There's No Weekend Like Kansas

Kansas City, bang smack in the middle of the Midwest is a peculiar place. First off, the majority of the city is not actually in the state of Kansas, (say what???? I know it confused me on my first visit too). It's in Missouri and one gets the feeling that there is definitely state rivalry in claiming the best parts of this sprawling prairie place. Regardless of this, there is a tremendous amount of city pride. I mean usually when you arrive in a popular destination you can play Spot the Tourist by seeing "mind the gap" or  "je t'aime Paris" sprawled across an unflattering t'shirt. But not here, it's the locals fashioning the KC logos. Whether it be one of their beloved sports teams, rival colleges, (I'm looking at you KU verse KS...gosh I even know that its The Jayhawks verse The Wildcats, and I am not a sportsmen in any way, shape, or form) or simply the generic 'Kansas City', the people who call it home simply believe "there is no place like home".  So let's plan a weekend in Kansas City.
I've got one word for you: BBQ. As I've gotten older my appreciation for this American pastime of grilling out has really grown...I mean seriously...even if you are a veggie, corn on the cob just tastes better when it has been wrapped in tinfoil and chargrilled. But I'm not going to talk about the veg, I'm here to talk about Pig. Pork what a versatile meat and man oh man does KC do it right: pulled pork, ribs, and the best of the best- burnt ends. Haven't heard of them? Then you probably haven't been to the Midwest, but I would just say they are the fall off the bone/melt in your mouth supreme bites. Beef brisket is suppose to be pretty wonderful too but to be honest the pork always pulls me in.  So you arrive Friday evening and you want your meat? Where are you gonna go? Well there are the big three: Fiorella's Jack Stack, Joe's Kansas City (Oklahoma Joes), and Gates and Sons. They are so popular that they all have multiple eateries throughout the city. Jack Stack is a little more high end, Joe's- you order, pick up, and seat yourself, and all Gates staff actually do training at their own  "Rib Tech". Believing there had to be one champion for the locals, I asked around and was told to try them all, for everyone has a different favorite which translates to: all must be pretty damn good. If you are a true fan of Barbecue perhaps skip out other restaurants to try a different one each day.
Tayah's Take: Burnt Ends at Jack Stack. Sounds weirds but tastes great!
You may already know that I am a big fan of a market. Whether it be a food, flower, or flea market, wandering through stands filled high with local produce and homemade trinkets is not only a great way to get a feel for a place but it gives insight into how the locals act in their natural habitat.  Head down to the City River Market for a variety of fresh ingredients, food trucks, and a fun atmosphere. Pick up some food as you walk through or stop in one of the little eateries that map out the market site. Not so sure you can do the Midwest, all American diet all weekend long? No need to worry,  there is lots of international cuisine including, Ethiopian at The Blue Nile Cafe. Please note that although the restaurants, shops, and some stands are open daily, the Farmer's Market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00am-3:00pm. So don't miss it!
Next up Boulevard Brewery. A free tour of a very popular boutique brewing house including two free tastings at the end?? Win win, educational and tasty! When I went they had 12 different beers to choose from all made on site. You can also buy a flight of beer for less than $5, which I strongly would recommend. I am not a massive fan of beer but I found two that I really enjoyed.  Our guide was entertaining and the bar had a great atmosphere.  The daily tours leave ever 45 minutes,  please check their website for opening times.
There is a high level of civilians who join the military from the Midwest, and KC is no exception. Head up to the Liberty Memorial to see the grand monument and war museum for all the men and women who served during World War I. This is also the place to take in the downtown skyline, so make sure you bring your camera to snap away.
Dinner and evening entertainment in the Power and Light District. Country music, it may not be something you listen to on a regular basis but gosh, it is listened to by all here. So even if it's not your thing, go see a free outdoor concert here! There a plenty of restaurants surrounding the venue with bars overlooking the stage, so no need to worry you can go from bar to bar (yes you can bring your drinks in from other venues) slowly-or more than likely-quickly, getting sloshed. And trust me, you'll be two stepping and wishing you has bought that cowboy hat in the Dallas airport by the end of the night.  What's that saying...when in KC?
If you have taken my recommendation for the night before, more than likely you will have had a little lie in and are in need of some grub. Why not have a nice Sunday brunch to set you up for the day? Head to the historic neighborhood of Westport, KC's original entertainment district. There are plenty of places but the Corner Restaurant is very popular for their twists on classic breakfast favorites. Many of the bars (what even more drinking) and restaurants have patio seating in the summer months and the general Westport vibe is laid back and cool.
Today is the sporting day. Locals from Missouri and Kansas alike ban together  for their teams, and they love a tailgate pre-game party. (I had no idea what this strange ritual was). So depending on the sporting season, go check out a game! There are The  Chiefs (American Football), The Royals  (Baseball), and Sporting Kansas City (Soccer).
Missing a little shopping  or perhaps you want a little less of the drinking themed activities?
If it doesn't matter where you are in The USA but you just fancy the typical American shopping experience why don't you check out The Plaza. American chain restaurants and designer and high street shops are dotted about this outdoor mall. I am not going to lie, I was confused when I first arrived as the architecture seems to be themed around Venice. Apparently horse drawn carriages can temp locals and tourist alike in the winter months and there are gondola rides available in the summer. Please note if you head to the Plaza to ride a gondola, do not check that activity off your bucket list. This is not a replacement by any means...please go to Venice.... The Plaza is not the place for you if you are searching for individual boutiques and unique finds like me.
More alcohol? (Don't worry I certainly won't judge), Dark Horse Distillery make a vodka and three types of whiskey including a delicious white whiskey, who knew? Events and prearranged tours can be organized via their website.
Another day? Head a little further a field to Lawrence, Kansas.  Home of Kansas University, the main high street has a quintessional-all-American-cute and quaint feel. This is the place for individuality in your purchases. Local artists and college students alike who obviously love their home town have designed lovely pieces including  Lawrence themed signage. Be sure to check out Ruff House Art for custom designed stationary and prints and Made, which is a few doors down on Massachusetts St, for modern homemade pieces.
Tayah's Take: I am not going to lie, KC was not on the top of my travel list but two of my dearest friends call it home and so I have been able to experience a world completely different from my own with them. We live very different lives yet we have and will continue to have a great friendship. Now isn't that the best thing about travel? Getting to meet people and see places that take you miles away from your normal. It may brighten your horizons, teach you something new, and even surprise you. And sometimes make you love your own home even more.

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