Cool, wish I could go. I was born there and lived in Independence for 19 years until leaving for basic training. I've been home only three times since 2006. I need to go soon when I get back to the states, because I have been married for over two years now and my mom still hasn't met my wife.
Missouri shares two big cities with other states: KC and St Louis, and Missouri has the better halves of both of them, so you are in luck.
That doesn't answer your questions though, so here we go:
Arthur Bryant's BBQ. Pretty sure that one of the casinos has one in it and MCI used to as well, but you want the one on Brooklyn. Get whatever you want, but I recommend just getting the beef with fries. Their sauce has a grit to it and is pretty thin. It is real garlic-y as well. The best I have had across the states and a million times better than the thick, sweet, molasses-based sauces I have had to put up with in the South for the past couple years.
Jack Stack's and Oklahoma Joe's are places I have not tried yet (but will next time I am home), but I hear great things about. Gates and Sons is a chain that I see recommended a lot online for BBQ, but most people I know from back home (including myself) don't care for it too much. Bad sauce, dirty restaurants (not 'grungy' like Bryant's, but just plain dirty), and bad customer service. Maybe they have changed since I left though.
Burnt Ends are something to try while you are there at a steakhouse or BBQ joint. It's kind of KC's 'thing.' A couple places have good pulled pork, but as much as it pains me to do so, I have to give the nod to places like MS and SC when it comes to pulled pork sandwiches.
Don't know if they still exist, but I always liked the restaurant Jazz. I loved the catfish, onion rings, and hush puppies there. I also liked the atmosphere a lot, when they would have live bands play.
Westport is an okay area to go drinking in. Other posters can let you know about the night life better than I can though, as I have not spent a substantial chunk of time in KC after turning 21. I have, but I was there to see family, not drink.
Boulevard Wheat is a local brew there and supposed to be pretty good. They offer tours of the brewery.
The Liberty Memorial isn't a bad place to go just to see it. KC doesn't really have too much in the way of "sightseeing." A lot of fountains though.
The Farmer's Market in the city is pretty nice. I always got some good-tasting stuff there, especially zucchini bread, banana nut bread, and various other sweet breads like those only with jalapenos in them.
The Plaza is a cool area to hang out and has a lot going on.
Union Station has some history behind it and is pretty interesting I guess. I've heard from New Yorkers before that it blows Penn Station out of the water.
Kansas City, KS has some good places to shop I suppose. I never did too much of that though, due to my hatred of the state of Kansas.
Sorry I could not be of more help, but if I can get one more person to go to Bryant's, then I have done a good job. I really need to go back and see how KC has changed over the past couple years.
I did just read a recommendation to someone on a website I frequent. The guy suggested going out for shopping, a nice dinner, and some light drinking in the Plaza, then go bar-hopping and drinking in Westport, then hit up the Power and Light district for more drinking to finish the night.
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Let's just say I was helping her with her TMJ exercises. No, it didn't cost extra. Just paid for a lap dance and she started doing it...not shy about it either. They basically take you up a small flight of stairs and there is a line of large chairs (think single-seat couch with tall arms) where the girls would bring the customers. My buddy was sitting one seat over, and there was another guy (maybe two..not sure, wasn't really paying attention to them) down at the end. They dance for two songs. The first is a teaser with clothes on. By the time the second song started, she was well underway...not giving a damn that there were about 5-6 other people in the little room/area.
The area near the new soccer stadium is called the Legends in KCK. It has lots of restaurants, lots of stores--off Saks Fifth Avenue, Polo, TJ Maxx. The stores are like an open air mall, not closed in. The movie theater is in the middle of all that and you have to walk in to it.
If the weather's good, it's fun, but if the wind is blowing and it's overcast it's not so much fun. There's a minor leauge baseball field and the soccer stadium there.
The Power & Light District is in the old downtown, where the Sprint Center is. Very pricey area to hang out. Sprint Center is good for concerts if you sit down low, but man, upstairs is very steep. A friend told me she felt like she'd fall over out of her seat to the floor.
Country Club Plaza is another area with lots of restaurants, but it's a pricey area--the real label stores--Gucci, Tiffany's, Brooks Brothers, lordy I don't know all what since I rarely hit that area. It's a neighborhood, you walk around several blocks and people watch.
There's live music all over the KC area. Check out the Kansas City Star on the Thursday before your trip, it'll list in the Preview section everything happening the next week all over town. If you find a place with good music, most of those will be open till late.
And yes, bbq is great here. I don't agree on Jazz, I'm from Louisiana and find they depend way too heavily on cayane pepper.
Thanks every day to all of you who help me spend so little!
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