Hint: It’s not the Green Lady Lounge.
Sorry folks, as much as I love that place, it’s not built for talking. It’s a jazz bar. And a good one, at that. But if you expect to have a decent conversation, you’ll fare much better in a spot with more light and less sound.
1. The Central Library
Though the typical library adheres to a strict no-talking policy, the Kansas City Central Library is more of a massive conversation piece. It’s chock full of history, art, and beautiful architecture. Standing at five stories plus a rooftop terrace and two art galleries, you’ll need to set aside plenty of time to explore. Be sure to visit the Film Vault in the basement which is an actual vault converted into a mini movie theater, and the rooftop terrace with a beautiful view and a life-size chess board. Explore for yourself, or sign up for a guided tour. Be sure to check their hours before you visit them at 10th & Wyandotte.
2. Pawn & Pint
Visit Kansas City’s one and only board game pub. They host tons of themed game nights, tournaments, mixers, trivia, and much more. On any regular night, non-members pay a $5 cover for unlimited play of over 1,200 games. Equipped with a full bar (beer, liquor, and coffee) and food from the Homesteader Cafe next door, you’ll have no excuse to be bored. Ask an associate to help you find the two-player games if you’re having trouble, or join in on another group’s multiplayer game! There are signs on each table to signal if they need more players. It can be easy to miss on the corner of 6th and Walnut, and their parking lot is across the street. Also, it’s 21+.
3. Bird’s Botanicals
Birds Botanicals is a climate controlled cave filled with over 10,000 blooming orchids and hundreds upon hundreds of varieties of exotic plants. Tours are free, and there are tons of plants for sale. They specialize in orchids, but you can bring in your own plant for diagnostics or repotting, and growing classes for a small fee. Located in the interstate underground warehouse east of I-435, the cave is open to the public every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. They also take visitors Wednesday through Friday, but you need to call ahead so a staff member can assist.
4. Swordfish Tom’s.
I’ll be real with you right now: if you’re worried about looking pretentious, maybe don’t go here. If you like good drinks, a chill environment, and you don’t care what other people think (this is better), go here. Swordfish Tom’s is a little speakeasy in the basement off of 19th and Wyandotte. In addition to a delicious and unique cocktail menu, they have a few decks of cards and the first mancala board I’ve seen in five years. Walk into the alley to the left of the Sprint Accelerator building (yellow sign), and find a metal door. Open that obscure door and walk down the stairs where you will encounter a waiting area with a red or green light. Red means it’s full. Sit tight. If it’s green, knock, and a kind associate will open the door for you. Seats are limited and first come, first serve. It seems cumbersome, but the effort gains you a good seat, a timely drink, and a lounge that feels more like your cool hipster friends’ living room than a bar. 21+, obviously.
5. Observation Park.
Located up in the Westside of Kansas City on 20th & Holly, Observation Park sits on a cute hill with a quaint, distant view of downtown Kansas City. The park is nice in the daytime as you can walk around and even throw a frisbee (or whatever). At night, when the lights come on, the view has a bit more sparkle. The best sitting spot here is at the edge of the baseball field, but you can sit wherever suits you and your date’s fancy. Keep in mind the park technically closes at midnight.
Standing for South of Truman, (or if you prefer ye Olde English “Sot,” which means “drunkard”) SoT calls itself a “secret garden party” in the crossroads. That’s pretty accurate if you ask me. This elevated cocktail bar serves up some pretty tasty drinks that you can enjoy on their green and twinkly back patio. Along with a fun drink presentation and music tasteful enough to talk over, SoT can promise you a classy little night out. Located on Grand about three or so doors south of Truman (of course) you’ll need to be 21+ to enter. The front is literally covered in Ivy if you can’t find it.
7. KC Clay Guild’s family fun night.
KC Clay Guild is a nonprofit ceramics art center located in the Waldo area at 74th & Wyandotte. On top of classes, open studios, and workshops, the KC Clay Guild also offers a Family Fun Night. Every Friday and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m., you can use the studio for pretty cheap. It’s $5 per person, another $5 for 25 pounds of clay (y’all can share) and $2 to rent a toolkit. Family fun night is probably 110 percent less pressure than a couple’s Groupon or whatever else you might find online. And it’s a great opportunity to showcase the fact that you don’t totally hate kids (unless you do). Folks are welcome to bring kids, friends, or dates and just give sculpting their best shot. Check their calendar before you go in case there’s an event going on, and clean up after yourself before you leave.
8. The Mockingbird Lounge.
I’m going to make a bold recommendation here and suggest you visit *gasp* the Kansas side. Nestled in the adorable and historic Strawberry Hill neighborhood of KCK, the Mockingbird Lounge is situated on a hill with a lovely patio view of downtown KC. With a unique yet unassuming cocktail menu, snacks, and a bookshelf with some puzzles and games, the Mockingbird will keep you entertained without being overbearing. Imagine if your friendly neighborhood bar had a baby with a trendy cocktail lounge. This is that baby. Fresh, airy colors, twinkly lights, and a slew of fun events (like live music, trivia, and standup), make the Mockingbird a boozy home away from home.
Now, get out there and explore KC with your date! You should have enough arsenal here to get you to at least date four, if not more (as long as you can find something to talk about). And if you’re not sure what to do, be proactive! Don’t stare at your date until they figure it out. Pro tip: nicely ask the bartender their favorite spots (besides their place of work). You’re welcome.