The father of the modern shopping center, Kansas City's own J.C. Nichols, created the Country Club Plaza as the world's first suburban shopping mecca in 1922. The Plaza was a welcome alternative to the crowds, dirt, noise, bustle, and lack of convenient automobile parking downtown. It wasn't just closer to home. It was clean, quiet and well-manicured. When Zona Rosa opened off Barry Road and Interstate 29 in 2004, the new shopping-and-entertainment complex was fashioned after Nichols' Plaza, with storefronts that faced winding streets, fountains and green space. The stores and restaurants are up-to-date, but the ambience is a throwback to a simpler, less complicated time. There's a "Town Square" in the heart of the shopping district where jazz bands play on Thursday nights, and fresh produce can be purchased at the farmers market every Tuesday. At Barnes & Noble, a writers group meets twice monthly and the Christian Women's Book Club meets once a month. Oh, and the center's Web site (www.zonarosa.com) posts bargains for shoppers who need an extra nudge to drive north of the river.