Exploring Kansas City – What To Do

My husband and I  love a good weekend getaway.  A chance to reconnect on a long drive through loud music, sing a longs, and a chance for uninterrupted conversations.  We haven’t had a trip for two in a good long while, and the month of July houses both our anniversary and my birthday, so it seemed as good as time as any to hit the open road.  You can read about where we stayed in last week’s post.

We decided on Kansas City, MO.  We have been wanting to check it out for a while now.  We had heard of their numerous city fountains, BBQ, and live jazz scene.  What’s not to like?

I hit the official Kansas City Tourism website.  KC, you had me at Over/Under Tours – Lofty Heights and Underground Sights in KC.   33 For Free lent encouragement as well.

While there are many things to do in Kansas City, and we didn’t get nearly enough time to do all there is to do, this is what I can say we did AND what I can recommend.  I will only highlight the best of our adventures here, the places that I think are worth your precious exploration time, things that we enjoyed.

Bird’s Botanicals

The first thing we did upon rolling into Kansas City is stop to explore this wonderful, magic, fairyland in an underground industrial cave.  I never would have known it was there, in fact, even with the signs – it was hard to believe we were in the right place.

When we did locate the shop inside the cave, we were greeted by a corgi dog riding on the rolling cart as a friendly worker loaded the cargo van for the farmer’s market.  Stepping inside the door, it was indeed a flower shop, with your typical flower shop feel – a flower display case, pots, soil, nick-knacks, and a cash register…

But then, I turned the corner.  And my eyes nearly filled with tears.

I had never imagined anything so magical and mystical as a cave full of orchids.  Beautiful, large blooms, in all varieties and smatterings of creative decorative pots filled with succulents.

We were again greeted, this time by the owner, Dave Bird, and I gushed over how beautiful and amazing this place was.  We became instant friends.  He was clearly amused by my amazement, but when he recovered, he gave us space to explore and would loop back around and nudge us into the next room – because, yes there are 3 rooms!  Orchids, succulents, air plants, carnivorous plants, tropical plants.

It’s truly a site to see.  It was easily our favorite couple of hours spent in Kansas City.  I’ll write more about Bird’s in another post, but for now – just keep it on your radar – and remember to use city tour guides to help point you to off-the-beaten path places in your travels.

None of the Kansas City locals we talked to knew this place existed – so it was a lot of fun to give them the tip on where to go in their home town – mostly because this place is so amazing.

Roasterie Factory

When we got up and moving the following morning, we headed for our tour of The Roasterie.  We had tour reservations for 10, and we arrived around 9:40, which was just enough time to enjoy a cup before the tour began – and boy, did the coffee smell and taste amazing.

roasterie
Image Credit The Roasterie
I enjoyed a Honey Cinnamon Latte, the coffee was rich and flavorful, and the honey and cinnamon offered just enough sweetness and aroma.
Mario had the con panna, two cups of espresso, with a dollop of cream and a drizzle.
What I love most about the Roasterie is that the owner, Danny O’Neill fell in love with coffee beans while studying abroad in Costa Rica. “Right then and there, he fell in love with the country, the people and the coffee — especially the coffee. Fifteen years later, when Danny founded The Roasterie in his basement in one of Kansas City’s great neighborhoods” – the Roasterie webpage.
He gives back to the region by operating day care centers to educate the children in the villages, who in turn, go home to teach their parents what they learned in school today.

 

WWI Memorial

After lunch and a brief nap to refuel our energy for exploration, we took the shuttle to The National World War I Museum and Memorial – America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.

WWI-Museum
Image Credit World War I Memorial Museum

This is a fantastic museum filled with a ton of facts and a lot of reading materials, you can also opt to take an audio tour. Two great things about your admission tickets is that it includes two days of entrance, and a trip to the top of the tower.  I am thrilled to find that a lot of the reading material can be found online – because it really is just a lot to take in while roaming the exhibits.

Visitors enter the exhibit space above a field of 9,000 red poppies, each one representing 1,000 combatant deaths.[5]

Did you know the Great War started Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia in retaliation for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand… the assassination attempt was actually called off, but the communication links of the time were slow and unreliable.  The assassin never received the message.  And all of Europe implodes…

The Memorial Tower raises 265 feet above the surrounding city, flanked between two stone Assyrian sphinxes, named “Memory” and “Future,” covering their faces with their wings. Memory faces East, hiding its face from the horrors of the European battlefields. Its counterpart faces West and shields its eyes from a future yet unseen.

