this is one of our favorite neighborhoods, and we find ourselves there on an almost weekly basis.

From its humble beginnings as an industrial warehouse district to its transformation into an artistic haven, the Crossroads has always been a place of change and innovation.

Today, it offers an eclectic mix of galleries, studios, boutiques, and, notably, some of the most extraordinary dining experiences the city has to offer.

What Is Considered Crossroads in Kansas City?

Situated in the heart of downtown Kansas City, this area is bounded by the downtown loop to the north, Crown Center to the south, Troost Avenue to the east, and Southwest Boulevard to the west.

It’s the southern section of downtown Kansas City, with the Financial District being directly to the north.

The neighborhood spans several blocks – almost one square mile in total. This has led some locals to refer to it in two sections – Crossroads and East Crossroads.

Overall, it is very walkable and several main thoroughfares have bike lanes. 

Brief History of the Crossroads Arts District

The Crossroads Art District rose to importance in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a transportation and warehousing hub.

As the times changed and the rail industry declined, businesses moved out, meaning this once-bustling district faced neglect.

Fortunately, the large, vacant buildings brought artists and creative minds seeking affordable studio spaces.

This influx ignited a transformation, turning the area into an eclectic, artistic enclave by the 1990s and eventually revitalizing it into the lively neighborhood it is today. 

Strolling around Crossroads, you’ll pass by wall murals, several stories high, that paint stories of Kansas City’s history, cultural diversity, and artistic evolution.

The warehouse buildings, maintaining their exposed brick and original industrial features, have been turned into art studios and unique local shops, eateries, and cafes line the streets.

Things to do in Crossroads Arts District

In this section, we provide an overview of Crossroads’ main features: arts, craft beverages, culinary, local shops, cafes, and FAQs at the end.

kansas city art galleries
Cerbera Gallery

Art Scene in Crossroads Arts District

Galleries, studios, performing arts venues – it’s all here!

Galleries + Studios

Crossroads is known for its art galleries, ranging from cutting-edge contemporary spaces to studios showcasing local and international artists’ work.

You’ll find everything from paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media works, reflecting a multitude of styles, cultures, and perspectives.

With numerous art galleries and studios, Crossroads Arts District is one of the most concentrated gallery districts in the nation; standouts include:

  • Leedy-Voulkos Art Center: Established in 1985, this gallery has been pivotal in the district’s artistic revival. It is community-focused, showcasing local artists. There are several exhibit rooms, each showcasing a different artist.
  • Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art: This contemporary gallery represents emerging, mid-career, and internationally established artists, showcasing their technically proficient and exciting works in various fine art mediums.
  • Blue Gallery: Known for its modern, eclectic collection, the gallery blends local and national art.
  • Jones Gallery: Featuring three floors of gallery space dedicated to local artists. 

If you’re a lover of art galleries and studios, plan your visit on a First Friday weekend – art galleries open their doors to the public for extended hours and the streets are filled with live performances and local artisan craft booths. 

kauffman center for the performing arts kansas city
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Performing Arts

In addition to studios and galleries, there are several performing arts events at the Kauffman Performing Center for the Arts, a stunning architectural feature in itself. 

  • Kansas City Ballet: Founded in 1957, Kansas City Ballet is a 30-member professional ballet company that puts on several performances throughout the year.
  • Kansas City Symphony: Founded in 1982, the Kansas City Symphony is one of the top 25 orchestras in the country, performing a range of classical, pops, film, education, chamber music, and special concerts.
  • Lyric Opera of Kansas City: Founded in 1958, the Lyric Opera is one of the nation’s premier regional opera companies and brings high quality live opera performances to the region.
kansas city art gallery

Craft Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries in Crossroads Arts District

Thirsty? The Crossroads can help with that.


Beer lovers will feel at home in Kansas City, one of the country’s fastest-growing craft beer destinations.

There are over 30 craft breweries in and around Kansas City – many of them being in Crossroads Arts District.

