Travel Local: Kansas City

Last week  I wrote a post on my photography blog entitled, What If… where I discussed the value of finding beauty in the ordinary rather than bemoaning the fact that I did not live in some exotic location: a topic that would suit this blog as well.

Lately I have blogged about my traveling dreams – to exotic locations – but I wonder what I am overlooking in my own Kansas City?  I decided it might be fun to plan a long-weekend vacation in my hometown.

After a bit of research, I decided that a good hypothetical date for this vacation would be June 6-8, 2014.  Kansas summers can be beastly hot, but early June should be bearable, warm… but bearable.

The itinerary might look something like this.

Friday evening:

Kauffman Stadium:  Royals vs Yankees.  Now I must confess, we are east coast transplants and diehard Yankees fans, so I understand that not everyone would share our enthusiasm for this particular lineup.  However… after every Friday night home game there is a free Fireworks show, which is always fun to watch.

Other possibilities:  The Power and Light district is good alternative if you desire to experience some of the city’s  night life.   Several trendy restaurants offer a variety of dinner options, or if you have a hard time choosing just one restaurant, enjoy a” progressive dinner ” by visiting a few pubs and grazing on appetizers.  Within walking distance is The Sprint Center – THE venue for big name concerts and sporting events.

Saturday morning:

Westport:  Until recently, I was quite unfamiliar with this area of town, but after one visit I knew I wanted to return.  My youngest describes it as “hipster” – my husband and I thought it reminded us of Greenwich Village when we lived there in the 80s:  lots of one-of-a-kind restaurants and small store fronts.

We would return to the Corner Restaurant for breakfast – well worth the one hour wait.  The food is fresh, unique, and reasonably priced.  Last time my husband had the root beer french toast (amazing…) and I had the Middle Child scramble-ful (fresh eggs mixed with spinach, basil, Roma tomatoes, and goat cheese).

If not in the mood for breakfast, they also carry brunch items – like sandwiches, salads and burgers – served after 11:00am.  The restaurant is only open until 4:00pm, however, so plan accordingly.

After a relaxing breakfast, we would walk around the area taking in the sights and sounds of this bustling neighborhood.

Other possibilities:  Union Station  to see the current King Tut exhibit (through September 7, 2014).  There are two restaurants in the station where one can have breakfast before the exhibit opens at 10:00am.  The recommended viewing time is about ninety minutes, which would allow time for a leisurely stroll around the landmark station afterwards. 

Saturday afternoon:

First Fridays in the West Bottoms is always a good time.  Once a dilapidated section of the city, innovative entrepreneurs renovated the old warehouses into antique markets that are opened one weekend a month.  You can find anything and everything among the 20+ markets – from fine antiques to discarded junk to repurposed items.  Each market has its own personality and its loyal clientele.  We could easily spend the afternoon here, provided it is not too hot.  Unfortunately many of these old warehouses are not equipped with modern air conditioning.

Other Possibilities:  the Kansas City zoo has improved dramatically over the past few years.  It is not quite as popular as the neighboring St. Louis Zoo or Omaha Zoo … but it is well worth the visit.  The recent Helzberg Penguin Plaza is sure to entertain the young and young-at-heart, and the wild roaming kangaroos are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The zoo is part of Swope Park, which also houses Starlight Theater, famous for the Broadway shows that are performed throughout the summer.  While the season does not officially begin until June 10, The Backstreet Boys happen to be in town on June 7, if interested….

Saturday evening:

After a dinner of quintessential Kansas City barbecue (our favorites include Oklahoma Joe’s or Jack Stack… but there are TOO many quality restaurants to attempt to list them here) ….a night on the town would be in order – perhaps Quality Hill Playhouse to see Rhapsody in Gershwin.  I must confess that this is a new venue for me, but after reviewing the calendar of events at VisitKC, this sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday night.  Kansas City is known for its Jazz clubs, and it is about time that I took advantage of this local entertainment.

Other possibilities:  For a more refined evening, the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts would be a nice alternative.  The building is beautiful and the event selection is spectacular.

Sunday morning:

The Plaza – while well-known for its display of holiday lights, the Country Club Plaza is also considered the first outdoor mall.  Most of the stores are quite upscale (and therefore out of my price range) but there are several restaurants which offer a reasonably priced Sunday brunch.

After the mid-morning meal, a leisurely stroll around the Plaza would be nice:  window shopping and people watching.  Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains second only to  Rome.   Several of the 200 fountains are found in the Plaza area, and I think they might provide some good travel photography practice.

Sunday afternoon:

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art would be a nice way to end the weekend.  Admission is free and there is plenty to see that would appeal to a variety of tastes.  On a nice day, a stroll through the outdoor sculpture garden would be nice and the Bloch Building houses quite an extensive collection of Contemporary Art.

The perfect ending to this weekend would be a little snack in the Rozelle Court Restaurant, an enclosed courtyard that is a step back in time to sixteenth century Italy.  Prices are reasonable, but the atmosphere is priceless.

Other possibilities:  Crown Center is home to Hallmark Cards, as well as the Sea Life Aquarium and the famed Legoland (although adults must be accompanied by a child in order to visit).   If you are traveling with children, Crown Center will provide hours of educational entertainment.

Of course, the city offers much more than these few listings, and your taste may differ from mine, but hopefully I have given you a hint of what is available in my home town.  So if you find yourself traveling through this part of the country, it might be worth a scheduled stop to sample some of our famous barbecue and midwest hospitality.

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