If you’re road tripping this summer, why not make Kansas City a stop along the way?! We have lots to do, the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, and even a few kosher food options!
If you’re going to be here for just a day or a few days, here are some of my top suggestions for places to visit and things to do.
Museums & Attractions
The Nelson Atkins Museum is Kansas City’s premier museum, with galleries of Roman, Egyptian, European and Native American art, as well as wonderful outdoor sculpture gardens. General admission is always free.
Hallmark Cards is headquartered in Kansas City, and provides some great free entertainment for kids and their families. In Crown Center is the Hallmark Visitor Center, with interactive exhibit halls about the Hall Family and the development of their family-owned and run Hallmark Cards.
Also in Crown Center is Kaleidoscope,which is an unbelievably cool arts and crafts center. Kids get to make whatever art they can dream up with all sorts of left-over materials from Hallmark’s manufacturing lines. This is also free, but spaces are limited.
While you’re at Kaleidoscope, you may also want to cross the street and visit two of Kansas City’s newest attractions: SeaLife Aquarium and LEGOland Discovery Center. Admission isn’t cheap, but I have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love it. Prices start from $13.50, but you can buy tickets online to save a few dollars. Give yourself two hours for each location. Outside there are spray fountains and picnic tables, so feel free to bring a packed lunch!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the College Basketball Experience, which is my husband’s and sons’ favorite place to visit. Open Wednesday thru Sunday, CBE is not a museum – it’s a high-energy, highly-interactive venue that immerses you in the game of college basketball. And for the record, I beat my 9 year-old in a free-throw competition. Once. Admission is a bit steep, but you won’t regret it. Adult tickets are $9, and kids 4 and up are $6. Parking is metered or in near-by lots.
Another important sports-fan stop is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. It’s a fascinating blend of sports and history that baseball fans young and old will enjoy. Admission is $8 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-12. Parking is metered or in near-by lots.
Kansas City is HOT in the summer, and that heat peaks in August. But there are a few outdoor attractions that aren’t to be missed, despite the temperatures.
The Deanna Rose Farmstead is our favorite! There are nature trails, hay rides, a fishing pond, goat and sheep feeding, and cows, bunnies and pigs. Plus there are a multiple of playground areas, a one-room school house and a tracker “race track” (peddle tractors only). Admission is free Monday through Friday (or just $2/person on the weekends). Parking is free as well. There is a picnic area outside the farmstead if you want to pack a lunch. All three of my kids love the Farm – and I’m sure yours will, too.
Powell Gardens is Kansas City’s largest botanical garden. With special exhibits, performances, acres of gorgeous gardens and the nation’s largest edible landscape, you can spend hours exploring at Powell Gardens. Through October 7, 2012, there is a delightful adventure exhibit called Fairy Houses and Forts, which both my 3 year-old daughter and my 9 year-old son enjoyed very much. Summer admission from April 1 – October 31 is $10 for adults and $4 for children ages 5-12 (4 and under are free). Winter admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children. Parking is free.
In the late afternoon, take a stroll along the Country Club Plaza and you’ll immediately be charmed by Kansas City’s myriad of fountains (it’s called the City of Fountains) and quaint Spanish-style architecture. In fact, KC is sister cities with Seville, Spain – and if you’ve ever been there, you’ll probably do a double take at the Plaza. Home to fifteen blocks of shopping, restaurants (none kosher – although there is a Starbucks), outdoor art festivals and live music, the Plaza is a must-see.
Mark Your Calendars because on August 19, 2012, Kansas City’s Va’ad HaKashrut will host the city’s first ever Kosher BBQ Festival. There will be dozens of teams competing – including, G-d willing, a Kosher on a Budget team! Kids will have plenty to do, with a live performance from KC-native Sheldon Lowe, face painting, balloon making, arts & crafts booths, and much, much more. You can even participate in hot dog eating contest and, of course, get your fill of Kansas City’s most famous export: Bar-B-Que! Admission will be free!
Going back in time, the Kansas City Renaissance Festival runs on weekends throughout September and early October. My kids sat in amazement at the sword fight reenactments! If you’ve ever been to a Renaissance festival, you’ll know what to expect – loud, brash and totally fun! Bring your own food, but you should be able to find some kosher beer. Tickets will be available online and at local grocery stores closer to the festival.
There aren’t a plethora of choices, but Kansas City does have a few options for kosher dining.
The Hen House grocery store on Roe & 115th in Leawood is known affectionately in our family as “the kosher Hen House”. They have a bakery under the supervision of the Va’ad of Kansas City, including a new section with pareve, pas yisroel cakes and desserts. There is also a full kosher deli, with take-out options like (yummy) fried chicken, salads and even sushi! Be sure to say hi to the mashgiach, Rabbi Mazer – he’ll be happy to answer your KC questions, I’m sure!
Rachel’s Cafe is a weekday, lunchtime option in the Village Shalom Senior Living community. Also under the Va’ad, the Cafe is open from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and serves both dairy and meat (separate sides). My family can get hamburgers, fries and drinks for under $20 for the five of us. Prices are more than reasonable and portions are plentiful.
Bon Bon’s is a relatively new frozen yogurt establishment in the “eruv” area of Overland Park, KS (a southwestern suburb of Kansas City). All of their fro-yos are kosher, as well as most of the toppings – there’s a Va’ad sign next to the toppings, which you can’t miss. We love Bon Bon’s and eat there often! They even have free WiFi and a charming “living room” section upstairs if you want to catch up on your blog reading.
If you plan to do any of your own cooking, the Costco on 119th and Blue Valley Parkway has a pretty good kosher selection, including Solomon’s meat, Natural & Kosher (cholov yisroel) Cheese, fresh fish and all the regular packaged goods.
I hope you’ll consider stopping thru Kansas City or making it a vacation destination of its own. If you do, be sure to let me know!
Okay, KC people – what did I miss???