Personal Finance

Enjoying the River Market on a budget

Kat Hnatyshyn

Just north of downtown, along the Missouri River, sits Kansas City’s River Market. The neighborhood, nestled north of Interstate 70 between the Broadway and Heart of America bridges, is named after its large, open-air farmers market, a tradition that goes back to 1857.

At various points in its history, the River Market was called the City Market, River Quay and Westport Landing. These days, no other KC neighborhood can equal its loft-style dwellings in historic warehouses, locally owned retail and diverse dining options with tastes from around the globe. Here are my tips for how and when to see it all, on a budget.

The heart of the River Market is the City Market, a series of shops and restaurants surrounding the open-air vendor pavilion. The entire neighborhood is filled with shops and places to eat, but the City Market itself gives you the most bang for your buck.

The City Market restaurants do a lively business for lunch during the week, with most meals costing less than $10. You can get pizza, a burrito, barbecue, a gyro, egg rolls or a bowl of Vietnamese pho. You won’t have to fight so many crowds if you arrive before 11:30 a.m. or after 1 p.m. Once you’re full, you can shop for produce, fashion or gifts from countries around the world.

If you’re making a weekend day of it, Feast Magazine declared The Farmhouse’s brunch among the best in Kansas City. City Diner, Beignet and Le Fou Frog are all popular spots with locals.

The neighborhood offers upscale clothing and accessories at stores like Houndstooth and The Polished Edge. If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy without busting your budget, wander into River Market Antiques and peruse offerings from more than 175 vendors. Silk Road Travelers is another place to pick up affordable gifts.

For happy hour deals, hit The Blue Line, a hockey-themed bar with great wings, Bloody Marys and rock-bottom beer specials. Another great option is Harry’s Country Club, where happy hour runs from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays. Harry’s happy hour features craft cocktails for $5 and $6, with apps below $5.

For a cultural, kid-friendly experience, the Steamboat Arabia Museum is one of Kansas City’s best bets. It’s also one of KC’s most popular spots for tourists, so you’d be wise to find an off-peak time to visit. The museum displays thousands of fascinating, preserved artifacts from a cargo boat that sank in 1856 and was recovered in 1987.

Parking can be a struggle in the River Market area. The City Market has a large parking lot, but it fills up on weekends. Luckily, you can now park on the streetcar route and take it down Main Street to the heart of the River Market. It’s definitely a place to wander and window shop, so when you’re exploring this KC gem, wear your walking shoes.

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 or visit