Simply the most delicious ice cream on the planet. And you can't get it anywhere but at the shop in KC. Murray, who is actually a woman, and, yes, actually goes by "Murray," knows dairy. She opened the business with her mother in 1984, specializing in homemade ice cream and cookies. Years later, she's expanded to include a coffee bar, made-to-order ice cream cakes and pies, and the best soda fountain treats this side of the Mississippi. You can get a Green River phosphate or an egg cream made to precision. Best flavor of ice cream: hands-down it's the One Drunk Monk, a frangelico ice cream with perfect-sized bits of hazelnut and chocolate espresso flakes. HEAVEN. But she only makes it at the end of the month. Her 200+ flavors rotate regularly.
Murray is notoriously humble and publicity-shy, which hasn't stopped Bon Appetit magazine or Food Network from featuring her desserts. She has refused franchise offers for years, preferring to keep her business a mom-and-pop that doesn't even have a computer on the premises. She cranks out all the ice cream herself on-site and has the carpal-tunnel to prove it. I worked for her at the shop for six summers of my youth. It was the best job I've ever had, working with some of the best people ever to inhabit Kansas City. Soda Jerks 4 Life!
Oh, and Murray's is on Myspace.
2. Downtown always smells like coffee.
Thanks to the Folger's plant that roasts all day and all night at 7th and Broadway.
3. The River Market
The place where every ethnicity and social class in Kansas City converges on the weekends. You can literally eat a different type of ethnic cuisine from its many restaurants every day of the week. I know this because I work a block away and I've done it. And the amount of fruits and veggies you can get for $5 will feed you and a clan for a week. Also, the history of this area is incredibly fascinating. Brothels, political corruption and gangsters, oh my!
4. Driving down Ward Parkway with the windows down on a sunny day.
This is the Wikipedia entry on Kansas City's infamous boulevard of mansions and fountains.
And here's what it looks like on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Spring. (This one gets a bonus because it includes Cypress Avenue and the voice of host, Bill Shapiro on the radio in the background. Best show on the radio in KC for 25 years.)
5. The Marching Cobras
Seriously, I want these guys to play my funeral.
Here they are performing on the roof of the Downtown Library.
P.S. There are about 20 more things I could have included in this post, including The Foundation, The Westside, The Nelson, and on and on...it was difficult to narrow it down to five. Maybe I'll do a Part II in the future, but for now this will have to suffice.