J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain country club plaza kansas city
Country Club Plaza

Planning a visit to Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza?

Whether you’re stopping by for the diverse array of shops, iconic fountains, stunning architecture, or excellent dining, your time will be well spent.

We’re Kansas City locals and happen to live near the Country Club Plaza, so we have the insider information to help you plan your visit!

The neighborhood, referred to by locals as The Plaza, is anchored by a beautiful outdoor shopping district. It was established in 1922 and spans 15 blocks.

In addition to the commercial district, visitors can stroll along Brush Creek, spend time at Loose Park in South Plaza, as well as visit the artsy area just to the east, where you’ll find the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum and Kauffman Contemporary Arts Museum.

In this guide, we’re sharing all you need to know about Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza to make the most of your visit!

colorful historic door with tile decor on the plaza kansas city
Country Club Plaza

Early Beginnings of The Plaza

Established in 1922, the Country Club Plaza marked a significant shift in urban commercial development.

Designed by J.C. Nichols, this iconic Plaza was truly revolutionary, putting a premium on accessibility for automobiles during a time of increasing car ownership

During its formative years spanning from the 1940s to the 1970s, the Plaza underwent a remarkable transformation.

What was once a local shopping area evolved into a prominent regional hub, distinguishing itself from conventional downtown retail spaces.

Throughout the decades, the Country Club Plaza has evolved, reflecting changes in retail trends and consumer preferences. However, it has steadfastly maintained its original charm and architectural integrity.

Today, it stands not just as a shopping and dining haven but also as a cultural icon of Kansas City, embodying the city’s love for art, history, and community spirit.

country club plaza historical artwork of a tile scene
Country Club Plaza

Shopping on The Plaza

This iconic district features a celebrated mix of local shops and high-end national brands.

As you wander through the Plaza’s inviting open-air environment, you’ll encounter a wide array of stores, ranging from luxury brands to popular retail chains.

Whatever you’re browsing for, the Plaza caters to various tastes and budgets, making it a standout destination for shopping in Kansas City.

kansas city local gift shops
Made in KC

Local Shops on The Plaza

While the Plaza is known for its upscale international brands and high-end shopping, it also features a vibrant local small business community that adds to its charm.

For a complete list of all the shops, we recommend you read our guide that covers all the shopping options on The Plaza.

Below are some of the most beloved local shops on the Plaza.

  • Nickel & Suede, Jewelry, Accessories
    Offering lightweight statement earrings among other trendy accessories. Designed and produced in Kansas City, their earrings are handcrafted using artisan techniques and premium Italian leather. 
  • The Better Cheddar, Cheese, Specialty Foods
    Since 1983, The Better Cheddar has been offering its wide selection of cheese and other specialty foods to the Kansas City area. We love that they allow you to sample products before purchasing.
  • Made in KC Marketplace, Apparel, Accessories, Artwork, Local Goods
    Growing from a pop-up shop with 13 artists, Made in KC now features work from over 200 local artists, designers, and makers. In addition to local goods, they have a coffee shop and bar, both featuring locally made ingredients.
  • Charlie Hustle, Apparel
    Founded in 2011, Charlie Hustle is a local favorite sportswear brand. Over the years, Charlie Hustle has successfully created some of Kansas City’s most iconic leisure apparel, including the “heart KC” tees.
  • Terrasi Living & Scandia Home, Furniture, Home Décor, Loungewear
    For over 40 years, they have been the Midwest’s definitive collection of quality European bed linens, sumptuous down goods, hand-crafted furniture, home and table accessories, exclusive organic mattresses, bath and body products, and stylish fashions for lounging and travel, personally selected at markets by their owner.
  • Three Dog Bakery, Dog Treats, Toys
    Although they have expanded to additional locations, Three Dog Bakery started and is headquartered in Kansas City. They offer fresh-baked dog treats that give dog lovers a healthy, all-natural, bone-ified treat to give their favorite four-legged friends.
  • TIVOL, Jeweler
    Kansas City’s premier — and oldest — luxury jeweler.
kansas city plaza shopping
Made in KC

Dining + Drinks on The Plaza

You can experience a delightful dining experience on the Country Club Plaza, where a diverse array of culinary options cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences.

country club plaza restaurants
Strang Hall

Below is an overview of the dining options available. For a complete list of restaurants and bars, read our guide outlining the best places to dine and drink on The Plaza.

