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B-cycling in KC: A ride through Kansas City parks

Our B-cycling in KC series continues as guest blogger Ellen Schwartze (@ellensayshola) explores the BikeShareKC Parks Tour!

bike_share1Downtown KC: another American concrete jungle, right? Not so! Downtown has several beautiful green spaces tucked between the busy streets and tall buildings. The next time you’re looking for a picnic spot, scenic view or downtown oasis, look no further than these parks, found on the BikeShare B-Outside parks tour.
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I started at one of the most popular bikeshare stations, 3rd & Grand in the River Market. Since this is a choose-your-own-adventure tour, I’ll give you some options to get to the first stop, Berkley Riverfront Park. Option 1: bike across the Grand St. Viaduct (5 minutes) — be prepared to share the road! Option 2: bike a couple blocks up 2nd Street to the Town of Kansas pedestrian bridge (10 minutes), walk the bike down the bridge and stairs to the path. (Pro tip: there is an elevator but it isn’t always on.) The park is decked out with paths, picnic tables and excellent views of the Missouri River and its bridges, including the Hannibal train bridge and the Broadway, Heart of America and Kit Bond bridges.

bike_share4After frolicking — and frolicking is a must — head back the way you came and point your trusty steed westward to Case Park. Again, you have a couple options: Option 1: ride to the 8th & Broadway bike share station then walk up the stairs at 8th & Washington, or Option 2: go straight to the park by conquering the hill on 7th Street. Case Park views stretch to the horizons: to the north, the downtown airport (sit for a moment during the week and you’ll catch a few take-offs), and to the west, the river,
West Bottoms and Kansas City, Kansas. The park also has a playground for the kiddos and tables and grills for weekend cook-outs.

bike_share3Next, pick up a bike from 10th and Washington and turn into the downtown business district for two more parks. Oppenstein Brothers Park at 12th & Walnut (5 minutes) offers a shaded break from the weekday grind. Be sure to investigate the Star Disk, which displays seasonal constellations when you line up the month and day.

bike_share5Four blocks away is one of my favorite parks in KC, Ilus W. Davis Park (3 minutes). It stretches two city blocks between the courthouse and City Hall, with a beautiful water feature and reflecting pool in the southern block. It’s great for people watching in during the week, too. Plop down on the grass and consider all the fun you’re having and all the hard work people are doing in the high rises around you.

bike_share6For your final leg, head due south to one of the most famous views of the KC skyline from Penn Valley Park, home of the Liberty Memorial. Drop off the bike at the Union Station kiosk (15 minutes) and then spend an afternoon exploring the park grounds — it’s huge! If you brought Fido, keep walking south to the off-leash dog park. If you’re a history buff, the WWI National Museum is not to be missed.

And, since you’ve reached the end of your journey, be sure to treat yourself at Parisi Coffee, Pierpont’s or Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Union Station!

EllenEllen loves #downtownkc, where she works at the Mid-America Regional Council, lives in the River Market, and plays at Kansas City Central Library. You can find her biking down to Alamo Drafthouse for a quote-along or down to the Boulevard para amigos y tacos. The way to her corazón is through Burrito Brothers’ front door. She currently blogs for KC Spokespeople, sends out random thoughts at @EllenSaysHola, and tweets #DowntownKC love for the Downtown Neighborhood Association (@dnakcmo).

#BeRoyalKC

Kansas-City-Royals_148_AAIt’s been a banner season for the Kansas City Royals! The team returns from the road on September 11 for the final 2014 season home games. Plan your visit to Kansas City and Kauffman Stadium for one of these upcoming games!

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Want the chance to bring your favorite four-legged friend? Register here for the Bark at the Park game coinciding with the September 17 game against the White Sox!

