Fun Ideas for Visiting Kansas City with Kids for a Baseball Game
June 7, 2015 8:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm roadtripping from Minneapolis to KC over the 4th of July with my brother-in-law and our 3 kids (9 and 10 year old, high energy boys). We're staying with my uncle in Liberty. I'm looking for fun things to do in KC and on the drive up/down I35. Our primary goals are spending time with family and hitting a Twins/Royals game. Tentative itinerary and specific questions inside.

Tentative itinerary:
7/2 (Thurs) - Drive to KC
7/3 (Fri) - Boulevard Brewery (sorry kids). Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. (First Friday at the Crossroads?)
7/4 (Sat) - WWI Museum. Fireworks at William Jewel College. (BBQ dinner either Fri. or Sat.)
7/5 (Sun) - Baseball game.
7/6 (Mon) - Drive back to Minneapolis.

* Any fun ideas (things to see or do) for the drive up/down I35?
* My oldest son is into bird watching. Any opportunities we shouldn't pass on this trip?
* Should we go to First Fridays, or would it be boring for the kids?
* Should we hit a different brewery than Boulevard? Remember that we'll have 3 kids in tow.
* Where else should we think about going?
* Any different fireworks recommendations? I'm thinking William Jewel because it's near my uncle, plus he taught there for many years.
* Have you done the Family FunDay at the ballpark? Which parts are good/not-so-good for 9-10 year olds?
* Where should we sit? I'm eyeballing the Hy-Vee Box above the visitors dug out. (We'll have 5 to 9 people, including Twins, Cubs, and Royals fans.)
* What should I eat/drink at the ballpark?

I've seen the previous Where to Be in KC question, and I've seen the BBQ questions.

Feel free to offer up any other suggestions for a good time on a Mpls - KC roadtrip with kids!
posted by agog to Travel & Transportation around Kansas City, MO (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's very small, but the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty has some interesting bird life. The staff are enthusiastic and friendly.

The question of food at the destination is a hard one. BBQ is intensely personal; mentioning Gates in a Bryant's household causes stunned silence. I'm told that Hawg Jawz Fritz in Riverside is the new hotness in meat. Ensure that LaMar's Donuts are consumed; there's one on W Kansas in Liberty, and it is good. If you are in need of beer in Liberty, Rock & Run Brewery and Pub is a surprisingly adequate brewpub, and is just off the square. Don't skip visiting the Boulevard on its behalf, though.

If you're really stuck, there's always Worlds of Fun
posted by scruss at 5:36 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Boulevard Brewery tour was a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it. We didn't have kids in tow, so I don't know how kids would like the tour. I did it with a group of adults and we all had a really good time.

My friends speak highly of Crafts and Drafts at Kauffman Stadium for food and drink. I need to go to a baseball game this year so I can check it out for myself.

I second the Worlds of Fun suggestion. It can easily be done in a day and the kids would probably have a good time.
posted by whatideserve at 5:42 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've lived in Kansas city for basically all m life, and a good chunk of it in Liberty.

The drive down 35 has.... corn. When I've driven it, it also has grim determination to get SOMEWHERE.

No First Friday with kiddos, I'd say. I'm an adult and I give it a pass. Way too crowded this last Friday from what my friends who did venture out tell me.

Thirding Worlds of Fun. It's fun, it's fast, it's close to Liberty. And they have great fireworks you can see from the highway or little roads close by (grew up in the Northland by it.)

Boulevard is the brewery to go to. (My cousin got married there.)

Get seats where ever, and wander around. (I did this yesterday; our seats were in 411 which wasn't quite nosebleed. We went to Craft and Draft and just about every other food kiosk. It was great. They have Belfonte! It's air conditioned!)

Check out the Nelson-Atkins museum as well if you have time. There's definitely more for the kids to enjoy there than at the Boulevard tour.
posted by RainyJay at 6:47 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

* Any fun ideas (things to see or do) for the drive up/down I35?

Yeah, that drive down I35 through Iowa... You can see windmills right after you cross the border into Iowa and then not much until you pass through Des Moines and then not much again. The best fun we've had on baseball roadtrips from MPLS to KC included ballad rock sing-alongs in the car through Iowa. You know those big hair band 80 ballads that everyone knows the words to? The band Journey is called that for a reason. And then giggling at the Kum & Go gas stations.

That's on the ride down. On the ride back - naps. We usually went for the Friday and Saturday games and then drove back during the Sunday game (which inevitably involved the Twins losing for whatever reason, which made my husband mad which was GREAT because Mad Husband means Not-Getting-Sleepy-While-Driving-Through-Farmland Husband).

(This was, of course, when the Royals were the bottom of the league and the Twins were scrambling for whatever wins they could get. I don't know if there would be any anger driving this season!)

* Where else should we think about going?

Definitely hit up the original Arthur Bryant's and the Negro League Baseball Museum. Those are both awesome. And Waffle House for breakfast. Because we don't have Waffle House in MN and it is a required experience (also, good).

For eats at the ballpark, my favorite was the lemon cotton candy. They don't seem to have yellow cotton candy at any other ballparks, so that was a treat at Kaufman. It is a beautiful stadium and we usually had Friday night seats on the lower level and then Saturday seats on the upper level, and both had great views. Figure out where the sun will be during your game and try to sit in the shade, if possible. It gets hot out there!
posted by jillithd at 7:02 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by galvanized unicorn at 8:10 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Riverwalk in the River Market is a pretty cool take-in. You can go wander along the river for awhile and then go over to the River Market for lunch. The farmer's market there is the Largest Continuously-Operating Farmer's Market in the Midwest, as the signs say. It's at its most impressive on the weekends.
posted by killdevil at 9:27 AM on June 8, 2015

The SS Arabia Museum at the City Market was totally worth the price of admission.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Pretty decent itinerary! I'd say on Friday night, head over to either The Plaza (it's family-friendly) or Nelson-Atkins lawn (you could grab Winstead's and make a picnic of it).

