I don’t know about you, but I’d never seen Kansas City on a list of “Places You Must Visit Before You Die.” (Um, doesn’t that always seem a juuust tad dramatic?? And a little morbid? Just me? O.K.) But then Kevin and Keli found a fantastic overseeing congregation in Olathe, KS, a suburb of KC. And the congregation wanted to work with them for a year before they headed to Cusco, Peru. So they moved up there last fall and it’s been one of those Super Big Blessings for everyone involved.
Keli would send me texts and pins throughout the past year: 10 Great Farm-to-Table Restaurants in Kansas City; Free Things to do in KC (a tour of a coffee roasterie?? Sign us up!); cute pictures of Elanor being strolled through the local IKEA; a sign from a cute bakery called “The Upper Crust,” pictures of the HUGE Christmas trees in Union Station. And finally, a direct quote from Keli: “This is my favorite city that I’ve ever lived in.”
And I was sold. I mean, we wanted to visit them anyway, but now we REALLY wanted to visit them while they lived in the Kansas City area.
After a lot of back and forth about WHEN that could happen, Jeremy finally pinned down when he could leave work for a week, and Keli entered vacation-planning-mode. I would get texts like, “When you’re on vacation, do you want things really planned out or do you want to be more flexible?” ;)(planned out, yet flexible, please!)
And so that’s what we did – we had a planned-out-yet-flexible Kansas City vacation and we loved it! I’m super glad that someone (ahem, Keli) talked us into it! And even if you don’t have family or friends in that area, I would still highly recommend a getaway to Kansas City, MO, if you get a chance. Especially if you’re not already from a big city. Because there’s big city stuff, but it’s such a classy city. I loved their fountains and flowers and architecture. I’m telling you, even if you’re not a huge baseball fan (we’re not), KC has lots to offer. =) And now that we’ve visited, we might even cheer for the Royals sometime. 😉
So what would I specifically recommend you do/visit while you’re in Kansas City? Oh, just let me tell you:
1. The Roasterie tour – Since we’re coffee lovers, we were thrilled to go on a FREE tour of a roasterie. Complimentary hair nets included! 😉 Even EJ was required to wear one.
Ha! And since I’m such a business nerd, I loved seeing how they tied the AIR roasting process to their marketing plan:
It was so smart to offer free tours because you know everybody goes home with coffee souvenirs. 😉
2. The World War I Museum/Memorial – This was one of the most impressive museums I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a few! Part of it was because I honestly remembered absolutely nothing about WWI – there’s always a ton of attention on WWII instead. Their setup was cool and interesting and meaningful. And one of the elders from the 151st Street congregation is a volunteer there and stayed after his shift to give us a tour, so we felt a little special. 😉 And I felt pretty smart when he asked, “Do any of you remember what was going on in the world during 1917?” And I reached back into the recesses of my mind and pulled out the correct answer: “The Spanish flu.” Thank you, Downton Abbey! 😉
These were some pretty cool views of the cityscape and memorial grounds from the top of the memorial!
3. Union Station – This is a beautiful building. That ceiling! Whoa, mama!
It has some cool shops and restaurants in there now and we saw a bride getting some pics done while we were there. Gonna be some perfect Kansas City shots, I’m sure! But I think what I enjoyed the most was using an app that Keli had found called “Living History.” You could look on a map and find certain spots in the station. Then you tracked down a spot and held up your phone (with the app open) – and it would play out a historical scene that happened in that location!
You could take pictures of the action (like a bull running through the station – or Ernest Hemingway helping a sick man) You could even get IN the pictures with the characters! I totally loved it. =)
4. Hallmark Welcome Center – So I had no idea that Hallmark originated in Kansas City! There’s a cool visitor’s center with fun Hallmark displays. I made sure to take some pics of their ornament collection for my aunt Claudia, because she usually gets her nieces/nephews a Hallmark Christmas ornament every year.
And I had to take this pic for my mom, who’s currently obsessed with Hallmark movies. 😉
This shot was taken in a little studio where you can watch a Hallmark artist work live during certain hours. It would’ve been cool to watch that, but we missed it that day. I do love this pic of me and my mister, though! K&J! Totally planned that out. 😉
And a better one of just the trees…
5. Shopping – specifically IKEA/The Body Shop. 😉 O.K., IKEA. Everybody had been but me. EVERYBODY. I mean, since Kevin and Keli have moved to Kansas almost a year ago, EJ’s been there a zillion more times than me. Whaaat?? It was like the time my mother got a smart phone while I still had a flip phone. 😉 But now, y’all….I’ve been. I’ve seen, I’ve shopped, I’ve conquered the IKEA. And ate the Swedish meatballs to prove it! Yum!
