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 over the Labor Day Weekend.
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.
Other dates on the LGBT calendar include: the Kansas City G&L Film & Video Festival in June at the Tivoli Cinema; Gay Pride KC festival beside the Missouri River in June; and the Bear Crossing weekend in August. The Kansas City FilmFest takes place in April.
Kansas City International Airport is about 8 miles northwest of downtown. There are shuttle buses to get to your hotel and the KCRT operates buses to and from KCI every day of the week. Pay $1.50 (exact change only) for a regular one-way fare to or from the airport. A taxi will set you back $60-70 for a trip downtown or to The Plaza..
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 RideKC website for maps, schedules and fares. In local abbreviations KCMO is east of the state line, and KCKS to the west. Their $3 Day Pass, available on board local bus routes in Kansas City, Johnson County, and Independence buses, provides transportation throughout the region.
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.
The LGCC-KC Community Center and Gay Pride Kansas City have combined to become the Kansas City Diversity Coalition, with events including Pride in June.
The University of Missouri Kansas City LGBTQIA program features conferences and film screenings, plus various activities during their March Pride Month.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Kansas City listings pages.
Nightclubs, bars, and restaurants
Bistro 303 (303 Westport), gay-friendly, French-bistro-inspired daytime lunch and weekend brunch, evening martinis, appetizers, entrees and sandwiches, courtyard patio.
Buddies (3715 Main St), friendly all-day Monday-Saturday neighborhood bar, 14-hour Happy Hour/ Bloody Marys. Beer and liquor busts, shot specials, cocktails-in-a-jug, loyal customers, pool table, video games, darts, TV sports/ 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 (3700 Broadway 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, Flo and Dirty Dorothy shows, 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.
Woody's Classic Sports Pub (3740 Broadway Blvd), sports-pub sliders, sandwiches, burgers/dogs, nachos, wings, salads and big breakfasts.
CLOSED: Industry Video Bar (3700 Broadway Blvd), videos, games; Social (1118 McGee) restaurant, bar/lounge & dance club; also KCKS neighborhood bars The View and The Fox.
For restaurants/cafes and more bar locations, see our Kansas City gay map & listings tab.
816 Hotel (801 Westport Rd, Westport; 816-931-1000), hip new gay-friendly hotel with KC history on their walls, guestroom work-out machines; at the center of district full of shops, restaurants and bars, full breakfast included, free evening cocktail, high-speed WiFi.
Hydes Gym & Guesthouse (unpublished location; 816-561-1010), very discreet private men's guesthouse in Westport, common areas, shared bathrooms. Call ahead for membership, and location details.
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.
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
Other entertainment options include: the Folly Theatre (300 W 12th St) former vaudeville hall, now a Downtown performing arts venue; and the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway Blvd), a classic 1920s-era theater with film, music, and performing-arts events in Westport.
Prohibition Hall (1118 McGee St), in the old Social location, offers a wide range of live music performances on stage, a good sound system, and two bars.