Located in the Crossroads District with a concert venue for a backyard, this cool auto-parts-store- turned-restaurant has been featured on Food Network’s “Drive-Ins, Diners, and Dives.”
Next door is Grinders West, which is just another room of the restaurant separated by a wall. You can walk into either and order off the same menu. The menu features New York-style pizzas, hot wings, Philly cheesesteaks and “Big Ass” tots, all great for a night out before a movie or concert. If the food isn’t enough to bring you back, the laid-back atmosphere and grungy decor sure will: license plates, colorful Christmas lights and the owner’s own sculptures all line the walls.
Cave Bouldering Gym
Even if you’re not an exceptionally athletic person, you can still enjoy a day at The Cave. Besides offering plenty of routes with
varying difficulties, The Cave’s laid-back and friendly staff will help get you started if you’re new to climbing. By the way, you’ll probably get as lost as we did trying to find The Cave. Just remember that once you get to the first chimney-shaped building, take a left and you’ll find a second one behind a truck parking lot: that’s it.
If you choose to spend the day here, expect to be a little embarrassed at first by the fact that you aren’t as indie as the other customers. Almost everyone else there is a granola- looking guy in his twenties. So they probably thought my friend and I were lost when we walked in with our purses and high ponytails. I was wearing the same “Nature Bred” shirt as another guy in there, so I guess I got style points for that.
The Cave is an underground bouldering gym, which means you push your way up a colorful wall of rock grips reaching as high as the ceiling—without harnesses. But hey, the soft floor underneath will keep you safe if you fall, and it’s bouncy enough that I consider it part of the fun. The climbing itself was much easier than I expected; after watching my friend shimmy up the first route in seconds, I was surprised to find that I could too. And I can’t even do a push-up. We tried and failed at some harder routes, but ultimately had a good time.
Every first Friday of the month, the West Bottoms opens about twenty stores that feature booths of antiques from various sellers. My favorites are Bottoms Up and Tophat Mercantile, because I’ve gotten some of my coolest antiques from them: a red metal “E” that lights up for my room, a jangly ‘80s necklace made of plastic bell charms. As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, this is one of my favorite places to pick up vin- tage jewelry, birthday gifts and other random fun finds. Going shopping here is more than just spending money, though. Even if you don’t come home with anything (you will, though), grabbing a bite from all the nearby food trucks and wannabe- hipster-watching are all part of the experience.
Cave Spring Trail
If you’re searching for an interesting morning hike, the Cave Spring Trail at William M. Klein Park in Raytown provides a fun option you’ll be surprised and delighted by. The trail could be considered more of a nature-walk: it can take less than thirty minutes depending on how slow you walk and how many of the bonus trails you decide to explore. Plus, it’s flat enough that you can enjoy it no matter how lazy you are. There are two starting points and multiple forks in the trail so that you can explore for longer, but the whole thing is a loop that covers all the attractions.
Built as a mini lake resort in the 1940s, the location’s cabins were torn down for wood during World War II, leaving behind six free-standing stone chimneys and the stone outline of an old cabin. The rocks are big enough that you can climb up the sides of the chimneys and stand on top of the broken-down wall of the building. Besides the chimneys, there’s a tiny cave that’s just as great for photo-ops with your friends. Though the natural wonders of this hike aren’t spectacular (the “waterfall” is more of a creek), it’s a much cooler trail than I would expect from Missouri.
This farm-to-table restaurant is where downtown trendiness and farmhouse friendliness meet for lunch. The constant chatter is reminiscent of a coffeehouse, but you’ll be wanting to stay for longer than just a drink once you get there. Though the exposed brick, high-ceiling atmosphere is appealing, I suggest sitting out back for the full experience of chirping birds and a wispy curtain covering the top of the porch. Since I’m not a particularly healthy eater, the menu’s plentiful gluten-free and vegetarian options would normally make me cringe. Yet I opted for a Summit Burger, and was surprised by the heavenly sandwich. The fresh arugula, juicy meat and fluffy bakery bread proved the restaurant’s dedication to honest ingredients, as if the on-site garden wasn’t enough. Everything else I tried tasted just as mouth-watering: from the warm parmesan fries with homemade ketchup to the melty grilled cheese between two crisp slices of bread. Maybe it’s just me, but even the Coke tasted fresher.