We’re part of the IKEA family! Don’t freak out, Dave Ramsey…it’s a discount card, not a credit card. 😉
It was a good afternoon. And I do mean, afternoon as in “the whole afternoon.” From lunch (which we ate there) until time for supper. 4 hours. True story. That place is huge! It’s more than shopping…it’s an experience.
And I had heard of The Body Shop before, but never been to one. Keli was glad to remedy that. We flew the coup on Sunday afternoon and left EJ with the boys at home. I wanted to bring home everything in there! After much deliberation, I settled on several items – one of them was a big tub of shea body butter. I’d been testing Keli’s the day before and it made my dry skin very happy. Much more so than any other lotion I’ve tried.
6. Restaurants – The Westmorelands took us to some of their favorite restaurants while we were there. We had these great personalized pizzas at Pie 5 the first night we got there. It’s kinda like a Subway for pizzas. Keli and I each got the Mediterranean pizzas and they were yummy!
We ate incredibly delicious bagels at Einstein Bros Bagels right near their apartment (try the cinnamon sugar bagels with the honey almond schmear!) and liked the place so much that we actually looked up how much it would cost to open a franchise! (Too rich for our blood – but if there any millionaires reading this, please open an Einstein Bros Bagels in southwest TN.) We also made sure to drop by once again on the way out of town. 😉
We were able to visit Chuy’s again (which is the home of our favorite jalapeño ranch dip – Jeremy says my version is better, though…so, brownie points for him!). We had the BEST Thai food at Sewasadee (my yellow curry fried rice was the table favorite, but everything was super good. I also really, really liked Jeremy’s choice – Massaman curry – it had a peanut sauce that was excellent!)
Another top favorite was Fiorella’s Jack Stack. We were so hungry that I didn’t think to snap a pic before we ate, but the burnt ends (pork and beef), cheesy corn, and baked beans will always stay waaaay at the top of my list of favorite restaurant meals. Those baked beans were the best I’ve ever had. Here’s a copycat recipe I want to try: Jack Stack baked beans.
I love some frozen custard, but there aren’t any local custard shops in our area anymore, so I gently (or was that forcefully?) suggested that we partake while we were there. I’d been wanting to try this recipe, but we ran out of time, so I tried to recreate it somewhat with my concrete from Twisters: vanilla/chocolate custard, caramel sauce, and Heath bits. Y’all, that was a winner! =)
7. Church family – We loved worshipping with Kevin and Keli’s overseeing congregation! This was one of the things I’d most looked forward to, because K&K had bragged on the eldership and members so much. I love that the 151st Street congregation in Olathe, KS, is so evangelism-minded. And I made sure to thank several of them for taking such good care of our friends. They have become another family to the Westmorelands in this time of transition and I have loved them for it!
If you are ever visiting in their area, go worship with the 151st Street congregation. They are very friendly and welcoming. I even had a couple of ladies come up to me after Sunday morning Bible class and say, “Are you a Ruffled Mango??” Haha! Keli and I got a kick out of that. 😉
8. Federal Reserve/Money Museum tour – This almost didn’t happen. We pulled up at the front of the Federal Reserve to ask the security guard where to park. And then realized we all had to have picture IDs to get in. Well, both Keli and I had left ours at home, so it was a No Go. But when Jeremy and I were leaving town the next morning, we saw a sign for it again and decided on a whim to do a quick self-guided tour before we left. We were both glad we did! It was short and sweet and interestingly fun.
9. These people – now I realize that if you visit Kansas City, well, you’re not likely to run into these people. But I wish you could…they are so fun to hang out with!
We laughed and talked and laughed some more. And talked about serious things. And played with the baby and giggled at her newfound love of sweet peas and pears. And made Jeremy’s famous turkey burgers and my chocolate chess pies and Keli’s crusty artisan bread. They let us curl up under their IKEA duvet each night and chauffeured us around everywhere each day. It was just a lovely week with good, good friends. I thank God for letting us have this time together! =)