Snatching up an apartment early will ensure that you get the best selection of places. Most University of Missouri-KC students begin browsing apartments in November. The search peaks in May, when many are touring places and preparing to sign leases. By August, most apartments ideal for student life have been snatched up.
With upward of 200 unique neighborhoods to explore, and the vast majority of them are only minutes from the UM-KC campus and the downtown area. With this in mind, finding an apartment is a breeze. If you’re moving without a vehicle, the two most walkable places are the Downtown Loop and Westport — the latter of which is much closer to UM-KC. For an apartment with personality and historic flair, try Union Hill or Brookside.
Unfortunately, most of the metro is not very walkable, but a few neighborhoods — including downtown, Westport and the Crossroads Arts District — are easier to manage on foot. It’s a better story for bike lanes, with about 600 miles of trails and lanes completed or in the works and plans for many more.
Public transportation is great, especially if you find an apartment off campus. If you’re downtown, a free streetcar runs a 2.2-mile route along Main Street, and if you’re farther out, four transit agencies have synced their routes to serve the entire KC area under the name RideKC.
People here know how to play hard, so you’re never stuck in your apartment. One visit to the Schlitterbahn KC Waterpark will prove that through its 168-foot-tall waterslide. For those of you running the numbers: Yes, that’s taller than Niagara Falls. If that’s not enough for you, check out Worlds of Fun, which has 100-plus rides and world-class roller coasters. The Power and Light District in downtown presents a different type of play. About 50 boutiques, bars and restaurants across eight blocks are linked by a covered courtyard where more than 130 annual events take place. As one of the only spots where you can wander around with an open beer, it’s also a nightlife hotspot.
Aside from the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Worlds of Fun amusement park, a huge draw is the Zoo. The zoo is best known for its African Plains exhibit, where you can take a boat safari to get close to zebras and giraffes.
With a jazz-influenced past, and there are several spots around town where people flock by the masses to experience it. One of them is the Historic Jazz District at 18th and Vine. The American Jazz Museum shows the evolution of the genre since the 1920s, and the museum’s Blue Room jazz club hosts local and touring acts.
KC is known as the Barbecue Capital of the World. Boasting more than 100 restaurants dedicated to ribs, chicken and slaw, it has more barbecue joints than any other U.S. city per capita. It’s such big business, there are several weekly barbecue bus tours. So before you dig into what else the flourishing food scene has to offer, smear your face with some tangy sauce at Arthur Bryant’s or Gates Bar-B-Q, two local favorites. After — and only after — you’ve explored the barbecue options, grab one of the best burgers at The Jacobson or chicken wings at BLVD Tavern.
To find the biggest college crowd, head to Mike’s Tavern, just off the UM-KC and Rockhurst University campuses. Darts, skee ball and video games give it all the comforts of your best friend’s apartment, plus craft cocktails (and none of the mess).
Other than Mike’s, most of the nightlife is centered downtown, a good 6 miles from the UM-KC campus. But, with a student pass for the bus system, it’s easy to get to the action — especially if you find an apartment near downtown. The Power and Lights District, a cluster of bars and restaurants where alcohol is allowed on the streets, is a main stop for the younger crowd and fills up fast on weekends.
The hometown of Charlie Parker, legendary Yardbird and saxophonist, is renowned for its jazz scene. Pay homage to the genre and Parker himself at a bronze likeness of his head near the American Jazz Museum. But jazz isn’t even the half of it’s culture. The KC metro area prides itself on the grand Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Opened in 2011, this iconic shell-like building houses two halls that together seat more than 3,000 for some of the best dance, music, and theater performances. The Music Hall, which opened in 1939, has stunning art deco architecture and historical interior touches to enjoy during nationally touring performances.
Art lovers can tour the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a huge institution that is just as beautiful as the artworks it holds. This institution is well-known for its epic neoclassical architecture, sculpture park, and extensive collection of Asian artworks.
Offering plenty of annual events to enjoy throughout the year — including the weeks-long Renaissance Festival and the American Royal World Series of Barbecue — the Irish Fest holds a special place in the hearts of residents. Held in downtown's Crown Center Square, Washington Park, and Grand Boulevard, this fest attracts hundreds to enjoy the live Celtic music and traditional Irish tunes. Naturally, the 18th and Vine Jazz and Blues Festival is also an enormous crowd-pleaser.
Budgeters beware: As one of the Midwest’s most populated cities, there are dozens of spots to get your shop on. Country Club Plaza, an outdoor shopping district slightly south of downtown, has been informally dubbed the Rodeo Drive of the Midwest. Its fountains, Spanish-inspired architecture and 15 blocks of high-end retail bliss make it a destination for many Missourians. Zona Rosa Town Center is another outdoor shopping mall that offers a blend of national chains and quirky local boutiques, and Oak Park Mall — the largest indoor mall in the area — contains mostly mid-range national retail chains with a few designer labels.
Everyone here is big on sports. And with good reason. Not only is it home to the NFL’s Chiefs, who play at the state-of-the-art Arrowhead Stadium, but also recent World Series-winners the KC Royals. Following the opening of the enormous Children’s Mercy Park in 2011, it also became the Soccer Capital of America, and their team, Sporting Kansas City, has brought home numerous trophies and titles. And yet, there’s more. Their speedway — home to several NASCAR and ARCA races each year — is less than 20 miles away.
It'll do its best to lure you outdoors. With 200 fountains — which have earned it yet another moniker, City of Fountains — and as many parks, you don’t have to travel far to find an alfresco adventure. If you love a good hike, look no further than 75-acre Loose Park, which offers trails that wind past lakes, a rose garden, and charming historic buildings. Picnic at Penguin Park among climbable animal sculptures or Antioch Park, which has a mini Wild West village among a rose garden, basketball courts and fishing areas. If you want to get farther from your apartment, Powell Gardens is about 30 miles outside but contains 915 incredible acres of gardens and meadows.