“I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
They got a crazy way of loving there
And I’m gonna get me some,”
~The Real Words to a Real Song by Wilbert Harrison 🙂
Goooood evening Bloggosphere! We’re just wrapping up a few days of birthday celebration/getaway/work trip/whirlwind fun in Kansas City! I’ve got my Instagram updated so check that out to see some cool pics of some of the places we stopped. Would love to have you follow us there and on Facebook (eventually I hope to add lots of fun content on YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat- oh my there are a lot of social media platforms to keep up with! Good thing I’ve got a smart phone and quick-typing thumbs!).
The big cities in the Midwest are fun. All you bigger metropolises (metropoli? metropolium?) can say what you want, but they just are. I’m sure places like Minneapolis and Omaha and Kansas City don’t top the travel bucket lists of millions of worldwide adventurers, but for those of us living in the good-old no-coast Midwest, they’re full of little and not so little amusements. We’ve spent time in Fargo, Chicago, Des Moines, St. Louis, the Twin Cities, Omaha, Springfield, Wichita, and of course, Kansas City, with the most trips being in the later as one of Matt’s corporate offices is located just North of KC. Stay tuned for info and stories from those other fun and fabulous Midwestern destinations as we get a chance to hit them up again, but today, we’ll tell ya a bit about this last trip to Kansas City, MO.
We came to town late on Monday and checked into our usual haunt, The Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs, about 25 minutes from downtown KC. This place is a gem- a very well-remodeled Prohibition-era beauty with a stunning spa (Mamas–please try your best to squeeze an hour or two away from your cherubs and get yo’self a massage or pedi) and a wonderful outdoor pool with comfy couches and lovely landscaping. The signature restaurant, The 88, is amazing but pricy and not entirely kid-friendly, although we’ve eaten there several times with our kids with varying degrees of success. It will give you the chance to practice your fancy table manners and learn not to complain when there are green things on your mashed potatoes. If you’re here in the summer swimming or relaxing by the outdoor pool is amazing- if you’re off-season there’s a fun and unique indoor lap pool as well. Also we’ve heard rumors that the property is haunted, but we’ve always slept very peacefully and never seen Casper in the hallway.
Tuesday we were lucky enough to get Daddy to take the day off and come into the city with us because –WOOT WOOT–we are celebrating the 10th birthday of our oldest children, twins Ava and Wyatt! I can’t believe we’ve been parents for a decade–we’re certainly not old enough for that, right? RIGHT?!?! Well, old enough or not, my first babies are a decade old, and with a necessary work trip for Matt this week, a out-of-town-birthday was in order. We celebrated well with extended family over the weekend too so this was really Birthday Party Round 2…spoiled little birthday darlings. 😉
There are a ton of fun things to do in Kansas City, and while we’ve done a lot of them, we have also NOT done a lot of them. We’ve never tackled Worlds/Oceans of Fun (looks crazy fun, of course, but after Disney we’re not sure the cost/exhaustion factor would be worth it). Another big thing we haven’t done is a Royals game…but its on my short list for next time. Full transparency- we aren’t super duper sporty people. Not that we have anything against sports or the people who enjoy them, its just not for us. But the kids would probably just love to sit in the hot sun and watch a slow-moving sport they don’t understand…as long as they have cotton candy and Daddy and I have a cold beer, I think we’d all survive. Plus baseball is as ‘Merican as it gets and the Royal’s stadium is lovely, so there ya go. Finally, the Plaza. Ahhhh there was a day (and perhaps will be again) where the Plaza would have been a must-do. All the fancy shops and food and drinks and architecture…but with 4 kids in tow who just want to be their loud/messy/bumbly selves and swim at the pool, we usually skip this area. I know, it’s sad, but truth be told, I’m not a big shopper (gasp!) so it doesn’t really bother me. With the three BIG things we didn’t do in KC out of the way, here’s what we did….
