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Year-Round Fun and Attractions in Downtown Lee’s Summit

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Impressive shopping: Check    
Quality restaurants: Check
Inviting ambiance: Check
Fun activities for the whole family: Check

If these are at the top of your list for things to do, look no further than downtown Lee’s Summit, Missouri, for a wonderful place to spend the day.

“Downtown Lee’s Summit is a great destination,” shared Donnie Rodgers, executive director, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street. “You can spend a full day and enjoy a unique experience. Come for breakfast, enjoy the offerings and then wrap up the day with dinner in the evening. Our special events are geared to families, such as art fairs, Halloween parades, tree lightings and other holiday events. Lee’s Summit has a little bit of something for everyone.”

Our Missouri Village
Donnie points out that the residents of Lee’s Summit are the key ingredient in making the downtown successful. “We rely on volunteers to help us and the community. In 2016, we had 4,000 volunteer hours. It does take a village to make something successful, but it didn’t happen overnight,” remarked Donnie.” Our organization has been in place since 1989, and some years were a struggle. But we’ve come a long way. It takes a while to turn things around, but when you see progress, it’s really rewarding.”

You can find one-of-a-kind items at over 60 locally-owned specialty shops and boutiques in Downtown Lee’s Summit. Retail offerings include home decor, jewelry, gourmet food products, specialty wine, women’s clothing and restaurants galore. Other businesses offer services as varied as spa treatments, family portrait photography and tax accounting.

Taking Ownership
“Our merchants are very small-town America. They’re like a second family to each other, cheerleaders, in a way. They have a strong support system and lots of camaraderie,” shared Donnie. “Our shopkeepers are here on a daily basis. You deal with the owner, and it’s a personable experience. There are no absentee owners in Downtown Lee’s Summit.”

If shopping isn’t at the top of your list, consider one of the 112 days of events in downtown Lee’s Summit. The biggest draw is Downtown Days, averaging 100,000 people in attendance, and set for June 2 through 4, 2017. “We stay very busy during summer events,” remarked Donnie. “Downtown Lee’s Summit is a hidden gem. There are a lot of great things going on here; most events are free and very family-friendly. A visit makes for a great weekend.”

Fresh and Local
A significant part of the weekend fun is the award-winning Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmers Market, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last season. “We’re very proud of our Farmers Market,” shared Donnie. “It was named the number one farmers’ market in the state of Missouri in the America’s Favorite Farmers’ Markets contest hosted by American Farmland Trust for the past six years.”

It’s located at the corner of Second and Douglas Streets, where you can pick up a marvelous array of products. The Market is open from 7:00 a.m. to sell-out, Wednesdays and Saturdays, from April 1 through November 18. You can shop from more than 50 vendors, many from local farms, although some come from as far away as Sedalia and Warrensburg. Choose from an amazing variety of fresh produce, plants, meat, baked goods, handmade items and more. There’s convenient parking in the lot next to the Farmers Market on Douglas Street, or at the City Hall parking garage at the corner of Second and Green streets.

Creating More in Downtown
Enhancing the Farmers Market is a key to future growth for Downtown Lee’s Summit. One vision is creating a permanent home for the Market that encompasses an outdoor performance and event space where the community can come together. “We could offer performances, car shows, antique festivals, arts and crafts and more,” enthused Donnie. “We also want to see more people living downtown, sharing a walkable environment that’s attractive to retirees and young professionals.”

Donnie also highlights the Downtown Lee’s Summit concert series on Friday evenings, every week during the summer months, called Music in the Park. From March to August, the merchants host Fourth Fridays Art Walk, with a shops staying open late to accommodate the visitors and showcasing local art and artists. The city boasts one of the busier Amtrak stations in the state, hovering toward the top in ridership.

As for the future, the merchants are hoping a new boutique hotel might locate here to house overnight visitors. But no matter the vision, the entire city is committed to helping this area stay on track, grow and prosper.

“Everything starts right here in the downtown. It’s our city’s sense of place and identity, defining how you relate to your community,” commented Donnie. “Is our downtown special? There’s only one, and it’s where our community started. We want it to grow and thrive. That’s where civic pride is created. Most people won’t rally around a shopping center, but you are prideful of your downtown.”

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