  • Upscale Dining: For those in search of an exceptional dining experience, the Plaza has several upscale restaurants. These establishments showcase menus curated by talented chefs, extensive wine selections, and a refined atmosphere.

    Notable mentions: Stock Hill, Ocean Prime, The Capital Grille

  • Casual Eateries: For a more relaxed dining experience, the Plaza offers plenty of casual options. These establishments are perfect for enjoying a leisurely lunch or dinner, and they provide a wide array of culinary delights ranging from timeless comfort dishes to contemporary choices.

    Notable mentions: O’Dowd’s Gastrobar, Granfalloon Restaurant & Bar, Minsky’s Pizza (South Plaza)

  • Outdoor and Patio Dining: Many restaurants on the Plaza have charming outdoor seating areas. Dining alfresco on the Plaza is a popular choice, especially during warmer months, allowing diners to enjoy their meals amidst the beautiful architecture and iconic fountains.

    Notable mentions: Gram & Dun, True Food Kitchen, Seasons 52

  • Cafés and Coffee Shops: For a quick bite or a leisurely coffee, there are numerous cafés and coffee shops scattered throughout the Plaza.

    Notable mentions: Classic Cup Cafe, Made in KC Marketplace, Messenger Coffee

  • Sports Bars and Pubs: Planning to watch the Chiefs game? Looking for a relaxed pub atmosphere? The plaza has you covered. There are several lively establishments to fit the bill.

    Notable mentions: Granfalloon, O’Dowds Gastropub, The Peanut (South Plaza)

  • Local Favorites: The Plaza is home to several local restaurants that have become Kansas City favorites. These establishments often feature dishes that showcase local flavors and ingredients, adding a unique Kansas City twist to their menus.

    Notable mentions: Rye, Stock Hill, Bo Lings, Il Centro (South Plaza)

  • Cocktail Bars: For a swanky evening, consider stopping by one of the Plaza’s cocktail bars.

    Notable mentions: Monarch Bar, Prime Social

  • Desserts and Sweet Treats: The Plaza’s dessert shops and bakeries offer an array of indulgent options, from handmade chocolates to artisan ice creams, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth.

    Notable mentions: Cupcake a la Mode, Ice Cream Bae

The Country Club Plaza’s dining scene is not just about great food but also about the experience – the ambiance, the service, and the setting all contribute to making dining out here a memorable event.

Rye Country Club Plaza

Art + Architecture on The Plaza

One of the most striking features of the Plaza is its architectural style. Inspired by the Moorish and Spanish designs, the district is adorned with intricate tile work, grandiose fountains, and charmingly wrought-iron details.

This attention to architectural beauty makes the Plaza more than just a shopping destination, it’s an open-air art museum with artistic and historical influences evident in every building and corner.

In fact, there are more than 75 remarkable statues, fountains, and exquisite artwork.

Country Club Plaza
Country Club Plaza

Annual Events On The Plaza

Each year, the Plaza is home to events that bring together the entire Kansas City community.

Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Drawing on the tradition that has illuminated Kansas City for over 90 years, the Plaza Lights ceremony is a 15-block holiday spectacle.

It takes place on Thanksgiving night with festivities taking place from 5:00pm to 8:00pm and the lighting ceremony happening at 7:05pm.

Originating in 1925, the Plaza Lights have grown into a regional marvel.

The extensive preparation for this event involves a crew of electricians starting work after Labor Day to ensure that every light gleams in unison for the ceremony.

