Download and print out the Kansas City Walking Tour Map.
Upscale, downtown, and affordable? You're not dreaming. You're in Kansas City, the heart of the heartland, where you can stay in the lap of luxury without paying through the nose. The folks are friendly, the living is easy, and the season is sublime.
Friday--On a Roll in the Plaza
Sashay into the Hotel Phillips with a victory jig, because you're living large for an unexpected price. Rates start at $119 at this swanky boutique hotel, which will dazzle you with its sophisticated atmosphere, upscale rooms, and happening restaurants. You'll love the hand-dyed silk pillows made by a local artist and the way the rooms feel like suites. (Tip: You might be able to get rooms for as cheap as $99 on their Web site, www.hotelphillips.com.) Now put on your most comfortable shoes, because you're in for one wild ride.
No one should come to Kansas City without a visit to Country Club Plaza, a shopping and dining district whose creamy stucco walls and red tile roofs were inspired by Seville, Spain. You're going to see it the coolest way possible--on a Segway. These Jetson-esque two-wheeled people-movers are powered by gyroscopes, kinetic energy, and your own personal mojo. All you need is a 10-minute lesson, and you're off on a 90-minute tour of the Plaza's outdoor art: statues, fountains, friezes, and murals imported from around the world. It's well worth the $60--and the curious looks you'll get from envious pedestrians.
If you come on the first weekend of the month, you're in for a treat. Head to the Crossroads Arts District for First Fridays, one of the biggest art walks in the country. Get here early to park, or take a 15-minute walk from the Hotel Phillips. Galleries and other businesses open from 7 to 9 p.m. and offer complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres. Grab a First Fridays map at any gallery for a list of participants and nearby restaurants. Better yet, call ahead for a table at Lidia's, an Italian trattoria in an old railway warehouse, run by celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich. Try her homemade pastas (around $15) or the Zuppa di Pesce ($19), a jumble of scallops, shrimp, calamari, littleneck clams, and fish fillets in a heavenly broth.