As my family discovered, there’s more to Kansas City than just barbecue and baseball. Much more. Don’t get me wrong, there are more than 85 barbecue establishments serving up their special sauce and slow-cooked hickory barbecue throughout the city. And I wish we had time to try every one, but we did make it to three in the four days we were there.
But first, it was time for lunch at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant inside Hallmark’s Crown Center Mall. Super fun atmosphere for kids with a train running through the restaurant beside the booths and your food delivered to you by rail above your head after ordering via the phone at your table.The burgers are cooked to order as they have been since 1954. Small and greasy, you can order your burger topped with grilled onions, chili or the usual LTO. They’re served a la carte with French fries, onion rings and mushrooms available on the side. Don’t eat here for the food, but do come for the experience. It’s all Reagan could talk about for a week. She was sad to find out Fritz’s is only in Kansas City, so I suggested she start a letter-writing campaign to bring one to Denver, which she fully intends to do. Trust me.
We all enjoyed our first ever frozen custards at Sheridan’s in Crown Center, before exploring the Hallmark Visitor’s Center. Free to the public, discover the history of Hallmark Cards, which calls Kansas City home.
Next to the Hallmark Visitor’s Center is Kaleidoscope, where kids can have fun making special creations out of leftover materials from Hallmark’s manufacturing processes. Also free to the public and tons of hands-on fun.
I’d been dreaming of Kansas City barbecue all day and it was finally time. Next up, was Kansas City favorite, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue where we had our first taste of burnt ends and barbecue crown rib prime. Anywhere we went next for barbecue was going to have a hard time stacking up to Jack Stack. There’s a reason Zagat continually names them America’s Best BBQ, and now we know why.
A vacation unto itself, we checked into our Kid Cabin Suite at the Great Wolf Lodge. Reagan has been dying to go back to a Great Wolf ever since we first stayed at the one in Dallas. She was sure to pack her MagiQuest wand and swimsuit just for the occasion. But, before we rode the water slides in the Great Wolf’s 38,000-square-foot waterpark, we had plans to visit Kansas City’s Schlitterbahn Waterpark the next day.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark utilizes a state-of-the-art, award-wining, Transportainment river system that allows you to float around the park on your tube, minimizing the time you spend standing in lines for any of their four tubing slides, 13 mini slides or the Storm Blaster – a Master Blaster™ uphill water coaster!
Prior to our full afternoon of fun at Schlitterbahn, we started our morning at Moon Marble Co., where we watched a marble-making demonstration and shopped the endless aisles of retro toys from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. They have everything from LiteBrite to Tinker Toys. And of course, marbles.
Conveniently located across the street from the Great Wolf Lodge is Legends Outlets, Kansas City’s premier outdoor shopping and entertainment center where we ate at our third and final barbecue restaurant, Arthur Bryant’s.
Pure magic is how I would describe our third day in Kansas City, which began with a visit to the Toy & Miniature Museum. Leave yourself a good 2-3 hours to really enjoy this specialty museum, which boasts 38 rooms of miniatures and nostalgic toys. It was by far, my favorite stop of our visit.
We headed back to Crown Center where we tried our second barbecue restaurant for lunch, Three Little Pigs BBQ, and to catch a performance of “Lyle the Crocodile” at The Coterie Theater, named “One of the Five Best Theaters for Young Audiences” in the US by Time Magazine. Could our day get any more magical?
We visited the Federal Reserve Bank and Money Museum of Kansas City for an interactive experience in the region’s largest cash vault.
Our final stop, Union Station, which has been renovated to house not only Amtrak, but also theaters, restaurants, exhibits and the amazing Science City, ranked a “Top 25 Science Center” by Parents Magazine. This cityscape themed hands-on science center houses over 125 exhibits in 18 environments or “neighborhoods.”
So, it’s been decided. We’re not done with Kansas City yet. We’re already planning our next visit to the City of Fountains (nicknamed for the over 200 fountains throughout the city) to visit their world-class Zoo, the only National World War I Museum in the US and take in more of the arts, culture and entertainment that makes this surprisingly cosmopolitan city shine.
Schlitterbahn photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterpark Kansas City.
Toy & Miniature Museum photo courtesy of The Toy & Miniature Museum, Kansas City.