green booth at speakeasy in kansas city
Hey! Hey! Club at Rieger

Planning a night out in downtown Kansas City, Missouri?

Are you looking for something low-key? Or perhaps you’re looking for crowds and live music?

Either way, you have several nightlife options in the downtown neighborhoods. 

Us locals can attest to it – when we’re looking for a night out, we typically head to the Crossroads Arts District. And we have spent many a late night in the lively Power and Light district.

So, in this guide, we’re sharing our local suggestions for different nightlife vibes you can find around downtown.

Downtown Kansas City Nightlife

We’re sharing our local recommendations!

1. Power & Light District

If you’re looking to party, you’ll want to head to Power & Light (P&L), located in the center of downtown. 

What we like about Power & Light is the opportunity to visit a variety of bars all within one district, KC Live.

KC Live features two levels of bars and restaurants along the perimeter of an open-air space. This space is often host to concerts and sports watch parties.

There’s a wide variety of bars within KC Live – from PBR Big Sky, where you’ll find a mechanical bull and country tunes, to Shark Bar with its retro surf aesthetic. 

This district is known to be lively and ideal for a late-night crowd. 

Outside of KC Live, Power & Light is spread over eight blocks and has several high-end restaurants alongside more bars. 

Located across the street from the T-Mobile Center, many concert attendees keep their night going at P&L.

kanasas city power and light neon sign
KC Power & Light

2. Jazz Clubs

Kansas City is known for its history of jazz musicians and music clubs. It saw the likes of Charlie Parker, Count Basie, and Big Joe Turner in the 1920’s and 30’s. 

The 18th and Vine district is where it all started, and while we love performances at The Blue Room, the jazz music culture has spread beyond this small district into other parts of downtown. 

We have found the local jazz clubs to be lively – some are more upscale while others are laidback and simply about the music. 

For the downtown jazz clubs, we recommend:

  • Green Lady Lounge, Crossroads Arts District
    Swanky, dimly lit jazz club with velvet accents and a speakeasy vibe, there is an upstairs that is typically louder than the downstairs bar. They offer live music every night of the week. You can expect a cover at the door.
  • The Phoenix, Garment District
    Considering it has been around for over twenty-five years, you know The Phoenix is good. Located in a historic, brick–walled building, they feature jazz, blues, soul, folk and R&B.
  • The Majestic, Library District
    This speakeasy jazz bar is located underground in a historic steakhouse. You can expect white tablecloths and an old-school vibe. 
  • The Blue Room,18th and Vine
    The Blue Room is located within the American Jazz Museum. The space is intimate and they occasionally offer no-cost shows.  
musical set at jazz club the blue room
The Blue Room

3. Speakeasies

There have been several speakeasies added to downtown in recent years, and we are here for it! 

  • Swordfish Tom’s, Crossroads Arts District
    This is a must visit – if you can find it, that is. From the nondescript alley door, you’ll go down a flight of stairs to a waiting area. If the light is green, there’s availability. If it’s red, you’ll need to wait. Inside, you’ll find the building’s original boiler in the center of the room and prohibition-style decor. The cocktails are exceptional. They’re cash only and one of the few bars open late in Crossroads. 
  • Nighthawk, Library District
    Located in a historic building that was originally a gentleman’s club, Nighthawk is a basement bar that features live music, a vintage vibe, and billiards table.
  • Hey! Hey! Club, East Bottoms
    Leather couches, velvet booths, and candlelight create an intimate, swanky ambiance at this underground bar in J. Rieger Distillery. Their cocktails are made with spirits distilled on-site. J. Rieger is a local favorite. 
  • Tom’s Town Distillery, Crossroads Arts District
    In recent years, Tom’s Town has been hosting themed speakeasies in their basement bar – check with them for current offerings.
hey! hey! club speakeasy
Hey! Hey! Club at Rieger

4. Craft Breweries + Distilleries

If you’re looking for nightlife options that avoid loud music and have a laidback vibe, we recommend the local brewery and distillery scene in Crossroads Arts District. 

Note that most close around 10pm, so this is a better option for those not looking to stay out all night. 

In recent years, the craft distillery scene in Kansas City has taken off. Many of the local distilleries can be found in Crossroads. We recommend Mean Mule for agave spirit cocktails and Tom’s Town or Lifted Spirits for other types of spirits. All are excellent.

Additionally, Crossroads is known for their Brewer’s Alley where you’ll find numerous craft breweries all within walking distance of one another. Honestly, they’re all good.

If we’re looking for a laidback, low-key evening, Crossroads breweries and distilleries is our choice.

5. Dive Bars

On the search for pool tables? Darts? We’ve got you.

Local favorite dive bar The Quaff in Quality Hill is typically full of Kansas Citians. 

The Blue Line in River Market is a hockey bar with games, neons, and NHL signs and jerseys lining the walls. 

The Peanut is a true Kansas City institution. They’re primarily known for their wings. 

Jim’s Alley Bar is a dive bar but make it trendy. Modeled after an 80’s basement hangout, you’ll feel right at home.

Still unsure?

Next, read our article on the best bars around downtown Kansas City