By: Katy Schamberger
Curl up in a cozy, dim second-floor speakeasy with an expertly made cocktail. Tempt your tastebuds with cuisine ranging from a contemporary gastropub to award-winning competitive barbecue. Fill your home — or your closet — with the latest clothing, jewelry and home décor trends. Marvel at an incredible collection of public art, including a city time capsule created by local sculpture artists. All this — and so much more — awaits in downtown Lee’s Summit, where small town charm meets cosmopolitan flair.
One of the many wonderful things about downtown Lee’s Summit is that it’s walkable. You can hit restaurants, bars, shops and entertainment in a few blocks or less.
That said, there’s so much to see and do! To help you plan your own downtown Lee’s Summit escape, consider the following categorized recommendations so you can easily find your new favorites.
Ready? Adventure awaits!
From coffee to cocktails, downtown Lee’s Summit is ready to quench your thirst. Start your day at Whistle Stop Coffee & Mercantile, aptly named because of its location along the city’s train tracks that carry both freight and passenger traffic. Choose your favorite beverage from a full coffee menu that includes espresso, drip coffee, tea and more. Don’t miss the breakfast and lunch menus that feature from-scratch food like quiche, sandwiches, soups and more.
Part speakeasy, part cocktail lounge, part barware boutique, Libations & Company is a must-visit for cocktail connoisseurs. First, a tip: the bar closes at 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays, so you may want to start your night here. Start at the back bar and select a concoction from Libations & Company’s seasonal cocktail menu. Then, watch it made in front of you! While you sip, you can browse an expertly curated selection of barware, bitters, tonics and spirits. And speaking of spirits — Libations & Company serves spirits from all 7 Kansas City distilleries.
The street address should be the first clue that The W revels in the unexpected. Located at 6 ½ SW 3rd St., The W’s cozy, dim interior awaits at the top of a steep staircase. You’ll need to text 816.287.0000 to make a reservation. Then, when you arrive, buzz in at the intercom and prepare to be whisked away to the speakeasies of the past. The seasonal menu is extensive, so give yourself time to look. And don’t hesitate to ask the knowledgeable servers for recommendations — their record is foolproof. Then, sit back, relax and savor your expertly made drink. This is a place to put your phone away and simply enjoy the moment.
Other shout-outs include Stuey McBrew’s, a favorite for those in the mood for low-key drinking; Grains & Taps, your source for home brewing equipment (plus an on-site brewery & taproom); and Hand in Glove, a photo-worthy coffee and cocktail bar owned by Shane and Merideth Veritasi, the brains behind The W.
Furniture, home décor, kitchenware, clothing & accessories, shoes — it’s easy to shop until you actually drop in downtown Lee’s Summit. Be sure you’re wearing comfy shoes!
A Thyme for Everything is a cook’s dream. The bright, spacious store is stocked with kitchenware, gifts, food and more. You’ll find beloved local brands like Christopher Elbow Chocolates, Hugo Tea and The Roasterie Coffee mingled with goods from companies like Frontier Soups, Pappardelle’s Pasta, Stonewall Kitchen and Tea Forte. Be sure to check A Thyme for Everything’s schedule of cooking classes and add a bit of culinary education to your trip. Psst — classes are BYOB, so bring your own beer or wine to enjoy with your finished meal!
Knitters, crocheters, yarn lovers — your heaven awaits, and it’s Unwind Fiber Arts. The multi-room fiber shop is a treasure trove of yarn, patterns, supplies and gifts. The impressive array of luxury yarn includes internationally known brands like Shibui, Malabrigo, Blue Sky Fibers, Loopy Mango, CocoKnits and Kelbourne Woolens. Pick up materials for your next fiber project, or bring your work-in-progress on Thursday evenings for Knit Night Happy Hour, which is every bit as fun as it sounds!
For a clue about what Local Foundery carries, it’s in the name. The brainchild of Fossil Forge owners Dave Eames and Ben Wine, the retail space (housed in a former fire station) is stocked with local, handmade and found items. Candles, signage, apparel, jewelry, leather goods, prints, décor — there’s no shortage of treasures to peruse. Plus, since many items are designed and built at nearby Fossil Forge, Local Foundery’s stock changes often. And that means you need to visit frequently!
