Long, long ago I spent a brief portion of my life in the Midwest; Kansas City, Missouri, to be exact. It was my first move away from Arizona, which resulted in a whole slew of homesickness-related issues (let’s just say that Kleenex had a stellar year). And as I left, exactly 14 months after arriving, I swore that I would never return, never, ever, ever again.
Fast forward 20 years.
When Nick and I discussed where would spend our third anniversary, we decided use the trip to continue our Baseball Stadium Tour tradition of the past two years (Seattle last year, Denver the year before). We’ve visited all the stadiums in the west, so that meant Texas or the Midwest was next. Wait…the Midwest. Didn’t I live there before? How did I never go to a baseball game in Kansas City? Oh, that’s right. I was busy being miserable and homesick. Well, what else did I miss out when I was there?
It was time to find out.
I know Kansas City is one of the top barbecue destinations in the US (if you don’t believe me check it out HERE). But just how good needed to be tested….
several times before determining that yes, Kansas City has some of the best barbecue that I’ve ever had in my life (sorry, Texas).
This year’s anniversary trip gave me not one but TWO baseball stadiums to add to my list. The first, naturally, Kauffman Stadium. And lucky me! The Royals were taking on the Angels that day.
Also known as “The K”, Kauffman Stadium was opened back in 1973 and underwent a renovation back in 2009. The two biggest eye-catchers in the stadium are easily the beautiful back-field water feature:
and their MASSIVE scoreboard:
The other stadium I managed to put a check-mark next to, was across the road a-ways in St. Louis; Busch Stadium!
Housed in beautiful red brick, the St. Louis Cardinals are one of the oldest National League teams (founded in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings) but with a new stadium that just opened in 2006. The stadium sports a gorgeous view of the St. Louis skyline, is 4-tiers tall, and has an adjacent “Ballpark Village” area complete with food, museum, and rooftop viewing of the game.
Interesting fact – the Cardinals are the first team in nearly 100 years to win a World Series Championship in the inaugural season of a new ballpark.
The stadium is also built partially on the site of their old stadium. “Ballpark Village” is built on the rest of the old site.
So there’s stadiums number 12 and 13 down. Almost to the half-way mark!!
In addition to barbecue, Kansas City is known for being one of the greatest jazz cities in the world. As one website put it, “While New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz, America’s music grew up in Kansas City.” And indeed, I learned too late of the great venues in KC where the booze and blues flow freely. This time around, I made sure to check out as many as possible.
At the legendary, The Phoenix, we enjoyed Saturday Jazz Brunch….
We were steered towards The Majestic for their fabulous steakhouse fare, but struck gold when we found out that not only did it house a jazz club, it was downstairs in the building’s original speakeasy hideout!
Our last night in KC, we stumbled upon this nondescript looking door downtown that led to a luscious, red velvet, retro cocktail lounge. Like stepping back in time, with no cover, doors open until 3am, and a jammin’ quartet in the middle of the room, The Green Lady Lounge easily made the top of the list and fulfilled all of my jazz and blues wishes…
(at least, until we get to New Orleans….but that’s a trip for another time)
A few other highlights:
Overall our visit to the midwest was wonderful. Nick got to play with some new toys:
…and died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail
I enjoyed one little “beer” in the lively Westport area of Kansas City….
And saw where it came from in St. Louis….
We drove past national landmarks:
and walked through local..
We also tried our hand at badminton….
But something tells me we tried playing with the wrong equipment.
Overall, these 5 days in Missouri more than made up for anything I feel I might have missed the first time around. Although cleaner, kinder and slower-paced than what I’m used to in La-La Land, I’m still not sure that I’d ever move back there again.
But then again…I’ve learned my lesson about saying “never” now, haven’t I?