Big things are happening in tiny places in Kansas City. A Super Bowl-winning NFL team, miniature museums, and world-famous BBQ. While Kansas City proper is just a half-million people, dozens of tiny suburban places swell Kansas City’s population to two million.
Despite being a city of over two million, Kansas City is a place where tight-knit communities like the tiny veteran homes built by the Veterans Community Project, thrive.
Tiny Places Thrive in Kansas City
1. A Little Lunch: The Little Store
A North Kansas City tradition since 1938, The Little Store Cafe has long been the go-to lunch spot for NKC high schoolers. Recently the high school closed campus for lunch, so The Little Store began offering a weekday lunchtime happy hour with $1.50, 12oz Budlight pours. What the cafe lacks in space it makes up for with its big menu. Serving all three meals Monday to Saturday, the menu includes daily specials, like tacos on Tuesdays and a fried chicken meal on Fridays, as well as pizza, pasta, burger, and sandwich options.
Swing by mid-afternoon for a slice of pie, ice cream or other housemade treat. Eat at the shop’s small bar or take it to-go. The Little Store and Cafe is available to order from Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Postmates.
2. Small Plates: La Bodega
Native to the Basque region of northern Spain, tapas-style dining is a daily rhythm of sharing life over small plates. Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find small plates a restaurant trend perfect for those who find it hard to choose just one dish off the menu.
Experience this unique dining style and dive into delectable flavors at La Bodega. The tapas spot opened its first location, now known as Originale, on Southwest Boulevard in 1998. Since then the local staple has brought its flavorful tapas and handcrafted cocktails to the southside of the metro with a location in Leawood.
When it comes to the menu, select a variety of hot and chilled tapas to share with the table, or try some paella, a traditional baked rice dish. Don’t forget to pair your meal with one of La Bodega’s wines or cocktails.
La Bodega serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch at both locations. Visit their website to learn more.
3. Pint-Sized Pups: Waggin’ Trail Park
Who doesn’t love something small and fluffy? Whether you’re a dog owner or a dog lover, you can watch dogs of all sizes play at the Waggin’ Trail Park in North KC. The off-leash dog park features areas specific to small and large dogs, so pups can socialize with friends their size. Aside from the walking trail, agility course and tunnel runs, the park hosts events, like the upcoming Bone-Anza Easter Egg Hunt.
Visit Waggin’ Trail Park at Northeast 32nd and Swift streets in North Kansas City. Learn more and get the latest updates on the park’s Facebook page.
4. Tiny Toys: National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
The biggest way to experience KC’s tiniest treasures is by paying a visit to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. When it first opened in 1982, the museum featured the collections of two local women. In decades to follow, the collection grew to more than 72,000 items including the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the nation’s largest collections of antique toys.
See the works of major contemporary miniature artists and trace history through the collection of toys. Current collections exhibits include toys from the manufacturer the McLoughlin Bros., a doll gallery with 35 new pieces spanning over 100 years, and an interactive exhibit on theatrical toys for putting on plays at home.
The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed Tuesdays. Learn more about admission and current exhibits at the museum’s website.
5. Small Sips: Hi Hat Coffee
At Hi Hat Coffee, the shop might be small but the flavors are big. The little brick cottage sits right off of State Line Road in the tiny city of Westwood Hills. Surrounded by houses, a few others stores, and trees, Hi Hat is truly a neighborhood coffee shop. Lounge out front on the brick patio or get cozy in the small bar seating area inside.
The shop serves up Messenger Coffee and offers both a classic espresso menu and creative coffee options, like The Bee High, a latte with honey and cinnamon, or the Emmatasse, an itty bitty mocha. If something chocolatey is more your speed, try the Aztec e Crush, a blended drink with Aztec cocoa from nearby Annedore’s Fine Chocolates.
6. Intimate Performances: Fishtank Theatre
Get up close and personal with the arts at a theatre performance in Fishtank’s Theatre’s The Black Box auditorium. A black box theater environment allows the performing troupe to create an immersive setting. Fishtank provides space for the local writers and performers to debut fresh material and cut their teeth in an intimate environment with an engaged audience.
In spring 2020, Fishtank partnered with local company The Living Room Theatre to turn The Black Box into a theater hub in the West Bottoms neighborhood. Most recently, Fishtank presented Shows for Days, an autobiographical story of a man who got his start on the stage by wandering into his local company’s theater.
We hope we’ve convinced you to try a small plate, small museum, small dog park or small theatre. Kansas City delivers big when it comes to small and tiny places.