*(completion of previously suspended game)

Kansas City Celebrates at Union Station

CaptureUnion Station opened and was dedicated on October 30, 1914. During its opening ceremony, Union Station was heralded as one of the most beautiful train stations in the country and that tradition continues today. Union Station is still considered one of the top 23 train stations in the country. – UnionStation.com

One of our city’s most recognizable buildings, Union Station is home to Science City, delicious restaurants and many special events and exhibits throughout the year. On October 30, 2014, Union Station Kansas City will celebrate its 100th Anniversary! To get the party started early, Union Station, along with the Kansas City Chiefs and Quixotic Entertainment, is kicking things off with the biggest Red Friday Pep Rally KC has ever seen!

The evening full of free festivities will include:

  • Event kicks off with a live concert
  • Activities and fun for the entire family
  • Official Kansas City Chiefs Red Friday Pep Rally
  • Spellbinding Digital Imagery and Musical Journey by Quixotic Fusion
  • Spectacular Fireworks Finale Launched From Atop Union Station
  • Food & Drink Available For Purchase

That digital imagery planned for the outside of Union Station? It’s going to be incredible…

Join the Union Station’s Facebook Event to let your friends and family know you’re going!

B-cycling in KC: B-Saucy!

IMG_0658Welcome to the first blog in our B-cycling in KC series! Guest writer Ellen Schwartze will take us along for the ride as she explores the different adventure tours you can take all while using a BikeShareKC B-cycle. First up…the famous, the delicious: Kansas City Barbecue.

(This makes up just one of BikeShareKC’s “Choose Your Own Biking Adventure” tours, which can be downloaded here.)

IMG_0667How far will you go for barbecue? If your answer is “less than two miles, and I’d like some exercise in between meals,” I have great news for you: five examples of KC’s famed dish can be found within biking distance from downtown KC, and you can use the BikeShareKC system to get to them! Not familiar with the bike sharing? Here’s a quick overview.

The concept is easy:

1. Buy a 24-hour pass at the kiosk or online before your ride. (Pro tip: If you’re a KC regular, an annual pass is a much better deal!)

2. Use it! A pass includes unlimited 30-minute check-outs. It’s $2 per half-hour after that.

IMG_0679First, you need a bike! (Note: the seats are adjustable, so be sure to set yours just right!) There are 12 stations in downtown. I started at the Bike Share station on 19th St. between Central and Wyandotte to head out to the first barbecue restaurant, Danny Edward’s Boulevard BBQ. The route (10 minutes) is simple and relatively flat, and has sharrows and bike lanes the entire way. Try “The Big D” sandwich, which was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. You can use the built-in lock on the bike while you go inside to enjoy the wonderful air conditioning — er, I mean, barbecue. (I mean air conditioning.)

IMG_0695Hop back on and ride over to Union Station (12 minutes) — the bike share stand is on the east side, facing Main. Dock the bike, making sure you hear the three beeps that signals it was successfully returned. Walk through IMG_0701Union Station to cross the Freight House pedestrian bridge and you’re now in the backyard of Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue, one of KC’s most famous barbecue houses. Close your eyes and point to the menu; you won’t be let down.

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Walk back the way you came, and continue via The Link to Crown Center (15 minutes). In the food court, you’ll find Three Little Pigs, a small but mighty-tasty option. It’s conveniently located close to Sea Life, LEGOLAND and Kaleidoscope, and offers a kids’ meal with a sandwich, side and drink for $5. That makes for a family- and wallet-friendly option!

IMG_0721Walk out the east doors of Crown Center and you’ll find your next Bike Share station to your left. Grab one and head to jazz country for the ever-famous Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue in the historic 18th & Vine neighborhood (12 minutes). When it’s your turn, be ready to yell your order through the counter window!

Finally, make your way to the City Market. Here’s the route I took (20 minutes), but there are several good options. If you want to switch out bikes to save the extra dollars, try the station at 18th & Oak or 13th & Grand. Drop the bike off one last time at the station at 3rd & Grand, then walk through the City Market to Winslow’s. Grab a beer and one final order of barbecue — you earned it!

 

EllenEllen loves #downtownkc, where she works at the Mid-America Regional Council, lives in the River Market, and plays at Kansas City Central Library. You can find her biking down to Alamo Drafthouse for a quote-along or down to the Boulevard para amigos y tacos. The way to her corazón is through Burrito Brothers’ front door. She currently blogs for KC Spokespeople, sends out random thoughts at @EllenSaysHola, and tweets #DowntownKC love for the Downtown Neighborhood Association (@dnakcmo).

