Welcome (or welcome back) to our Going to Kansas City series. Before we focus on getting active and out of our comfort zones for the good of our souls, a review of the series preview and the first installment, where you can find vital information about the series and the details of getting around in KC and attending a Sporting Kansas City match:
Remember, the center-piece of the weekend is attending a Sporting Kansas City match at Children’s Mercy Park, so keep that in mind and refer to the links above for more information, and document your journey and give your reviews via #Go2KC and #KCTopShelf
Even though Kansas City is not Colorado or Utah or California when it comes to adventure activities, there is plenty of unique KC adventure awaiting those with an adventurous spirit. And, uh, Sporting Kansas City ain’t the Rapids or RSL or any of those Cali-clubs either… Thank goodness!! (With respectful apologies to fans of those clubs, of course.)
By the way … if going to the lake is a big you-thing, Kansas City has plenty, see here. And … if at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving isn’t for you… yet it sounds so cool! Even though some business in every city likely offers it, here or here is where to go in Kansas City if the mood should finally overcome your fears.
Adventure sleeping! What’s crazier than that?
Most of the activities and cuisine recommended is focused in or relatively close to North Kansas City for this installment. So here are some different places to lay your head there:
Camping (Friday night or both): Watkins Mill State Park(TS) near Kearney is not only home to an 1800s woolen mill that reveals much about adventure living of the time, it boasts a scenic lake and excellent low (tent) and high-tech campsites. Just read the praise on Yelp! Do I need to remind you to bring makings for s’mores?
Glamping (I jest, but these are cool.): The Elms Hotel and Spa(TS) in Excelsior Springs is just, well, lovely. History, an excellent spa, a cool outdoor pool, a fine restaurant and bar, high-spirited celebrations in the event spaces, and quiet romance in other spaces, and … ghosts (it’s just a rumor)! Book a room where Harry S. Truman headed after he thought he’d lost the 1948 Presidential election. Yeah, surprises await you there too.
Two B&Bs – Check into the Inn at 425 in Gladstone or the Inn at Crescent Lake in Excelsior Springs. The former is an 1888 Queen Ann, a historic former home to a judge sitting in an urban setting, while the latter is a 1915 Georgian Colonial Mansion nestled on 22 acres. Both will provide a break from the mundane and stories to tell.
Onto cuisine and cool things to do:
Listening: While you travel through town, tune in or stream KTBG, 90.9 The Bridge(TS) for a mix of adult album alternative tunes with plenty of new, rare, and local music blended in. It’s a KC original.
Lunch – It’s maybe been a long trip to Kansas City, so let’s get some fresh food that hasn’t traveled so far. Hit The Westside Local, a small farm-to-home restaurant in the KC Crossroads area that is a little quirky and a little hip with drink names dedicated to Tom Hanks and unique and traditional offerings. Feeling more exotic? Check out one of Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza’s favorite Honduran eateries by heading to Kansas City, Kansas (not a long trip), and sampling Sabor Centro Americano. They offer a wide variety of Central American dishes and… pupusas. Need I say more?
Activity – Believe it or not, Kansas City is home to some of the best disc golf courses in the country. Grab your frisbee (or pick up a disc set somewhere close) and enjoy Water Works Park in North KC, the most beautiful and famous course in town or Kessler course on Cliff Drive, featuring great views of Kansas City. Headquarters for all the great disc golf courses is kcfdc.org. More into hiking? Tread all over Parkville Nature Sanctuary and its nature-rich, waterfall-featuring three-mile White Tail Trail.
Dinner - Setting up camp or checking into your accommodations for the night is imperative at this point. Dinner could be at camp where you just may decide to relax for the night or in or near your hotel or B&B. But if you are craving a KC BBQ experience, head directly to Q39 (TS) on the Country Club Plaza or the Jack Stack Freight house(TS) by Union Station. Both are amazing. (Tip – shrimp appetizer and beef ribs and cheesy corn at Jack Stack!)