Union Station

When the WWI museum closed, we walked around the front of the building and crossed the street to Union Station.  Built in 1914, in her prime as a working train station, she accommodated hundreds of thousands of passengers each year. During WWII, an estimated one million travelers – many of them soldiers — passed through the Station.

We marveled at the majestic architecture, imagining travelers back in the day hustling and bustling through the grand hallways to their destinations and read about the model steam engine in the display case.

UnionStaiton
Image Credit Wikipedia; Daderot

Union Station is home to a theaters, exhibits, and a mall shopping area today, the shops were closing and our feet and our minds were entering their limit, so we headed back to the hotel for a nap and sun-soaked bath on the rooftop pool.

 

Image Credit Wikipediea By Daderot – Daderot, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17382724

 

Manifesto

The place to go if … you are looking for a good ol’ fashioned Speak Easy.

As soon as I saw that Speakeasies are a thing in KC, I knew I had to go.  I made a reservation via text, and was confirmed for 11pm Sunday night.  To get there, you walk around the back alley to past the trash dumpster, around the dark corner, up the old stoop and ring the buzzer.  The hostess will let you in and seat you in a cozy dimly candle lit room in the basement, where the capacity is 48 people.

The mixologists will make you a craft cocktail from the seasonal menu,  and if you are lucky and keep trying hard enough you’ll get a conversation going with the bartender that will send a ripple effect that gets you talking to the entire bar.

Mario had Black Bamboo Ash followed by Stiggin’s Cure.

I started with The Man with the Golden Aeroplane followed by Queen B.

blackbamboo
Black Bamboo .  Image Credit Manifesto

black bamboo

Soju – Manzanilla Sherry –  Dolin Blanc –  Lotus Flower –  Bamboo Ash

stiggin’s cure

Plantation Pineapple Rum – Falernum – Honey – Cinnaomon – Lemon – Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch Whiskey

the man with the golden aeroplane

J. Rieger & Co. Gin – Yzaguirre Vermouth Blanc – Kina L’aero D’or – Angostura Orange Bitters

queen b

Ransom Gin – Chipotle Mead – Lion’s Tooth Dandelion – Lemon – Juniper

We had a fantastic time here, chatting up the bartender and the craft cocktails are really superb.  I had as much fun reading the menu as I did sippin’ my drinks.  And the history!  The Rieger Hotel and the old speakeasy of the day has hosted the likes of  Tom Pendergast and Al Capone.

The Green Lady Lounge

After having just the right amount of a good time, we bid adieu to our new friends at the bar and walked several blocks to the Green Lady Lounge, for I was determined to hear some late night live jazz music while in Kansas City.  The Green Lady had been recommended to us several times in the past two days, and the walking distance was a bonus since we had uber’d in.

Never a cover charge, always open seating and live jazz 7 nights a week.  What do ya got to lose?

GreenLadyLounge
Image Credit The Green Lady Lounge

The staff at The Green Lady Lounge was phenomenal.  There are a lot of bodies in there wanting a dink, and they are rather busy running back and forth to the bar, and tables and keeping the tables cleared.  Mario ordered a drink, took one sip and decided not to drink it – he just wasn’t a fan.  When the waitress came back over, she noticed he hadn’t drank much of it, asked how we liked our drinks, and made him another drink – no charge.

I thanked her sincerely, and she just waved it off, ‘No, We want to be sure everyone likes their drink, or we don’t charge them.’  She was insistent, and we were grateful.

I had a Dark & Spicy Mule and Mario ended up with a Juarez Mule.

We sat there, snuggled together in a booth, letting the jazz happily drift around us, tapping our toes to the rhythm and watching the band get down to their own groove.

ACTIONABLE STEP: Explore Kansas City virtually by clicking through the links.  You may be able to go in the near future, you may not be able to, but half of the fun is in the planning and the browsing.  The next time you have a free weekend, you’ll already have an idea tucked away for just the right occasion.

 

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