Attendees can expect a blend of music, spectacle, and the warmth of holiday spirit in an outdoor event that’s free and open to all​​​​.

Plaza Art Fair

In late September, the Plaza Art Fair encompasses nine city blocks and welcomes a crowd of over 250,000.

Featuring 240 artists, the Plaza Art Fair is a top-ranked, national art event with three live music stages and over 20 featured restaurant booths.

It continues to be a weekend of people simply celebrating art, as well as Kansas City’s unofficial welcome to the fall season.

Carriage Rides On The Plaza

Horse-drawn, light-strewn carriage rides are available during the holiday season, November 24th – December 30th.

There are a variety of carriages available, and pricing starts at $95 or the private carriages.

Beyond The Plaza Shopping District

While there is plenty to explore in the Plaza’s 15-block span, those looking to make a weekend of it should venture out just beyond the shopping district to find some of midtown Kansas City’s best features.

Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art

Open to the Public: Monday, Saturday, Sunday; 10am – 5pm; Thursday – Friday, 10am – 9pm

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City was founded in 1933.

Over the years, the museum has grown and now houses over 35,000 works of art.

With an annual visitor count of 500,000, the Nelson-Atkins Museum continues to be a cultural hub for art enthusiasts.

The collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art includes works from all corners of the globe, spanning over 5,000 years of human history.

Visitors can explore ancient Egyptian art, European paintings and sculptures, Asian art, photography, and contemporary pieces.

The museum also features temporary exhibitions that showcase various themes and artists.

nelson atkins museum of art in kansas city at nighttime on a cloudy night
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Kemper Museum Of Contemporary Art

Open to the Public: Wednesday, Friday – Sunday; 10am – 4pm; Thursday, 10am – 9pm

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri is a leading presenter of modern and contemporary art. Since 1994, it has connected Midwest communities with modern artists.

With nearly 1,500 artworks in its permanent collection, the museum showcases a rotating selection in its Gunnar Birkerts designed building, alongside special exhibitions.

It focuses on emerging and mid-career artists, as well as historically excluded groups.

Admission, parking, and public programs are always free.

Jacob L. Loose Park

Loose Park is a blend of historical significance and natural beauty.

Spanning over 75 acres near the Country Club Plaza, it stands as one of Kansas City’s largest and most beloved parks.

The park holds a special place in history as a key site of the Civil War’s Battle of Westport in 1864, often dubbed the “Gettysburg of the West.”

loose park in kansas city missouri
Loose Park

Among its most enchanting features is the Municipal Rose Garden, a stunning display of thousands of roses.

The park is crisscrossed with walking trails that weave through lush greenery, providing a serene escape for outdoor activities.

Adding to its charm is a picturesque pond, complete with ducks and tranquil water features like fountains and waterfalls.

The park’s expansive lawns, landscaped gardens, diverse plant life, and wildlife opportunities make it not just a park, but a destination that offers something for everyone, whether it’s exploring Kansas City’s history, enjoying outdoor activities, or simply finding a peaceful spot for leisure.

jacob loose park kansas city, mo
Loose Park

Is Kansas City Country Club Safe?

Speaking from personal experience, we have never had an issue on the Plaza, whether it be during the day or at night.

The most common crimes that occur in the area are related to car theft – either items inside a vehicle being stolen or the vehicle itself being stolen.

Best practice is to not leave anything within sight inside your car, and rather than leave your car there overnight, opt to utilize a ride share service if you plan to drink in the evening.

Is Parking Free at Country Club Plaza?

Yes! There are eight parking garages throughout the Plaza, and they are all free. Street parking is also available, but often difficult to get unless you arrive during the weekday.

If you found this guide helpful, you should also read:

Shopping at Country Club Plaza

The Plaza’s Best Restaurants and Bars

Looking for more information about Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza? We recommend you browse our complete list of guides.