WESTPORT, Kansas City — It’s the City of Fountains, and of blues, and of barbecue, of Hallmark, and of the most likable baseball team in the past decade. It’s a suddenly sexy place to live. It’s also a great place to visit with your dog.
I fell in love with the Westport neighborhood in Kansas City last year when Rusty and I found McCoy’s Public House and its large, inviting patio. (And great beer list. And, steak). So this year, I was lucky enough to find a hotel within walking distance of Westport, which allowed me to relax a but more on our evening outing. You’ll note from the lighting in the series of photos that I did indeed take the time to sample many of the beers.
We stayed at the Best Western Seville Plaza in Kansas City. There was a reasonable $15 dog fee, and the website says only some rooms are dog-friendly — so do as I always do and call the front desk to double check that your dog is welcome. But hat’s off the the hotel, which provided a treat bag and a dog toy on check in. It was busy when Rusty and I arrived, but he soon had the entire lobby laughing at his antics. The low-ish desk was perfect for him to leap up and ring the porter’s bell by accident. When I got my treat bag, he went predictably bonkers (How *do* dogs so readily identify dog toys?). I could barely rip the bag open fast enough. He then proudly carried his hot dog everywhere around the place.
Tip to hotels everywhere: There’s no such thing as a long line when there’s a dog providing entertainment.
The real fun began when we walked the lovely half-mile to Westport, which is bustling with bars and restaurants and history. Westport is what is sounds like: The Sante Fe, Oregon, and California trails all crossed here, and went their separate ways after. It’s hard to stand at the crossroads and not feel the excitement and fear of all souls who passed by on their way to settle America’s West. It’s often said that St. Louis is the westernmost eastern city in the U.S., and Kansas City is the easternmost western city. When you are traveling west and arrive in Westport, you feel like the beginning of the journey has ended, but the real trip is just starting. So, eat and drink while you can, I think.
At the center Westport is McCoy’s, which offers a great menu, including an amazing burger. It’s a blend of beef brisket, tenderloin, and short rib. The Real McCoy, it’s called.
I’ve been to McCoy’s three times now, each one more fun than the last. The staff take care of Rusty; patrons fully expect friendly dogs to be around. One stopped by to compare her hair with Rusty’s (identical, see below). A couple of nurses hung out with him to de-stress after a shift, and talked about sneaking pets into hospital rooms (for health purposes only).
Then, in a moment of delicious serendipity, Rusty insisted on saying hello to a friendly table of folks across the patio. Two turned out to be journalists at the Kansas City Star, and one I knew well (but only virtually) from my time as a sports producer at MSNBC.com about 20 years ago. (Vahe Gregorian, one of America’s great sports columnists). We had never met in person. We then spent a couple of hours comparing notes on old friends and our old industry.
It’s amazing what happens when you travel with a dog.
Years ago, when I took these trips by myself, I’d chat with folks at bars once in a while. But many nights I would eat in silence, buy some cookies and chocolate milk, and head back to my hotel room to feast and fall asleep watching SportsCenter. Now, when I’m 1,000 miles from home and 2,000 miles from my destination, I run into old friends I didn’t even know I had.
That is the magic of loving a dog. It comes back in so many ways.
Thanks, McCoy’s and Best Western, for a great night. Could I get another beer?
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