In the early 19th century, the Westport community of Kansas City was the trailhead for legendary destinations that included Santa Fe, California, and the Oregon Trail. Today, this historical district is now the center of the Kansas City gay community.
There are real cowboys here — lots of queer folks from the Ozarks and the Texas Panhandle. Their stories can be vivid and heartbreaking a very different spin on gay life outside the usual urban metropolis. A great place to catch up with these cowpokes is at the Wyandotte County Fairgrounds, especially during the Missouri Gay Rodeo Association’s Show-Me State Rodeo.
Cowboys aside, Kansas City also presents a surprisingly robust theater and cabaret scene, complementing a fine array of dance halls, saloons, and edgy drag shows. The folks here have fun, and so will you.
Kansas City International Airport is about 8 miles northwest of downtown. Shuttle buses are an inexpensive way to get to your hotel. A taxi will set you back about $25.
Kansas City spreads out in every direction, in two states, so most people prefer a car to get around. If you want to hop the bus check out the Metro website for maps, schedules and fares. In local abbreviations KCMO is east of the state line, and KCKS to the west.
Local Media & resources
Camp is the print and online voice for the gay communities of Kansas City and surrounding areas in Missouri and Kansas. Pitch is the alternative weekly paper, gay-friendly, with arts, restaurant reviews, and events listings.
LGCCKC, the Lesbian and Gay Community Center Kansas City, offers services, programs, and events. See their website for details.
Nightclubs, bars, and restaurants
1822 Ultra Lounge (1818 Main) former Tootsie's, three gay-friendly bars, big screen videos, patio, live acts, daytime food and cocktails from 9am.
Aura (3832 Main St), popular mixed dance crowd, good sound and lights, go-gos dancers.
Bistro 303 (303 Westport), gay-friendly, non-stop daytime lunch and evening martinis, hors d'oeuvres, entrees and sandwiches, courtayard patio.
Buddies (3715 Main St), cruisy all-day Monday through Saturday, 14-hour "Happy Hour" and best Bloody Marys in town. Also beer and liquor busts, weekend shot specials,cocktails-in-a-jug, loyal customers, pool table, video games, darts, TV sports and concerts.
Cafe Trio & Starlet Lounge (4558 Main), modern American cuisine restaurant, martini/cocktail lounge, jazz entertainment, regional artists work on display, deck overlooking Plaza and Nichols Fountain.
Hamburger Mary's (101 Southwest Blvd), gay exuberance, burger/sandwich/entree restaurant, nightly Glam Bar, trivia & bingo games, DJs, Sunday brunch.
Missie B's (805 W. 39th), nightly entertainment, six nights of DJ dancing, "always good times with good friends." Drag shows five nights, karaoke, Sunday T-Dance and beer bust, weekend leather shop.
Sidekicks Saloon (3707 Main St), saloon, mixed dance hall, mostly men, cowboys, leathermen, bears. Weekend country-music dancing, nightly games, darts, and pool games. Contests for cash prizes, drag shows, beer busts.
Sidestreet (413 E 33rd), a long-time neighborhood bar and grill, outdoor patio, mainly guys, leather store.
Social (1118 McGee), restaurant, bars, cocktail lounge, weekend dance club, gay/lesbian and straight-friendly mix.
On the Kansas side (KCKS) are the gay neighborhood bars Fox (7520 Shawnee Mission Parkway; Overland Park); and the View (204 Orchard; Kansas City, Kansas).
For restaurants/cafes and bar locations, plus website links, see our Kansas City gay map & listings tab.
Ken's Place B&B (18 W. 38th; 816-753-0533), grand old house near Buddies and Sidekicks. Six themed rooms, cable TV, DVD/VCR players, great rates. Amenities include sling, balconies, sun deck, pool, hot tub, and breakfast. Owner Ken is helpful with local gay scene orientation.
Hydes Gym & Guesthouse (Hydeskc.com; 816-561-1010) very discreet men's private club in Westport, lockers and excercise room, shower area, gym and accommodations. Call ahead for membership, and location details.
Orchard Hill B&B (15684 Fishing River Rd, Lawson; 826-296-3090), 40 minutes drive NE of downtown on 80 acres, pastoral views, pond stocked with bass and catfish, walking paths, and seasonal berry picking.
See our lodgings listings for more area accommodations with web links.
Shopping and restaurants
The Westport Road area has shopping, dining, and entertainment, just off Main Street. Another cluster of restaurants on 39th Street at the Missouri-Kansas state line includes a variety of ethnic cuisines.
The Country Club Plaza is a 15 block high-end retail and restaurant district with a year-round calendar of music and special events, a little south of Westport, down Main Street.
The Kansas City Power & Light District is a downtown cluster of stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues along Main and Walnut Streets, between 12th and North Truman.
Many bars serve food, and most restaurants serve drinks. Besides these below see under "bars" above - plus others on our full list on the map & listings/restaurant tab, with locations and web links for all.
Broadway Cafe & Roastery has two nearby outlets (301 Westport and 4106 Broadway). They roast and serve their own artisan-crafted brews here, but alas, no wi-fi connections.
Chubby's (3756 Broadway) 24-hour breakfasts and diner food, every day except Tuesday 2-6am, after-bars gay and alternative crowd favorite to meet, eat and sober up, jukeox.
Sharp's (128 W 63rd) gay-owned grill, American comfort food, breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus beer busts,
The Westport Coffeehouse (4010 Pennsylvania), pleasant hangout with panini, coffees, rich deserts, and internet access -at your laptop or one of their computers.
Cinema & Theater
In Westport, the Tivoli Cinema (4050 Pennsylvania) screens art films of gay interest throughout the year, and they host the Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
The Kansas City Repertory Theatre has interesting productions, and the Unicorn Theatre has fare that's always compelling, and frequently gay-tinged.
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