When you head to the River Market in Kansas City, MO, you’ll find brick roads and 100-year-old buildings jam packed with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. This destination neighborhood is also one of KC’s oldest — and home to thousands of residents. It’s the kind of place you can’t help but fall in love with, whether you’re just visiting KC, coming in from the suburbs, or have lived there for years.
If you haven’t explored in a while, it might be time to rediscover why some people — maybe even you — love to call it home.
Need to know
Our readers said the River Market is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods. With a fresh bouquet in hand and backdrops like murals, historic buildings, and selfie-worthy signage, we don’t blame them.
The boundaries run from the Missouri River (north) to Highway 9 (east), I-70 (south), and Beardsley Road (west). Historic homes are nestled close together and sprinkled with iconic landmarks and businesses (more on that later). Residents are within walking distance to the library, courthouse, and city hall — all with scenic views of downtown KC.
The early days
Does Lewis and Clark ring a bell? The famous explorers landed at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers in 1804. Their recordings about the area sparked Francois Chouteau to strike out and build a settlement in 1821 along the banks of present-day River Market.
First it was called River Quay (pronounced “key”) — an old French word meaning “loading platform” or “wharf.” In the 1830s, it became known as Westport Landing thanks to Westport’s rapid growth. By 1853, the area’s residents incorporated as the Town of Kansas.
Running low on time? A trip to the River Market isn’t complete without a stop to smell the farm-fresh flowers (and take a selfie with the skyline) at the City Market, a drink from Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters (ask them to blowtorch the Palo Santo for you), and a visit to the Town of Kansas Bridge (say hello to Big Muddy).
Eat and drink
There are literally so many options in this neighborhood, we’re highlighting some of our favorites per city block.
- Delaware Street: The Farmhouse (farm-to-table, scratch, big on brunch), Tribe Street Kitchen (great burgers), Il Lazzarone (wood-fired pizzas), Betty Rae’s (a cold KC classic), Made In KC Trolley Cafe (perfect for gifts and sips).
- City Market: Taste of Brazil (try the Coxinha), City Market Coffee (take the spiral staircase to the top), Bloom Baking Company (yummy individual quiches), Ting’s Filipino Bistro (out-of-this-world spring rolls).
- 5th Street: Minsky’s Pizza (great for game day), Pigwich (with the Local Pig butcher shop), Phikul Thai Bistro (noodles from the wok), Blue Nile Cafe (Ethiopian), Enzo Bistro & Wine Bar (try the lasagna), Brown & Loe (fine cuisine in a 100-year-old bank), Nguyen Pho & Grill (perfect for a chilly day).
- Honorable mentions: Harry’s Country Club (an impressive drink list and good apps), Strange Days Brewing Co. (love the patio), DoubleTap KC (food + drink served with virtual reality), River Bluff Brewing (good vibes + better beer), Le Fou Frog (yes, they have snails).
- The Riverfront Heritage Trail connects the River Market with Berkley Riverfront, the West Bottoms, the Westside, and Strawberry Hill.
- The River Market Off-Leash Area is more than an acre of park land specifically for you and your pup (since Fido isn’t allowed in the City Market).
- The City Market hosts lots of outdoor events, like Art in the Loop, Fresh Fridays, and the holiday Merry Market.
- City Market Park hosts outdoor yoga and Art Garden KC in the warmer months.
The River Market is no stranger to boutique clothing stores, specialty groceries, and antique accoutrements. Out of all the places you can shop, here are a few we find especially notable.
- Find your personal look at Hyper KC, Kate, Lucca, Houndstooth, and Dalia’s Silver,
- Need something for your shelves? Or maybe you need shelves? River Market Antique Mall is literally three floors of everything and anything.
- Find specialty groceries at Carollo’s Groceria Italiana, Chinatown Food Market, and Nature’s Own.
Anyone who’s tried finding a parking spot on a Saturday morning knows traveling can be tricky in the River Market. Street parking is normally fine on weekdays, but there are several public parking lot + garage options for those busy weekends:
Pro tip: use this map to find your way.
- P 194: Catty-corner to the City Market, this is the biggest lot in the neighborhood.
- P 284: This garage opens to the public on weekends.
- P 90 + 118: These lots open to the public on weekends (and they’re right next to a streetcar stop).
When in doubt, consider parking to the south near the KC Streetcar line and riding north into the market.
Where to stay
If you or someone you know is coming in to visit, show them true River Market vibes with these exposed-brick listings.
- Retro River Market Loft | 1 bd, 1 ba | Sleeps 6 | $194/night | Wood floors, brick walls, giant windows, and look at that couch.
- Desert Oasis Loft | 2 bd, 1 ba | Sleeps 4 | $121/night | Exposed beams, plants, and earth tones (and is that a vault door?).
- Stunning Loft | 3 bd, 2 ba | Sleeps 8 | $312/night | Located above a bakery (wonder if you get second-hand smells?).