Why People Sing About Kansas City

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!

bill1It’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!

NLBMOkay, 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!

IMG_5119[1]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!

YelpKC’s 10 Things To Know About KC

Both working and playing and playing on both sides of the border, Matt Eyman shares a few things you need to know about being in Kansas City:

10 Things You Need to Know About Kansas City…

1. Yes, we’re in both Kansas and Missouri, but we’ve grown to accept that people will confuse the two. Unless you’re a musician onstage in Missouri and say “Thank you, Kansas!” Then you should prepare to get booed offstage.

2. They’re delicious and may get all the national press, but there’s plenty of great barbecue that isn’t Oklahoma Joe’s. Try Woodyard or RJ’s or Danny Edward’s.

rye3. And there’s food that’s not even BBQ at all! The American Restaurant has been home to THREE James Beard Award-winners (Best Chef – Midwest). Check out their new digs: Michael Smith is at Extra Virgin and Celina Tio serves at  Julian and Collection.  And don’t forget Colby Garrelts of Bluestem and Rye, who took the award in 2013.

Alyssa54. Thanks to schools like the Kansas City Art Institute, employers like Hallmark, and a cost of living that allows artists to actually live, the KC art scene is huge! First Fridays is an obvious starting point, but head east of Grand Boulevard for edgier works and fewer suburban tourists. Oh, and on that night, Christopher Elbow chocolates are only $1. You’re welcome.

5. Boulevard Brewing Co, we love you. However, it’s time we also paid attention to the new kids on the block. From the strictly reinheitgebot beers from Kansas City Bier Company to the mad-scientist creativity of Big Rip Brewing Company, there’s something for everybody.

IMG_14026. Power and Light didn’t kill Westport. Proof? Westport Cafe & Bar, Beer Kitchen, Port Fonda, Julep, Ça Va, Bridger’s, and many many more. It’s the best damn food and drink district in the city.

7. Speaking of Westport, Middle of the Map Fest is just getting better and better and deserves more of a national spotlight. Just embrace the fact that you’ll never get to see all of the bands on your MOTM wishlist. Prioritize. And hydrate. Dancing and rocking out will work up a thirst.

SportingKC_004_AA8. Sports teams: Being a fan of The Royals or The Chiefs can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but Sporting KC has been a huge success and officially turned KC into a soccer town!

9. We have great food trucks, and the powers-that-be need to quit making their lives so difficult. Might I suggest you grab nachos from Indios Carbonsitos, crawfish mac & cheese from Beauty of the Bistro, a roast beef sandwich from Monk’s, a hotdog with the works from Detroit Coney or jambalaya from Cajun Cabin?

skyline (2)10. We need to quit trying to be the next Austin. Or Portland. Or Chicago. It’s time we start being proud of how awesome and unique a place Kansas City already is.

 

Capture More About Matt:  Community Manager, Yelp Kansas City. Lover of tacos. Drinker of whiskey. Drinker of coffee. Drinker of craft beer. Concert junkie. Would-be gardener.  Master of Karate… and friendship!

Yelp profile
Past Elite events
Email: meyman@yelp.com, KC@yelp.com
Twitter: @yelpKC

Rock on! The US Air Guitar National Finals in KC for the First Time Ever

Raise your hands and your air guitars in the air…it’s time for the US Air Guitar National Finals and this crazy, unique event is happening right here in Kansas City. Who better to share the story of this rockin’ competition than the current World Champion and KC native, Eric “Mean” Melin! Want tickets? They’re on sale now: http://bit.ly/USairguitarfinalsKC

The Super Bowl of competitive air guitar is coming to Kansas City. On August 9 at The Midland, the ridiculous and the sublime will become one, and this wonderful city — our Creative Crossroads — will be transformed into a beaming swath of smiles, good will, and hope for world peace.

