Exploring your own city can feel like a vacation, but it doesn’t have to cost you like one. Beginning this week with Brookside, Kat’s Money Corner will point you from time to time toward some of Kansas City’s distinctive districts – and ways to enjoy them frugally.
Just south of the Country Club Plaza rests Brookside, one of Kansas City’s most desirable neighborhoods. Chock full of beautiful historic homes, local eateries and an eclectic shopping district, Brookside has a little something for everyone.
Brookside’s prime location is no accident: It was a planned community built in 1920 by J.C. Nichols. It was envisioned as a suburban shopping destination surrounded by single-family Tudor homes. As the city grew and began to sprawl outward, community leaders succeeded in keeping the vision for Brookside intact.
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There’s no shortage of places to eat in Brookside, especially if you’ve had enough of generic chain restaurants. Café Europa and Aixois are popular spots in the Crestwood Shops on 55th Street. Bella Napoli offers lunch deals starting at $8, and Carmen’s Café has a new $10 and under lunch menu. Chai Shai is legendary for its extra-affordable yet filling Indian dishes, like Masala Paneer for $7.50.
If you’re in the area to window-shop on a Saturday, don’t forget that Brookside is also a great place to buy groceries for the week. Its farmers' market is a city favorite, running from April through October.
If you’re looking for nightlife, Brookside is known for being more affordable and inviting than other KC bar districts. Try the Brooksider, Michael Forbes and Charlie Hooper’s for happy hours and drink specials, including domestic beers for just a few bucks.
South Brookside holds the shopping district, with streets between Wornall and Main lined by one-of-a-kind shops that are perfect for picking up gifts, clothing and décor you can’t find anywhere else. One store, simply named Stuff, sets the tone for the area, selling fine art, home goods and jewelry from more than 60 artisans around the world, at a variety of price points. Brookside Toy & Science is an eclectic store where you can find brain-building gadgets for kiddos for less than $10.
Brookside’s Art Annual, held in late spring, draws more than 70,000 visitors to its white-tented attractions every year. It’s a nationally known, curated event that draws photographers, painters, sculptors, jewelry artists and musicians. It’s less crowded than the Plaza Art Fair, often with more attainable pricing, and you’ll pay nothing to stroll around with friends and get inspired.
Now is the perfect time to get outside and explore areas of Kansas City you aren’t as familiar with. Stay tuned for guides to a few of my other favorite neighborhoods.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens or visit http://communityamerica.com.