As we head into the #KC weekend, we bring you a guest blog from Bill On The Road. Having not visited Kansas City for over 25 years, he had a lot to discover!
It’s just a fact of life that everyone sings the lyrics of Wilbert Harrison’s 1959 hit song when the topic of Kansas City pops into the conversation. Harrison made it a big hit but it was actually written by two men named Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Kansas City has been recorded over 300 times. No matter what version you like, you certainly know the lyrics – and if you’ve been to Kansas City – it’s easy to understand exactly why people sing them.
Despite being just across the state of Missouri – it had been 25 years since I paid my neighbors to the west a visit. My last memory of being in K.C. was sitting in Kauffman Stadium off of I-70, watching George Brett play baseball with the Royals as beautiful waterfalls sat atop the outfield walls.
Of course, I remembered incorrectly as my recent visit set me straight: those aren’t just waterfalls – they also have fountains. Fountains are all over the place in this busy mid-west city known for having almost as many of them as Rome. Actually, I partially made that up – I have no idea how many fountains are in Rome. In fact, nobody seems to know how many are here in Kansas City either. Estimates are over 200 but nobody will let me quote them. Once you start looking around – you’ll notice they’re everywhere. Many are beautiful, some are old, some are new, a handful have a special meaning and others – well, I think they just exist to keep the water company here in business.
Since it had been over 25 years since my last visit – there was a lot of catching up to do. For two and a half days, Toni Alexander of the VisitKC staff served as my tour guide and we still barely scratched the surface. However, there were more than enough highlights from the visit to share with you if you’re considering KC as a travel destination – so here we go!
“I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.
They got a crazy way of loving there
And I’m gonna get me some.”
IT’S A BASEBALL TOWN!
Okay, so as a life long Saint Louis Cardinals fan – I could never put KC over STL as far as “baseball cities” go – but, they certainly have at least two great institutions here that baseball fans will approve of. TheNegro Leagues Baseball Museum is a step back in time to a mixture of feelings – a time when black Americans were shunned from what was supposed to be an “all American” sport. Some of the greatest players to play the game have their stories told here. The most incredible display is a set of baseballs donated to the museum by singer Geddy Lee of Rush. Lee, a white man from Canada made the ironic and generous donation of 200 baseballs each signed by different Negro League ball players.
Across town is Kauffman Stadium where I was greeted by proud tour guide, “Norma” who drove me around on a golf cart during an off day for the Kansas City Royals baseball team. She showed off the fan friendly baseball stadium that included an incredible amount of space dedicated to groups and business suites. The outfield features a display board that was at one time the biggest jumbo-tron in all of Major League Baseball. (Thanks a lot, Seattle.) A recent renovation made better use of the stadium’s space and while the seating capacity is now less than before – the fan experience here is far better. As the Royals are having a good season in 2014 – seats for some games can be hard to come by. However, Norma insists that fans here support their Royals no matter where they are in the standings. It should also be noted that the Royals are a first class organization that couldn’t have been nicer to me during my visit.
If baseball isn’t your thing – you can always walk across the street to Arrowhead Stadium and watch the Chiefs. Fun fact: there’s actually a tunnel that runs between the baseball and football stadiums.
YOU BETTER LIKE BBQ!
Kansas City residents will remind you every 30 seconds that they have the best BBQ in the nation. While I am not a professional food critic (how is that even a real job?) I can assure you that it’s tasty! Gates Bar-B-Q – one of over 100 BBQ joints in town, has grown to several locations in the area. We were greeted by one of the family members, Arzelia Gates who sat down and shared a bit of the family business story. She ‘s one of those people that can instantly make you feel welcome. The long line of hungry customers streaming into Gates cafeteria style eatery indicates I’m not the only one who felt welcome.
There were several types of sauces that restaurants seemed to offer in Kansas City but it was the “sweet and tangy” flavor that was my personal favorite. What sets KC BBQ apart from other cities? According to the experts – KC prides itself on a slow and steady approach to cooking their meats. Gates Bar-B-Q opened in 1946 but the BBQ roots of KC date back to the early 1900′s.
I also tried something called “burnt ends” – which is a favorite dish among many Kansas City BBQ connoisseurs.
MUCH TO DO! WHERE TO START?
Read more about Bill’s Kansas City discoveries on his blog!