Kansas City, Kan. is the perfect destination for a family looking to maximize fun and minimize cost.
My girls, Sarah and Ashley, play just about every sport imaginable, but softball is their favorite. A few weeks ago, my husband, Will, and I took the whole family, including their little brother Sam, to a tournament in Kansas City, Kan. We had come to town for the games, but in our downtime the kids weren’t interested in just chilling at the hotel. After the third complaint of “Mom, I’m boooored,” I grabbed my phone and Googled “fun family-friendly activities in Kansas City, Kan.” I was pleasantly surprised to find a wide array of options that all of us could enjoy and—just as importantly—that wouldn’t break the bank.
Legends Outlet Kansas City was right down the street and seemed like the perfect place to burn off some energy. Sam needed a new pair of running shoes, and the girls had some allowance money that was burning a hole in their pockets. With over 100 outlets, retail and restaurants, Legends was just what we were looking for. My favorite part, though, was the impromptu history lesson we received as we discovered the reason for the outdoor outlet’s name. There are different areas throughout the outlet that showcase famous people and events that make Kansas City, Kan. so unique. We learned about the state’s notable musicians, inventors, athletes, writers, artists and civic leaders. It became a game as we scoured the outlet, searching for each legend.
The kids were soaking up all of the great Kansas City, Kan. history, and Will decided we should strike while the iron was hot. So, we headed over to Wyandotte County Museum. This (free!) museum has two large galleries. One is devoted to the county’s Native American history, which I found fascinating. The other holds displays from the various surrounding townships. Sam—who is obsessed with all things firefighting—was especially enamored with the horse-drawn steam pumper fire engine. And we all enjoyed seeing the one-room schoolhouse exhibit. The kids got a kick out of the idea that if they lived a hundred years ago, they would all be studying together in the same classroom.
The next morning, the girls had a game. Sam was not in the mood to sit still, so after we watched the first inning, he and I took a little excursion to Moon Marble. It’s a wistful and whimsical shop filled with colorful marbles and old-fashioned toys from decades past. Sam played with marbles and had a ball. It reminded me of my brothers when they were kids. We arrived at the store just in time to catch a demonstration of a glass marble being made. I’d never thought about the skill and artistry that goes into making a marble, but watching the demonstration, I was enthralled. And I could hear Sam’s sweet voice from the front of the crowd saying, “That’s so cool,” over and over. We made it back to the game just in time to watch Ashley hit a double. After, we all went to lunch at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant. I had been to this railroad-themed spot a couple of years ago, and I knew the kids would love it. Not only is the food absolutely delicious—the BBQ sauce on the Hickory Burger is to die for—the delivery system is a treat all on its own.
We placed our order on the telephone at our booth. Just a short while later, our food came chugging along via a train that ran on tracks hanging from the ceiling. The train passed overhead, then the box slipped onto a metal tray that was lowered in front of us onto the table. As we dug into the burgers, fries and shakes, none of us could wipe the grins from our faces. We had a couple of hours to kill before the girls’ next game. So, we headed over to Cabela’s. I’m always impressed when I visit Cabela’s. It’s so much more than just shopping. We did browse around the general store and the fly fishing department, but we quickly got distracted by the 11,500 square ft. Mule Deer Country Museum. It’s the world’s largest collection of life-size trophy mule deer displayed in their natural surroundings, which is impressive enough. But the thing that wowed the kids (and me) the most was the breathtaking display of African Wildlife. The “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and Cape buffalo) stood boldly in the exhibit, looking so real it seemed they might come to life at any moment.
The girls’ teams placed second and third in the tournament, and to celebrate we visited Cider Hill Family Orchard. Apple picking was something my parents always did with me and my brothers, and it’s a tradition I’ve continued with my kids. We spread a blanket in the shade of the trees and ate a picnic in the warm breeze before venturing out into the orchards. Not only does Cider Hill grow some of the juiciest apples I’ve ever tasted, but it is also a gorgeous setting, perfect for snapping great photos. The kids patiently indulged my camera-happy excitement.
We were spending one more night in Kansas City, Kan. so we asked the kids if there was anything else that they wanted to do that evening. All three of them shouted, “KC Monarchs!” We made it to Field of Legends Stadium just in time for the 7:05pm game. We grabbed dollar hot dogs for everyone then slipped into our seats right as the first pitch was thrown. The crack of the bat hitting a line drive echoed throughout the stadium, and we all cheered. Even after a weekend of softball tournaments, the thrill of the first player getting on base never gets old. What a way to start the game! And what a way to end the trip.