That said, you're heading to Jewell?!? Gah. (Just kidding, went to school at a rival college.) Schlitterbahn may be all kinds of hell on Saturday, as well as Worlds of Fun, but that's KC during the 4th. God, I miss that town.

Have a safe trip and try the Boulevard Dry Stout!
posted by singmespanishtechno at 11:47 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding the Arabia Museum and the Nelson-Atkins. The latter has a surprisingly beautiful underground parking lot. No, srsly.

I was hoping that some of the many wind farms down I-35 had visitor centres, but that doesn't seem to be a thing in the US. Console yourself with extra glazed cake donuts from LaMar's, om nom nom.
posted by scruss at 1:31 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you are coin collectors, the Federal Reserve building, which is just up the hill from the WWII museum has a (small) museum area. they also have a windowed area where you can watch the warehouse robots go in and out or watch the bill shredders.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 1:39 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

So I'm a bit late to the conversation here, but here are a few thoughts:

* Yes, the drive down I-35 is terrible and boring. I've driven it just a few too many times for my liking. (Still not as bad as I-57 through Illinois, though.)
* The WWI museum is great, but (depending on your kids' interests) may not be terribly interesting for them, especially if they'd rather be running and playing.
* I would take a miss on First Fridays, unless you're just really into the art scene. They are -very- crowded now, and probably not over-interesting for kids.

Now, that I've got the bad stuff out of the way:

* Seconding everyone that has suggested Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun - it'll be hella-busy on the 3rd or 4th of July, but there will be free fireworks either night, and if the kids have never been, I guarantee they'll love it. Downside: Not real cheap.
* Also on the fireworks front: KC Riverfest is going on that weekend and usually has a really nice display over the river in downtown. (Actual attendance of the fest is optional but could be fun.) The Gladstone display has traditionally been really good too. There's a whole list here.
* I don't think I've seen anyone mention Science City or Lego Land/Sea Life. Science City is generally fun for kids of that age, and Lego Land is a must if your kids are into Legos (and what 9/10-year olds aren't). It's fairly small so won't take up a whole day, but is fun. Sea Life is probably a miss, IMHO, unless you just love fish. (Looking at, not eating.) (Pro-Tip: BOGO coupons for Lego Land are everywhere; find some. Memail me and I can probably hook you up. It's a bit expensive full-price.)
* The KC Zoo is much better than it once was (nowhere near San Diego or Brookfield, but definitely improving), and can be a good way to spend a few hours.
* If you have reason to be that far south, the Museum at PrairieFire tends to have some high quality exhibits aimed at kids, but it's probably not worth driving across town for.
* Likewise, if you're into gardening, plants, etc, Powell Gardens is excellent, but is about a 45-minute drive southeast. They also have a really nice fireworks display over their lake on the Fourth.
* Minsky's Pizza, Lamar's Donuts, BBQ (which BBQ? that's a tougher conversation)
* The micro-brewery scene is blowing up in KC, if that's your thing I recommend checking out Rock'n'Run in Liberty, Cinder Block in NKC, and/or KC Bier Co in South KC - they seem to be the best things going right now.
* If you're in to retro arcade games, stop by TAPCADE (kids allowed) or UpDown (not sure about kids).

I'm sure there's more I could come up with, but that's at least a start.
posted by jferg at 6:54 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow! Thanks so much for all of the great ideas! First Fridays were also not recommended by my aunt, so that's dropping off the list.

And Boulevard it is!

Love to hear from anyone who's done FunDay at the ballpark. We're going to check our baseball cards to see if we have any autographs to pick up before the game. Is it worth staying after, too?

Lego Land/Sea World are also near my parents in Florida, so we'll skip it in KC this time, jferg, but maybe next summer!

If anyone has specifics on the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary, I'm Martha-Lafite-Thompson-Nature-Sanctuary curious (thanks, scruss!).

jillithd, love your memories of Fri/Sat game days in KC followed by the Sunday radio drive home. That's on my itinerary for next year for sure! Also, thanks for mentioning sitting out of the sun. Seems obvious, but I hadn't thought of it, and my uncle needs to be in shade.

Federal reserve building sounds right up my kids' alley, ArgentCorvid, so thanks for that! Also, the SS Arabia Museum! You're channeling my children here, so keep 'em coming, please!

And thanks for the good Friday night dinner suggestions, singmespanishtechno!
posted by agog at 10:42 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

  If anyone has specifics on the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary …

It's fairly small, and is a couple of minutes' drive from the Jewell campus. It has a few trails, but the visitor centre is set out to be an armchair birdwatching centre, with feeders right by the window. There's quite a range of birds there, and the staff and volunteers log rarer visitors carefully. There's a fair bit of other wildlife on the trails, but it all depends on the season.

The staff are impossibly friendly and helpful, and the visitor centre has a small gift shop that sells the right mix of serious conservation things and silly stuff. I wouldn't make it a day destination, but if you have a couple of hours to kill, it's very close to where you are staying (we've walked from just west of Jewell). You also likely wouldn't know it was there.

(We're the MLTNS' only international members, which required a whole change to their mailing database. ms scruss is from Liberty, and introduced me to the place more than 20 years ago.)
posted by scruss at 5:05 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, scruss, for the extra info on Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary. My son's birdwatching came from left field, but I'm enjoying his enthusiasm, the being outdoors, and the connection with nature.
posted by agog at 9:34 PM on June 9, 2015

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