Unlike a lot of IMP members, I am a born and bred Midwesterner. The stereotypes are generally true. I am modest, I like my coffee black, I love ranch dressing and I say “ope!” And I wholeheartedly believe that for whatever else we may lack here in flyover country, the people in these parts are second to none.
I grew up in Kansas City and so when we matched in Iowa City, I was thrilled to be just a short 4ish hours from home. Before I delve too far into my hometown, I’d like to make very clear that most of the time people refer to Kansas City (Royals, Chiefs, museums, the airport, etc.), they are referring to the city in Missouri. NOT KANSAS. This is a point of contention for most natives of KCMO. Kansas City, Kansas is still part of the larger KC metro area, but most of the parts to write home about are on the Missouri side of town. I don’t know how to explain why this is an annoying assumption that we’re all from Kansas, but it really strikes a nerve. ;) and so now, you know! And you know that, unless noted otherwise, everything recommended to you to do in KC is likely in Missouri, our neighbors to the South. (I’ll note that plenty of lovely suburbs are on the Kansas side and it’s a fine place to live, but the point I’d like to drive home is there’s a difference!)
Now that the most important lesson is out of the way, let’s talk about the place that Travel + Leisure named one of the most cultured cities in the country. Kansas City is a great weekend getaway for those of us spending some time here in Iowa City. Just over 300 miles away, it’s somehow always a bit more mild in terms of winter weather. Come Springtime, take a trip to KC and you’ll find the grass really is greener and it’ll get you by before we start to warm up here. There, you’ll find lots and lots of big city amenities without some of the drawbacks a true large city would have. Traffic is not a concern, and it’s an affordable place to visit (and live).
You’ll find world class art at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Fun shopping in a unique setting on the Country Club Plaza (modeled after our sister city in Spain, Seville). Hundreds upon hundreds of fountains (called The City of Fountains). Fascinating and always changing exhibits on display at Union Station (as well as kid-friendly Science Center). Incredible restaurants and a flourishing nightlife in the Power & Light District. Walt Disney Studios. The world’s best BBQ (Joe’s KC or Arthur Bryants are my recommendations). The attractions are in abundance!
Please make sure to put Kansas City on your list of Midwest places to visit during your tenure in Iowa City. If you do, here are some top spots to hit:
- Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun: if you’re making this a family weekend (or even if you aren’t), visit this amazing theme park!
- Loose Park: This is the most beautiful park in the city. Go in June and visit the Rose Garden. It’s also a hop, skip and a jump from the zoo, which is worth an afternoon.
- Boulevard Brewing: The most famous brewing company in the city offers $5 tours of its facilities. You have to arrive early, but it’s worth it!
- Food: Obviously, have the BBQ I mentioned above. Otherwise, I’d recommend Town Topic Hamburgers and La Bodega Tapas & Lounge.
- River Market: if you go in the spring or summer, be sure to make time to visit the city market on a Saturday morning. There’s nothing quite like it and in the same area, you’ll find a very interesting riverboat museum.
In recent years, Kansas City has been credited on numerous lists as a top spot for hipsters and millennials. The city is really being revitalized and has been given a lot of well-deserved attention since our otherwise mediocre baseball team was in the World Series two years in a row a few years back. It swells my heart to see my home portrayed in such a positive light. Let me know if you visit!