After leaving St. Louis, I made the quick three hour drive over to Kansas City in order to visit a friend and check it off my list of cities to see on my trip. I've been to Kansas City once before but didn't spend much time actually exploring the city.
Tip #1 for anyone planning to visit KC: Don't visit on a Monday. Mondays in Kansas City seem to be like Sundays for everyone else. It's a day of rest and closure for 90% of businesses. Should you end up here on a Monday, though, you are certainly still able to see plenty of sites, it's just unlikely you will actually make it inside any of them.
Tip #2 for anyone planning to visit KC: Don't go in July or August. This was the time of the year I visited before and it was unbearably hot. April was a great choice. I'm sure May would be just a beautiful.
Once you're in Kansas City, there's a ton of stuff to do over a day or so. Since most of the places I went to were closed, I probably got to see more stuff than I would have otherwise, even though I didn't actually get to go inside.
The first thing on my list of things to do was visit the City Market, an historic market down on the river that in the summer has a large farmers market. While I was there it was quite empty, but it was still a very cool venue to look at as I'm used to the Madison, WI farmers market which is impressive in it's own right. I had to check out what a little bigger city had to offer, and though there was no one there, I think I would have been impressed on any other day.
After hitting up the Market, I attempted to make my way to my first museum of the day, the Kansas City Museum. From the outside, the drive there, the location in the city, and the neighborhood it's in, everything about the Kansas City Museum seemed terrible, and though I didn't actually get to go inside, I would bet it's probably not the most highly recommended thing to do there. Though it's lovely, I'm sure, I really can't speak much on it.
After driving back into the actual downtown area (the KC Museum is NOT downtown), I went to likely the most famous building in Kansas City, Union Station. Union Station is a very old station that in its prime was the 2nd most populous rail station in America. It's a really neat building with a lot of cool history about rail in the United States. Recently renovated in the late 90s, Union Station is definitely a must see while in KC. Within the station, there is a theatre, railway exhibit, and science museum, added in order to encourage more tourist traffic through the area.
Immediately across the street from Union Station is the only national World War One monument. I was a little surprised when I heard that statement, as I assume that Washington, D.C. would have had one, but apparently they don't. The monument itself was very cool, and it sits atop a hill right in the middle of the city. Once again, the museum attached to it was closed, though it looked like a very promising and interesting museum to visit. Maybe another time.
After leaving the WWI memorial I decided it was time for a little lunch. I'd received a text earlier in the day from a KC native friend who told me I HAD to visit Oklahoma Joe's KC BBQ (now renamed Joe's KC BBQ), so I decided to take a trip over there for this "world famous" grub.
In my friend's text to me she said "Gas station food is the best type of food," to which I really didn't know how to respond. Upon arriving, I realized what she meant. This restaurant was inside a gas station.
Upon entry I knew this place was going to be a keeper. It was packed and it was 2:00 on a Monday afternoon. There were a number of different items that stood out to me on the menu: pulled pork sandwich, the Z-Man (I'd heard great things about this one), and the burnt-end, the special for the day. I got the special and my-oh-my was it tasty.
I lathered Joe's special BBQ sauce all over it it and enjoyed some spicy slaw I got to accompany it. A superb lunch.
Following lunch, I continued my trend of finding every museum that was closed by going to the Nelson Atkins Museum. Luckily there was a sculpture garden outside so I roamed through that, but was unfortunately not able to go inside.
I continued on down to the Plaza district which I'd heard was a decent shopping area, followed by venturing to the Crossroads, the music and art district.
I finished the day by getting some dinner at the Foundry which was also delicious.
All-in-all my experience in KC was pretty great. Aside from everything being closed, they truly do have the best BBQ I've had, which meets my criteria for a good city to visit. I'm heading back to Michigan tomorrow with a pit-stop in Chicago for the night. The official road trip doesn't start until May 5th, so until then, enjoy April.