You’re probably asking yourself, “US Air Guitar National Finals? This is a thing people actually go to watch?”

ag1It sure is, and it is delirious fun. It’s huge on both coasts, but is still catching on in the Midwest. That’s why I’m excited to have the US Air Guitar National Finals in Kansas City. It’s a one-of-a-kind event that combines comedy, rock ‘n roll, and larger-than-life characters into one absurd mixture of insanity.

Past judges have included Tom Morello, Brian May, Jason Sudeikis, the cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and the Sklar brothers. The 22 best air guitarists from all over the nation are flying into Kansas City to fight for the right to represent our great country at the Air Guitar World Championships in Finland.

Ever since I saw the critically acclaimed documentary “Air Guitar Nation” in 2009, my life has changed for the better. I saw this hilarious documentary and essentially walked right into the movie. I decided to start performing and competing in the competitive sport of air guitar. Now I am the World Champion of Air Guitar, and I’ll be flying to Finland with the winner of the National Finals to defend my title.

– more — Read more

2014 Great Lenexa BBQ

This year’s competition had a bonus category available for competitors in which to to participate. Sponsored by McCormick Grill Mates, a 5th challenge in the delicious art of Seasoning with Grill Mates was available to anyone wanting to try their hand in this special category. Kansas City was one of only four other cities hosting McCormick Grill Mates for this special competition, and thanks to the team at McCormick, Visit KC’s Carolyn Anderson got to interview a couple of competitors who were eager to submit their creations to the judges.

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Team: Fire in the Hole

While the Kansas City barbecue competition scene might get the most attention during The American Royal, there’s another major competition in town that heats up every June just across the border in Kansas. Since 1982, The Great Lenexa BBQ Battle has brought the best BBQ’ers around for the biggest competition in the state. It’s so big, in fact, that in 1984, Governor John Carlin declared the contest the official Kansas State Championship.  I was eager to see what the “second biggest Kansas City-area barbecue competition” was all about.

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Ribs entry for The Great Lenexa BBQ Battle. Team: The Drizzlers

Kevin Boetcher and Ed Youngwirth of Team “Tender Racks N’ Smokin’ Butts” were competing for their 8th year at the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle. They opted to highlight the peppers and garlic spices in Grill Mates by making a Philly Tenderloin, adding fresh, grilled vegetables to their own specially cooked meat. Outside the competition, their creations can be enjoyed at The Rub Bar-B-Que in Olathe, KS. Ink Magazine recently added their “Hillbilly Bowl” to their barbecue bucket list, so I think these guys knew what they were doing!

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Soon to become a delicious glaze.

Next up I visited Team Fire in the Hole to see what they thought might win them the judges vote in this new category. Tim Byrnes said joining this additional category was easy as they’ve been using McCormick Grill Mates for over 24 years and have won 3rd place in the miscellaneous category for a perfectly seasoned salmon. This year they decided to go big with a smoked prime rib. I got pretty jealous of the judges and what they’d get to be eating in just a few hours. This lineup of ingredients is only half of what would be seasoning the prime rib entry.

Finally, I got to take a few valuable minutes of the President’s time…the Kansas City Barbecue Society President, that is! Read more

Best Patios in KC

When wintery winds and record-breaking snowfalls are making themselves comfortable during the Kansas City winter, summertime sunsets and cold drinks on hot days seem like a dream. It’s summer in KC…get to one of the MANY patios throughout the city! Guest blogger Jessica Best (@bestofjess) shares a few of her faves. (She’d share more but we cut her off at eleven…)

It’s that time of year in Kansas City. The weather has somewhat sorted itself out (at least we aren’t expecting snow), temps are mild bordering on deliciously warm, and we see sunny days more often than drizzly ones. It’s patio weather!

I set off this week to document some of Kansas City’s finest patios. It was a really tough week – patio weather, great food and creative cocktails all week long. Somehow I managed. Since I deemed that the lawn of the Nelson didn’t count as a patio, below is my curated list of spots to put on your to do list this summer. Got any favorites to add? Post in the comments!


harrys2Harry’s Country Club
(the River Market)

Partially shaded

This is the patio you’re mostly to meet up after work. An extensive beer/drink menu, darn good food and a peek at the downtown skyline, Harry’s is a perfect spot to end a day or wrap up your week. As an added benefit, if it starts to downpour, you can pop into the open-feeling indoor patio and still get the feel of patio life in the summer.