Activity – Push aside the mundane, shake off fatigue, and go chuck some axes at Blade and Timber in the West Bottoms. Yes, axes! The staff will teach you and set you free. Or try an escape adventure at Breakout KC(TS) at their River Market locale, the original and best escape game in Kansas City. If you never have done this, it is a blast! (It is best to do with four or more, just so you know.) The staff is friendly, armed with three free tips to help you succeed, and the rooms are filled with creative mystery and fun. I suggest the Truman room. (You have 60 minutes… Go!) Both activities should be reserved before you go.
A good night’s sleep to you. You’ve earned it!
Breakfast - Start the day off with a trip to Le Monde Bakery in North Kansas City. The croissants are to die for! Fresh KC Roasterie coffee awaits you, as well as many other delicious food offerings.
Activity – Let’s get the blood flowing in KC’s Swope Park on their varied mountain bike trails. (There are other places to go – alltrails.com) but Swope Park is the place in KC. Check out The Swope Park Mountain Bike Trail (moderate), the Wudchuk Run Loop (moderate) or Rancho D-Lux (easy). Of course, each can be hiked too. If you like to shoot, dodge, dart, and strategize, get splatted (or not) at Jaegers Paintball(TS) in North KC. They boast five underground courses in the amazing KC caves, a 2-man speedball field, and four outdoor fields. And laser tag!
Lunch – Make sure you have been hydrating… but a body needs protein too. The food fest continues at YJs Snack Bar in the Crossroads. One praiser on Yelp states “… one of my favorite meals in Kansas City! It’s definitely a hole in the wall, but quirky and charming in the best way possible.” or at Pirates Bone, a vegan restaurant and coffee bar in the quaint suburb of Brookside. Lots of Yelp gushing too…
Activity – I’ll admit; I stumbled upon these two… Every first Friday weekend (and more) the West Bottoms offers a myriad of cool-stuff shops and antique shops. Check out this one any weekend from 11am-5pm: Weird Stuff Antiques. Plenty of treasures to be unearthed. Bring cash and stay awhile. Or make your way near Children’s Mercy Park and take a ride through the trees on the bluffs of the Kansas River at ZipKC(TS) Ziplining, just past SKC’s stadium off I-70 in Bonner Springs, KS. The staff is excellent and the offerings are varied. Book a tour before you go to soar with a smile.
Sweet Tooth Stop – If you did Weird Stuff, venture to Southwest Boulevard and Paleterias Tropicana for 48 flavors of Mexican ice pops before you head back to home base or head to the game (if a Saturday night match… adjust accordingly if not.).
Dinner – Up to you… but, hey, tailgating will help you get more of the soccer match experience. Finish off your camp food stuffs, pick up something, or party with The Cauldron or South Stand (See “A KC Soccer & More Weekend”). And, yeah, bring some corn hole or Kan Jam or a soccer ball. The parking lot opens two hours before match time.
After game – If you don’t stay at CMP after the match, do we have two treats for you: On your way to your place or camp, stop by Tom’s Town Distilling Co.(TS) in the Crossroads or Fat Matt’s Vortex in KCK for a drink… and more. The first is named for Tom Pendergast who owned KC back in the 1920s (Think concrete and mafia.) and features strong drinks, a tasting room, wonderful owners, and a fun, engaging tour you can book ahead of time for $10 a person. The second is totally the opposite. A dive bar. The diviest of dive bars. Built over a former crematorium (ask for the tour, ghosts … maybe?). Cheap drinks. Funky, yet traditional atmosphere. And a complimentary dose of Grog (quite the delicious concoction). Truly, you only live once. Hit both places. Now go sleep.
Activity – Last day in town, maybe the game this afternoon or tonight … do something missed above before you leave or go to the game.
Lunch - Everyone likes wine… or your significant other does. Be sophisticated, or act so, or just have fun at Belvoir Winery in Liberty (open Noon-6 on Sundays) where free tastings await you at this beautiful, perfect-for-events, spacious, historical, and rumored-haunted setting or at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery in Excelsior Springs (open 11am-5pm on Sunday), a more-nature centered locale with wonderful owners and a wide variety of wines. Free tastings too. Which of the two is better? Check out both?
Thank you for joining us for Going to Kansas City: The Adventurers’ weekend. Share with your friends and stay tuned for next week’s installment. Life is about rewards. There are plenty of rewarding experiences in Kansas City. Go get them. #Go2KC #KCTopShelf