The old Union Station building downtown is one of my very favorite spots in town. Just walking through the heavy, tiny metal doors (seriously how did the people fit through with all their luggage? Were they tiny people?!?) you are transported back to the era of the golden age of the railroads. From the tall ceilings, the intricate architectural details everywhere you look, the cavernous foyer to the fun, retro bathrooms- the whole building is an experience not to be missed and provides for some great photo ops, especially at Christmastime. While you’re here grab an amazing coffee from the Parisi Cafe, admire the tiny villages of the model railroad exhibit, see a film on the largest non-IMAX theater screen in the Midwest, and if you’re traveling with kids, stop at Science City for a few hours of intellectual stimulation disguised as play. You can ride a bike on a high wire, experiment with illusions, electricity, music and water, learn about the genetic code, and watch real anthropologists work on real dino bones and other fossils. Tip Alert!! Our family has a membership to our local Science Center which includes free admission to dozens of other centers around the country which has saved us tons of money and justified an hour-or-two visit if that’s all that time allows. Very worth it for our nerdy crew of 6- learning by doing is one of my favorite things to encourage the kids to do and these places make that so darned easy.
Moving on from US we had a lovely and messy BBQ lunch at Jack Stack’s, right behind the station. Of course if you’re in Kansas City you should get really really good BBQ, and we Huggs happen to be rib afficianados- especially Layla who says “they hit the spot” as she points to her little 4-year-old ribcage and licks every last drop of greasy sauce off of her fingers. Presh. The twins love BBQ and got to choose their own (massive! free!) desserts off the menu so everyone was stuffed and happy.
Back to the hotel for swimming and Zootopia and jumping on hotel beds and begging goosey post-birthday children to settle down…brings us to Wednesday. Matt’s work was in full swing that day so it was up to me to carry the burden of big city vacationing alone. Cue the tiny violins. I grabbed an extra-shot cortado from the hotel cafe, put on my going-out shoes and sunglasses and drug the kids out the door and downtown again…no hill for a climber. Today we went to the Crown Center, which is the Hallmark headquarters and one of the main focal points of downtown. There is a place there called Kalidescope and its magical. Really. They have a fabulously colorful and eclectic space for budding artists to create to their hearts content using recycled/leftover materials from the Hallmark factory and it’s FREE. You just show up, get a ticket for a 40-minute time-slot (many throughout the day) and let your creativity run wild. Ava got some fabulous glowing new kicks from South Korea (via Amazon, natch!) for her birthday which really lit up the blacklight room so she felt pretty rad. After a stop at Glace, a fancy-shmacy artisan ice cream place that we adore, we went to another free KC favorite, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for a picnic on their gorgeous sculpture garden grounds. The yard is set as if a giant badmitton game is in session, so we picniced under a birdie the size of a truck. Isabelle was SO tired and her legs were “SO jello-y” that she didn’t want to walk up the big gorgeous stairs into the museum, but I tricked her into it with promises of mummy viewing and a quick peek at some of the other art. 😉 I love art museums and could have spent all day (their Greek/Egyptian collections and modern pieces are amazing!!) enjoying the property, and I think its important for the kids to be exposed to fine art as soon as possible and learn to appreciate it (or at least not complain!). With a little coercing, we did spend a little while walking through the fantastic galleries before we were soon enough splashing in the pool at the sunny Elms again.
It’s lucky that Matt’s work takes us to places like Kansas City, cause I’m not sure we would spend precious vacation days or dollars on a long weekend down here otherwise. BUT now that we’ve enjoyed this mini-big-city over several trips, this one included, I’m reminded of the BIG fun that can be had here and places like it. I tend to want to dream really big when it comes to vacations (Disney! New York City! Caribbean Cruises! Paris!) but making room in the budget and the schedule for getaways like this makes a ton of sense. If you’re a Midwestern family like ours, take a closer look at some of the adventures in the mini-big-cities near you…maybe a quick summer getaway is just what the trip doctor ordered. If you have any questions about any of the places I mentioned (or didn’t!) in KC, feel free to comment or message me and I’ll do my best to point you in a direction that helps your family get GO-ing too!
So long for now, KC,