Our quick trip to Kansas City proved to be a nice little getaway/diversion for our family. While it would have been nice to have a little more time to explore, we enjoyed the time spent in the city. Compared to downtown St. Louis, it is a much cleaner city-not that STL is unclean, but it’s slightly more…not run down, but…used? Older, maybe? At least on the surface it seems that way. I love STL immensely, but we have our problems for sure. KC seems to be a bit more user friendly is all.
The downtown neighborhoods we drove through seemed nice. I also liked that the college seemed to be well integrated into the city landscape. It is a very hill-y city though. Well, the Missouri side is anyway. The Kansas side seemed to flatten out a bit.
Speaking of Kansas, that’s where we stayed. We looked at several hotels and wound up booking one in the suburbs, because it had an indoor pool for the kids. If there’s one thing that kids love while on vacation, it’s a pool. Our hotel of choice was the Homewood Suites by Hilton. Apart from the pool situation, it had rooms that would sleep the five of us comfortably (in one suite as opposed to two rooms-more economical), and had a full breakfast each morning. Very nice hotel, and clean, highly recommended.
Our hotel was in the suburbs, but located just a stones throw from the Kansas Speedway which was of course closed, but looked pretty cool. We were also next to Legends Outlet mall, which had like a bazillion stores in it. There seem to be quite a few functional malls in the area, while most of them are dying out here. To be fair, we didn’t really visit any of them, but they looked to be in good shape.
Okay, so there’s your initial impressions, let’s get to the attractions.
LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER
-I’m kind of mixed on this one. Their website makes it seem like it is an attraction for all ages, and while that’s not untrue, it’s really geared more to smaller kids. I think if our kids were two or three years younger they would have absolutely loved it. Don’t get me wrong, it is enjoyable enough. There were some really interesting exhibits of Lego art, and multiple life size figures which were pretty cool, as well as a Lego replica of the downtown KC area itself, and a trip through the Wizard of OZ movie in Lego form. Of the two rides, one was definitely a child’s ride, but the other was a “dark ride” in which you got to blast stuff with a pretend gun and try to save the Princess. We all enjoyed that ride, but WHY SO MANY LEGO SPIDERS? Seriously, they should warn a person! Let’s see, what else…oh, there was a “Ninjago Training course” which I probably got the worst score ever on, and a cute little 3D movie theater. Oh, and an obviously overpriced snack bar that we didn’t go anywhere near. So, there was enough to keep us all entertained, and we did enjoy the experience, but it is aimed at young children (3-8) overall, so keep that in mind if you ever visit.
-Right next door to the Discovery Center is the Sealife aquarium which is exactly what you think it is. I always enjoy aquariums. Maybe it takes a certain kind of person, I don’t know, but I could sit and watch fish swim and interact with each other for hours and not get bored. This particular aquarium is nice and puts a little more emphasis on education than some that I have been to, but is not as impressive overall as Ripley’s in Gatlinburg, TN, or the St. Louis aquarium at Union Station, which is REALLY good. That being said, I would recommend Sealife as a quality stop for your next visit to Kansas City.
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MINIATURES AND TOYS
-This was the coolest thing we did, hand down. The museum’s first floor is dedicated to fine scale miniatures, usually 1:12 scale. What I thought was going to be just a bunch of doll house furniture wound up being so much more interesting than I imagined. Pretty much anything you can think of is on display in miniature, and the detail is AMAZING. From Victorian mansions to an antique shop, artist studios and more, the scenes are incredible. Not only are the settings impressive, but the detail involved is doubly so. There are hand woven quilts and rugs in these displays, and objects you would swear have been hit by some futuristic shrink ray. Then the upstairs is full of toys from the early 1900s up to today, everything from board games to video consoles, rag dolls to action figures, teddy bears and more. There is something there to bring out the kid in everyone. I absolutely loved it.
Now let’s talk food. Of course, you can’t go to Kansas City without getting some barbecue. I couldn’t get everyone to agree to BBQ for every meal, but I didn’t really think that would fly anyway. Apart from breakfast at the hotel, we ate at Zaxby’s for one lunch because we don’t have them in St. Louis and I like them a lot-way better than Cane’s which we have a lot of around here. We also went to a Tex-Mex restaurant called On The Border which we had a gift card for somehow (?), and since those aren’t in STL either we went ahead and used it. Pretty good actually, I kind of wish we did have them here.
But I digress. The first barbecue restaurant we went to was Famous Dave’s, which I had heard of but didn’t know was a chain. I also didn’t know we had a to-go only location minutes away from where I work until I just googled that info a minute ago. I wanted to see how big a chain they were-and the answer to that is pretty dang big-when I saw a Creve Coeur location I’d never heard of or seen. I can only assume it’s very, very new. Or I need to pay more attention to my life.
ANYWAY, had I known it was a chain I might have opted for something else, since I wanted true KC barbecue. I was not disappointed however, because the food was really good-their burnt ends were excellent, as was the chicken. So, if you’re out and about and you find yourself near a Famous Dave’s, check ’em out. I’ve had better from independent BBQ joints, but this still hit the spot and was quite yummy.
Before we left town, we HAD to go to Gate’s Barbecue and get some ribs. They are famous as some of the best ribs you can get, and I have had many people bring them back for me, and they were always awesome, so it was a no brainer that we should go.
The thing is, nobody warned me about the actual Gate’s experience. As soon as you walk in to the much too dark restaurant, the counter person basically assaults you by shouting “Hi may I help you?”, and you are expected to order immediately. It took me by surprise. That approach works when there is a long line of people, and you are five orders away from the front of the line. You order, and by the time you get to the front your food is ready. I getit, but I don’t like it. Especially since it was our first time in and we had no idea what was happening. There was one group ahead of us and two behind. The lady up front just kept yelling “Hi may I help you” and no one knew who she was talking to. I found it to be abrasive, high pressure, and a little rude, honestly.
Again, I get that they are trying to assembly line your food, and I can see how that would work on a crowded day, but it was just bizarre to me. I know some people like that sort of thing. There are some small restaurants (and at least one chain) that are famous for treating people that way, or worse. Some people think it’s fun, and adds character. I don’t agree.
Oh, and then, to top it off, there is another lady who basically acts like a waitress and takes care of everyone at your table after you sit down. WHAT is that about? Also, why isn’t she bringing the food? I mean, she was super sweet and cool, I guess to make up for the initial abuse? Whatever.
You lost me, Gates, I don’t care for the way you run your business. To be fair the ribs are absolutely amazing, some of the best you’ll ever have, but I don’t think any food is worth that type of treatment. There were at least four other places I could have gone, and probably had a better experience. I know Gate’s has its fans, and if you dig that atmosphere then more power to you, have at it, but I won’t be joining you.
Still, all in all, we did have a nice trip. There is a lot more to see and do than we had time for this trip, so another visit to Kansas City may be in the cards for a later date. In any case, this trip was about getting away as a family and having new experiences together. It was as much about bonding as anything else, and that we surely did. We are blessed that not only do we all get along well and love each other, but we like each other too, which makes any time together good, and our family trips even more so.
Thanks for reading, see you next week.