My husband and I just got back from a road trip to Kansas City, and I thought I’d share a few of the fun adventures we had there. KC is just a short 4-hour drive from Tulsa, so it’s the perfect place for Okies to go on a weekend or holiday.
1. Crown Center
Kansas City’s Crown Center is home to so many fun-filled things. Where do I even begin? It’s a great place to take kids, featuring an outdoor Legoland year-round and ice skating from November through March. (No, we didn’t ice skate in the 25-degree weather, but if that’s your thing, then go for it!)
For those who prefer the
warmth of the indoors, Crown Center also has an indoor shopping and dining area. We noticed the colorful Crayola Cafe, filled with children chomping down on food every color of the rainbow. We also ended up getting a couple of cool Christmas gifts at a niche dog-lovers’ store.
Crown Center also features the Hallmark Visitors’ Center. After all, Kansas City is home to Hallmark, synonymous with all things sappy and lovey dovey (which I adore, by the way! I hope one day to grow up and write greeting cards as poetic as Mr. Deeds’). We paid a quick visit to the Visitors’ Center (admission is free — woohoo!) and enjoyed seeing some of Hallmark’s original greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, and even seeing clips of the tear-jerker movies that can only be produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame. Just when I thought my stint at the Hallmark Visitors’ Center couldn’t get any better, the nice ladies at the front door gave me a gift on my way out. Yes, I was given a gift for visiting a FREE visitors’ center! And it was an adorable Disney Princesses’ recordable storybook! Score! (Hopefully you will get a gift if you visit! I can’t make any promises!)
2. Union Station
Built in 1914, Union Station encompasses 850,000 square feet and originally featured 900 rooms. In its prime as a working train station, it accommodated tens of thousands of passengers every year. At its peak during World War II, an estimated one million travelers passed through the Station.
Closed in the 1980s, the Station sat empty and neglected, escaping demolition on several occasions. In 1996, a historic bi-state initiative was passed to fund the Station’s renovation, which was completed in 1999. Today’s Union Station is filled with fine restaurants and unique shops. And just like in 1914, you can catch the train at Union Station’s Amtrak stop. Union Station also houses the permanent collections and archives for Union Station Kansas City, Inc./Kansas City Museum.
During our short visit to Union Station, we enjoyed listening to some lovely Christmas music being performed in the grand entryway. We were interested in eating lunch at Harvey’s, a gorgeous two-story eatery in the entrance of the Station, but the wait was pretty long and we got impatient. Just walking around that Station was something worth experiencing, though, and I’m glad we did it!
A short 30-minute drive from Kansas, the Holy-Field Winery in Basehor, Kan. is the perfect spot for tasting the local flavors and picking up a few bottles of vino to take home. When we pulled into the parking lot, we were greeted by an adorable “canine ambassador”: one of the many dogs that helps out at the winery. Once inside, we explained to one of the super nice ladies that we were visiting the area and wondered if we could do a tasting.
I don’t know about you, but a good wine tasting usually costs $$. The kind ladies at Holy-Field, however, took time out of their day to provide us with an excellent sampling of many whites, reds, and fruit wines, all for free. I’m a white wine person, and my favorite was Kaw River Rhine, “a unique Vignoles blend that offers the pallet bright notes of grapefruit and minerality with a fruity balance.” My husband is more of a red wine drinker, and his favorite was Cynthania, a very dry red wine aged 6-12 months. My friend Kelsey, whose parents are locals, went with her mom’s suggestion, Tailgate Red, “a blend of St. Vincent and Chambourcin grapes, finished on a semi-sweet style.”
Although Holy-Field is a bit of a jaunt away from the city, your taste buds will be happy you made the trip to Basehor!
4. The Country Club Plaza
The Plaza is one of Kansas City’s best known shopping areas, and we had a chance to see it illuminated by thousands of Christmas lights. The outdoor shopping district features hundreds of chain and high-end stores, including several shops I had never heard of. After some last-minute Christmas shopping in the freezing cold, we warmed up at one of the Plaza’s many restaurants, The Plaza III, The Steakhouse. On a stroke of good fortune, we visited during their excellent Happy Hour and enjoyed some succulent crab cakes, tender beef skewers and tasty onion strings).
KCP&L’s Power & Light District has more than 50 shops, restaurants, and bars. Not only is there a plethora of indoor venues, but the district also hosts a number of free family days and concerts on its covered outdoor stage.
While visiting the Power & Light District, we ventured in to Bar Louie for Happy Hour (yes, we love happy hours!) and enjoyed some cocktails, chicken quesadillas, spinach dip, and chicken wings.
Overall, we had an amazing time in Kansas City! I hope you can use some of my suggestions on your next road trip there, and please share your fave things to do in KC!