Why I Love the Northland

Dagg Park has a great playground and a splash pad open in the summer.

Do you know the difference between North Kansas City and Kansas City, North? I didn’t for the first 22 years of my life. In fact, I honestly had no idea that there was any civilization up here aside from the airport.

As a Johnson County native who escaped and attended Mizzou (Go Tigers!), it was just easier to get a job on the Missouri side due to all of the connections Career Services had with those districts. And the job I happened to get was at Oak Park High School in the North Kansas City School District.

I moved to the Northland in the summer of 2002, a fresh graduate jumping right into my new career as a teacher and high school cheerleading coach. When I told my friends from home about my job, most of them assumed it was somewhere near Oak Park Mall on the Kansas side.

I was completely lost. The numbered streets were backward (the numbers got smaller as I went south) and Troost wasn’t a street to avoid. When I asked where someone lived, they gave me a neighborhood name instead of cross streets. But after a few years, the Northland started to become my home and a friend paid me the ultimate complement recently by telling me that she had forgotten I had ever lived anywhere else.

I’ve been a Northlander for almost 15 years now; my best friends live up here. I met my husband here. My church is up here. I got married up here. My son was born up here. My lips curl up in disgust when I talk about having to venture “south of the river.” My introverted little soul has found its home in this quiet, friendly and, often forgotten, suburb of Kansas City.

I now exclusively filter my Groupons for North of the River zip codes. An activity in the River Market is iffy and one on the Plaza has to be REALLY AMAZING for me to consider attending.

I don’t have to leave home at 4 a.m. for a 7 a.m. flight. The airport is only 15 minutes away. The schools are phenomenal and don’t have the same societal pressure of my alma mater. The kids seem nicer and more friendly.

I bought my house for a fraction of what it would cost on the Kansas side. In 20 minutes, I can go from open pasture farmland and deliciously peaceful bike riding/running streets to downtown. There is land still being developed to build your dream home. There’s a healthy mix of MU/KU/K-State fans up here; it’s not obnoxiously dominated by one school.

We have amazing authentic Mexican (Ixtapa) and the best brunch in the city (Ginger Sue’s and Kate’s Kitchen). The parks are second to none (Penguin Park, Dagg Park and Tiffany Springs Park just to name a few). Shoal Creek Living History Museum offers monthly unique family friendly events. We have a brand new Aldi that is phenomenal! Although the Johnson County libraries are hard to beat, ever since the Woodneath library opened, it definitely rivals its southern counterparts not only in beauty but also amenities.

Gladstone Community Center has a fantastic saltwater pool. Smithville Lake is just a 15 minute drive away and has hiking and biking trails plus hosts the WIN for KC Triathlon that I’m proud to have participated in twice. I adore Theater in the Park but Shawnee Mission Park is just too much of a drive for me; Gladstone has its own version which is just the right size and full of talent. Power Play has high powered go karts and a zip line which makes for a super fun date night. Many families get Worlds of Fun season passes because it’s so easy to go for an hour or two a few times a week.

North Kansas City has a vibrant downtown full of breweries, restaurants and entertainment. Snake Saturday is one of the best parades in the City and our brand new Costco will make Kansas City, North absolutely perfect.

Fellow Northlanders, what did I leave out? What else do you love about our side of the river?

I’m Julie and my family consists of myself, my husband, Gary, step-daughter Charlotte, 9, step-son Joel, 8, Dylan who is 18 months old and our faithful cocker spaniel, Presley. As a Johnson County transplant, I live in the Northland and love it. I’m a Kansas Citian from birth and love being here with all of our families close by. I am a tech geek by day writing software for an agriculture technology start up and a homemaker by night cooking, sewing, crafting and creating. I’m always on the lookout for ways to simplify life, save more money, spend more time with our family and squeeze in date nights with my handsome husband. We can often be found at nearby parks, Royals games and kid-friendly events around town.


  1. I too am a JoCo transplant and love it up here! The only thing missing is a good petting zoo and a trampoline park, but we have a zoo membership (at a discount because of where we live) which makes up for it. I am sure we will get a trampoline park sooner rather than later as well!

