Destination

Kansas City, MO, USA

TL;DR

  • Stay
    • Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza, 770 W 47th St, Kansas City, MO 64112
      • Located in the West Plaza neighborhood, this Sheraton offers a great location within walking distance of a movie theater, plenty of shops, and great restaurants.
    • The Carriage House at Loose Mansion, 101 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111
      • Neh. If you’re attending a wedding at Loose Mansion, super convenient to be right next door. But otherwise this space is nothing noteworthy and reminded me of a summer camp dorm.
  • Eat/Drink
    • Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, 3002 West 47th Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66103
      • Do not come to this institution and get anything else than a Z-Man. Pulled pork, onion rings, and sauce on a kaiser roll. Okay okay if you want to get some burnt ends, a side of beef brisket, or some Kansas caviar, I’m okay with that.
    • Parkway Social Kitchen, 616 Ward Pkwy, Kansas City, MO 64112
      • Sit outside on a sunny afternoon, ask the server to keep bringing you iced tea refills, and try your best to not be satisfied when you order the half-grilled cheese, half Parkway salad combo.
    • Somerset Ridge Winery Tasting Room, 311 E. 135th St. Kansas City, MO 64145
      • Where the rehearsal dinner was held – and an absolutely lovely space. The courtyard is full of flowers and plants for sale and makes for an idyllic entertainment space for a small group (<40 people)
    • Martin City Brewing, 410 E 135th St, Kansas City, MO 64145
      • This place is a heck of a drive south from downtown KC but the beers are quite good and there’s a nice outdoor beer garden to sit in.
    • Boulevard Brewing Company, 2501 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108
      • This is the OG brewer in town. One that’s grown and has a legit tour ($5 a person, comes with two tastes at the end and one at the start, and it’s well worth it). Come on a sunny day and sit outside on the second floor of the taproom.
    • Stockyards Brewing Company, 1600 Genessee St #100, Kansas City, MO 64102
      • Imagine an old saloon and that’s basically Stockyards.
    • Strange Days Brewing Company, 316 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64106
      • The website will give you a headache, but the beer flight shouldn’t. If you do all five, sample the Greenwich Line (coffee stout) and the IBB (International Belgian Brown) for a nice trip to flavor country.
  • See
    • Loose Mansion, 101 E Armour Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64111
      • A stately old mansion, this was the location of the wedding we were attending. Probably won’t be on your visit list unless you’re explicitly here for an event at the mansion.
    • National World War I Museum and Memorial,  Memorial Dr, Kansas City, MO 64108
      • One of the most outstanding historical museums I have ever been to. I’d put it and the World War II museum in New Orleans at the top of the list. Stunning monument to the war to end all wars. Pay extra to go to the top of the tower and make sure you don’t rush through this place. I’d aim for at least 2.5-3 hours.
    • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111
      • One of the world’s best collection of art, Monet’s “Water Lilies” and a series of oversized shuttlecocks (the birdie you hit in badminton). Oh and did I mention it’s FREE?
    • Places I did NOT get to see but really wanted to

 

Trip Background

This was the long awaited wedding of two of our dear friends and an excuse to visit one of the homes of classic barbecue: Kansas City, Missouri. I bought my direct nonstop flight on Southwest way back in January from Oakland to KC for $383.96 and thanks (again) to our Companion Pass, it only cost an additional $11 for my wife Caitlin to fly.

Now before this I was a bit perplexed. “Kansas City is in Missouri, right?” I asked my wife. And she (and our friends) clarified that KC sits in both Missouri and Kansas and that literally you can cross the street and suddenly be in the other state. Hey, whatever works. We spent time in both so technically this is my 32nd state as I can finally say I’ve visited Kansas! Huzzah!

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Day 1 (May 3, 2018): My Solo Night

Our travel day began with a panicked moment. I had originally bought us tickets on Alaska Airlines from SFO to MCI (Kansas City Airport) but had cancelled those when we got my Southwest Companion Pass. But I’d never updated the calendar entries in my Outlook. As a result it took me about 20 minutes of frantically searching for my Southwest information before I could check in (naturally with lousy mid-B group boarding #’s). But we got onboard with no issues and the flight to KC was a brisk one, made even better by the fact that both my seat neighbor and a guy on the next aisle were also reading the book version of Ernest Clines’ recently adapted hit, “Ready Player One.”

We arrived at the Kansas City International Airport, which is one of the easiest airports to get out of (you can literally see the curbside from the gate). We took a Lyft to the Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza where my wife proceeded to head off to a girls’ night prior to the wedding. With nothing to do, I headed straight for the famed Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. When I left the hotel, the desk agents recommended I get a Z-Man, a kaiser roll loaded with pulled pork, onion rings, and slathered in bbq sauce. But this is proper Kansas BBQ and I needed to try something else. So I also took home a side of beef brisket, some pulled pork, and Kansas caviar (basically a mixed veggie side of corn, tomatoes, edamame, tomatoes, etc. covered in a honey lime dressing). Delicious! I brought it all back to the hotel and after a quick pre-dinner workout, I destroyed that sandwich.

To close out the night, I walked over to the nearby Cinemark Palace At The Plaza movie theater and took in a showing of Ready Player One (to compare the book I was reading).

 

Day 2 (May 4, 2018): Food, Drink, Food, and More Drink

I technically still had some work to do so I spent the morning in the hotel room taking calls. But at lunch, I stepped out and met Caitlin, her cousin Janine, and Janine’s daughter Tessa for lunch at the Parkway Social Kitchen. It was 80+ degrees outside and I spent my lunchtime soaking up as much sun as possible. For those of you who have never been to San Francisco, despite its’ California coastline location, it’s not as sunny/warm as you would imagine. So to get some raw warm weather was a delight.

