We love exploring cities as a family. But with pandemic life, it just hasn’t been possible. So instead, we spent the weekend exploring our very favorite city – Kansas City! We focused on KC’s oldest attractions and learned about what makes KC rich with history and culture.
We started our weekend with one of our favorite pre-kid Saturday morning dates, City Market! The City Market has been a KC staple since 1857 where it was the site of horse trading, political rallies, circuses and revivals. Our first stop was KC Soda Co., where we picked up treats for later that evening. You’ll find every kind of soda in glass bottles – we opted for five different brands of root beer for a taste test. There is lots of outdoor patio seating, just expect some wait time. Our faves are Pigwich and Minksy’s. We never leave without picking some of our favorite spices at Tikka House and fresh bread from Bloom Baking Co.
After lunch, we headed to Steamboat Arabia, on of KC’s most unique museums. This museum is filled with artifacts found in the sunken remains of a steamboat that sunk
in 1856 with 200 tons of cargo, recovered 132 years later in a Missouri field. From clothing, fine china and carpentry tools to guns, dishes and children’s toys to the world’s oldest pickles, this collection is impressive and interesting for kids as well as adults.
We checked into our Crossroads hotel, 21C Museum Hotel. This building, once the Savoy Hotel and Grill, mixes history and contemporary. The guest room floors feature art from local and regional artists as well as art galleries on the first and second floors change out every nine months or so. There is an adjacent free parking lot which is a good deal for being the middle of the city! (Make your reservation and get 21% by using the code 21CKC.) Our family of five loved our corner king room, which had a pullout couch and rollaway cot in one room and a separate bedroom for mom and dad.
We decided order from KC’s oldest restaurant (built in 1888), The Savoy, which has an extensive and unique bar menu and tempting dinner options. The chef was more than accommodating for kids and were willing to make what they would eat (buttered noodles, grilled cheese, chicken). My husband and I ordered several dishes to share and can’t say anything bad about anything we tried, but an absolute must are the friend Brussel sprouts.
For breakfast, both Mildred’s and Made in KC Cafe are good for a breakfast and coffee on the go or if you’re getting in your car anyway, check out Ruby Jean’s Juicery. We took advantage of being downtown and hit some of KC’s best murals. You can find them everywhere in the Crossroads (or really all over the metro) but one of our faves is atop the parking garage and 17th and Main.
After taking in the views and some rooftop races, we spent the day educating our kids about the history of KC and baseball. Our first stop was the Satchel Paige Stadium at 51st and Swope Parkway. This stadium was named for the famed pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs, part of the Negro Leagues Baseball League.
Next, we headed to the historic 18th and Vine district where we checked out the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This museum celebrates the history of African American baseball, not only the sport but its impact on the social advancement of America.
The museum is a lot of reading but there are enough artifacts and videos to keep kids’ attention. It led to a lot of really good conversations with our kids about the realities of racism in America, both then and now. Don’t miss the end which features ball diamond with bronze sculptures of legendary players as well as the mural down the street featuring an outdoor diamond and art featuring famous Monarch’s players.
The American Jazz Museum is in the same building and if you’re interested in both, you can buy a combo ticket! While most of the jazz performances are virtual currently, you’ll want to come back and experience Kansas City’s best music. Don’t miss the Black Lives Matters street mural in front of the museums, one of six art murals in Kansas City painted in September 2020.
For more options exploring the history of Kansas City, check out:
- Dividing Lines Audio Tour: a downloadable audio/driving tour that explores segregation in Kansas City.
- Union Station: Built in 1914, explore the exhibits and just take in the majesty of this building!
- KC Gangster Tour: Explore the speakeasies, brothels, murders and more of KC in the 20s and 30s with this highly interactive tour. End with a drink (if you’re exploring sans kids) at Tom’s Town Distilling Co, a step into the past. Learn about Tom Pendergast who refused to abide by prohibition because “the people are thirsty!”