    PS Traffic is also a ton better!

    • A petting zoo! That would be awesome! I agree. I miss Deanna Rose! Someone mentioned a Trader Joes, too. The traffic is for sure better! I completely agree.

      • Hi Michelle! This is very true, Main Event will be coming around late April/May right by AMC, and we are so excited to be a new edition to the Northland. We are going to be a full service entertainment venue with fun for all. If you would like more information please don’t hesitate!

  2. We are moving this month to the Kansas City area and we are lost. This helps. I have had several people try and steer us toward Johnson County but we are more small town, rural people 🙂 they claim the area that you are living in isn’t “safe”. My research shows it has low crime rates… so it’s confusing…could you enlighten me at all?

    • Hi Nicole – I am a Northland native and have lived all over th country. My husband and I returned 4 years ago and I love it even more than when I left many years ago. The crime is low, people are very friendly…we call it “Northland nice”. Cost of living is lower than Johnson County side…but we are in the midst of a growth spurt. Schools are fantastic!!

      We would be happy to help you with your search or just help you get aquainted with Kansas City as a whole. I am a partner with The Concierge Real Estate Group. Cregkc.com. feel free to reach out anytime. Welcome to KC!!


    • Nicole, I can completely understand your confusion! If the people you are talking to live in JoCo then it’s possible they just don’t know. I can tell you that I’ve lived up north as a single gal (even though I’m now married with a family) and felt completely safe. There are quite a few police officers who live up here because to be a police officer in KCMO you have to live in the city limits and the Northland has some of the best schools and neighborhoods in the KCMO city boundaries. Personally, having lived both places, I feel equally safe. A good friend of mine’s father was a police officer in JoCo and now lives up north.

    • Nicole, I have lived in the Northland my entire life. I assure you…it’s very safe. We have lots of smaller towns like Liberty and Kearney that have top-rated schools and small town feels. The Northland is very community/family oriented, and as the article mentions, we don’t deal with traffic. That being said….where you or your family members will be working may make a difference as well. The commute to downtown, or out south, from the North isn’t always easy. But all in all…I’d say it’s worth it. You may want to check out the KC Mom’s Blog’s mom group from Liberty on Facebook. You can get a lot of good info there as well, and connect with moms in the North:) Good luck!

    • I feel so safe walking my dogs after dark here. In NKC, you get to know your neighbors and they watch out for each other. It’s very walkable and Armour Road is continuing to blossom.

  3. Don’t forget that the Northland is home to Zona Rosa, which offers an abundance of entertainment and community activities including Woof Stock, Kansas City Easter Parade, Festa Italiana, the Art Fair, Brew Fest, Trunk or Treating, and of course – the Northern Lighting Ceremony at Christmas with the Fairy Princess and Santa! We also have the historic river towns of Parkville and Weston with great shopping and restaurants, and skiing at Snow Creek!

  4. The best park in the northland is English Landing Park with trails, dog runs, volleyball, soccer, frisbee golf and jungle gyms. It’s also next to downtown parkville and Park University
    Weatherby Lake rivals Lake Quivira and the National is a great golf community.
    I’ve lived here almost 50 years and wouldn’t raise my family anywhere else. It’s small town feel with big city amenities.

  5. Hi All! I am too a Kansas City native, but until recently I did not discover all the Northland has to offer, and how truly unique it is. We are so excited to bring Main Event North to the area. We are set to open in late April, early May. We book events for all (Birthday Parties, Group, Corporate, Team Builders, ect). If anybody has any advice, or is interested in learning more, please feel free to reach out!

  6. What you left out is the fact that the Northland is slowly but surely being turned into another Johnson County wasteland. Developers are building endless rows of cheaply built monotonous housing additions. There is no Highway infrastructure to maintain the hordes of humanity that will be living up here. And those rolling pasture and farmlands will be a distant memory in 5-10 years. I work in the city and hope I make it to retirement before the development of the Northland goes much further. Does no one understand the meaning of “land use planning” anymore?

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