A portion of the neighborhood has been dubbed “Brewers Alley” due to the high concentration of breweries all within walking distance of one another. The Crossroads is a haven for those seeking a local brewery crawl.

brewery emperial in crossroads arts district is ecelxtic with blue walls and artsy decor
Brewery Emperial

Below are our recommendations:

  • Casual Animal Brewery: Trendy and spacious warehouse-style brewery filled with plants and wooden tables. They pride themselves on their small batch, local approach that focuses on quality over quantity. The atmosphere is great and includes board games and occasional live music.
  • Brewery Emperial: Known for an expansive patio with firepits in the cooler months, this rustic-industrial brewery pours craft ales and lagers.
  • Border Brewing Company: Established in 2015, Border recently moved to a larger location in Crossroads that features exposed brick and a homey atmosphere. From more complex brews like their Shiftie IPA to the more approachable Strawberry Blonde, there is a beer here for everyone.
kansas city craft breweries by neighborhood
Casual Animal Brewery

Wineries + Distilleries

The craft beverage scene extends beyond beer – Crossroads Arts District has great wineries and distilleries as well.

  • KC Wineworks: With vineyards located in rural Missouri, this family-owned winery has a trendy tasting room in Crossroads. Their blends in particular – Crossroads Red and Crossroads White – are excellent. They offer tastings as well as wine by the glass or bottle.
  • Mean Mule Distillery: Quaint, moody ambiance pairs with a southwestern vibe to serve up American Agave spirits. Try a flight – and definitely don’t skip the Paloma!
  • Lifted Spirits Distillery: Located in a restored circa-1800s stables, they offer beautifully crafted, creative cocktails made with their own small-batch spirits.
  • Tom’s Town: Stepping into this historic distillery, you’ll be immediately transported to the Jazz Age. The art deco interiors, with their gleaming marble counters, polished brass fixtures, and opulent chandeliers, tell tales of Kansas City’s history. The distillery produces a range of spirits – notably bourbons and gins – that showcase craftsmanship and quality. They offer interesting history tours of the facility as well.
kansas city distilleries
Lifted Spirits Distillery

Culinary Scene in Crossroads Arts District

There are seemingly endless culinary options in Crossroads.

While this list is not exhaustive of all the restaurants, below are our favorites that we continually return to.

They are listed in order of laid-back to upscale. 

romantic kansas city restaurant cozy in crossroads arts district
Rockhill Grille
  • Grinders Pizza: An eclectic restaurant connected to a live music venue, Grinders serves up New York Style Pizza and Philly Cheesesteaks, among other American dishes.
  • Parlor: Trendy, industrial-chic food hall with several cuisines strewn throughout two floors. Several local acclaimed chefs had their start at a counter in Parlor. The food hall style is great for groups – order at the counter, grab a table, and receive a text when your food is ready. It does get busy, so you’ll want to get there earlier in order to find a table.
  • Baramee Thai Bistro: A must-visit for Northeastern Thai food – the authentic flavors are crafted by Thai native and chef-owner Nutnisa Hoffman.
  • Grunauer: Modeled after the family’s Viennese gasthaus in Austria, Grunauer offers authentic central European dishes like Wiener Schnitzel, spicy goulash, house-made sausages, and of course, the Bavarian beer. 
  • Rockhill Grille: Sophisticated, airy space serving elevated American dishes. Opt to sit on the second floor next to a window for a great view of Crossroads.
  • Lazia: Handcrafted pastas are served alongside hearty pours of Italian wines in a dimly lit, intimate setting. You’ll begin with a sip of complimentary house amaro and leave impressed with their contemporary take on traditional Italian dishes. Be sure to start with the house-made focaccia. 
  • Corvino Supper Club: The list of accolades is lengthy, and includes a James Beard Semifinalist award. The upscale, elegant New American fare, mostly small plates for sharing, is paired with live jazz music.
kansas city thai restaurant crossroads arts district
Baramee Thai Bistro
crossroads kc restaurants

Evening Libations in Crossroads Arts District

Those seeking to continue their Crossroads explorations late into the evening have pretty unique options. Below are our favorites:

  • Swordfish Tom’s: Must-visit cocktail bar – if you can find it, that is. You’ll need to locate the nondescript door in an alleyway and follow the stairs to the basement. This pre-Prohibition-inspired cocktail bar is open 4:00p – 1:30a and features a speakeasy-style, dimly-lit, intimate ambiance with exposed brick and an original boiler situated in the center of the small room. They’re cash only, but have an ATM on-site.
  • Afterword Tavern & Shelves: A haven for book lovers and connoisseurs of fine drinks, this unique locale serves as both a bookstore and a bar. Patrons can peruse a selection of current and past-loved titles while sipping on a handcrafted cocktail or local brew.
  • Green Lady Lounge: If sultry jazz tunes and velvety cocktails are your kind of evening, then you need to visit Green Lady Lounge. This iconic jazz club in the Crossroads Arts District is a nod to the classic jazz clubs of yesteryears that Kansas City is known for. Red velvet curtains, plush seating, and dimmed lighting set the stage for an array of live jazz performances every night. If the upstairs is too loud, try the basement level.
  • Up-Down KC: For those nostalgic for the 80’s and 90’s, this vibrant arcade bar with over fifty classic arcade games will bring you back. With throwback movies and shows playing around the space, there’s no shortage of entertainment. They have an extensive beer selection that boasts both local and national brews. Their upstairs patio provides nice videos of the surrounding neighborhood.
kansas city cozy cocktail bar crossroads arts district
Afterword Tavern and Shelves

Shops and Boutiques in Crossroads Arts District

The Crossroads Art District is brimming with unique, local stores that cater to a diverse array of tastes.

Whether you’re on the hunt for vintage clothing, unique home decor, or locally crafted artisanal goods, Crossroads offers a unique shopping experience with an emphasis on local small businesses. Below are our favorites:

  • Daisy Lee Vintage Clothing: A nostalgic tribute to the golden eras of fashion. This charming boutique offers an eclectic mix of styles, encompassing the 90s, Y2K, and upcycled fashion. 
  • Gallup Map & Art Co.: Nationally recognized maker of quality maps since 1875. Stop in and browse through their neat collection of vintage local and regional maps.
  • Duet: Hand-crafted gift shop focused on unique and beautifully-made art and objects. 
  • Josey Records: Music enthusiasts can immerse themselves in a 6,500-square-foot haven of sound. This store proudly showcases a wide range of genres, encompassing everything from rock and soul to jazz and hip hop.
  • Verdant: Shoppers can explore a botanical wonderland specializing in plants, flowers, ceramics, and thoughtful gifts.
kansas city local gift shop crossroads arts district

Coffee + Specialty Cafes in Crossroads Arts District 

  • Bizz & Weezy Confections: Renowned for their handcrafted chocolates and caramels, their sweets, made using the finest ingredients, are not only rich in flavor but also feature artistic designs. 
  • Christopher Elbow Chocolates: Known for their chocolates, this establishment melds flavors from around the globe into bite-sized delights. Each chocolate is a testament to Elbow’s dedication to perfection, with intricate designs and layered flavors.
  • HITIDES Coffee: This tropical-themed coffee shop offers a relaxed ambiance, reminiscent of far-away sunny shores. They serve a diverse array of espresso drinks, crafted with beans sourced from the best regions. 
  • Messenger Coffee: Housed in a multi-story building, this establishment offers sweeping views of Kansas City.
  • Cafe Corazon: Latinx flavors and warmth awaits visitors at Cafe Corazon. This quaint cafe, infused with vibrant hues and art, serves up traditional Latinx beverages and treats. Their rich horchatas are worth a visit! 
  • Mildred’s Food + Drink: Offering over 25 years of warm interiors and aromas of freshly baked pastries, this bright cafe will make you feel at home. Their coffee, brewed to perfection, pairs beautifully with an array of sandwiches and baked goods. 
kansas city coffee shop crossroads arts district
Hi Tides Coffee
kansas city coffee shop crossroads arts district
Cafe Corazon

Considerations for Visiting Crossroads Arts District

Where do I Park in Crossroads Arts District?

Although street parking is available, it can be crowded, especially during First Friday weekends.

There are several designated public paid parking lots.

Another option is to park further away and take the Kansas City Streetcar, which has several stops in Crossroads. 

Do I Need Dinner Reservations?

You should make them for dinner, especially if you’re visiting a nicer restaurant in the Crossroads.

As Kansas City has gained popularity, we’ve found it more difficult to get reservations unless we book a week or further out.

Is Crossroads Arts District Safe?

As Kansas City locals for over a decade, we have always felt safe going out in the Crossroads Arts District at night.

In looking at crime report data – you can check it out yourself through Kansas City Police Department’s website – the main crimes that occur in downtown Kansas City are related to theft.

So, as we would recommend when visiting any city’s downtown, don’t leave valuables in your vehicle.

Additional Resource For Crossroads

We hope you found this Comprehensive Guide to Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District helpful!

If you’re planning to spend time in Crossroads, we recommend checking out our other articles on the neighborhood.

kansas city crossroads arts district mural
KC Crossroads Mural