Jacobson view of sunsetThe Jacobson (Crossroads)

Shaded (kind of), excellent sunset viewing spot

The Jacobson is one of the better craft cocktail menus for us patio surfers. Their food menu is pretty luscious, too. And best of all? The patio is mostly shaded thanks to the cabana bar starting at 5:30 or 6 and you still get a wide open sky view facing West for some of America’s best sunsets. (Seriously, Kansas City has the most incredible sunsets!)

Teocali (Hospital Hill)

3 patios for the price of 1!

After their recent renovations – which are closer to an overhaul – this is one of my absolute favorite spots. They have an open face on the 2nd floor, 2nd floor patio and 3rd floor patio. Don’t worry: there’s probably room on the patio for you. And the upstairs bar gives a nod to the décor you might find at a beach front spot, with a “roof” hanging over the liquor shelves. This place doesn’t just jive for lunch/happy hour, though. Stick around for salsa late nights!

bodegaLa Bodega (on the boulevard)

Cool vibe and excellent sangria
La Bodega is one of the best at the sidewalk café/sunset patio experience. Not only are their tapas outrageously good (and don’t think I’m skipping that sangria!), all of Sunset – er, I mean Southwest Boulevard is your oyster. Another great spot to watch the sun go down. And because their happy hour starts early, this is the spot you’re most likely to find co-workers starting before 5pm… If you don’t tell on them, they won’t tell on you!

 

Haus patioHaus (Martini Corner)

Shaded, cool décor

This spot gets points for its beer garden feel. With the windows open, the entire bar, including the indoor picnic tables, feels a little like a patio. Plus, their outdoor patio is well shaded to keep cool(er) when it gets blistering in August. Read more

KC Kids: Farm Fun at Deanna Rose

When Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead opened under a different name, in 1978, its primary focus was introducing children to farm animals. Today, the 12-acre Farmstead offers visitors a broad glimpse of 19th century life on and around a Kansas farm. Guests enter a site full of old-fashioned life experiences through the breezeway of a massive white -trimmed red barn. On a typical summer day 3,000-4,000 visitors check out the Farmstead, plus field trip and birthday party groups.

Renamed in 1985 to honor police officer Deanna Rose, who died in the line of duty, it’s still a place where goats playfully butt heads, donkeys accept pats, and owls participate in staring contests. Sunfish, hybrid bluegill, and catfish are among the plentiful stock awaiting youngsters who eagerly catch and release fish at Grandpa Bob’s Fishing Pond. And baby goats always race towards the first sight of children toting milk bottles.

deanna_dairybarnAt the Dairy Barn kids observe daily calf feedings and sit awestruck as milk surges through a tube into a large glass jar during milking machine demonstrations. They can even try their hand at milking a life-sized Holstein cow model named Rosie. Children, three years and older, may ride ponies around a circle-eight trail, directed by an attendant.

deanna_hayridesBelgian draft horses also pull large wagons during 10-15-minute hayrides through the woods, where children may spot deer and even an occasional bobcat; while outdoor wonders beckon along a nature trail and in the butterfly garden.

Visitors can also explore a Kanza Indian Encampment that includes two teepees, and an earthen lodge built anchored with huge timbers inside a short hillside. Beneath the bell tower at the one-room country school house, children can take their seats in old-fashioned desks before a wall-spanning chalkboard.

Deanna Rose IA small village lies to the left of the Farmstead entrance. Full of antique wood counters and vintage cash registers, the General Store stocks canned food and fabric bolts alongside old-fashioned toys, cowboy hats and rock candy. On hot summer days families make a beeline for hand-dipped ice cream and other snacks at Alex and Emily’s Ice Cream Parlor, and a visit to the bank lobby immediately inspires time-travel. Read more

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