After a few more hours of work, it was time for wedding weekend festivities to begin! We rode to the rehearsal (I being the dutiful husband of a bridesmaid waited in the side room playing on my iPhone while the rehearsal was completed) before heading off to the Somerset Ridge Winery Tasting Room.

Our evening consisted of a delicious and hefty KC style bbq buffet (from the nearby Jack Stack BBQ), followed by post-celebration beers at Martin City Brewing (if you’re looking for a stiff one, try the Founders’ Curmudgeon Ale) before we uber’d home and went to bed.

 

Day 3 (May 5, 2018): Don’t pre-party the afternoon before a wedding!

We relocated from our hotel to the The Carriage House at Loose Mansion, which is where we were staying. But given the bridal parties had taken over the place and Caitlin was on bridesmaid duty for the majority of the day, I opted to go explore. Her cousin Janine’s husband, Todd, took me out for a tour of the local breweries – and we proceeded to have a blast (aka get kind of drunk).

We began at Boulevard Brewing Company, which is the OG brewer in town. It’s gotten big over the last several decades and Todd and I opted for the tour (at $5 a person, it comes with two tastes at the end and one at the start, and it’s well worth it). We came on a sunny day and sat outside on the second floor of the taproom and it was glorious. To our surprise, everyone who was there was tame. Mind you, this was Cinco de Mayo, a sunny Saturday, and the running of the Kentucky Derby – all on the same day.

Our next stop was Stockyards Brewing Company. The place looks and feels like an old saloon and while the beers weren’t bad, there’s no food and it’s in an otherwise uninteresting neighborhood.

The afternoon ended for us at Strange Days Brewing Company. The website will give you a headache, but the beer flight shouldn’t. If you do all five, sample the Greenwich Line (coffee stout) and the IBB (International Belgian Brown) for a nice trip to flavor country. They have a great setup with garage-style doors to let the air in (which on an 80 degree day feels amazing) and their staff is super knowledgeable and friendly.

Loose Mansion is a super classy venue and keeps an intimate feel – there couldn’t have been more than 100 or so attendees there. I won’t share too much about the wedding but suffice it to say it was a blast. I ate and drank so much that I passed out early on our bed!

 

Day 4 (May 6, 2018): Museums Ahoy!

With the wedding complete, I decided to make the most of the last day by taking in two museums.

The first was the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Caitlin wanted to chill out so I went solo and my only comparable experience leading up to this was the World War II museum in New Orleans. The two are incredibly different as they pay homage to the fallen soldiers and civilian victims of two very different conflicts, and the WWI museum was a stunning experience from top to bottom. I spent nearly three hours here and it felt rushed (I had to go meet Caitlin for the other major museum in town). But if you come here, pay extra to go to the top of the Liberty Memorial tower for some stunning views.

The main museum, built in 2004 to complement the Liberty Memorial tower (which was erected in 1921) is composed of two main sections – the 1914-1917 period and the 1917-1919 period. The latter includes the American involvement in the war and both sides show artifacts, replicas, photos, and recreations of a tremendously violent conflict that simply known as the Great War until the second World War. One poignant visual comes as you enter the museum and see a field of poppies beneath the glass bridge that leads into the first exhibit. Each one represents some of the many casualties that resulted and the fact that poppies blossomed on the war fields from the decaying ordinance and human remains is an incredibly profound idea.

I also added in the audio tour for some historical context and the extra exhibit on John Sargent Singer’s painting, “Gassed,” which was a harrowing look at chemical warfare.

In the two buildings flanking the memorial tower are smaller exhibits that also merit your attention. And once you’re done there, head up the tower elevator and the steps to see a stunning view of Kansas City.

I could have spent way more time at the WWI museum, but wanted to make sure I met Caitlin for a tour through the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. If you find yourself in KC, this is a must-do. I’d only known this place for the series of oversized shuttlecocks (also known as a birdie – that thing you hit in badminton) set up outside the museum but I had no idea just how impressive this collection is. One of the world’s best collection of modern art, Monet’s “Water Lilies” and it is FREE to get in. Also do not miss taking a break or grabbing a snack in Rozzelle Court, the café set in a 15th century style Italian courtyard that also reminded me of some of the stunning sights I’d seen in Morocco. We sat down after they stopped serving food but the skylight illuminates the space nicely and it’s a great place to catch your breath.

 

By this time, we knew we needed to get going. So from there, we returned to our room, picked up our gear and before we knew it we were on our way back to the Bay Area!

 

Final Thoughts

I admit I didn’t know too much about the cultural and arts scene in Kansas City and I found myself completely enchanted with this place.

Green grassy parks everywhere.

Streets of charming brick buildings, colonial style homes, and curb appeal oozing out of every place.

Busy, but not too hyper.

Lots of things to drink, eat, see, and learn.

Oh and did I mention there was a wedding somewhere in there? Getting around by Lyft and Uber was really easy. Food was spot on. I think this is the start of a very good relationship. See you soon, KC.

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1 reply »

  1. Don’t forget that was *the best wedding ever*!!! We want you back soon! KC has even more to offer! You’ve only sampled two of the at least 5 best BBQ places, and don’t forget that Kansas City has more fountains than anyplace else in the world, second only to Rome. Come visit again soon!

    Like

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