Fair warning: Ivy & Sparrow is so inviting and adorable, you might just want to move in. Beautifully arranged and curated displays await everywhere you look, accented by the boutique’s exposed brick wall. Add some cozy polish to your home with throw pillows, bases, candles and other decor. Or decorate yourself with jewelry, hair accessories and apparel like comfy and chic T-shirts adorned with slogans like, “Be you bravely.” Oh, and there’s skincare, too! See? One visit and you’ll want to forward your mail!
Add the latest looks to your wardrobe at Anchora Bella Boutique, Elle & Em Boutique and Inspired Style Boutique. Shop jewelry, shoes, clothing and accessories in beautifully designed spaces that make the most of downtown Lee’s Summit historic architecture. Then, take your purchases for a night on the town!
You’ll work up quite an appetite exploring downtown Lee’s Summit! If you’re a fan of a big breakfast, start the day at Neighborhood Café for a diner-style menu and … wait for it … free (!) cinnamon rolls. Yes, free!
Lunch, dinner, happy hour — enjoy it all at Third Street Social! The sophisticated, buzzy interior is the perfect complement to a menu filled with updated takes on classic favorites. Try the truffled grilled cheese, for example, or carbonara mac & cheese, a delightful combination of pasta carbonara and macaroni and cheese. If you’re feeling extra hungry, you can’t go wrong with the fried chicken — perfectly cooked and served with mashed potatoes so fluffy and creamy you won’t have to worry about leftovers! And don’t forget the cocktail! Third Street Social offers a mix of classics, like a Tito’s Mule and cucumber gimlet, with more inventive concoctions like the pineapple upside down martini or the house favorite, Third Street Punch.
Family-owned Smoke Brewing Co. is the first barbecue-brew restaurant in downtown Lee’s Summit. Founded by father-son duo, Jeff and Josh Edwards, Smoke Brewing Co. showcases delicious championship barbecue, plus an extensive selection of craft beers. You can’t go wrong with anything you order, but the pork belly grilled cheese is especially delicious. Have vegetarians in tow? No problem! Several mouthwatering options are available, including a mac and cheese topped with the restaurant’s housemade beer cheese and a little bit of magic that they call parsley dust.
It’s not in downtown Lee’s Summit proper, but Pearl Tavern is worth the 5-minute drive for seafood so fresh you’d swear you were eating beachside. Fresh fish, oysters, shrimp cocktail — all of the seafood classics are there. For a true feast, try the southern-inspired Tavern boil, complete with shrimp, crab legs, andouille sausage, Yukon potatoes and fresh corn. The lobster roll tastes like it was prepared and flown in from Maine, complete with a buttery, split-top roll that cradles chilled lobster enhanced by tarragon mayo. And if you’re really in the mood to celebrate, grab 3-5 friends and make your way through the chilled seafood tower — oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp cocktail, ceviche, king crab and lobster.
A wonderful thing about downtown Lee’s Summit is that there’s so much to see as you stroll the picturesque streets. Make sure to swing by City Hall to see the time capsule sculpture, Emergence, created by Fossil Forge’s Dave Eames.
“It was an honor to make a piece of beautiful public art that holds the city’s gifts for the next generation,” he says.
The time capsule, installed for Lee’s Summit’s 150th birthday in 2015, will be opened in 2065.
You’ll spot more work from Fossil Forge throughout the downtown area, from sculptures to signage. In fact, you could even make a scavenger hunt out of it and see how many pieces you can locate!
Be sure to get a photo in front of the arched downtown Lee’s Summit sign, which spans 3rd Street. And keep an eye out for additional public art, including Kwan Wu’s Kids at Heart bronze sculpture and the Heartley Heart neon light refurbished by Eames.
Let’s be honest — it’s hard to see everything in downtown Lee’s Summit in one day! Make The Historic Browning Inn your home base during your adventure. The bed and breakfast is tucked inside and impeccably maintained mansion that dates back to 1889. Three bedrooms each have private bathrooms, and the bed and breakfast also includes a centralized living and dining room and a shared deck and patio space, among other amenities. Chances are good you’ll find some homemade treats made by owner Liesl Hays waiting for you in the kitchen. They change seasonally, FYI! And if you book a stay on the weekends, you’ll enjoy the from-scratch breakfast that’s available as a buffet or breakfast in bed. Start packing your bags!